Wellington Scoop

Track-sharing – how to extend the rail network across the CBD

by Glen Smith
Wellington is fortunate to have a high-quality dedicated rail network north of the city dating back to the 1800s. It services over 14 million trips annually and attracts over 40% of weekday peak time commuters entering the CBD from the north. However its effectiveness is hampered by the line terminating at the northern end of the city, with only 15% of rail passengers transferring to buses to continue their journey. As a result, rail only really services the northern part of the CBD.

The key factor here is the potent ‘transfer penalty’- both actual (disembarkation, walk, wait, embarkation) and ‘pure’- (the disinclination to make a journey by public transport (PT) if it involves a transfer, measured in equivalent trip time).

Survey data shows that even in a city such as Sydney, where passengers are familiar with transfers, a rail to bus transfer is rated as a 17 minutes ‘pure’ penalty and rail to rail at over 7 minutes.

As a consequence essentially all ‘across town’ trips, between the large population centres north and south of the CBD, occur by car. This is a huge volume – with over 41,000 cars crossing the CBD via the Terrace Tunnel daily, and across-town trips making up the majority of trips for cars approaching from the north.

The lack of a viable across-town PT option contributes to Wellington being of the more congested cities in the world with a Tom-Tom rating of 28% extra travel time spent in congestion.

The ideal would be to remove this transfer by seamlessly extending our rail network across the CBD and to one or more destinations south of the city. This faces significant technical problems and our planners have put it in the ‘too hard’ basket. Instead they plan, at best, a completely separate ‘light’ rail system south of the Station and possibly only a bus based corridor, despite research showing cities with rail-based networks outperform ‘bus only’ cities in essentially all objective performance indicators.

A key barrier to network extension is that our current system runs ‘heavy’ rail, including freight, while any surface across-town corridor would have to run ‘lighter’ units. This barrier has been overcome overseas by adopting ‘track-sharing’, where rail units of different weight and characteristics share a common rail corridor. This system is used by over 30 cities with a similar number being planned. Despite this, it is a solution that has been ignored by our planners.


The modern era of Track Sharing (which was in fact historically quite common) was pioneered by the city of Karlsruhe in Germany, culminating in the opening of the first ‘Tramtrain’ (a type of Track Sharing) line between Karlsruhe to Bretten in 1992. Prior to this the existing ‘heavy’ rail had terminated at a station on the outskirts of town requiring transfer to reach the centre, and as a result was poorly utilised. The removal of this transfer resulted in an increase in patronage of over 500%.

Implementing Track Sharing here would not only seamlessly open up the whole of the CBD to rail users from the north, but would also offer a viable PT option for all across-town trips. Passengers could potentially get on a train at Waikanae or Upper Hutt with a sign ‘Airport’ on the front and get off there, or any point in between.

Track-sharing advocates note that “..new track sharing systems can … involve technical challenges … however the most complex issues are usually best described as ‘human politics’ with the various vested interests being – at best – sceptical but sometimes even showing outright hostility..” Never a truer word.

However one technical issue is capacity on our rail network and specifically the ‘pinchpoint’ south of where our main Kapiti and Hutt lines merge.

Planners are aware of capacity problems on the network and LGWM anticipates “increased rail network capacity” but notes that this will be “implemented outside of LGWM”. This splintered approach to regional planning is an example of “human politics” interfering with intelligent coordinated design. Rather than undertaking planning on a ‘regional basis’, which would examine the best solutions for all trips across our region, LGWM just assumes passengers will be dumped en masse at the Station.

Our rail system can run Matangi trains of up to 8 carriages, requiring a platform length of 180m. Platforms this long on an affordable surface-based across-town rail corridor would be essentially impossible. A 45m platform should be easy and 90m might be possible at a push. So if we replace current services with across-town trains we would halve or even quarter peak capacity given the same number of services.

The alternative is to continue to run current Matangi services (which are relatively new and currently gainfully employed servicing Station passengers) and add additional smaller across town units.
This plan hits the problem of capacity, in terms of trains per hour, that can be accommodated on the network. This isn’t such a problem on most of the Hutt and Kapiti lines, where trains run sequentially (an exception is the single track between Pukerua Bay and Plimmerton which should ideally be double tracked). It is a major problem in the area just north of the Station where the four Kapiti and Hutt line currently merge into three available lines to cross the railyards. Separating these completely by adding a fourth line would immediately add capacity but wouldn’t solve the problem of separating across town units.

If we assume a double Quays-based across town corridor, then exit from the east of the Station is possible either with or without building removal depending on specifications of across town units and hence radius of rail curvature (45m for building preservation – optimistic , 100m or more with building removal – more realistic).

exit 1

If we assume a mix of ‘Station’ and ‘across-town’ units, and an exit to the east, then units will have to be separated north of the Station. The Hutt line approaches the city on the east of the Kapiti line so separating across-town trains from the Hutt line is relatively straightforward – the only conflict is with the northbound across-town units crossing the southbound ‘Station’ units and merging with the northbound ‘Station’ units.

Things are more difficult with the Kapiti line to the west. If done at grade, then southbound ‘across-town’ units would have to cross both north and southbound Hutt ‘Station’ tracks, and northbound across-town units would have cross both north and southbound Hutt Station units AND southbound Kapiti ‘Station’ units to merge with northbound ‘Station’ units. This is a logistical nightmare with trains arriving up to every minute at peak time. Grade separation is required. This could be expensive unless we use existing infrastructure.

There is only one train-to-train grade separation at present and this is where the northbound Hutt units pass under the Kapiti lines. Could this be used to achieve the result we want? I absolutely think so.

The alternative to having across-town Kapiti units cross the Hutt Station lines at grade is to first separate Hutt across-town units (relatively easy as above) north of the current Hutt/Kapiti merge, then switch the Hutt Line to west of the Kapiti Line using the existing grade separation, then separate the Kapiti across-town units (see fig 3 below for one potential schematic design).

alternative lines plan

The current southbound Hutt line running beside the motorway (around the merge point) would then become the northernmost part of the across-town corridor (see figure below).

alternative lines 2

One difficulty is that there is only one line here. Width for two lines could be achieved by moving the Kapiti lines slightly west, making the embankment vertical or utilising the width currently occupied by the pointless 4th north bound motorway lane. This corridor could potentially be shared with freight and temporally separated (across-town rail only at peak times and freight-only at interpeak) depending on whether interpeak rail services can be managed elsewhere without grade separation.

Lines between the Station and the merge would have to be increased to six (2 Hutt station lines, 2 Kapiti station lines and 2 across-town lines). Given minimum 4m centre-of-track to centre-of-track clearances, and 2.75m centre-of-track to external object clearance, this would require 25.5m total rail corridor width. The narrowest pinch point appears to be immediately behind Spotlight at around 26m.

