Tag: Rail transport

Mainfreight Makes Case For Rail

And as an authority on freight movement Government should listen

Which it wont

After Richard Prebble made his case with rail (Prebble on Rail – Commit To It!) our largest freight mover – Mainfreight has also made its call for more on rail. Given that Mainfreight is what I would consider an authority on moving our freight around AND uses both truck and rail (even has its own private rail sidings in Otahuhu and Southdown) the Government and Labour should pay attention to what they say. Sadly though given the performance of both National and Labour through history I know they won’t.

But let’s see what Mainfreight had to say. From The NBR:

Mainfreight throws weight behind KiwiRail, laments lack of national transport strategy

Mainfreight [NZX: MFT] chairman Bruce Plested has criticised what he says is the government’s lack of a national transport plan, throwing his support behind state-owned rail operator KiwiRail and calling it an integral part of the infrastructure.

Speaking to shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Auckland, Mr Plested said the government and the Treasury had treated rail appallingly since it was sold in 1992 and repurchased in 2006, and that policymakers lack a strategy for transport infrastructure considering road, rail and ports.

“Without rail, our opportunities for passenger transport are restricted, our desperation for more roads intensifies to the point of impossibility, and our options for port locations become hopelessly restricted,” Plested said. “How on earth could the Treasury not see these connections, and our government not see the need for an overall strategy?”

Plested, who last year donated $35,000 to the National Party and $100,000 to the Maori Party, was responding to Treasury advice to the government this year recommending closing major parts of the rail network.

Earlier this month, fellow Mainfreight director Richard Prebble, who oversaw widespread job cuts when he was railways minister in the 1980s, wrote an opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald newspaper urging officials to reassess the cost of forcing freight to use roads and the congestion it would cause.

Managing director Don Braid said the company was a strong supporter of rail, with current and future roading not capable of meeting Mainfreight’s needs, according to presentation slides accompanying his speech.

Mr Braid said the company wants more positive support for long-term rail infrastructure, and Mainfreight is continuing to invest in facilities at or near rail-serviced property..


Source and full article: http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/mainfreight-throws-weight-behind-kiwirail-laments-lack-national-transport-strategy-b-176311

Source: http://www.kiwirailfreight.co.nz/
Source: http://www.kiwirailfreight.co.nz/

Again it comes down to a few things:

  1. Lack of a coordinated strategy which again a Planning Ministry like the Australian States have. Such a Planning Ministry would be able to “coordinate” (at this rate coerce) between Kiwi Rail, NZTA, Ports, and Councils. This would allow the creation inter-regional Super Plans like one for the entire Upper North Island that then everyone would have a framework to follow (and make investment between Public and Private sector that much more easier)
  2. Splitting Kiwi Rail into two. The tracks go to NZTA and the freight/passenger side to a separate State Owned Enterprise open to full competition. Heck you could even list 49% on the NZX to which Fonterra, Mainfreight, Port of Tauranga and (yeah I know) Auckland Council via Auckland Council Investment Limited) could take stakes in.
  3. Blind ideology which both Labour and National are at fault of

So with Auckland’s productivity continuing to drop (mainly due to transport) we have two choices and rather simple choices at that:

  1. Continue to forget rail and invest in roads and really watch productivity and environment slip
  2. Invest in rail rather than “highways” (as well as coastal shipping) which our competing cities and economies are doing. If their productivity goes up from this then why are we so slow in following them.

Rail Patronage Below 10 Million

STOP PRESS: Auckland‘s Rail Patronage Below 10 Million


Just in from Auckland Transport. I have just scoured the latest Auckland Transport Patronage Figures for ‘as-of’ February 2013 especially for rail.


There was a time two years ago when I was side by side with the mayor while working for Veolia Transport Auckland feeling proud and delighted with the Mayor that we had hit our 10 millionth rail passenger marking a new age for Auckland’s rail network. There was even cake and a photo of the occasion somewhere too.


However I read the latest rail patronage figures this evening released by AT at their website. You can see the figures in the embed below but I bring your attention to page ten of twenty-seven – the rail figures which stand at 9,996,066 today. A slippage from the 10,900,000 peak in August 2012 to now just under 10 million.


I wonder what AT will trot out on Wednesday at that meeting with now basically half the city alerted after the figures went around Twitter and Facebook…


That Statistics Report:


And as Patrick Reynolds on Twitter said:

  1. @BenRoss_AKL some crazy fare dodging going on because of generous gating and policing processes. #akrail

Ben Ross ‏@BenRoss_AKL10m

@pv_reynolds you said it not me. I gather fare dodging is at 16-28%


Panic stations any one?

