Is the tunnel tram the worst of each worlds?

The federal government will quickly decide on the sunshine rail (if it hasn’t already). When you have learn our earlier articles on the topic, you’ll know that we imagine floor mild rail is the higher choice over tunnel mild rail or mild rail. It is because not solely is it a really environment friendly resolution, it is also the most cost effective of the advised choices, which means that we might probably deploy it extra simply in different lanes as effectively, in different phrases, for a similar. value, two floor mild rail traces will present a greater end result for Auckland than a tunnel choice.

The Auckland Mild Rail (ALR) group really helpful the pleased medium of tunnel mild rail, though additionally they stated they believed all three choices have been viable. There may be definitely a degree of enchantment to this, by tunneling it implies that we might obtain the next degree of reliability and frequency, though these are nonetheless superb below the floor choice. It additionally makes it simpler to make use of the floor house on Sandringham Rd for cycle paths and bushes with out the necessity to widen.

As well as, the president’s report means that it might provide comparable outcomes to a metro resolution, at a decrease price. As a reminder, the sunshine rail tunnel choice was just about the identical as the sunshine rail between Wynyard and Onehunga, however then adopted the floor highway by the Mangere Bridge and downtown Mangere.

Nevertheless, the extra I give it some thought in regards to the floor metro and light-weight rail choices, the extra I really feel like it’s the worst of each worlds. If the federal government have been to decide on an choice that features a considerable amount of tunnels, we is perhaps higher off simply biting the bullet and going for the whole mild rail resolution. This is why:

The driverless postman

The principle benefit of the sunshine rail over different choices is that it’s driverless and could be just like methods just like the Vancouver Skytrain or the Copenhagen Metro. Like these methods, it might be capable of function reliably at very excessive frequencies and at decrease price.

Journey time

Based mostly on figures launched by the ALR group, in comparison with the sunshine rail tunnel, having one much less station and sticking to the motorway hall as a substitute of the detour through Bader Dr, the sunshine rail is 5 minutes sooner between downtown Mangere and different stations additional north. For residents of Mangere, they estimate that this implies over 100,000 extra jobs shall be accessible inside 45 minutes of commuting in comparison with the sunshine rail tunnel choice – though I nonetheless have some skepticism about it. these modeled outputs. Because of this, ALR’s modeling means that it makes the sunshine rail extra engaging and, subsequently, it ought to have greater general ridership.


The dialogue revolved across the capital price of constructing these choices – only a fast notice on that, everybody centered on the primary numbers of $ 9 billion to $ 16.3 billion, however these prices are inflated. on the time of building and extra reasonable. in comparison with at the moment’s prices are the NPV figures of $ 7.1-11.2 billion – nonetheless very costly.

The deal with capital prices is comprehensible given their scale, but additionally as a result of all of us are likely to desire a big-shot quantity and we are likely to ignore ongoing operational prices. These prices are a part of a nonetheless unseen a part of the enterprise case and we might count on some issues to be comparable between the choices, reminiscent of the price of upkeep and the horsepower required to run the automobiles. However the ALR group defined to me that there are certainly two different massive price components that differentiate the choices.

  1. Drivers – shall be required for each tram choices because of the on-road sections, as will our buses and trains. Compared, the sunshine rail choice could be driverless
  2. Tunnels – are rather more costly to function than floor options because of the must function objects reminiscent of air flow and safety methods and many others.

Which means that we get the next matrix.

The sunshine rail tunnel is perhaps higher right here within the evaluation, however I ponder the way it holds up throughout the whole regional community as proposed.

Regional community

The route from the town middle to Mangere is supposed to be the primary cease on a brand new speedy transit community for Auckland that enhances our current (and deliberate) rail and bus community. Curiously, the deliberate future community map was not too long ago and discreetly up to date to incorporate a second North Shore line parallel to the bus lane. Looks like an odd selection and possibly based mostly on somebody deciding that upgrading the bus lane could be disruptive, so we’ve got to spend billions to construct a parallel route.

In whole, the above “crimson” community could be roughly 54 km and the North Shore and Northwest traces are more likely to be totally leveled. The one factor that will forestall this entire community from being driverless and the advantages that will carry could be round 6 km of monitor round Onehunga and Mangere.

After all, common readers will know that we’re additionally in favor of phased approaches and have even advised up to now that we might construct a floor mild rail line after which a subway kind resolution on one other hall sooner or later. The distinction right here is that there’ll at all times be a necessity for a top quality floor resolution on Dominion Rd, even when we ultimately construct a light-weight rail elsewhere. Compared, there in all probability will not be a lot utility for a bit of floor simply between the Mangere Bridge and downtown Mangere. So, and not using a important extra funding to broaden the road, it seems to be prefer it might flip right into a stranded asset.


If we finally need to go to the sunshine rail for the community, there’s one other of not selecting the sunshine rail tunnel however going on to the sunshine rail: the sorts of automobiles. This could permit us to go for raised ground metro fashion automobiles which have benefits reminiscent of being simpler to take care of, are quieter by the usage of bogies and have extra inside house to face on.

There may be additionally one thing interesting about the truth that the subways are a bit sq. like these trains from Berlin.

And there’s one other cool characteristic on driverless trains you’ll be able to look out of the entrance window.

As beforehand talked about, we nonetheless imagine {that a} floor resolution is the very best consequence for the downtown hall in Mangere and there’ll at all times be a necessity for a top quality resolution on Dominion Highway. This doesn’t imply that we will be unable to make use of the sunshine rail sooner or later on different corridors. Nevertheless, if the federal government have been to go for a tunnel choice, the sunshine rail would doubtless be a greater choice in the long term.

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