This leaves the Johnsonville line. Initially this could terminate at the station with transfer, but the future option would be to have this exiting from the Station to the west then crossing Bunny St south of the station to join the Quays across-town line (and so avoiding interacting with ‘Station’ units) or perhaps joining a future true ‘light rail’ Golden mile corridor if future growth and PT patronage make a Karori or Island Bay light rail corridor economically feasible (not likely in the foreseeable future but always possible in decades to come).

The design outlined above is only one possibility and is presented only to stimulate discussion before the LGWM impose what appears to be an inferior segmented across town PT design that will fail to remove transfer and cripple our regional transport system forever. It involves significant movement of tracks and electrical wiring but minimal earthworks. It would likely require a modern train control system. This would set the basis for a seamless regional transport network for the decades and centuries to come.

None of this would need to be done immediately. Across-town rail could initially terminate at the station with transfer, and then integration occur at some point in the future depending on funding. The crucial thing is that a long term regional approach should be taken to PT planning and that the planned across-town corridor be constructed with specifications that allow future integration to produce a seamless Regional transport network.

Think long term. Do it once and do it right.


  1. Dave B, 27. October 2020, 15:07

    A very accurate definition of Wellington’s main transport problem. And a sadly-accurate highlight of our planning authorities’ failure to recognize the detriment that our incomplete PT spine causes to the city and region: “Rather than undertaking planning on a ‘regional basis’, which would examine the best solutions for all trips across our region, LGWM just assumes passengers will [continue to] be dumped en masse at the Station.”

    We go to great lengths and costs to facilitate seamless car-journeys from north of the CBD to south of it, but we expect all PT users who might want to make such a journey to get off the mode they arrive on, walk, wait, (pay again), then get on another. Consequently few people attempt this by PT and instead go by car, adding unnecessarily to Wellington’s city- and regional traffic volumes. How best to fix this is the question, but it will not be fixed by a “mass rapid transit system” that perpetuates the incomplete spine and has very limited relevance for regional travellers from places like Waikanae or Upper Hutt.

    What is needed is for LGWM (representing WCC, GWRC and NTZA) to accept that seamless, through-train services between south and north of the region are an essential pre-requisite to getting Wellington moving. And from this acceptance, to investigate and evaluate all possible means by which they might be achieved, of which Glen’s proposal is one. We must not wait until our traffic-congestion is as desperate and damaging as Auckland’s, before we get-moving on some form of Wellington City Rail Link.

  2. K, 27. October 2020, 15:43

    I like a new approach, but this seems like a 20th century solution that will be outdated within a decade as low cost point to point autonomous car options emerge that require hardly any new infrastructure cost and can be much smaller and lighter than existing driver-required cars. Anything attached to rails is ignoring the core fact that majority of people arriving by train from north of the city who are heading south of the CBD are going in increasingly dispersed directions that wouldn’t be served by one or two very expensive new rail lines.

  3. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 27. October 2020, 16:11

    I admire Glen’s persistence but his very high capital cost suggestions aren’t likely to be affordable for a region of this size, & there are many operational reasons why his track sharing proposals won’t fly. I just wish LGWM would get on & publish its LRT proposals for comment.

    K, one single LRT route to Miramar and the airport running through the CBD then via Te Aro, the Basin, Newtown, Kilbirnie and Rongotai would cater for a very high proportion of the passengers arriving by trains from the north. I believe public transport will be with us for a very long time yet, and I doubt whether it will be replaced by literal hordes of individual autonomous cars.

  4. Peter S, 28. October 2020, 1:40

    I agree with CCF, heavy rail through Wellington is pie in the sky and is never going to happen. Even light rail isn’t necessarily viable either, in a small city like ours (why are we obsessed with growth?).
    Dave B, the issues of transfer at the rail are surely all solvable with buses, as long as they are electric of course. Arrive; walk to platform 1 (or 9), not through that dingy subway; wait 3 or 4 minutes at most, since it’s BRT; not pay again, because we have fully transferable transport cards; job done!
    Well not quite, because we need a “speedy” route through the city, otherwise our BRT buses will be stopping more often than going, just like all the buses on the golden mile at present. Would the quays really be any quicker?

  5. Mike Mellor, 28. October 2020, 11:35

    K: autonomous cars are still a long way in the future, and they will still be much less efficient users of space than public transport.

    Peter S: no-one is actually proposing BRT for Wellington. What was being called BRT failed to meet even the lowest standards to warrant such a description: the bus proposals were basically just more bus lanes, with a lot of mixing with general traffic and its congestion.

    Glen: your last paragraph is spot on – but as others have pointed out, disproportionate cost and complexity (see all the points of conflict in fig. 3, for example) mean that such an ambitious proposal is very unlikely to see the light of day.

    But that doesn’t mean to say that we don’t need to do something about the Wellington Station interchange – of course we do. It may be a simpler but more cost-effective form of tram train, though its effects on the wider rail network ant the unique characteristics of Wellington and its rail network don’t seem to have been taken into account. In the shorter term, it should at least be a proper interchange at the front of the station, minimising actual and perceived distance. Whatever, it should be a major item on LGWM’s agenda.

  6. Dave B, 28. October 2020, 12:08

    I agree, Peter S, the issue of transfer between train and bus could be greatly improved by cross-platform connection, by not having to pay again, and by a guaranteed 3-4 minute connection between every train and bus particularly at less-frequent times. However I think Glen Smith nails the basic deficiency with any enforced transfer on this major arterial route: the lack of ability to board a train in regional centres like Waikanae or Upper Hutt that displays “Airport” as the destination, and know that it will take you there (or to points in between) without any further action or uncertainty on your part. This is, after all, one of the major appeals of car-travel – door-to-door or as close as possible, without uncertainty of missed connections, having to hump luggage, marshal children, or any other potential trouble.
    This is also why people prefer direct flights over having to transfer between planes – acceptable perhaps between Gisborne and Hokitika say, but not between Auckland and Wellington which is a closer-equivalent to the arterial route between Wellington’s eastern suburbs and the rest of the region. After all, the present plan is to build a high-cost, high-capacity motorway along this same corridor.

    A heavy rail extension is only pie-in-the-sky if people keep insisting it to be. If the wider sentiment becomes, “Let’s do this”, then a way will be found to make it happen. Auckland’s City Rail Link was similarly dismissed by many people (including prominent politicians) for many decades, but hooray, it is now happening. We just need to shift our mindset away from ‘more-motorways’ as the only ‘realistic’ way forward. I am not of this mindset and never have been.