The CRL and North Shore Line Redux

A (re)Look at Two Particular Heavy Rail Projects


Over the last year advancements have been made on Auckland‘s heavy rail system (for both passengers and freight). BR:AKL has been following developments as Auckland’s rail continue to grow and evolve through the 21st Century. With the next step of the City Rail Link under way – that is the Notice of Requirements (protecting the land route for the CRL); BR:AKL takes a quick look back at some rail posts, in particular the operational model post CRL but pre North Shore Line, and The North Shore Line herself.


The Redux

Operational Models – An Alternative Proposal Post CRL, but pre North Shore Line (thus far)


THE PROPOSAL After seeing one or two particular proposals for CRL Timetable and/or Operations (that is how passenger trains would run along the Auckland Rail Metro Network) I thought to myself if I could come up with my own proposal.




 With the baseline operation plan laid out (so basically one train an hour on each of the three lines in each direction) it was time to ramp the frequencies up to acceptable standards



POTENTIAL PASSENGER CAPACITY ON POST CRL RAIL NETWORK So far in my City Rail Link Timetable and Operation Plan Proposal I have covered the foundation of my proposal on passenger train operations and frequencies once the $3.6b (Rail Fallacy applying of course)  CRL was opened and under way. You can get a full recap at my CRL TIMETABLE AND OPERATION PLAN – PART TWO post. In this post I build upon the proposed frequencies from Part Two and apply what potential capacity the Auckland Passenger Rail network could have post CRL. Now remember as of current in my proposals I have three lines of operation – they are: …


Parts Four and Five have been in the pipeline since Part Three and should be up for “publishing” sometime in February (Part Five as soon as the RPTP is finalised). Part Four would look at a Manukau to New Lynn “shuttle” via Glen Innes and Britomart as well as preparing for the Manukau (Rail) South Link) with Part Five looking at a dummy timetable post CRL but factoring in any changes with the Regional Public Transport Plan.   The CRL Timetable and Operational Plan series will be used in lobbying and advocacy once Auckland Transport starts drawing up proposed operation plans for the trains once the CRL is operational.

As for the North Shore Line two posts were dedicated to this crucial project as well as mentions in submissions to The Auckland Plan:


Could We See Rail on The North Shore?


A QUESTION FOR THE CRL – Is the CRL Future Proofed for The North Shore Line?

…one thing has struck me – well two actually:

  1. No mention of The North Shore Line (which crosses the City Rail Link at Aotea Station)
  2. No apparent future proofing of Aotea Station for The North Shore Line when it gets built (that is when not if folks)


Including aspects of The North Shore Line are crucial as part of connecting “all” of  (metro) Auckland to the rail system. Both North Shore Line posts spell out the importance of the CRL as well as The North Shore Line. As time goes on I will write-up a Timetable and Operation Plan – Post North Shore Line with all the lines built and what such a timetable could look like for Auckland.

So interesting and exciting times ahead as advancements in one aspect of Auckland’s Fully Integrated Transport System (or Suite) continue slowly but surely.


[All City Rail Link posts can be found by typing “City Rail Link Debate” into blog search box]


How to get Better Resilience out of the Rail Network


A Rail Efficiency Program Series




Relocation or Adding of new Stations on the (Auckland) Rail Network


With added resilience now added into the Auckland rail network through crossovers at “major” stations and the Westfield Junction Fly-Over, attention now focuses in getting rail stations into the best strategic places as possible with the best “facilities” possible to attract and sustain high patronage numbers. Again some of the ideas about to be mentioned in these posts have been mentioned before, I am so-called “reposting” them here as I personally like the ideas and the fact they just need reposting to emphasis the point!

Currently on the Auckland Passenger Rail Network the station locations and patronage levels are somewhat scatty with some stations well placed and attracting patronage, while others do more of a disservice to network and can actually put people off using the network. Meaning some of our stations are not in the best locations and need to be moved to better suit the Auckland populace. There are currently three such locations – all on the Southern and Eastern Lines where the; removal, moving or adding of stations be considered doing in better enhancing the “catchment” and attractiveness of those currently or wanting to use our rail network. So lets take a look at the Southern and Eastern Lines starting from the south and moving towards Britomart.

