Rail slated for Auck­land’s North Shore

North Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - TOM DILLANE

Trans­port agen­cies ex­pect to se­lect a pre­ferred mode of rail line through the North Shore this year.

A joint state­ment from Auck­land Trans­port (AT) and the New Zealand Trans­port Agency (NZTA) says a de­ci­sion on up­grad­ing Auck­land’s North­ern Busway should be made in 2017 and it will be rail, not more buses.

A time frame on when this rail up­grade will oc­cur has still not been set.

‘‘It is ex­pected that progress on the se­lec­tion of a pre­ferred rail mode will be made this year, fol­lowed by fur­ther work on the likely align­ment and tim­ing,’’ AT and NZTA say.

‘‘This work is iden­ti­fy­ing the po­ten­tial rail modes that may be con­sid­ered in the long term.

‘‘This in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­sid­er­ing both light rail and heavy rail, as well as vari­a­tions us­ing both.’’

The de­ci­sion on rail comes in re­sponse to re­cent AT pro­jec­tions the North­ern Busway will reach its ca­pac­ity in 2026 - 20 years ear­lier than orig­i­nally ex­pected.

In AT’s Septem­ber 2016 North Shore Rapid Tran­sit Net­work (RTN) strate­gic case, it projects, by 2026, in­creased pa­tron­age on the North­ern Busway will ‘‘man­i­fest in over­ca­pac­ity con­di­tions‘‘ at Al­bany, Sun­nynook and Ako­ranga bus sta­tions.

How­ever, the joint AT/NZTA state­ment in­sists no ‘‘de­fin­i­tive date’’ is known when the busway will be full, but plan­ning for a ‘‘post-busway sys­tem’’ was un­der way.

‘‘When the busway opened, this [its ca­pac­ity] had been ex­pected to be be­yond 2046 but, fol­low­ing greater than an­tic­i­pated cus­tomer growth, the North Shore RTN study high­lighted the busway will come un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure ear­lier.’’

In­terim im­prove­ments to the busway prior to a rail up­grade could in­clude: length­en­ing bus sta­tion plat­forms, im­prov­ing tick­et­ing tech­nolo­gies, and cre­at­ing a new op­er­at­ing cen­tre to man­age bus flow.

Green Party trans­port spokesper­son Julie Anne Gen­ter says North Shore rail still needs fi­nan­cial back­ing from the Gov­ern­ment to hap­pen or ‘‘there’s still a huge risk it won’t be started in time.’’

Auck­land Trans­port me­dia man­ager Mark Han­nan stressed any rail up­grade to the North­ern Busway could not oc­cur be­fore the Ad­di­tional Waitem­ata Har­bour Cross­ing was built - pro­jected any­where from 2030 to 2048.

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