Airport Rail Being Taken Seriously


Good to see the morning paper has picked up on the airport rail debate, no doubt thanks to those who said they emailled them my post the other day.

Even better to see as part of the story that:

Six organisations including the Transport Agency, KiwiRail, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority and Auckland International Airport Ltd are preparing to sign a memorandum of understanding to begin detailed planning investigations for airport rail services through both Onehunga and Puhinui. Auckland Regional Council and Manukau City Council have also agreed to sign the document, even though they are about to be supplanted by the Super City.

The proposed study will include a business case on a cost-benefit analysis for airport trains, and is likely to take about 18 months to complete, a similar time-frame to a $5 million investigation into a preferred route for a $1.5 billion central Auckland rail tunnel.




  1. Matt L says:

    It was a good article by the Herald and I suspect it was only because so many people were saying they wanted rail to the airport. Its a shame they didn’t say about the opportunity for other new stations along the line. Also I see they are still using the same old picture.

    It seems that John Banks is now saying that rail to the airport is in his long term vision for Auckland just that he isn’t going to do anything about it.

  2. Goodbye Mr. Banks says:

    Banks is classic. Using the airport line in his marketing but not willing to do anything about it.

    Trust Banks? YEAH RIGHT!

  3. Patrick R says:

    Good to see something in the Herald but still I am very wary of the direction of this debate. It’s still all on the terms that the minister likes. There is no chance that a Southwestern line is a commercial proposition, especially as no route is protected. We have ended up with this crazy out of balance city precisely because we have allowed one mode, roads, to be evaluated economically and the other financially. The line, if done properly, will be an economic success, but it won’t ‘make money’. But then nor does any road. And by properly I mean the full loop Onehunga to Manukau and with stations fully integrated into the terminals at the airport, and well placed in the community [ie not cut off by the motorways]. I emphasise this because I do consider the Manukau City station to be damagingly distant from the sources of population and this under Brown’s watch. A half-pie job here or elsewhere and the whole project can be weakened.

  4. Nick R says:

    Patrick, I’m starting to consider the idea of having the rail line and stations in the centre of the motorway. If they design the station acces right this might reconnect communities that were severed by the motorway.
    And yes, I do wonder why rail lines have to turn an direct operational profit when motorways has zero operational return at all!

  5. Patrick R says:

    I do think the economic debate is the central issue, and so does Joyce; that’s why he never misses an opportunity to conflate the two when answering a question about investing in PT. This is his second line of defence after just trying to ignore and belittle the whole sector. We, and I mean the public, are beating that first approach but now he is firm on the second- even sending his little boy John into battle with this weapon.

    On your second thought about down the centre of SH20, I was thinking that an elevated station over George Bolt Mem. Dr next to the Town Centre might be the best way to make sure that it is easily accessible to communities on both sides of this freeway. Otherwise it’s such a community splitting barrier. I also like the symbolism: bury the road, lift the transit up where it’s visible. Before that [from the north] a station at Mangere Bridge by the waterfront may be close to Onehunga [although across the water] but what a lovely place to swing out to for fish and chips. Such an undervalued suburb MB. A station could flip it into fashion! The one at Walmsley Rd must be focussed on attracting the East-side community as they are not too well served otherwise. One more in the commercial zone. Too many stops? But more convenience for the local community…?

  6. Andrew says:

    There should be definitely a link across from Onehunga to Mangere Bridge, Mangere Town Centre, Airport Oaks, International and Domestic Terminals (could be raised, similar to Brisbane airport), and right alongside the airport link to SH20 through to the new Manukau line. Plus the Manukau line should have run from Manukau to Papakura servicing the greater South Auckland region, as the Onehunga line runs to Britomart, rather than to Puhinui which is a nowhere stop.

  7. Nick R says:

    Andrew, the airport is planning to close the existing separate domestic terminal and replace it with a new northern wing on the international terminal once the new northern (domestic only) runway comes into action. Not only does this mean we only need one airport stop, it also make the extension the perfect opportunity to build it right into the terminal.

  8. Matt L says:

    Nick - I think that the problem with going down the middle SH20 is that the NZTA already moved the motorway to the easy to allow room for a rail corridor down the western edge. It could always move to the centre as part of a grade separation of Kirkbride Rd but that doesn’t seem worth it as the only station to really benefit from it would be one at Bader Dr for Mangere town centre. Yes it could result in less overbridges needing constructing but extra lanes would have to be built as well to compensate for the lanes lost.

    Patrick - I know they suggested 5 in the study from a few years ago but in my non expert view that almost seems like to many, the distances would mean that the train stations are only about 1.5 km apart. Looking at a map I would possibly go for one station just north of Walmsley Rd where there is a large empty section (Tanners Rd), that could make a huge park n ride as well. Then one at Bader Dr, Montgomerie Rd and then the airport terminal. That would have them spaced just a bit further apart allowing for a faster operation of the trains while still giving a decent coverage.

  9. Nick R says:

    Then it could be easy to widen motorway to the west to allow the lines in the middle. I only suggest this because when it comes to existing overpasses and ramps it tends to be fairly easy to widen a motorway by four or five metres each side (the same as adding an extra lane each way) than to try and get a 10m wide grade separated corridor down one edge. If you put it down one side that means you have to rebuild all the spans and ramps down one side.

    IMHO the stations should be located at main overbridges (except for the terminal of course). Apart from perhaps Mangare town centre there is fairly limited opportunity for walk catchment in any case, so the focus should be on providing direct and seamless connections between feeder buses and each station, as per the Perth model. At a quality overbridge bus stop you can step of the bus straight onto an escalator to the platform. A station right at Walmsley Rd could meet a bus running along Favona Rd all day (to Otahuhu station even) and give great access to the huge Progressive Enterprises facility there.

  10. DanC says:

    Why is it that rail has to make a profit compared to roads? Does car registrations and fuel tax make profits on top of road creation / maintenance? To be able to rail to the airport would be so beneficial to Auckland.

  11. karl says:

    “as per the Perth model”

    But the Perth model has no airport rail ;-)

    So we’d be one up if we manage to get this built. Just think of it - Auckland being better than some overseas cities rather than just arguing about catching up.

  12. Andrew says:

    What’s netiquette when someone else starts using your name? The above Andrew is not me (I comment here more often).

  13. karl says:

    Since there’s not really a membership login here, and the above Andrew may not have known he was using the same name as somebody else, there may not be too much one can do, except possibly one of the two changing the nick (or you could see if Andrew 2 stays around).

    There’s a Carl and a Karl here too.

  14. Nick R says:

    @karl, Sorry but Perth has an airport line in the advanced stages of planning (not to mention a much better track record of getting the done) so we’ll never beat them to it.
    Uh, perhaps Auckland might pip out Adelaide, but even they are ahead of us in electrification and building new light rail.


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