  7. Kerry, 28. October 2020, 12:45

    The fundamental problem here is what Glen calls a potent ‘transfer penalty.’ He adds that ‘Survey data shows that even in a city such as Sydney, where passengers are familiar with transfers, a rail to bus transfer is rated as a 17 minutes.’
    What this shows is not an inherent PT problem but an ill-considered survey.
    London has a very effective PT system, with a dozen or so main-line railway termini, all relying on transfers. When London’s Elizabeth Line opens, using main-line passenger trains, its primary purpose will be passenger interchanges at a long chain of new or rebuilt stations, boosting the capacity of London’s Underground as a whole.
    Everybody knows that hubs cause delays, but they generally don’t. The trick is frequency. Waiting a two or three minutes at a hub, for a frequent service, wastes a lot less time than waiting for an hourly service that few people use. It is worth walking further to catch a more frequent service, and frequent services make plan-changing much easier.
    Karlsruhe is an unusual case, irrelevant in most cities, including Wellington.
    Light rail is practical in Wellington, running on-street in reserved lanes, but cannot run on main-line tracks. Light rail costs are often overstated, because opponents only look at (Sydney-like) capital costs. What they forget is that running and maintaining a modern tram costs about as much as a bus, but drivers make up 70% of operating costs. Transport for London estimates that light rail is cheaper than buses if peak-hour passenger numbers are more than about 3300 an hour.
    Peter: BRT is no use in Wellington (WSP study) because it needs four lanes. Where to find space for them? And light rail is probably cheaper.
    LGWM are heading in the right direction, and GWRC is beginning to follow.

  8. Lloyd Weeber, 28. October 2020, 15:46

    Through town rail needs to be main line so that a Wellington Airport to Palmerston North airport rail shuttle can be operated. That means grade separation will be required at Wellington Station. Such a line will save Hataitai from being destroyed by an additional car tunnel. It will also be faster than a Ministerial car from the Beehive.
    Stations at Courtenay Place, underground in Hataitai and at Miramar South School’s campus would serve the social heart of the city and the eastern suburbs.

  9. glen smith, 28. October 2020, 16:51

    CCF. You state “there are many operational reasons why…track sharing…won’t fly” but you fail to justify this vague assertion either now or in previous e-mails. Perhaps you could do so now on this forum. If there is a train following a scheduled path along a line to/from Upper Hutt/Kapiti what insurmountable ‘operational’ reasons prevent a second train from following immediately behind? Please specify each obstacle you identified, what options you explored in your professional capacity (in order to present all options to your clients- the public) to overcome these individual obstacles and what solutions the international specialists experienced in track sharing proposed when you met with them (like the ones in Karlsruhe who can co-ordinate 13 lines while accommodating freight and heavy trains including high speed units). Or perhaps you haven’t undertaken this exercise, haven’t met with anyone with tracksharing expertise and are really part of the hostile “human politics’ who don’t want to present the public with a comprehensive list of alternatives but have a predetermined agenda you want to impose. I recall this was an NZTA attribute (fortunately recognised by the Basin Board)- their sham Basin ‘public consultation’ including the choice of a flyover or …you guessed it…a flyover.
    Mike Mellor I extend the same invitation to you. The ‘points of conflict’ you mention are 3 separations (no conflict), 3 merges (the trailing unit simply waits and follows the leading unit) and 3 crossings, all involving only an individual line relatively infrequent trains and all of which can ultimately be grade separated if required (it seems planners happily grade separate even a lane or two of cars all the time but somehow view the same for rail as extravagant, even if it enables a fully seamless Regional rail system).

  10. glen smith, 28. October 2020, 17:19

    CCF and Mike Mellor. You say that my proposals for improving capacity north of the Station would be “very high capital cost” and “ambitious”. Interesting. Our pioneers came to a rugged land but didn’t just wring their hands in defeat. Instead they forged rail lines (usually by pick and shovel) over mountains, across gullies, through hills, spanning barren snow-swept plateaus, ravines and swamps to create over 4000kms of rail line. Yet you view changing a few kilometres of track on flat solid ground near a major city with modern equipment as such on overwhelming prospect that you can’t even contemplate it, let alone objectively assess it.
    Or perhaps you have already assessed it before you dismiss it? If so please present the details of objective costings to show that a plan such as this isn’t worthwhile. And how did that expense compare to the costs of extra road construction, congestion, pollution, noise, policing, accidents and climate change that a seamless rail network would save by reducing car use? Also how much do you anticipate it will cost future generations to retrospectively redo your incompatible across-town rail corridor to integrate it into our Regional rail network? (while shaking their heads in disbelief that any of their ancestors could be so shortsighted).

  11. glen smith, 28. October 2020, 17:37

    Kerry. I’m not sure Neil Douglas would be happy with you characterising his research as an “ill considered survey”. It is a well constructed piece of research. In addition he reviewed a range of similar international literature and summarised that “..the estimated transfer penalties ranged from 3 to 31 minutes of IVT with a median value of 9 minutes and an average value of 10 minutes”. 17 minutes and 7 minutes are well within the overall research range and not that far from the mean/ median across research articles.
    More compelling is the empirical Wellington-based data which shows that, despite having access to Golden Mile buses that leave every couple of minutes, essentially no train passengers undertake a transfer to complete their journey and rail only services the north of the CBD area (graph 32, page 26 of the LGWM technical report .)

  12. Dave B, 28. October 2020, 19:04

    @ Glen Smith, peak frequency on the Kapiti Line is currently 8 trains/hr (proposed to increase to 9), and this excludes long-distance services. Peak frequency on the Hutt Line is currently 10 trains/hr (proposed to increase to 12). Further increases are also expected when new units for the Wairarapa and Palmerston North eventuate. So it is not true that each line has “relatively infrequent trains”.

    Your proposal may work if some of the existing Matangi-services are replaced outright by your proposed medium-weight units. For example if trains that currently start from Taita, Melling, Porirua and Plimmerton became through-trains onto the cross-city extension then only the remaining 4 Matangis/hr from Upper Hutt and 3-4 from Waikanae would need to be additionally tailed by cross-town units.

    However the system is facing relentlessly growing patronage, even without the major inducement of a southern extension. Those trains that would be replaced by cross-town units are currently 4 or 6-car Matangis, expected to lengthen to 8-cars with continued growth. Would the cross-town units you envisage be able to accommodate the passenger-loadings of the trains that they will replace? Plus other passengers from the remaining Matangis who might also want to continue across town?

    Light rail proponents often point out that modern 60-70 metre units can carry 400-500 people each, but these figures assume extreme crush-loading with limited seating and most people standing. Crush-loading is not how a system should be designed to operate at the outset, or as of routine. An 8-car Matangi will carry nearly 600 passengers in seated comfort (1500 crush-loaded). What happens when 1,500-2,000 people arrive on several Matangis within a few minutes of each other? How many will be able to squeeze onto light rail vehicles? How many will not bother to try? And so how effective will the system be at tempting through-travelers out of their cars? This is where the suggestion falls apart, that light rail in-the-street can provide an acceptable cross-town extension to the metro service. It cannot realistically match the metro capacity without turning streets into virtual rail-corridors. Will your proposed medium-weight system be able to do any better, unless it has an exclusive corridor of its own, in which case that corridor may as well carry Matangis? Auckland is facing these same issues with its light rail proposals. It will be interesting to see how this plays out if the current government is serious about building light rail there.