No need to mention the adding of the Paerata and Drury Stations (complete with Park and Rides) as that is being currently covered in an extensive report by Auckland Transport which can be seen over at my PUKEKOHE ELECTRIFICATION CASE post. So moving along to the next section of the network that needs attention – which would be between Papakura and Manurewa Rail stations on the Southern/Eastern Line.


Currently between Papakura and Manurewa Stations you have Takanini and Te Mahia Stations:
Manurewa, Te Mahia, Takanini and Papakura Stations will accompanying topography
Manurewa, Te Mahia, Takanini and Papakura Stations will accompanying topography








Click for full resolution


The next graphic is of impending urban development per the Auckland Plan – along with distances between stations currently:

Sth AKL stations with measurements png modes






Again Click for full resoultion


Okay some background facts on the current situation

Time to travel between stations currently:

  • Manurewa <-> Te Mahia: two minutes
  • Te Mahia <-> Takanini: three minutes
  • Takanini <-> Papakura: four Minutes

Current Facilities and nearby Amenities  at the stations currently:

  • Manurewa: Relatively new station right beside the South Mall shopping centre. The station is linked by a park and ride as well as the main bus interchange for the Manurewa area. Station has easy access by foot, bicycle, car, taxi or bus with at least two entrances to each platform. Public toilets are near by and the station is currently challenging Papakura as the third busiest station in the network after Britomart and Newmarket. Station is well-lit at night and contains the electronic Passenger Information Display system.
  • Te Mahia: An old station situated between residential on one side and basically car yards and light industry on the other. Station is linked by two narrow alley-ways at the north end with no park and ride facilities and the nearest bus stops around 300 metres away on the Great South Road. Station is poorly lit, has no electronic Passenger Information Display system, has a mix of both gravel and asphalt base for the platform, and an old concrete shelter from most likely the 1960’s. The station currently has I believe the second lowest patronage (after Westfield) and does give the feeling of being “unsafe” to both rail staff and travelling public. Catchment area due to position, lack of bus and park and ride facilities is very limited for Te Mahia Station
  • Takanini Station: Station recently had its platform extended and some new lighting to handle to new Electrics when they come on stream from next year. However it is similar to Te Mahia in respect of facilities and links despite patronage growing on that station. The station does give the impression of being “unsafe” while cars park either side along the side streets for those who drive to the station. Nearest bus stops are around 500 metres away on the Great South Road and the station has been attributed to a few accidents with train verses passenger over the last few years.
  • Papakura: Currently undergoing a large-scale revamp with the platforms being upgraded, ticket office being moved, new track infrastructure to allow train movements more easily (including a new freight train passing loop), new electronic Passenger Information Display Systems, upgraded lighting, refurbished and restored station building, and the Park and Ride facilities due for upgrades as well. Papakura Station is right next to the Papakura Town Centre and is served by easy access for walkers, cyclists, cars (two park and rides), taxis and buses (major terminus bus stop is next to the station). The station is a terminus station for most Southern and Eastern Line services and is currently the third busiest in patronage level on the Auckland Rail Network. Papakura is also a key station for train staff with a staff building and train stabling/fuelling facility located between the eastern Park and Ride and Platforms One and Two. However Papakura Station is currently constrained by lack of proper feeder buses which do have an impact on the Park and Ride being full most days of the week – limiting further passenger patronage growth. Papakura is also currently my “home station” where I catch the trains (or leave them) if I am travelling by train to some destinations

Google Maps and the Council GIS viewer currently do not show the current stations in their current form, so until I make a trip down – no pictures as of yet.


So we have the situation with Te Mahia and Takanini Stations of what and where they are, and what state they are in. Now as I have alluded to earlier South Auckland is due to undergo significant urban growth per the Auckland Plan over the next thirty-odd years. The second graphic above had a red line drawn in it that show the extent urban growth can take during the life of the Auckland Plan – which means we could be looking at well over 35,000 new residences and businesses in the area over the next twenty years at least. Now putting two and two together (and disregarding Auckland Transport is apparently going to upgrade Takanini within the next five years – which I think is for the platform only (so no Park and Ride)) you have a situation of large urban growth near the rail corridor and two dilapidated stations that have bugger all facilities, bugger all catchment area, and bugger all future with little scope of being able to fully upgrade the stations with facilities like Papakura and Manurewa. So what do I propose?


