How Will Motorists Cope With Electric Trains?


Now that Auckland’s rail electrification is all go with its promise of the new electric trains running every 10 minutes, another problem needs to be wrestled with.
Trains every 10 minutes, whenever it happens after the new trains arrive in 2013 and new signalling system takes effect, will be awesome for train commuters.

It will be an impossible nightmare for motorists at a number of key locations.

At peak times, a number of roads choke up already, because of road level crossings, thanks to the present timetable. So imagine how it will be if that train frequency increases.

Level crossings where this is a major problem already, include Morningside Drive, outside the train station, near busy New North Road and alongside a busy gym.

Motorists get ridiculously impatient at having to wait say five minutes as happened above , especially if they sense if will be for two trains, one west-bound, the other Britomart-bound.

They try and turn around . Or, cars approaching from the St Lukes end often try to duck down a right hand side street to cut across to Sandringham Rd - only to find that while it prevented them having to stop for the level crossing arms and train passing , they have to battle to get into the busy Sandringham Rd traffic flow near Eden Park!

Other troublesome level crossings include:

  • Mt Eden’s Normandy Rd
  • Mt Albert’s Woodward Rd
  • Glen Eden’s Glenview Rd
  • Newmarket’s Sarawia St
  • Avondale’s St Jude Rd and St Georges are also busy streets where motorists get frustrated  by being held up by trains but they have been updated recently so change there after the upgrades is unlikely.

    Avondale's crossings have recently been upgraded

    And New Lynn’s roundabout nightmare (below) was solved by the expensive rail trench.

    But  when this was discussed back around 2007, there was talk of  having to consider road bridges over the tracks or tunnels and the talk then was that could cost $10 million per traffic spot and there was no funding for such work and there is still no talk of any funding..

    But trains going effectively ever five minutes through means barrier arms will be done  most of the time, because of time they come down before an actual train passes. So the road might as well be “closed” to traffic.

    A tour of some of those spots during peak-time traffic yesterday, made it hard to see how large bottlenecks won’t develop if trains are any more frequent.

    And sure we can be sarcastic and say the drivers need to get out of their cars and take the trains but this is not a realistic solution!

    The issue is also affecting any resumption of traffic through Newmarket’s Kingdon St, although the temporary west station there was demolished at Christmas.

    Some talks are said to have happened between KiwiRail and the Auckland City Council about the future of the crossing there, but if trains become more frequent, it’s unlikely a case will be made to re-open it to traffic.

    KINGDON: Station gone but not the trains




    1. Jezza says:

      It’ll be a case of push the panic button when the (long forseen) problem reaches it’s zenith…

    2. Matt L says:

      I think that Auckland should put $10 mil aside a year to remove level crossings. That way we can slowly work towards closing or bridging over them.
      I think that Morningside is probably the most important followed by Woodward Ave.

      At Morningside I have seen cars run the barriers expecting the citybound train to stop at the station not realising that it is an express service steaming through. Luckly they have just made it across but oneday someones luck will run out.

      At Normanby Rd I hope they extend the CBD tunnel another hundred or so metres to under this level crossing to avoid it.

    3. max says:

      Double barrier arms??? May not solve congestion, but will solve 90% of the safety issue - probably for less cost than the combined damage to vehicle & train in a collision (not even talking about human damage here yet).

    4. Jeremy Harris says:

      I think we should also fence off the rail corridor, I priced it up once at about $30 - $40 million…

    5. Paul says:

      @Matt, yip a gradual approach is probably the only realistic way to solve it.

      Melbourne has a lot of level crossings, I have no idea how they get on.

      Sydney is almost free of them, with only crossings in the very outer suburbs and on quieter branch lines.

    6. Nick R says:

      Melbourne and Sydney both started programmes in the 60s to remove all level crossings over a decade or so. Sydney completed its one but Melbourne cancelled theirs to save funds.

      Indeed there are stacks of them in Melbourne, and we don’t always ‘get on’ too well here as a result. There are currently a couple of projects to grade separate some of the large highways, but in the town centres boom gates are prolific. One of the worst thing is often the pedestrian access to a station is via a level crossing only too. It is very frustrating to see your train coming down the line just as the gates close, preventing you from getting to the platform mere metres away!

    7. max says:

      More trains should actually reduce the incidence of people walking the tracks.

    8. max says:

      Also, I dislike the fencing idea in general, admittedly. Seems like 40 million for little gain - taggers will still get in, and I don’t think it’s worth it for the small safety gains regarding “jaywalkers”.

      In rail-heavy Europe, to my recall, the only lines fenced off are the high-speed tracks - and that looks ugly enough.

      As for fencing - we are already fencing off the motorways. Especially where those pesky cyclists are near. Wonder whether they feel we have a deathwish.

    9. Joshua says:

      ssssssshhhhhhhhhhh, nobody needs to know lol. Just close the streets either side of rail!

    10. carl says:

      Yes, Ak needs to eliminiate 1 to 2 level crossings per year. Here in Melbourne we have well over 100 level crossings. It’s not unusual to have up to 5 trains cross within the crossing sequence. Paradoxically Sydney, is a better train city, although with less lines has almost managed to have eliminated them all. Go Ak. rid them, & move to a world class train network.

    11. max says:

      “ssssssshhhhhhhhhhh, nobody needs to know lol. Just close the streets either side of rail!”

      All now possible easily, thanks to Mr Hide ;-)

    12. Andy says:

      The Morningside crossing could be helped by synchronisation of the traffic lights with the level crossing so that when the barriers are open, there is a good run of traffic that gets through onto New North Road.

      Surely wouldn’t cost too much to implement that.

    13. Carl says:

      people need to watch the e2 series on transport, esp. the seoul and portland sections. just close off the roads, over time people either go somewhere else or actually catch the train.

      the other thing is where possible trains should be underground, cut and cover method, we are about a 100 years behind london, so I’m pretty sure Islambard Kingdom Brunels method will be of good effect.

      cars are crap anyway, they should giveway to bikes and all trains!


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