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Sham trams – a massive mistake in the making

by Brent Efford
It would appear that the anti-rail forces are gearing up for a real selling job next Tuesday, with a Wellington presentation about trackless trams by Professor Peter Newman of Western Australia’s Curtin University, who believes they are a viable mass transit solution. But trackless trams in Wellington would cause a permanent severance of mass transit between the suburban rail system – the PT spine for three quarters of the region’s half million population and quite light-rail-like in its operation – and the three quarters of the regional economic activity that takes place south of the Railway Station.

This would not only ensure that greater Wellington remains pretty much the only urban area in the world without a city rail link for its rail transit system (once Auckland’s CRL is completed), but also it would remove from future generations the ability over time to develop a continuous and effective automated electric zero-carbon transit system stretching, potentially, all the way from the Eastern Suburbs/Airport to Masterton and Palmerston North.

Given the original 1987 Brundtland definition of sustainable development: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (my emphasis), adopting a separate mass transit mode which cannot share the infrastructure for the region’s existing mass transit (covering 92% of the corridor length) is a pretty poor show for a Professor of Sustainability to be advocating for us, whatever its merits for other cities.

Without a rail extension through the CBD and beyond, it is hard to see what would cause a significant transfer from car commuting to public transport for the vast majority of the population – essential to ‘get Wellington moving’. Particularly once Transmission Gully opens next year.

Remember Dr Watson, manager of the regional transport studies of the 1990s:

“We always came to the same conclusion. Light rail as a stand alone service (Station to airport) was not a winner… We looked at operating standard units and light rail on the same tracks and then allowing the light rail to extend into the city. We saw no problem with this.”

Even the term ’trackless tram’ is an oxymoron – a silly attempt to appropriate the charisma of rail transit for a blatantly non-rail mode, essentially just a guided bus (of which there are numerous proprietary examples, some outright failures). ‘Sham tram’ is my description, just like the fake ’trolley’ buses used in some US cities to fool the tourists.

Click here for a link to the ‘complete rail’ alternative!

Some “tricky questions” which we might ask at Professor Newman’s presentation on Tuesday:

Can the CRRC experimental vehicles being trialled by the Zhuzhou Institute in China run on Wellington’s existing rail network? (The answer to this is obvious, but it establishes that the advocates are pushing for Wellington’s mass transit to be permanently uncompetitive with car commuting.)

How will the CRRC guided bus on a short route attract more car commuters to public transport than a continuous rail spine with ‘direct through service’?

Where in the world (presumably just in China) has the CRRC guided bus technology proven itself in intensive revenue service? Anywhere similar to Wellington?

How can it be claimed that the CRRC guided bus system does not require extensive guideway foundation work when Wellington’s bus lane experience (in Manners Mall etc) suggests the opposite?

What sort of ride quality will the sham tram provide over ordinary streets without a strengthened foundation similar to a proper tramway?

What evidence is there that a bus lane with two dashed lines painted on it will provide more property value uplift and transit-oriented development than a proper tramway with steel rails?

Is the CRRC system proprietary, or can it be used by any competing vehicle manufacturer?

What financial guarantees are there against the CRRC system, once installed, proving unreliable and having to be replaced, as has happened with the guided bus systems in Nancy and Caen? (Not to mention the similar Civis optical system which failed in Las Vegas.)

What experience is there of the CRRC guided bus sharing pedestrian malls? Grass and similar soft landscaping? Viaducts and tunnels?

How would the CRRC system achieve direct through service between the Wellington and Hutt CBDs, as proposed in 1999?

And so on.

The unsuitability of the CRRC system for Wellington’s mass transit needs, and the financial risks potentially involved, are pretty obvious to knowledgeable people with a region-wide perspective. But the guided bus option is developing a political momentum of its own without justification – another Massive Engineering Mistake in the making. Come and put it to the question!

Brent Efford is the NZ Agent of the Light Rail Transit Assn.