  13. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 28. October 2020, 21:26

    Hi Glen. Bit busy today to give you the full answer you have requested but please ponder these points:

    Overall capacity: Dave B (above) has hit the nail on the head re train sizes. He makes the case for a heavy rail extension, and this is something I’d dearly love to see, but it would require either tunnelling under the CBD, extensive elevated rail structures, or the drastic reconfiguration of large parts of the CBD. At the other end of the scale, an LRT requires a transfer – common in big cities overseas but of course involving a passenger time/convenience penalty over a through service. However, this disbenefit has the effect of dissuading rail passengers from the north who may only need a 5-10 minute walk to their destination (eg Lambton Quay, Willis St) from making a transfer and overcrowding the LRT at the expense of passengers wishing to travel further. While I agree that multi-model ticketing is of course required, there might need to be a fare-stage penalty (zone boundary at Wellington station) to raise extra revenue and dissuade peak-hour passengers from transferring onto the LRT for just a short, walkable trip.

    Line capacity: the UH and Kapiti lines operate a mixture of express and all-stops trains in the peak, as I’m sure you know. If you look at a time-graphed diagram of the train paths you’ll see that the express trains are timed such that they can run unobstructed by the stopping services, but each express service, which has passed a key stopping-service-terminus like Taita just a minute or so before the stopping service starts, almost catches up to the previous stopping service by the time it reaches Wellington. (Same in the opposite direction of course.) Hence to introduce more trains, such as tram-trains following a minute behind the Matangis (whether express or stopping en route) would require either a reduction in overall peak frequency, or conversion of all services to all stops, or duplication of the lines all the way from (say) Taita and Plimmerton to Wellington.

    Platform height: Would your tram-trains have doors at kerb level for the convenience of CBD passengers, or Matangi level doors? Not really practical to have both.

    For these and other reasons, on the spectrum from buses through BRT, LRT, tram-trains to a full Matangi-style train service extension, I think LRT is the best, most affordable, most acceptable and most deliverable compromise.

    I believe I’ve made these points previously.

  14. Glen Smith, 28. October 2020, 23:36

    Dave B. The comment about ‘relatively infrequent’ was spacing between trains relative to the time for a train to safely cross another line at grade. With 12 trains per hour this is still a 5 minutes window of opportunity (although not necessarily always at the exact time wanted). Full grade separation would be the ideal.

    In terms of exact train movements, there are too many known and unknown variables, some modifiable and unmodifiable, to be able to precisely compare options in my head, which is why it would be good for our planners to professionally model a range of options and present them for public scrutiny. How much growth is there likely to be on each line (population growth and mode change from car)? What percentage are likely to be ‘across-town’ riders? What is the minimum time between trains with a modern control system (and hence maximum trains per hour)? How does the Pukerua Bay to Plimmerton single track affect this? And how easy would this be to fix? What is the variability in actual arrival times compared to timetabled time? Do we try to join the Johnsonville line on to the across town line? If so, all trains or just some? Do we start/ terminate some ‘across town’ trains at the Station? How much increase in Palm Nth/ Wairarapa trains is anticipated? (these would presumably terminate at the Station with transfer if required). Do we extend Melling into Lower Hutt? (we should – it is a major city centre). And how would that affect peak rail units? Should this line then be a separate ‘light’ rail line with transfer? (see my previous Melling article). Or a mixture of through and transfer? Should we have a mix of trains (as you suggest) starting at different locations? (these could then be altered over time to reflect across town vs Station ratios according to demand). Somewhere in these variables is an ideal mix. Modelling would come up with the best compromise.

    In terms of ‘back of an envelope’ calculations, if we assume a 90m across town station length (so equivalent to a 4 carriage Matangi with 750 crush-loaded capacity) and every alternate train, on average, is an across-town unit, this would reduce the maximum hourly volume by a quarter compared to running only 8 car Matangis. Assuming no freight trains at peak and one Wairarapa train per hour (I will count this as a station unit) and 5 minute train interval (on average) then Hutt line crush load capacity would be 12 x ((750+1500)/2) =13,500/hour (4,500 across town and 9,000 Station) compared to 18,000/hr as all 8 carriage Station units. If Kapiti ran an equivalent regime this would be 9,000 across town/hr (5 minute trains alternating Hutt/ Kapiti) and 18,000 Station. Is that across town to Station ratio right? Is that adequate for future growth – again it is hard to predict. I had planned an essentially all surface, high quality, fully dedicated but not exclusive corridor ie the corridor that is only for rail but interacts with cars crossing at some locations (as few as possible) and full train priority (wherever possible). Discussion around how to achieve that is a whole other article (or more). I think it is possible without tunnelling except in a few locations.

  15. Mike Mellor, 29. October 2020, 12:49

    Glen, thanks for confirming the complexity of your proposed interconnection between the existing suburban and your proposed city railways. You say “3 separations (no conflict), 3 merges (the trailing unit simply waits and follows the leading unit) and 3 crossings”, but from fig 3 there are actually four merges and at least four crossings. While diverging routes mean no conflict they do reduce the capacity of the lines beyond the divergence, and “simply waits” is no way for a high-capacity high-frequency network to operate reliably (and very few things on a railway network are ever simple!). I agree that grade separation is ideal, but it’s hard to see where you would find the space for the lengthy ramps required, and I wonder if you have taken into account the slow speeds and long clearance times of long or heavy trains such as freights in this environment, and the standing room required to ensure that trains don’t block following or opposing movements.

    I fully agree with Chris C-F’s remarks on capacity, and I would add a point about reliability and relative cost effectiveness. Current transfers at Wellington Station do impose a significant cost on users, and we’ve seen how this could be reduced by making transfers easier and quicker. So the comparison we should be making is between your linked system and a network that comprises the existing rail system, a short easy interchange, and an at-grade light rail (or BRT) city route. Yours will add the following costs and risks:
    – alterations to the existing rail network to accommodate a new type of vehicle, perhaps including new platforms and associated changes, and the other issues Chris notes;
    – a complex set of junctions (or a reduced but still complex set plus grade separation);
    – at least some grade separation of the proposed city line;
    – a likelihood of increased unreliability from mixing different types of operation in different environments;
    – coping with any imbalance of demand between the suburban and city routes.

    Even if your proposal could achieve the necessary reliability, these are still substantial additional risks and costs when compared with a relatively simple interchange (and, I agree, the likelihood of lower patronage).