Well I propose the following


Proposal for Southern Auckland Rail Efficiency Upgrades


In short I propose the following”

  • Close Te Mahia Station (which I believe Auckland Transport are going to do)
  • Close Takanini Station
  • Build Spartan Road Station complete with full Park and Ride and Bus Interchange
  • Build Walters Road Station complete with full Park and Ride and also Bus Interchange

Why This?

  • Spartan Road and Walters Road Stations have better and large catchments for current residents and future urban growth than Te Mahia or Takanini ever could
  • Land available for the stations, park and rides, bus interchange and future upgrades
  • More uniform distance between stations from Manurewa to Papakura, thus allowing better travelling efficiency (heavy rail is most suited when stations are a reasonable distance (usually beyond 2km) between stations due to the dynamics of the rolling stock, and services it is often required to run (relatively long distance compared to light rail and buses). Basically heavy rail passenger services perform efficiently with fewer large stations with larger distances between stations compared to light rail which can handle more stations with shorter distances between them.
  • Able to start afresh in building the new stations reputations that are  safe, clean and have well-built facilities catering for large numbers of travelling passengers


These next round of graphics and annotations explain Spartan Road and Walters Road Stations

Overall View
Overall Proposal of Southern Auckland Station Investment
Overall Proposal of Southern Auckland Station Investment








You can see where I have placed the new stations – close to current residents and business as well as future residents and business. Remember Te Mahia and Takanini Stations will be closed.


Close Up of Spartan Road Station Proposal
Spartan Road Station, Park and Ride and Bus Interchange
Spartan Road Station, Park and Ride and Bus Interchange








The size of land for the Station, Park and Ride, and Bus Interchange is just over 2 hectares in size. The brown lines show possible eastern shuttle bus connections for the station. A new proposed road linking Randwick and Spartan Road Station (via crossing the stream) is also placed. This new link would allow ease of access for residents to get to Spartan Road Station and possibly the industry in the surrounding area. Those living in the northern part of Conifer Grove (wedged between the Motorway, Walter Stevens Drive and Great South Road) have the choice of either Spartan Road or Walters Road Station.


Close up of Walters Road Station Proposal
Walters Road Station, Park and Ride, and Bus Interchange
Walters Road Station, Park and Ride, and Bus Interchange








Again click for full resolution


Walters Road is bit more unique in the fact it has technically two Park and Rides, as well as two bus interchanges – one on each side of the rail line (the sizes are 1.16ha and 0.44ha respectively). This would be owing to no road level crossing being built at the station site (we are trying to reduce level crossings) nor a road bridge being built that could be justified in the cost department. If the bus interchange and/or park and ride was only built on one side, it would me a 1.5km “detour” to get to the relevant side with the park and ride and/or interchange – a rather self-defeating exercise. Furthermore you would cause bottlenecks down Walters Road by buses and cars trying access the park and ride and/or interchange if it was built on one side only. To add further weight behind building a Western and Eastern Park and Rides + Bus interchanges is the fact that Walters Road would be a station serving a fast growing area being right next to a new commercial development and within easy reach of new residential development. The Western Park and Ride + Bus Interchange would service all residents and businesses on the Great South Road side of the rail line, while the Eastern Park and Ride + Bus Interchange would service residences and businesses between the rail line Mill Road (Red Line on first graphic). Also Papakura currently has two Park and Rides (one on the western side, one on the eastern side) which are both heavily utilised – so there is a very close by success story of building two Park and Ride facilities that would be utilised well. The Eastern Park and Ride + Bus Interchange would also be my new “home-station” where I would catch my trains from to head north.

One final note having Walters Road Station with its dual Park and Rides + Bus Interchanges; the area between Manurewa and Papakura East (Red Hill) is due to undergo significant urban growth over the next three decades. You are looking at tens of thousands of new residents as well as many new businesses and civic institutions for which Papakura Station (and Takanini for that matter as well) could no simply cope if we are looking at making mass transit accessible to our new residents. Takanini is a dunga and does not have the room for a large supporting facility (Park and Ride and Bus Interchange) to make any station upgrades viable. Walters Road Station (including Park and Ride and Bus Interchange) is bang smack in the middle of a catchment area that has existing residents and businesses as well as future urban growth. Walters Road Station would be on land that can support the required large-scale support facilities (Park and Ride and Bus Interchange) as well as being connected to two access roads that run both major arterial roads that can be or already are traffic light controlled for safety reasons. So in that sense getting Walters Road Station right is absolutely critical if it is to be a key lynch-pin station that would attract existing and new people to Auckland’s fully integrated mass transit network.