Tuesday’s free public event is in Room RHLT2, Rutherford House, part of Victoria University’s Pipitea campus in Bunny Street. Celia Wade-Brown will welcome guests at 6.15pm, then Barry Mein of Let’s Get Welly Moving will give a project update, followed at 7pm by the professor.

40 comments:

  1. mason, 20. June 2019, 9:10

    I agree, these sham trams are no more than expensive bendy buses. Offering no more than bus lanes would. Certainly not reducing the region’s car dependence in any meaningful way.

     
  2. Ms Green, 20. June 2019, 9:56

    Bendy buses on a couple of painted lines? Very tempting for short term politicians because of the claimed cheaper upfront capital costs and immediacy of implementation. But the question that needs to be asked (and won’t be answered accurately) is:
    What will the operational costs be for the constant need to fix the roads because of the weight of the buses.

    By the way Brent, China has extra fast bullet trains through the country. Now there’s a thought. Bullet trains up and down the North and South Island…that would get people out of their cars (and planes). But that’s for another day…or century?

     
  3. Roy Kutel, 20. June 2019, 10:01

    You could always concrete over the rail tracks and have a seamless 100% electric system everywhere in the region! I wonder if GWRC, NZTA and the City Councils will throw this option into the ‘evaluation mixer’ for a Big 4 Accountancy company to crunch the numbers in a sequel to LGWM. Can’t wait.

     
  4. Gunta Stem, 20. June 2019, 10:20

    Ms Green – High Speed Rail is where the trackless tram technology comes from. CRRC has an ex President of China at the helm and thousands of staff applying their minds and energy to improving rubber wheel technology. Their bendy buses aka trackless trams have all the whiz bang features of high speed rail applied and fitted to … those simply awful things rubber tyres! Just ask: what is so bad about rubber tyres squeally?

     
  5. Ms Green, 20. June 2019, 10:58

    Gunta. This is a discussion about an environmentally long-term sustainable mass transit system for Wellington CBD and suburbs, connected to the region. Bendy buses are simply a short term politically fashionable proposal.

     
  6. Gunta Stem, 20. June 2019, 11:39

    Ms Green – bendy buses have been around for a long time as a mass transit politically unfashionable but cost effective proposal. Steel wheels are good but rubber wheels are cheaper. So it’s what you can afford and the opportunity cost of your expenditure.
    One LRT system = 1,000 bendy buses = 4 Conference Centres = all public buildings in Welly earthquake strengthened.

     
  7. Traveller, 20. June 2019, 12:08

    Gunta. You’re confusing things. Bendy buses are not the same as guided buses/aka trackless trams.

     
  8. Gunta Stem, 20. June 2019, 13:13

    @Traveller – semantics? the trackless tram is an articulated rubber-wheeled bus with advanced rail-based technology to make it perform better when it bends around bends.

     
  9. John Rankin, 20. June 2019, 13:35

    Some in-depth material on trackless trams is covered in the report, Delivering Integrated Transit, Land Development and Finance: A Guide and Manual with Application to Trackless Trams by Peter Newman, Mike Mouritz, Sebastian Davies-Slate, Evan Jones, Karlson Hargroves, Rohit Sharma and David Adams. In particular, see Section 9, Technological Change and Integrated Transit, Land Development and Finance and the Trackless Tram.

     
  10. Dave B, 20. June 2019, 14:40

    The trackless tram is a guided bus. Guided buses have spectacularly failed to catch on. A few countries have flirted with them over several decades, but they are far, far from being mainstream. The trackless trams are being promoted with the same type of arguments that other guided-bus advocates tried to use.

    Wellington’s No 1 need is to extend its regional rail system, not to introduce an alternative and unproven mode that will do nothing to impact regional traffic problems and therefore nothing to meet this No 1 need.