  16. Kerry, 29. October 2020, 19:24

    Glen. I am aware of the map you refer to: it comes from the spine study modelling report, which also has an extension map going as far as the north end of Island Bay. Walking is certainly dominant, but why is that a problem? In Wellington, almost everybody walks from the railway station to destinations north of Harris St. Even at Ghuznee St, 1.5 km from the railway station, there are as many people walking as catching a bus.
    I worked in the Ministry of Transport in 2005-10, and there were often casual conversations about walking, for both pleasure and health: nearly everybody did.
    If many people are relaxed about walking, and hubs are clearly essential for quality public transport, what is the problem with having a hub in the usual place, the railway station?
    On this basis, what is the value of adding an estimated ‘transfer penalty’ to the real waiting time?

  17. John Rankin, 29. October 2020, 20:41

    @DaveB has previously quoted Tranz Metro saying 3000 people arrive in the busiest 15 minute period (2015 number). Assume 1000 of these wish to travel further south (@ChrisCalvi-Freeman notes that most arrivals are heading to offices in the Lambton Quay area, so 1000 may be too high). Assume Wellington operates light rail at the peak frequency planned for Auckland, a train every 4 minutes. That’s 250 people per train.

    A typical 63 metre LRV has a capacity of 470 people; contrary to Dave’s assertion, 470 is not crush loading.

    @GlenSmith quotes 41,000+ cars crossing the city daily. Assume half travel during the peaks and of these, half switch to a train. That’s a peak train demand of about 2500 per hour or 170 people per train. Adding Dave’s peak of the peak to Glen’s cross-town trips, light rail at 420 people per train still isn’t full. And if necessary, we can increase the frequency from every 4 to every 3 minutes.

    As Dave says, light rail “cannot realistically match the metro capacity” but it’s not clear that it needs to. Until Dave and Glen demonstrate that there is demand for more than 10,000 passengers per hour south of the railway station (the practical limit for on-street light rail without crush loading), I am unconvinced.

    Meanwhile, I broadly support LGWM’s MRT proposal and agree with Chris that “LRT is the best, most affordable, most acceptable and most deliverable compromise.”

  18. Glen Smith, 30. October 2020, 8:00

    CCF. Hmmm. Once again interesting. According you it is impossible to add any extra units at peak time and so our rail system is now effectively at maximum capacity at peak times. We’d better throw up our hands in defeat now and start making the signs at the stations that say ‘please go back to your cars and drive-no more room on our trains’. I anticipate your next Council election billboard “I support every conceivable road project since our rail system is full”.
    If we want to produce a liveable city, we have to expand rail capacity to meet demand. And I put it to you running a separate across-town unit immediately behind our current units, that disappear out of the way onto a separate line north of the Station and take people to where they want to go (rather than just dumping them at the station), is an ideal option.
    There are 7 timetabled ‘express’ trains between 6 and 9am on the Hutt line or around 2 per hour. Even if we have to ‘push back’ the overall timetable by a minute or two per train to accommodate the trailing units (and I am unconvinced we do – the timetables show commonly 5 minutes or more between arrivals, even taking Melling into account), then we have increased overall capacity by half, assuming 90m across town units, at the expense of 2/60 delay (the same train movements that used to take 60 minutes now taking 62 minutes). That means we have increased capacity by 30/60 – 2/60 = 28/60 or 47%. How were you planning to increase capacity by 50%? Lengthening every platform to 270m to run 12 unit Matangis? How much would that cost? That would be over half way to the Stadium and people on northern carriages will have used up most of the 400m that most people are prepared to walk just to get to the Station building before they even contemplate trying to get onto LRT.
    I encourage you to approach the issue with a neutral objective mind rather than a blinkered predetermined agenda. Lets see the modelling you and LGWM have done (or am I being optimistic).

  19. luke, 30. October 2020, 9:39

    Light Rail and Transfers seems more realistic than trying to extend heavy rail. Although ultimately some form of heavy rail may eventually also be needed to at least Courtenay Pl or Newtown.

  20. Ross Clark, 31. October 2020, 1:06

    Several issues here:

    * The first is access to the CBD from the north. The key thing is that two-thirds of the jobs in the CBD are within a ten-minute walk of the station. So, an extension of heavy rail would not make overmuch difference to peak flows, as the car flows from the north are by this point too dispersed to be served by public transport.

    * The second is access to the CBD from the rest of Wellington City. I doubt that LRT would make overmuch difference at this stage, because it would be sharing road space with cars, and would get just as bogged down as cars do (have seen this a lot in Edinburgh).

    * Third, transfer-based systems like London’s only work because there is a very high frequency across /both/ modes. We’re talking every five-ten minutes here; rail links from the north do not, in the offpeak, have the frequency to serve this market well.

    * Fourth, in the offpeak it is very difficult to attract trains to attract patronage for journeys going through the CBD (e.g. the Hutt to Newtown), and difficult enough for trips into the CBD. The need here might be to think as to how we provide interpeak journeys differently – e.g. direct buses from the region into the /southern/ part of the CBD, as this could save a lot of end-to-end journey time.

  21. Henry Filth, 2. November 2020, 13:09

    “. . . with only 15% of rail passengers transferring to buses to continue their journey.”
    It seems a lot of time and trouble for shifting not that many people.

  22. Dave B, 2. November 2020, 19:14

    @ Henry Filth, you are suffering from Auckland Harbour Bridge Syndrome. You would have been among those who claimed that building the AHB was a lot of time and trouble for shifting not that many people who used to cross to the North Shore before it was built!

    According to the Report of the Public Transport Spine Study hearings subcommittee (2014), 90% of all rail passengers completed their journey by foot or by bike with an average walk-component of 900m only. This leaves only 10% who transfer to bus or taxi. So most people currently using rail do not use it to go further than about 10-15 minutes’ walk from the station. But you would have to have extreme AHB-blinkers on to believe that travel patterns would remain the same if the railway was extended to other areas. Quite the contrary. A whole new set of quality public transport options would be created and the huge benefits that rail brings to other parts of the region would be brought to the currently traffic-dominated south of the city.

  23. Peter S, 2. November 2020, 23:44

    BRT or LRT. Why does it matter? And why do some say BRT needs 4 lanes, and LRT doesn’t? The important thing is the route. How can we fit a mass transit route through our narrow city? One that doesn’t mean you are stopping more often than going, which would be the case along the Quays and up Taranaki St, pity the poor pedestrian. It’s hard to see how all that will work without grade separation. And why the obsession with getting to the airport? It would be cheaper to build a new airport somewhere else than spend untold billions on the 4 lanes, runway extension, LRT etc.

  24. John Rankin, 3. November 2020, 10:39

    @PeterS asks good questions.