Cost of these works for South Auckland?

Varies significantly and I would need to consult both an engineer and a planner to find out the true construction costs as well as the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) factors and the works and operational effects on these four stations are significant.



The entire post is a justification on this project. The new running times would also most likely be the following (for diesels, running times for the electrics are unknown as of yet):

  • Manurewa <-> Spartan Road: three minutes
  • Spartan Road <-> Walters Road: two Minutes
  • Walters Road <-> Papakura: four minutes

As what would happen to those who use Te Mahia and Takanini? For Takanini Station users two choices are available: car, walk, cycle, shuttle bus to either Spartan Road or Walters Road Crossing. For Te Mahia Station users they would use Manurewa or Spartan Road Stations and get there by car, shuttle bus, walk or cycle. So the alternatives are readily available and would present little disruption to existing users.


Completion Time?

To build both Spartan Road and Walters Road Stations with their supporting facilities, the new road link bridge between Randwick and Westbrook Road (connecting to Spartan Road) and demolish both Te Mahia and Takanini would be an estimate of two years as Block of Lines (closing the network in that particular section) would be required.


And so while that is the Papakura – Manurewa section of station additions and removals there is one more on the Eastern Line before reaching Britomart that could be up for a move down the line. That be moving the current Meadowbank Station closer towards the Meadowbank Tunnel and renaming it Selwyn Station. But that I shall cover in the upcoming THE RAIL EFFICIENCY PROGRAM #5B post.


But in the meantime what do you think on basically moving two stations to better locations and adding support facilities such as Park and Rides, and Bus Interchanges. Comment below


*Note: To make it clear; when I refer to Park and Rides I also mean including Kiss and Ride as well as Cycle Lockers as part of the Park and Ride Facilities.


How to get Better Resilience out of the Rail Network


A Rail Efficiency Program Series




New or rebuilt cross overs at major stations


So how can we get better resilience out of the Auckland (Metro) Rail Network? For starters we give our passenger trains extra flexibility in being more able to “run-around” a problem section on the rail network. Those who travel on Auckland’s rail network (whether frequently or infrequently) would have somewhere along the line being stuck on a train due to another one breaking down somewhere or just plain getting in the road usually to being late. Unlike buses however who have somewhat more flexibility to go or run-around the a road situation (breakdown or accident), trains are confined to the double piece of parallel steel they run on (as well as rail operating procedures dictating setting a train backwards or other non-normal movement) and can not per-se run-around a broken down train that easy.

Why? Because our rail network does not have enough of what is called “cross-overs” spread throughout the network to enable trains to run-around a section of track that has an issue on it in a relatively easy manner. A cross-over being a set of “points” that allow a train to change from one set of parallel running tracks to another (and possibly back again) while still going in the same direction. The current North Island Main Trunk Line, North Auckland Line, and the Manukau Line all have “double track/mains” and crossovers spread across them rather sparsely. Currently the main cross-overs are at the following places (starting from the south ): Papakura, Wiri-Puhinui, Otahuhu, Westfield, Tamaki, Auckland-Britomart-Parnell-Newmarket section, Penrose-Southdown, Onehunga (actually a single line with a passing loop), Grafton, Morningside, Avondale, New Lynn, Henderson and Swanson. Now in saying that, not all cross-overs are “dual” cross-overs which means one’s crossing over options are limited – especially if long distances are in effect or the fact the cross-overs are not even commissioned (New Lynn) yet. The diagram below might shed some light on things a bit better:


Cross Over Diagram

Cross Over Diagram

Click to enlarge (1745 x 1016 resolution)


As I said earlier, not all our cross-overs currently are dual cross-overs which basically means the Auckland Rail Network is compounded by long distances before a train can “cross-over” and “run-around” something like a disable train (passenger or freight – it doesn’t matter as both are a pain). Now from experience, those long distances between cross-overs and even longer distances between dual-crossovers (No# 8-13) mean when a train is disabled on the main line here come long delays and cancellations owing to the lack of resilience in our rail network for trains to run around the disabled train.