     
  11. KB, 20. June 2019, 16:56

    I applaud the council exploring the “trackless tram” option, rather than burying their heads in the sand about the rapid acceleration in automated transport technology currently in progress, and insisting that a centuries-old inflexible technology costing hundreds of millions to implement is the only way. Trackless trams offer capabilities that can’t be matched by fixed-line trains, aside from their huge cost advantage, and so we should all be rooting for the technology to succeed. One also has to wonder how a train solution would look once the system would start operating in 5-10 years time (at which point automated non-train solutions would be significantly more advanced and reducing in cost).

    Now it might eventuate that the technology is not ready yet for Wellington, but to suggest that the council should not fully investigate the option to determine if that is the case is inappropriate. After all, I understand there ARE successfully implementations of this technology operating.

     
  12. Dave B, 21. June 2019, 0:06

    KB – So the rest of the world is out of step with New Zealand? Even China, inventor of the trackless tram, is still pouring huge resources into that “centuries-old inflexible technology” called railways, a technology that has stood the test of time remarkably well.
    At the meeting next Tuesday evening, where an advocate of the trackless tram will be speaking, I think you will learn that it is not widely applied at all and Wellington should be very cautious about opting for this and very wary about not letting it deflect us from what really needs doing (which is to extend the rail system that we have, and which will not be converted to trackless tram any time soon).

    Anyone remember the hype over “Wrightspeed” and how that was all set to revolutionise our bus fleet? Well there’s a lesson for those inclined to be swept along by every piece of new tech that the wind blows in.

     
  13. John Rankin, 21. June 2019, 10:06

    @DaveB: the trackless tram proponents agree with you. In the report I linked to above the authors say, “If a Trackless Tram is to be able to attract value capture opportunities it must be more like a train than a bus. It must be more like a fixed service that will not be easily removed from serving a station where developers are needing to see a return from their investment.” [emphasis added]

    They say, “The evidence presented here suggests that the Trackless Tram is more like a train as it has a long term fixed route with fixed stations necessary for recharging with power and for which substantial development activity will be attracted due to the flows of people through the area.”

    They go on to give the number one most important feature of the trackless tram as, “Fixed routes, suggesting permanence and long-term commitment, rather than flexible bus routes, which can be modified or removed quickly and easily, thus undermining investment potential.”

    Unfortunately, many of our local boosters of the trackless tram emphasise their bus-like qualities, which rather misses the point. We appear to be heading towards applying an unproven technology in the wrong way. What could possibly go wrong?

     
  14. conor, 21. June 2019, 14:51

    Definitely some issues with trackless trams, whatever the hell they are: https://conorhillformayor.wordpress.com/2019/06/04/trackless-trams-nkottb/

     
  15. Henry Filth, 21. June 2019, 15:45

    Am I hopelessly ignorant, or is a trackless tram simply a bus?
    Wellington abandoned trams decades ago. Are the reasons for the abandonment still valid?
    Sounds like the salespeople from Bombadier & Alstom have been to call.

     
  16. Peter Newman, 21. June 2019, 19:26

    Thanks everyone for the comments. We will try to answer all these questions next week. I know Brent well and have always enjoyed his advocacy for the Train Tram which goes on the main lines and then on the streets as in a few places in Europe. I think we should be open to this new technology.

     
  17. Ross Clark, 22. June 2019, 0:24

    Some considerations about trams, partly informed by experience in Edinburgh:

    * Running trams in mixed traffic is a guarantee that they will be bogged down in overall traffic congestion – trams need a level of segregation and prioritisation to work, which would need to be just about absolute. As Chris Calvi-Freeman argued here some time ago, you can do that (restrict car use) if the alternative for drivers is rail, but not bus.

    * Two-thirds of the jobs in downtown Wellington are within a ten-minute walk of the railway station. This means that any extension of rail further into the CBD would not make overmuch difference to the overall patterns of commuting from the rail catchment. Many of the motorway users in the peak from the rail catchment are working outside the Wellington CBD, from what I recall, and their workplace patterns will be far too dispersed for public transport to make much of a difference.

