One resident's thoughts on transport and housing in Auckland

High Speed Rail (HSR) refers to trains travelling at anything from 200km/h to over 500km/h mainly used for moving people between main cities. HSR is recognised internationally as being competitive against road and air when linking cities where journey times are up to 4hours (after which air travel is preferred).

New Zealand has a relatively small population making an entry-level High Speed Rail the most likely option. The technology for 250km/h is well developed internationally and would provide realistic travel times that would facilitate commuting between cities that are geographically close (ie. less than about 200km centre to centre). Faster options would be significantly more costly without providing much increase in benefit. This entry level HSR can run (slowly) on conventional tracks but requires straight, level tracks and modern signalling to acheive the target speeds.

High Speed Rail could be used to break Auckland's domination of New Zealand by spreading the population and economic growth over a wider area. HSR would allow our closest neighbouring cities (Hamilton and Whangarei) to particpate in Auckland's housing and employment markets.

At 250km/h, commuting between Whangarei, Auckland and Hamilton becomes possible with journey times of less than 1 hour. Live in Whangarei; work in Auckland.

HSR catchment

A High speed rail linking Auckland airport to central Whangarei would almost eliminate the need for an airport at Whangarei. A link from Auckland Airport to Hamilton airport would provide some redundancy for small to medium size aircraft in the event of an unexpected closure at Auckland Airport.

Small 'through-towns' would receive a boost from direct connections into the main centres. Oakleigh, Welsford, Pukekohe (or Pokeno) and Horotiu would be likely candidates to become semi-rural gateways.

Main cities would be able to "tap into" the HSR network to boost local transport needs by using segments of the HSR as part of a local backbone. Possible candidates for local legs would include:

  • Whangarei - Oakleigh
  • Dairy Flat - New Lynn - AIA (Auckland bypass) - Pukekohe
  • Horotiu - Hamilton - Airport/Mystery Creek

Main cities would need to plan their local public transport to support the High Speed backbone. Refer to Auckland Metro for an illustration of how Auckland could utilise the HSR backbone as an integral part of an expanded Metro Network.

Auckland Bypass
Land that has already been fully developed becomes very expensive to convert to HSR use which means that a direct route through Albany, Takapuna, Britomart and the Southern Motorway would likely be prohibitively expensive. Instead, the route through Auckland would need to use a western bypass route passing through Dairy Flat, crossing the upper harbour, underground stations at New Lynn and Auckland Aiport and through Pokeno. Central Auckland would access the HSR through Metro lines to either the New Lynn interchange or the Airport interchange.

Proposed HSR Stations

Stations on the HSR WAH line
  • Central Whangarei Station sited on the existing Whangarei Cental railway station. The HSR would terminate here and connect to the existing conventional Metro line heading north through Kamo.
  • Oakleigh Station re-sited to a higher elevation to reduce the climb for HSR trains leaving towards the south. Oakleigh would be a gateway to Marsden point, Ruakaka (via the proposed new Ruakaka Metro line) and Waipu (and possibly to Dargaville).
  • Welsford possibly resited to the west of the town to reduce deviation from a straight line track. Welsford would become a gateway to Mahurangi, Matakana and Warkworth as well as surrounding rural towns.
  • Dairy Flat Station sited between Dairy Flat village and the North Shore airfield. This station would become a gateway to Silverdale, Orewa, Whangaparaoa (via land reserved for Penlink), Albany and the East Coast Bays.
  • New Lynn Station sited underground directly beneath and connecting to the existing New Lynn station. This station would become a gateway to all of West Auckland including the inner West suburbs and Central Auckland via the existing western Metro line.
  • Auckland International Airport Station sited underground within the airport grounds in consultation with AIAL. This station would become a gateway to Auckland's eastern suburbs via a new eastern metro line, and with Central Auckland, Manukau and Pukekohe via Puhinui and the existing southern line. And of course, almost goes without saying, this would be New Zealand's primary link for international travellers.
  • Pukekohe Station sited at Pukekohe or Paerata. This station would become a gateway to Pokeno, Tuakau and Glenbrook via existing lines and to Thames and the Coromandel by coach from Pokeno.
  • Horotiu Station would be a new station designed to provide a gateway to Ngaruwahia (via existing line) and Te Rapa, Gordonton and Taupiri.
  • Hamilton Station sited at the existing station would be the main connection to an upgraded Hamilton Metro network based on the existing line plus extensions
  • Aiport / Mystery Creek Station would be a new station providing access to Hamilton International Airport, Mystery Creek event centre and surrounding rural areas like Tamahere and Ohaupo.

A Rural Renaissance could be triggered around stations on the conventional rail network that are close to an HSR interchange. Arduous and unpopular journeys by conventional rail to places like Hellensville, Mercer, Meremere and maybe even Dargaville would be significantly improved if a large portion of the journey is moved to HSR with passengers only transferring to the slower trains at a station close to their destination.

Example: Pokeno station is not regularly serviced from Auckland as its difficult to attract enough passengers to travel from Auckland to Pokeno by train. The journey would be much more attractive when it is possible to cut travel time by using the HSR lines.

Estimated time using conventional Metro and Diesel

Auckland Central to Pukekohe52 kmMetro1 hr 11mins
Pukekohe to Pokeno (fictional)10 kmDiesel15mins
Total Journey72kmMixed1hr 26 mins

Estimated time using proposed HSR where possible

Auckland to New Lynn11kmMetro (CCRL)25mins
New Lynn to Pukekohe49kmHSR15mins
Pukekohe to Pokeno10kmDiesel15 mins
Total Journey67kmMixed55 mins

Savings would be even more significant if travelling from the North or West of Auckland. Oh! And I just realised travel from Auckland to Pukekohe would go from 1hr 11mins down to 40mins, thats almost cut it in half.

HSR Infrastructure must be up to standard to ensure safety at high operating speeds. Although HSR can operate on conventional tracks, the speed is limited to conventional speeds. New HSR track will be required and should make use of existing railway land as much as possible although a huge project of re-alignment, tunnels and bridges would be required. All road crossings have to be grade separated for HSR tracks. Inclines and curves have to be straightened to facilitate safe and comfortable travel at speed. Conventional signal have to be replaced with a modern train control system.

High Speed Rail is a large and ambitious project. Its completion will change the shape, not just of Auckland but, of all New Zealand.


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