    1. BRT or LRT why does it matter? And why do some say BRT needs 4 lanes, and LRT doesn’t? BRT vehicles are smaller and lower capacity than LRT. Hence you need more of them, running more often, to carry the same number of people. To avoid congestion at stops (my bus has to wait for the bus in front to leave, which in turn is waiting for the one in front of that), you have to design BRT with room for buses to overtake one another at stops. Hence it needs 4 lanes. LRT, using higher capacity vehicles running less often, only needs 2 lanes.

    2. How can we fit a mass transit route through our narrow city? The default is to run light rail down the middle of wide streets, with central platforms at stations, and traffic turns across the tracks prohibited (no right turns, “left-in, left-out” at intersections). The Quays and Taranaki St are ideal for this purpose, although it may be better to run along the east side of the Quays, crossing to the centre at a Frank Kitts Park station. Yes, grade separation would be highly desirable at the busiest intersections, eg crossing SH1 on Taranaki St. Intersections requiring grade separation would be identified during the design stage. Retrofitting grade separation is hard, so do it right first time. LGWM’s “artist’s impressions” showed MRT running in the lane closest to the footpath (the slow lane). This would be a bad idea. With LRT running every 4 minutes peak, 8 minutes off-peak (Auckland’s numbers), cars will continue to be the poor pedestrian’s biggest threat.

    3. And why the obsession with getting to the airport? The airport is the “bonus track”. The motivation for MRT is to serve the urban growth corridor of Adelaide Rd, Newtown, Kilbirnie and Miramar, while eliminating about 2/3 of the buses from the Golden Mile. If you are going as far as Miramar, it costs little to continue to the airport, mostly for the benefit of the many shift workers who support the airport complex. As a bonus, airport customers get a 20-minute trip to and from the railway station (LGWM’s number).

  25. Henry Filth, 4. November 2020, 22:04

    Dave B. “But you would have to have extreme AHB-blinkers on to believe that travel patterns would remain the same if the railway was extended to other areas.” I don’t understand what that means. If only 10-15% of current rail users go more than 900m past the current station, then what is going to change? They’ll ride to the Michael Fowler Centre (or somewhere in that 900m radius)? Or will more people inexplicably travel to Wellington by rail? I’m sorry, but I just don’t seem to be able to grasp your point.

  26. Dave B, 5. November 2020, 16:51

    Henry Filth, my apologies for being so cryptic that my meaning was obscure. My point was that if the rail system is extended, many more people will use it. Specifically:
    – 3/4 of existing users estimated to benefit from being transported closer to their current destinations. These would predominantly be those who currently walk, so agreed, no new patronage there.
    – New users wanting to travel further than comfortable walking distance from the station, who currently don’t use rail and most likely go by car.
    – New users wanting to travel between the rest of the Wellington Region and southern destinations, who are currently deterred from using PT by the vagaries of today’s disjointed service and the need to plan trips spanning two completely non-coordinated operators. These would be users who currently go by car and are fuelling demand for more motorway expansion.
    – New users from the Southern suburbs who will be able to access the CBD much more quickly than at present, with today’s peak hour buses regularly taking 1/2 hour between Lambton Quay and Kilbirnie, and the car being the default option in spite of the congestion it suffers and causes.

    My reference to the Auckland Harbour Bridge was to contrast the views of those who, back-in-the-day, questioned the building of it on the grounds that few people crossed to the North Shore before it was there, with the views of people such as yourself who question the need for a railway extension on the grounds that few people currently make the awkward public-transport journey across town that extending rail would hugely facilitate. Or put another way, “Build it and they will come. Don’t build it and car-traffic across town will just get worse and worse”!

  27. Henry Filth, 5. November 2020, 21:58

    Dave B, thanks very much. I think it’s probably a good idea, to be honest. But I think that rail to a central “hub” is unavoidable, and that there will always be a train/bus or bus train transfer. No matter where you site the central “hub”. And out of idle curiosity, how many tracks south of the current station, and where would they run to?

  28. Dave B, 6. November 2020, 19:54

    @ Henry, two tracks south of the station signalled for 2-minute headways would handle the entire current peak service, provided it ended in some form of turnaround-loop rather than a dead-end terminus as at present. Trains on the extension would follow each other in sequence around the loop, with no need to terminate and reverse. The service-pattern would effectively become a through-service rather than a terminating service, similar in some respects to what Auckland’s City Rail Link will achieve.

    As to where the tracks would run to, the city – eastern suburbs – airport seems to be the principal corridor that badly needs major improvement. Currently a motorway extension is proposed for this corridor. A rail extension would be a more-sustainable alternative to increased car-dependency. How it might be achieved I can only speculate at, as a huge amount of exploratory and investigation work would be needed to plan and design such a complex project.

    Hubs for transferring to bus would be at strategic points such as Newtown and Kilbirnie (rather like the present rail/bus hubs at Porirua and Waterloo), but the purpose of these would be to provide feeders from the arterial route to individual suburbs. The purpose would not be to force an unwanted transfer on every single passenger on the arterial route at a ‘central hub’. This is what so hinders our present system from providing effective regional public transport.

  29. Henry Filth, 6. November 2020, 21:23

    Dave B, the cynical side of me wondered how long it would get to the stage of “How it might be achieved I can only speculate at. . . “ It’s an important enough part of the national transport network to deserve better than that.

  30. Glen Smith, 7. November 2020, 17:50

    John Rankin. Agree absolutely about the need to run rail. You missed a couple of the key reasons for using rail rather than BRT for an across town mass transit corridor. One is that research shows that rail attracts a higher percentage of discretionary riders. In an analysis of a selection of American cities Tennyson noted that “because transit use is a function of travel time, fare, frequency of service, population, and density, increased transit use can not be attributed to rail transit when these other factors are improved. When these service conditions are equal, it is evident that rail transit is likely to attract from 34 percent to 43 percent more riders than will equivalent bus service.”
    In a comprehensive review of 50 US cities, the Victoria Transport Policy Institute found that cities with rail outperformed ‘bus only’ cities in essentially every objective outcome. The same effect is evident in Wellington where during the Hutt Rail washout only 28% of rail riders chose to transfer to bus despite being provided with essentially equivalent bus services (although this percentage would likely be higher given time to adapt). The reason that riders find rail more attractive is unclear but remains an empirical observed fact. Tennyson notes “The data do not provide explanations for this phenomenon, but other studies and reports suggest that the clearly identifiable rail route; delineated stops that are often protected; more stable, safer, and more comfortable vehicles; freedom from fumes and excessive noise; and more generous vehicle dimensions may all be factors.”