    * Off-peak, Wellington does not have major congestion issues. I doubt (again, observing local conditions here) that trams would make overmuch of a difference.

    In the meantime, we could do a lot more, now, to prioritise bus operations, and that would help. We could also do a lot more to control the volumes of city centre commuter parking. Both would be needed anyway to make a tram system work.

     
  18. Glen Smith, 22. June 2019, 11:25

    Brent. A great article and fascinating presentation looking at rail history in Wellington and exploring some options looking forward. While we disagree on a lot of the specific network design and route details (happy to logically debate these), I absolutely agree that extending our existing rail lines as separate incompatible across-town ‘light rail’ or ‘trackless trams’ would be a fundamentally stupid decision which would critically cripple our regional PT network forever by imposing unnecessary potent transfer disincentives on a high percentage of potential future PT users. However, based on a policy of ‘horses for courses,’ I don’t think you can dismiss trackless trams completely as an option for part of our PT network.
    If you start from the premise of a ‘connective network- radial’ basic design for our regional PT network (see discussion under my previous ‘transfer’ article of 2nd April) with continuous seamless (same mode throughout) PT ‘lines’ running from one peripheral regional location, across the CBD and on to another single peripheral location, then ideally our four existing rail lines (Kapiti, Hutt, Melling – logically continued into Lower Hutt as you suggest – and Johnsonville) should be extended as seamless rail compatible with our current networks. The logical destination for these lines (in my opinion) is the east, based on transport load (especially the projected airport patronage) and topography (and therefore ease and cost of construction).
    However some of our ‘lines’ have no interaction with our existing rail network and so being rail isn’t so critical. For these, trackless trams should be objectively compared to rail and conventional buses in terms of cost and performance. On this basis, the Newlands to Island Bay or Karori to Seatoun lines, where rail would be difficult and expensive, could be converted to trackless trams as the next ‘step up’ from conventional buses (see my suggested network design in the article referenced above).
    In your enthusiasm for rail, you have advocated converting both of the necessary across-town PT corridors (the Golden Mile and the Quays) to rail, something that would be much more expensive than just one rail corridor and which would displace, and therefore impose potent bus-to-rail transfer penalties (around 17 to 18 minute ‘pure’ penalties) on a large percentage of current bus users (in particular the southern line bus users with your and FIT’s obsession with detouring the eastern lines via Newtown, despite this producing an illogical network design and facing huge, and in my view insurmountable logistical and consent barriers).
    If trackless trams were chosen for these routes, then Newtown and the Golden Mile would be serviced by a mixture of buses (lower-load non-rail lines) and trackless trams (higher-load non-rail lines), with the Quays being rail as a direct extension of our existing network and continuing to the east following a SH1 route via a stacked multipurpose second Mt Victoria Tunnel. Such a network would not only likely be functionally superior but likely a lot cheaper, logistically easier and therefore achieved in a far more ambitious time frame than the one you advocate in your presentation.

     
  19. Leviathan, 22. June 2019, 11:39

    We’ve been discussing these “Sham Trams” over on Eye of the Fish as well: http://eyeofthefish.org/trackless-trams-are-a-waste-of-money/

    Some interesting points that arose – including that the cost of some trackless-tram systems has exceeded that of Light Rail, and that two European trackless tram systems have been closed down and replaced by Light Rail. Also, the last remaining trackless trams at Translohr are struggling to find homes – no one wants to buy them. Just shows that we would be mad to go down that route.

     
  20. Steve Doole, 23. June 2019, 10:15

    Golden Mile and the Quays are not the only route options for rail through the CBD. SH1 route is another. A big advantage of this route is complete separation from traffic, so trains up to 10 cars in length are possible (unlike the Golden Mile route), possibly as far as the hospital area.