With frequencies looking to step up to 6-trains per hour (so once every ten minutes) and the signalling system able to go right up to 12-trains per hour (every five minutes) both pre and post-City Rail Link, if the current existing infrastructure stays as is (including the limited third main being built which is for freight trains anyhow) then the problems on the rail network are going to really compound if something happens like a disabled train blocking a section of track. And if my Post-CRL Operational Proposal was ever decided to be used by Auckland Transport which had train frequencies stepping up to 18-trains per hour (every 3:20 minutes) in some sections without the extra resilience built-in – well you can think of delays and cancellations if a disabled train blocked a section of track.

So what first in investing in our current existing rail infrastructure to get extra resilience out of it pre-City Rail Link. Well that would be: New or rebuilt cross overs at major stations (basically all stations that act as Fare Boundary stations on the rail network)


So that basically means building new or rebuilding existing and subsequently using dual cross-overs (#10 and #11 for the purpose of this exercise) at all fare-boundary stations. The rail map below shows where the first run of dual cross overs will be:

auckland_rail_network_map fare boundary cross overs

Click for full resolution.


As you can see there is a bit of work to do in part one (crossovers at major stations) in either building or rebuilding cross-overs to #8-#13 specification to allow more resilience in the train network for when something goes wrong. You can also see (and if comparing to Google Maps) that the distances between the Cross-Overs once even built is still some distance in some parts of the network. Manurewa to Papakura is 9-minutes both ways and it is about the same if not slightly longer for New Lynn to Henderson, while Glen Innes to Westfield is 11-minutes regardless of the Tamaki Loop between Panmure and Glen Innes. However getting these cross-overs in at the major stations plus any rebuilds (Blue X’s) will offer much more resilience than currently available.



Now to build a new set or rebuild an existing set of cross-overs for Part One of the All-Encompassing Rail Efficiency Program (AE-REP), re-wire the overhead wires, and change the signalling (which includes changing what train drivers call a Signal and Interlocking Diagram that they have with them (now if I got that diagram’s name wrong let me know sooner rather than later and I shall correct it)) would most likely require a budget of $2-3m per crossover package (now I will go ask someone in the know to get a definitive figure and post back here ASAP). So at $3m times (not including Swanson, Britomart, the Tamaki Loop, Grafton or Papakura) 19 equals a conservative cost of around $57 million which for rail is a significant investment (but chump change for a road or motorway).


Justification for $57m?

The extra resilience allowing better reliability and punctuality of existing and future services when we eventually step up to 6-TPH (10 minute frequencies) – especially when a train disablement (passenger or freight) happens out on the Auckland rail network.


What Next?

For starters asking someone in the know on the cost of building crossovers as mentioned in this so I can run some numbers. Once the number have been ran a few times then I will draw up a “rolling” proposal (so a proposal that will have various versions as the AE-REP is worked on and written) and begin the advocacy process to the Auckland Council Transport Committee and by virtue of extension – Auckland Transport and Kiwi Rail.

However despite the advocacy nothing is a given until the cheque is physically signed (even then that is a certainty with Kiwi Rail and Newmarket junction being an example) – but advocate we must if we wish to continue to push for a Better Auckland Transport (System).

The Rail Efficiency Program #2

How to get Better Resilience out of the Rail Network


A Rail Efficiency Program Series


The All-Encompassing Rail Efficiency Program – A New Introduction


August last year I kicked off (then it stalled owing to circumstances until now) the Rail Efficiency Series – How to get better resilience out of our existing rail network:








In this new series, I be running posts on how we can get more resilience thus punctuality and reliability in the existing Auckland Rail Network prior to the City Rail Link opening. In this post I will give a an introduction to the Rail Efficiency Program which was briefly mentioned in my submission to The Auckland Plan.

Those who travel on Auckland’s passenger rail network as I do on a regular basis know the frustration when your train is delayed or even worse cancelled due either some kind of fault, breakdown, accident, pesky freight train in the way, congestion at pinch-points (such as Puhinui, Otahuhu-Westfield, or Newmarket), and/or the effects of an earlier disruption still snowballing through the network affecting the train you are on. Now there are some things either happening or in the pipeline that will help reduce the frustrations and disruptions such as:

You can read the rest of that particular post through clicking on the respective link.


Now in that introduction series I had listed six technical proposals in getting more resilience out of the existing rail INFRASTRUCTURE:

This is the Five Step – Rail Efficiency Program that I will dedicate a post to each of the five steps (including graphics) before giving a final sum up and final submission ready for Auckland Transport and Council.