    The other reason you miss (which is the topic of this article), and what I would consider THE most important reason for using rail, is that we have an extensive existing rail network that services the vast northern area of our region and any sensible design has to involve a REGIONAL approach to transport planning. This involves running seamless lines from one end of our region to the other, via the CBD, using the optimal ‘radial connective’ network design. This means we have to run rail, but rail that is compatible with our existing network – not the separate ‘light’ rail that you propose. ‘Track-sharing’ using separate ‘heavy’ Station units (Matangis) and new specifically designed ‘lighter’ across town units offers the way to overcome the technical challenges (including capacity issues) this presents in a way that is affordable. No one has presented any convincing arguments that this would be unachievable or not cost effective.
    The reality of course is that LGWM haven’t considered this option at all, let alone done any objective analysis, and instead intend to impose a predetermined agenda. CCF’s initial comment above was “I just wish LGWM would get on & publish its LRT proposals for comment.” Notice he doesn’t say “I wish LGWM would present the range of options they have considered along with costings, technical reports and modelling they have done for each option, for the public to consider”. LGWM are planning to impose a fait accompli (just like the NZTA tried to do with the Basin flyover). And this inferior design will involve a fractured main spine which will cripple our regional transport network forever and cause most across town passengers to remain in their cars, making our city increasingly unliveable and demanding more and more money be spent on futile road projects. This is a pity because with a little more thought and planning, plus a little more investment (which will likely be repaid many times over in ongoing savings associated with lower car use), a markedly superior design is eminently possible.

  31. Glen Smith, 7. November 2020, 18:15

    John Rankin. Absolutely agree that rail should run centrally along main roads with central shared platforms. This presents a single corridor (rather than 2), uses less width for platform and interferes less with traffic turning into side streets. It means there is also a ‘barrier’, in terms of traffic lanes, between pedestrians and rail which is important if we are running ‘medium weight’ rail. Platforms would be the same height as our existing network. Agree that the Quays and Taranaki Street are well suited. However Taranaki Street presents some issues. It involves rail crossing the main south-to-north across-town waterfront traffic flows at the Taranaki St/ Wakefield St intersection, and crossing the Golden Mile at the Taranaki St/ Courtenay Place intersection. This isn’t such an issue if trains are infrequent but if running every 5 minutes (or less) in each direction this means stopping traffic every 2.5 minutes (or less). This isn’t an issue if you are only stopping minor flows (such as turning traffic on the Quays, with the main waterfront flows continuing) but is more problematic stopping major flows. This is one reason I went to a Wakefield St/ Kent Tce route, which follows main across-town flows. One solution would be a short section of raised corridor (which in general I dislike) rising after the City to Sea overbridge, crossing both these intersections, then dropping on Taranaki St. This would also more easily allow a 90m platform (raised) at the Taranaki/ Courtenay intersection but would add cost.
    Crossing SH1 on Taranaki St would be unnecessary if the cheaper, more direct and less destructive option of a multipurpose second Mt Victoria Tunnel were adopted ( rather than trying somehow to go via Newtown) since rail would follow SH1 to the north/ east then cross SH1 at the Wellington Road/ Ruahine St intersection via a short cut and cover tunnel (I think I had sent you my plans for this).
    Also agree about the airport. This isn’t the main objective but is nice since it gives a constant flow of arrivals/ departures from early in the morning to later in the evening that supplies a ‘baseline’ service patronage (or did before covid).

  32. Peter S, 7. November 2020, 21:45

    Interesting thoughts on the Quays/Taranaki versus Wakefield/Kent routes. Let the debate continue. Having lived in Wgtn all my life, I truly believe it is not big enough to warrant the massive expenditure that would be required to provide heavy (or medium) rail across town.
    Do that many people really move around outside of our rush minute? Have you counted how many intersections there are on those routes? The mind boggles as to how rail would traverse all those without causing absolute carnage for every other form of transport, including pedestrians. Will Wellingtonians ever accept grade separation in the middle of town, aka flyovers? BRT or LRT doesn’t matter. The route is the key ingredient. How will any route provide a means to smoothly cross town stopping only at stations and not grossly impacting on all others?

  33. Glen Smith, 8. November 2020, 11:45

    Peter S. We will have to disagree on your comment that “BRT or LRT doesn’t matter”. In addition to the reasons John and I have outlined, BRT (which runs smaller and hence more frequent units for the same capacity), would require even more frequent disruption at intersections to achieve a corridor with full PT priority (the ideal if you want to achieve rapid transit times and accurate timetabling. This issue is no different whether you run BRT/ LRT or ‘medium weight’ rail).

    You say Wellington isn’t big enough to warrant heavy or medium rail but this depends on the timeframe you are planning for. I suspect that when Mt Victoria tunnel was built in 1931 the planners could have got by at the time with a single lane with lights (like the bus tunnel) but wisely built for the future and now, 90 years later, it is in fact inadequate. Any mass transit corridor built now will likely have to cater for any growth for this century and beyond. Expanding capacity any further would be very difficult. Think long term. Do it once and do it right.

    You ask “Will Wellingtonians ever accept grade separation in the middle of town, aka flyovers?”. I generally dislike raised corridors but it does depend on setting and also the benefits they bring. In a compact growing city/region where we want intensification rather than sprawl one or two strategic raised sections may be the best compromise fro conflicting transport flows. Sydneys main harbour has stacked rail corridors but in the context of the bustling centre of the transport network against the background of towering high rises they seem in place. The Courtenay Place/ Taranaki intersection is the very heart of our southern CBD so a place where you might expect such infrastructure. If it allows a high quality PT corridor that enables large numbers of current (and future) car users to instead take PT and so prevent our wider city from descending into a congested unliveable quagmire then the compromise may be worth it. Perhaps LGWM should put the modelled options to the public.

    Interactions with traffic flows would have to be carefully thought out but I think can be managed. A couple of observations.
    The Quays act to
    1. Allow across town trips from the north to the very southern areas of the CBD. These are major flows in line with any rail corridor so would be unaffected by it (except north bond motorists at an ‘at grade’ Station exit and at the Taranaki St/ Wakefield St intersection if an ‘at grade’ Taranaki St corridor route is chosen). The alternative is to encourage motorist to take a motorway across town route. This raises major concerns about plans to block Taranaki St to traffic since this is the major artery for motorway users to access the southern CBD and will inevitable increase Quays traffic when we should be reducing it.
    2. Allow trips from the south to access the northern/ mid city CBD area. Here Featherston St and the western side of the Quays act very much as a ‘south bound’ and ‘north bound’ one-way system parallel to the CBD and joined by the side streets. Motorists entering (or using) this ‘one-way’ system from the south have no conflict with a centrally placed rail corridor. The only conflict is exiting to the eastern Quays to travel south again and these could be rationalised to 2 or maybe 3 sites. These are side flows so less likely to be significantly impacted by a rail corridor.
    3. Allows trips from the north to access the northern and mid CBD. The alternative is to encourage these motorists to access the city by taking a Murphy St off ramp and Molesworth St onramp. This avoids any interaction with any central Quays rail corridor.