    A second motorway tunnel has been on plans for many years next to the existing Terrace tunnel. There is car parking and grass behind office and residential buildings on the west side of The Terrace. A railway tunnel could be built here instead. The new tunnel would start lower and further north so the gradient is appropriate, possibly with a through station where car parks are now. Another station in Thorndon would be useful alongside the motorway. The hospital area should be the first target destination/terminus, with a route underground across the Mt Cook area. The impact of changing motorway southbound lanes across Thorndon to rail tracks is likely low, given one lane of three southbound traffic lanes can exit on to Aotea Quay now, so the southbound lanes across Thorndon are seldom at capacity. Of course the existing railway is on the west side of the motorway and lower than the motorway across the rail yards. A route and ramp is needed for trains from Hutt and Porirua lines to pass first under the motorway then over Thorndon Quay. Yes, this probably means reorganisation of the area. Motorway spans across Thorndon Quay will be changed as well.

    Current trains are unlikely to be suitable. I pick light metro through-walking trains, as many cities have. Are they trams or light rail – well, more like a train, and can be long and rapid. Did LGWM look at this option?

     
  21. Brendan, 23. June 2019, 16:23

    @Steve D: Have you got $100 billion? If yes or if you know someone who does, we can probably build a kilometer of your heavy rail route. The only way to make Light Rail look cheap is to stand it next to heavy rail or a motorway tunnel!

     
  22. Guy M, 23. June 2019, 16:23

    But Steve, you are missing the point. Cars are routed down the motorway route because we don’t want them to interact with people walking. There are no stops along the motorway.

    Trains (of any sort) are different. When they stop, at train stations / tram stops along the way, we want them to be stopping in a place of maximum pedestrian interaction. Having train stops along the motorway path up behind the Terrace would condemn any pedestrian interaction to zero. If it was planned as a fast route, with no getting on or off, then a route alongside the motorway might make a little sense – get on at Kaiwharawhara, get off at Willis St. But that is not what Wellington needs. Wellington needs a rail system with intense interaction with where the people are – that means (probably) Lambton Quay.

     
  23. Mike Mellor, 24. June 2019, 12:21

    Looking at the report that John Rankin links to above, it is clear that the trackless tram concept has some things going for it, but that the report is a piece of advocacy rather than the impartial analysis that the distinguished authorship would imply. Some examples:

    * much is made of the relative capital costs of LRT/BRT/TT, but I could see no mention of operating costs. One of the benefits of rail is the low cost of movement because of the much lower rolling resistance of steel wheel on rail than rubber wheel on road. How does TT stack up in this respect?

    * an important environmental consequence of the use of rubber tyres is the creation of air-borne particulates – a well-known health hazard – as the tyre and road surfaces wear away. Surprisingly, this does not appear to be mentioned.

    * On pp83/4, the report says “TT can be installed virtually overnight due to the lack of infrastructure requirements in the road”, with “no digging up of streets”, which are simultaneously completely true and absolute nonsense. Theoretically such optically guided buses could be running along the Golden Mile tomorrow, but all they’d be able to provide is today’s inadequate service. A service as good as LRT would require major infrastructure works – and those who recall the lengthy and extensive rebuild of Manners Mall to allow buses through it may disagree with the “lack of infrastructure requirements”.

    * TTs are said to be around half the weight of a diesel bus, “9t cf 17t”, but that statement is hard to make sense of. Clearly the whole thing does not weigh 9t, so perhaps that is the weight per axle. But if that were the case, our three-axle diesels, at 17t per axle, would be weighing in at over 50t! Clearly that’s nonsense.

    * As well as the suggested reduction in cost through not laying rails, mention is made of the lack of overhead catenary, as if this were a requirement for electric LRT but not for electric TT. The authors seem to be unaware that there are a growing number of wireless LRT installations around the world.

    * I could see no mention of the perils of using proprietary technology such as TT, where the vehicle supplier has an effective monopoly. There have been many types of such bus-based proprietary infrastructure developed, and none of them have caught on – early adopters have had their fingers burnt. There are lessons to be learned there!