  1. New or rebuilt cross overs at major stations (basically all stations that act as Fare Boundary stations on the rail network)
  2. Westfield Junction Flyover
  3. Relocation or adding of new stations on the rail network
  4. Cross-overs at all stations between Papakura and Swanson
  5. Third Main from Westfield to Papakura

Now there is a sixth step in my REP, that is remove level crossings on the rail network between Papakura and Swanson. However I have placed step over a 15 year program due to the resources and planning required to grade separate some of our level crossings.


Now the above still stands and will be “advocated” for where possible. However since then (as things do) other things come along and crop us – such as the  accompanying posts: TO BETTER (AUCKLAND’S) TRANSPORTELECTRICS NEARLY THERE, and a post by another blog on existing infrastructure; THE VIRTUES OF INVESTING IN TRANSPORTATION. And especially in light of remarks from Councillor Mike Lee – Chairman of the Council Transport Committee which were:

But council transport chairman and veteran electrification campaigner Mike Lee believes the new trains will not be enough to boost flagging patronage unless they are supported by general service improvements, notably far better punctuality and extended weekend timetables, without prohibitive fare rises.

I would not bank on electric trains in themselves fixing chronic underlying human management problems,” he said.

Although he was preparing to pop champagne corks last year in expectation of overtaking Wellington’s annual rail patronage of 11.3 million passenger trips, he is bitterly disappointed by a fall from a record 10.98 million trips in Auckland for the 12 months to April – a figure boosted by the 2011 Rugby World Cup – to little over 10 million by November

I thought it might be time to go ‘all-encompassing’ in the Rail Efficiency Program to build a strong proposal to submit to Council and Auckland Transport so that the flagging rail patronage is reversed and going where it should be – UP – again.


So here I go in giving it a shot in outlining the ‘All-Encompassing – Rail Efficiency Program (AE-REP):



  1. New or rebuilt cross overs at major stations (basically all stations that act as Fare Boundary stations on the rail network)
  2. Westfield Junction Flyover
  3. Relocation or adding of new stations on the rail network (Adding Walters Road Station while closing Te Mahia Station being one idea) (extra feeder bus, kiss-and ride, and park-and-ride facilities would be helpful as well for major stations as a starter (plus a select few others like Walters Road Station))
  4. Cross-overs at all stations between Papakura and Swanson
  5. Third Main from Westfield to Papakura
  6. Manukau-South Rail Link
  7. Electrification to Pukekohe
  8. Grade Separation of Rail Level Crossings (although this would be a 15-year program)
  9. Introduction of (modified) full Zonal Fares 
  10. Stepping frequencies all lines to 15 minute frequencies at the absolute minimum between 6am – 9pm on all lines (between Papakura and Swanson) – 7 days a week with 30 min frequencies for Onehunga on weekends, then slipping back to 20-30 frequencies outside those hours. As for Pukekohe frequency could be stepped up to every 30 minutes initially Monday to Friday and hourly on Weekends. Now this is all Pre-CRL due to the restraints at Britomart, however once the CRL is opened you can move to the maximum the new signalling can handle which is 12-Trains Per Hour (every 5 mins).

Now that 10-step program does not include what is already happening on the existing network (or what will be happening in the case of the City Rail Link) but does build strongly upon it:

  • Electrification of the Rail Network allowing Auckland to run the faster electric trains
  • With the new electrics (EMU‘s), capacity is increased from larger and more rolling stock running more frequently
  • The City Rail Link opens up this latent capacity on the Rail Network and in-part removes the Newmarket pinch-point. The CRL turns Britomart into a through-station and through-stations have larger capacity than a dead-end station such as the current Britomart layout
  • The Third Main which seems to be now slowly under-construction from Westfield to hopefully Homai (and extended to Papakura eventually). The third main gives freight trains a dedicated track to run on in a congested piece of network keeping the freighters out of the road of passenger trains – especially in the peak times


I have left some more human “resource” elements out of the AE-REP as that is for a separate debate and for that debate to happen in the Auckland Council Transport Committee – not the blogs!


However the 10-step AE-REP does draw inspiration from the THE VIRTUES OF INVESTING IN TRANSPORTATION piece in the fact that if you don’t get the current infrastructure investment right, it becomes a rotting and collapsing foundation for any heavy-scale new capital infrastructure investment you place on top of it (try placing a house on a layer of cake and see what happens after a period of time).


So as I originally said in August, I will expand on the (now) 10-step AE-REP over the next few months to flesh out the ideas behind the Program.