    In short I think side turns from the Quays can be heavily rationalised (closing Bunny St, removing the right turn onto Post Office Square, removing the right turns from Johnston, Hunter and Willeston Streets) with little impact on traffic flows. Again perhaps LGWM could present their modelling for this.

  34. Ian, 8. November 2020, 11:53

    Interesting that the Regional Council and Horizons have just gone out on tender for consultants to help redevelopment of Main Line Rail Services north of Wellington. Lets hope that this flies very quickly – I see the objective is to file a funding application by mid 2021.

  35. CC, 8. November 2020, 15:12

    Glen, you said, “and now, 90 years later, it is in fact inadequate.” Is it the tunnel that is inadequate, or the roading infrastructure each side that causes the hold-ups? The tunnel itself seems quite adequate in coping with the volume of traffic that passes through it unless there is a breakdown or accident.

  36. Guy M, 9. November 2020, 13:05

    CC – re tunnels, I think it is pertinent to note that most of our city’s tunnels were dug decades ago, when population and budgets were much smaller, but by city leaders who had more vision than those who exist today. No doubt there were naysayers at the time who said that the Mt Vic tunnel was not needed, or the Glenmore St / Karori bridge and tunnel were extravagant, or that Ngauranga Gorge did not need to be enlarged as we were getting on fine with the old Porirua Road, or that the Bus/Tram tunnel was unnecessary, that there was no need for a tunnel to Seatoun, etc etc. The only tunnel dug recently has been the Arras Tunnel, which is both too large (3-4 lanes wide) and not large enough (doesn’t permit the traffic flow from the opposite direction which would enable the undergrounding of SH1). There were people who said that Arras was unnecessary too.

    Let’s face it: most of our tunnels were dug when horse and carts were still common on the streets, and the current volumes of traffic were simply not foreseen. Mt Vic, for instance, was completed in 1931, when most people did not have a car, when the milkman still did deliveries by horse and cart, when the nightsoil man came and emptied the privy as many did not have internal plumbing for WCs. It was a different world then.

    We need to spend money on infrastructure to replace the extremely outmoded systems that we have. Walking and cycling through the Mt Vic tunnel is unsafe, unsatisfactory, and definitely unpleasant, not just with the fumes but also with the dicks who insist on tooting their car horns, with no consideration for cyclists and pedestrians. We need modern tunnels for the modern life.

  37. Keith Flinders, 9. November 2020, 13:22

    Glen Smith: Alas your proposals are akin to wanting a BMW 5 Series, but with Central and Local Government thinking more along the lines of the cost of a used Toyota Starlet.

    The task LGWM were initially presented with was how to move yet more people in fewer public transport vehicles through the same limited number of CBD routes. Light Rail has always, to my mind at least, offered a solution which is affordable albeit not going to offer Rapid Transit as some consider the city needs.

    With the proposed spatial plan seeing more housing in both the eastern suburbs and Newtown, I envisage we might end up with light rail through the CBD to Courtenay Place, from there splitting to go Tory/Tasman to Newtown and beyond. The other branch via Kent Terrace, Elizabeth Street, existing tram tunnel, Hataitai, Kilbirnie, Miramar, ending up at Hobart/Broadway with an overhead or underground travellator to the airport terminals.

    I don’t, as others propose, see a single light rail route through Newtown to Kilbirnie then Miramar as it would be too slow to entice eastern suburbs users, and offer no diversity in expected passenger loading numbers. However at the present rate of progress I’ll likely be a pile of ash before any meaningful decision is made, let alone a start on the implementation of whatever option is decided to adopt.

  38. Dave B, 9. November 2020, 22:47

    @ Guy M: The Arras Tunnel is wide enough for the same 2+1 2-way lane-configuration as currently works fine in the Terrace Tunnel. So is the Inner City Bypass trench, which currently has two lanes of traffic plus very wide shoulders. There is no reason I can see why the Trench – Karo Drive – Arras Tunnel route should not be 2-way, except that it would not be to gold-plated 4-lane standard.
    But the consequence of not doing this is that we have for decades forced Vivian Street and Kent Terrace to be the southbound lanes of SH1. Which is worse? This totally-inappropriate funnelling of through-traffic along city streets, or an Inner-city bypass modified for 2-way traffic that would be no worse than the Terrace Tunnel which already feeds it?
    My strong suspicion is that the improvements which making better use of our existing infrastructure would bring, are not wanted because they would lessen the “justification” for a 4-lanes-to-the-planes type of solution. So the city continues to suffer needlessly.

  39. Peter S, 9. November 2020, 23:39

    Aaaah, we had a used Toyota Starlet and it served us well for many years. I’m sure buses can similarly serve Wellington well for many years. All we need is a guaranteed priority route through the city and out to Newtown and Kilbirnie. Maybe a bi-directional loop: city – Newtown – Kilbirnie – Hataitai – city. And more express buses for Miramar. Let Auckland take the gamble with light rail first, their need is greater than ours. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other crises that need to be fixed here.

  40. Keith Flinders, 10. November 2020, 15:20

    Peter S.: The National Film Unit, I think it was, filmed the light rail of the day, then known as trams, quickly moving the thousands of rugby fans leaving Athletic Park after a major match.
    Wellington public passenger numbers are growing and will continue to grow faster than bus-only transport can deal with them in peak hours. Therein lies the argument against public bus transport only, especially through the CBD. First they got rid of the trams, then they got rid of the trolley buses, what is planned next to frustrate the public and impair its health?

  41. John Rankin, 10. November 2020, 20:35

    @PeterS: it really does matter whether we build LRT or BRT. If we build BRT on a 2-lane corridor between the station and airport (which is all Wellington has room for), it will be out of capacity in less than 10 years. At that point, you are faced with the problem of trying to upgrade the corridor to light rail. Good luck with (a) getting the money, having spent a great deal on an unsuitable BRT line and (b) building LRT while continuing to operate BRT on the same the corridor.

    The reason Auckland’s need is greater than Wellington’s is that Auckland politicians ignored light rail for 40 years. Let’s not repeat their mistake. The best time to start building light rail in Wellington was 10 years ago. The next best time is today.

    Anyone advocating BRT for Wellington needs to explain how they would upgrade the corridor to light rail, when BRT runs out of capacity. I will be looking closely at LGWM’s ridership projections, to be reassured that the 10,000 passenger per hour capacity of on-street LRT will be enough.

    A minor thought for @GlenSmith: a Frank Kitts Park station is at the point on the Quays closest to the Golden Mile, so is an important origin and destination for riders. It would be wise to make Willeston St a pedestrian-friendly space (eg a linear park), giving people a safe walk to and from the south end of Lambton Quay.

    @KeithFlinders: LGWM states the travel time on MRT from the airport to railway station via Newtown will be 20 minutes. Why is this “too slow to entice eastern suburbs users”?