    It’s good to be looking at all options, and we need to investigate them in an impartial way, looking at the cons as well as the pros. We have not yet got to that state with respect to TT, while LRT continues to be a proven solution, continuing to be adopted in many cities throughout the world.

     
  24. Ross Clark, 24. June 2019, 20:39

    Mike, the upfront capital costs of light rail are out of all proportion to the additional operating costs of operating a bus-based solution.

     
  25. greywarbler, 24. June 2019, 21:55

    My question is thinking about sea rise. The Oriental Bay, Lambton Quay/Railway Station area is flat and likely to be flooded at certain times. If fully electric systems were installed in-ground, then flooding would badly affect these. Could a high-skyline train system be considered now while there is analysis of future needs? In the USA, some elevated trains have been dismantled but some are still running. So there is still the infrastructure for a new system to suit the time and the needs in Wellington.

     
  26. Helen, 25. June 2019, 8:05

    Bring back the trolley bus! Tried and tested technology that GWRC vandalised and WCC just did a Pontius Pilot on. Okay, so trolley buses don’t have steel wheels that old white fellas squeal so much about but the rest of us (i.e. the 95%) just want environmentally and affordable public transport for Wellington.

     
  27. mason, 25. June 2019, 9:10

    Melbourne’s new skyrail looks impressive, something like that here would be one option to get trains through the CBD.

     
  28. greenwelly, 25. June 2019, 9:38

    Skyrail was essentially a programme to remove level crossings by elevating an exiting line, it was mitigating disruption. Extending the current heavy rail through the CBD on elevated tracks would be a totally different kettle of fish. It is clear that this option is not being looked at by funding agencies.

     
  29. greenwelly, 25. June 2019, 9:58

    @Helen, GWRC stuck the knife into the trolley buses because until they got rid of them (and their fixed routes) they were not able to introduce their “new network”- and bring in new bus operators. Once the council decided that the new network was what they wanted, it was “game over” for the trolleys. They are gone, and unfortunately there is no going back.

     
  30. D.W., 25. June 2019, 10:05

    Skyrails are just plain ugly and I can’t see ‘Save the Basin’ accepting one in Wellington, given their vehement opposition to a flyover. By the way, Sydney took down its CBD monorail because it was ugly. You should watch the Simpsons before recommending skyrail to us. The bill was pretty ugly too and ruined Springfield’s finances.

     
  31. mason, 25. June 2019, 10:52

    Skyrail and Bangkok’s bts looked pretty cool to me. Better than a defacto motorway and its severance issues.

     
  32. John Rankin, 25. June 2019, 11:16

    @DW: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For example, IMHO the SkyBridge is a stunning piece of engineering design.

    Whether Wellington builds light rail or trackless trams, grade separation between rapid transit and general traffic at the busiest intersections may be needed. There are proven international design guidelines based on traffic volume and service frequency that will tell us where we’ll need to consider grade separation along the chosen route.

     
  33. CPH, 25. June 2019, 14:56

    Unfortunately the light rail advocates are approaching this like it’s an engineering problem, when in fact it’s an economic problem. Debating the merits or otherwise of various technologies when light rail has a truly terrifying $2.5 billion price tag – or roughly $5,000 for every man, woman and child in the entire greater Wellington region – seems like discussing the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

    Light rail in the form promoted by its advocates will never happen because it’s just plain unaffordable. If there’s a cheaper option that can deliver similar benefits then it should be investigated – even if it’s not as elegant in engineering terms.

     
  34. D.W., 25. June 2019, 15:19

    It’s a stunner J.R. Your Skybridge looks fabulous over water but where is the water on your tram route? Are you planning trams to Eastbourne, Picton or somewhere else?