The All-Encompassing – Rail Efficiency Program by Ben Ross; How to get Better Resilience out of the Rail Network





Shining The Light – To a Better Papakura (OUR home)
To a Better Auckland – (OUR City)

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL





The CRL and That Poll

Debate has Cropped Up Again on the City Rail Link


Thanks to Bernard Orsman from the NZ Herald and Horizon Research (a polling company), debate has flared up again on the City Rail Link. Is there any thing new in this debate? Currently no so I wont bother going into it much unless you like to go around on a Merry-Go-Round with the emergency stop button absolutely stuffed beyond repair…


Here is The NZH article from Orsman however:

Aucklanders want Govt cash for rail

By Bernard Orsman 

5:30 AM Monday Nov 19, 2012

Survey finds most want loop link built now and see direct funding as best way to pay for it.

A majority of Aucklanders want the Government to make a significant contribution to the $2.86 billion city rail link, a poll has found.

The poll, by Horizon Research, also found that 30.4 per cent of Aucklanders support tolls to help pay for the rail link and 24.9 per cent support targeted rates for those who benefit most.

They are more lukewarm about a regional fuel tax, asset sales, higher rates and a higher departure tax as funding mechanisms.

This is the first poll on funding options for the rail link since Mayor Len Brown issued a discussion paper in February on new funding sources to stop dodging what he said were the tough decisions to get Auckland moving.

Mr Brown has encountered a brick wall of resistance from the Government for the 3.5km underground route from Britomart to join the western rail line at Mt Eden. The Government refuses to back the project beyond designating the route and successive Transport Ministers have said there would be no tolls or a regional petrol tax. Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee declined to comment on the poll.

Mr Brown has established a “consensus building group” costing $1.1 million under the guidance of environmentalist and political activist Guy Salmon to try to persuade the Government to support one or more funding options.

The poll, of 1099 Aucklanders, found that among those who supported the rail link, 64 per cent wanted it built as soon as possible, 22 per cent by 2020 and just 3 per cent did not think it needed to be completed by 2020.

The poll also found that 75 per cent of Aucklanders wanted better integrated bus and rail services.

Last night, Mr Brown said it was no surprise Aucklanders overwhelmingly continued to support major transport projects, including the rail link, and wanted them built as soon as possible.

However, the left-leaning Mr Brown continued to rule out the sale of core strategic assets – “they bring in tens of millions of dollars a year, taking pressure off rates” – but would not rule out using the proceeds of non-core assets, such as surplus property, to fund transport.

The poll was taken between October 31 and November 12 and has a margin of error of 3 per cent.

The NZ Council for Infrastructure Development has proposed a regionwide toll on every on-ramp to the motorway of $3 in peak hours, $1 in the off-peak and $2 at other times.

Getting around Auckland

Main findings of survey
* 75 per cent support for improved bus-rail public transport
* 64 per cent support for city rail loop
* 14 per cent opposition to city rail loop

Of those who support the rail loop
* 64 per cent want it built as soon as possible
* 22 per cent want it built by 2020
* 3 per cent do not think it is needed by 2020

Funding options
* 56.2 per cent significant government funding
* 30.4 per cent tolls
* 24.9 per cent targeted rates
* 17.6 per cent asset sales
* 16.9 per cent regional fuel tax
* 8.3 per cent higher rates
* 7 per cent higher airport departure tax
Source: Horizon Research


If I feel like on Wednesday I will sum up the arguments on Facebook and post them here at BR:AKL.

But in the mean time, go enjoy dinner or what ever meal of the day is next when you read this folks as you are not missing any thing new – yet!


Although whoever commissioned Horizon Research for the CRL poll – I am not impressed with given Horizon’s dodgy Colin Craig polling in the past…


Oh and I have sent this to Communities and Residents Auckland via social media on the CRL:

By the way, has Communities and Residents passed a resolution or motion yet on either supporting or being FULLY against the Auckland City Rail Link?

Getting a bit of crossed wires and messages here folks and that will create confusion with the voters next year


Let’s see what I get from that department…

New Rail Timetables


New Rail Timetable Now Out


Auckland Transport ambassadors were sighted at Britomart this evening handing out the new rail timetables that become effective October 15.

That means October 15, all the Auckland metro rail lines will be operating under a new timetable Monday to Friday (weekend timetable remains unchanged).


Here is the fronts and back of the new timetables being handed out:



Make sure you get your copy as there are some changes that might catch you out.


Online versions can be found at: http://www.maxx.co.nz/timetables.aspx