     
  35. Local, 25. June 2019, 15:44

    Meantime…the only “decision” that WCC and GWRC are about to make is to throw millions of $$ at a so-called Vision which could be trackless trams or bendy buses or light rail, or rubber wheels or steel wheels, or a Basin “flyover” that has become a “ramp”, or a Lambton Quay without cars but with diesel buses, or four lanes to the planes…One concrete specific – a pedestrian crossing or maybe an overbridge over Cobham Drive? Such an exciting vision is definitely worth our millions. Yeah right!

     
  36. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 25. June 2019, 22:48

    Have you read the relevant material, Local? It’s much more detailed and specific than what you’ve written. This is the start of a real game-changer for Wellington. LGWM is about better and more sustainable public transport, better and safer walking and cycling, improved urban form/streetscapes, more reliable journey times for essential road users, lower levels of emission-causing congestion, more-connected communities

     
  37. Steve Doole, 26. June 2019, 6:44

    Currently the railway can deliver over 9,000 people per hour to Wellington station from northern suburbs and the region.
    SH1 & SH2 deliver about 7000 vehicles per hour (maybe 10,000 people including those on buses), which Transmission Gully won’t change much.
    If population of the region is to grow, then more capacity will be needed, lots more.
    Doubling rail could be an easy aim, as many two track railways deliver more than 20,000 people per hour, some 60,000.
    First step could be increasing the capacity for trains between Ngauranga and Wellington station – signalling and spacing are constraints. Currently there might be 3 tracks used for through trains across Thorndon. 1 for Johnsonville, reversible (both directions), and one down and one up for combined Hutt and Porirua. Perhaps a 5 track system can be considered – 1 for Johnsonville, 2 for Porirua, and 2 for Hutt lines.
    Trams and fake trams south from the railway station will not alter the capacity from the north, merely make transfer more attractive, so cars will still flood in with those options. Through running LRT from only the Johnsonville line changes the dynamic, but not enough.
    Brent is right to call for a different solution.

     
  38. Guy M, 26. June 2019, 11:02

    CPH – just where did you come up with this figure of $2.5 billion? Out of your hat?

     
  39. greenwelly, 26. June 2019, 12:32

    @Guy. In Twyford’s LGWM announcement, the capital cost is estimated at $2.2 billion. (Throw in a small cost overrun and $2.5 billion is certainly possible).
    Page 4 of this document.

     
  40. Glen Smith, 26. June 2019, 22:25

    Steve Doole. Your suggestion of a SH1 route for rail across the CBD is interesting but I think demonstrably not the best option. We have one current across town PT corridor – the Golden Mile – which will always be the major PT route. We need a second, but if one is high capacity across town ‘mass transit’ it is unlikely we’ll need a 3rd any time soon – particularly if rail based. Which then is best route? SH1 or the Quays.
    The Quays is almost ideally suited. It is a straight uninterrupted corridor with high capacity able to accommodate a rapid high quality PT corridor as a simple straight surface run. It is adjacent to the currently poorly serviced waterfront yet within 2 blocks of almost the entire CBD. It comes directly off the Station at the north end and in the south can link to either Taranaki St or Kent/ Cambridge Tce via Wakefield St. SH1 misses the Station, the CBD, the Waterfront and presents huge logistical problems. Quays is, to me, the best option.
    I had looked at SH1 as a good cycle corridor for across-town cyclists to avoid the CBD when the second Terrace Tunnel eventually goes ahead (would also supply a good West to South cycle route and a south to Terrace route with good gradient). However this second tunnel is not a funding priority – across town Mass Transit is, because if this is well implemented the Tunnel load could drop by likely 30-50% making duplication unnecessary for some decades.
    Absolutely agree that we need to increase Ngauranga to Station rail capacity and that 1 Johnsonville and 2 Hutt+ 2 Kapiti lines (all separate without converging) would be the ideal. I had done some possible concept plans for this with Quays rail separating to the East first from first the Hutt and then the Kapiti lines north of the Station and picking up the Ferry terminal (assuming its not going to be moved) and the Stadium. We’ll see what our planners secretly come up with for this area.