Ngauranga to Petone: Easy changes, better riding

I asked for more detailed plans of the Ngauranga to Petone cycleway which were outlined in the NZTA documents being used for consultation, but surprisingly, there weren’t any – just the sketch they had in one of their consultation documents:

Sea Wall - NZTA

NZTA’s only drawing of their shared path between Ngauranga and Petone.

Instead of some massive changes with big sea walls which will take years to fabricate, there are a few immediate changes that, if implemented, would make the ride much safer, usable and better for all users. The main problems are:

  • Lack of protection from fast-moving traffic for part of the route
  • A poorly laid and maintained pavement
  • Significant debris from the road like stones, glass and rubbish with the occasional truck tyre.
  • Weeds and Trees left unchecked
  • With NZTA’s sea-side proposal, the exposure to the sea will make the path unrideable in a moderate Wellington wind.

The existing path is mostly about 2 metres wide and feels really unloved. The pavement is cracked and weeds grow out of the retaining wall, and stones and debris from the road cause lots of punctures. There are even bits of  broken fence, road-cones and orange construction netting in some parts.

DSC03727

While a temporary orange fence, weeds, trees and debris are common on the path, the stoney shoulder above the retaining wall will make a good cycleway platform one day.

 

Road Model-old

The cycleway is set below the road and next to the railway. The surface condition means that most bike commuters ride on the road instead.

But if the path is raised above road-level and paved as wide as it’ll fit,  the instant extra width and its an awesome cycleway:

Road Model-future

The three curves along the path look hardest to widen and improve the ‘feel’ of, but by filling and retaining a new bank the result is a cycleway about 3 – 4m wide.

Changes to widen the cycleway on the embanked corners aren’t rocket science:

  • Raise the height of the path to above road level
  • Change the road barrier to wire type
  • Add fence next to railway track
Road Model-mini sections

Design for the embanked corners

 

The straight and flat parts of the path are mostly wide enough, but need a bit of love. The path needs to be raised above the road and a new fence installed on the railway side.

road-model_flat_section21.png

Level parts of the path get raised above the road

 

The hardest part is from the Petone over ramp down to the entrance to the shared path.

Advertisements

Island Bay Cycleway Re-Consultation

Four options for a re-modelled Island Bay Cycleway have been drawn-up after almost a year of  consultation with various community groups. Consultation on ‘Love the Bay Cycleway’ ends on August 13

Links to WCC’s consultation can be found below:

Make a Submission (before August 13th)

Consultation page with supporting documents

pdf document with the options outlined and explained 

It will be great to have the Island Bay cycleway is finished so that the next stages of the cycleway can be started; giving the masses closer to town more good and safe options for their daily commute

Waikato Commuter Train: Council Gets on Board

Waikato Regional council has commissioned a report to investigate a rail option to connect Hamilton and Auckland. Quotes are from a Stuff Article published on May 17

Campaigners have had a few tries at getting the service resumed, but with no luck – although Hamilton’s Councillors appear to be softening with worsening congestion in Auckland, and the contrasting success of the new Auckland Trains. With more people commuting between Auckland and Hamilton, and the likely rubber stamp for the 3rd mainline into Auckland will make train journey times more attractive.

The good news is that the timing is good. Auckland’s old trains have been parked as new electric trains have entered service, and could be refurbished cheaply or even rebuilt to re-establish the services. The Wairarapa Connection style of train is an example of what Auckland’s old trains could be rebuilt into.

The Wairarapa train connects Wellington to Masterton five times each day, and has become more popular since the introduction of the new carriages in 2008 and an expansion of the service is likely in the next couple of years.

20160715150935

Wellington to Masterton train provides a modern and comfortable commute that rivals car journey times. The train is also popular with young people in the holidays, and gold card holders in off-peak times.

 

The decision to investigate an inter-regional commuter rail service has been heralded as a sea change in regional council thinking.

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson said the results of a detailed business case were in more than seven years ago, and outgoing Labour MP Sue Moroney said it’s about time regional council got on board.

On Tuesday, Waikato Regional Council’s strategy and policy committee voted in favour of a detailed business case into a passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland.

Indicative costs are set at $30,000 to $50,000. The business case will define the need, recommend solutions and funding options.

Hamilton City councillor Dave Macpherson, who has been nudging regional council on the issue at regional transport committee meetings, said a comprehensive study is a big step forward.

“They’ve been unenthusiastic in the past about taking on any leading role in that,” said Macpherson. “It is their role to manage public transport operations in the region and it’s always been difficult in the passenger rail debate when they have been lukewarm.”

In 2010, rail advocates collected more than 11,000 signatures in support of a rail link between the two cities. It was taken to the select committee but failed. The following year, the Rail Working Party made its case with a feasibility study but has been in limbo ever since.

The need for commuter rail is even greater now, said Macpherson, adding that the regional council’s position is “clear cut”.

Labour MP Sue Moroney has advocated for a commuter rail service to Auckland since 2008.

Labour MP Sue Moroney has advocated for a commuter rail service to Auckland since 2008. | FAIRFAX NZ

“It signals their willingness, if all of the other ducks line up, to go ahead,” he said. “Several things might derail it and it might be outside of anyone in the Waikato’s control.”

Mayor Sanson said the regional council  is recreating the wheel.

“It has been done. I can get why they probably think there may be some differences but I can’t see anything that has fundamentally changed in seven-and-a-half years,” Sanson said.

“I’ve been banging on about it for that long that we have to do something, but let’s do it in baby steps.”

Cost blowouts, the capacity of Auckland’s network to take extra services, getting a Waikato-based train into Britomart Station and a two-hour trip still exist as huge barriers, he said.

“It took 2 hours 20 minutes and it just took too long to travel that distance. It’s still, probably in a lot of cases, faster by car.”

The first of Sanson’s baby steps is to extend Auckland’s rail network to Mercer.

“What we’ve always advocated is getting a train down as a far as Mercer and putting in a park and ride, allowing those people to commute from there by train.

“That is the key to getting a start in Waikato.”

Moroney, who has advocated for the rail connection since 2008, said regional council needs to represent the region’s needs.

“I really hope this time they will press ahead, irrespective of whether they get push back from central government or not,” Moroney said.

“Can we please just learn the lessons from the mistakes made in Auckland.

“That’s exactly what I’ve been saying to those organisations for years now.”

 

More Roads to ease the congestion?

The original piece by Michael Barnett was published on Stuff on 9 May, 2017.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Otaki MP Nathan Guy visit the Transmission Gully worksite.

OPINION: Travellers on the NZ Transport Agency’s new $630 million Kapiti expressway are questioning its benefits. Some peak hour travellers report a doubling of travel times.

One only needs to look at Auckland to see the folly of building more and more motorways to solve congestion and our leaders continue to offer this as the solution. On a recent tour of the Transmission Gully project, Transport Minister Simon Bridges brushed off suggestions that this will simply move the “chokepoints” further along Wellington’s motorway. Continue reading →

Toshiba targets European hybrid locomotive market

This is an example of railways using technologies to their advantage. Judging by the uptake of Hybrid cars, and more recently electric cars, electric is the way of the future!
GERMANY: Japan’s Toshiba and DB Cargo have agreed to undertake a feasibility study for the joint development and subsequent purchase of an initial 100 battery-diesel hybrid locomotives for shunting and short-distance freight operations. Test vehicles are expected to be available by the end of 2019. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Toshiba has supplied Japan Freight Rail Co with locomotives powered by a lithium ion battery topped up using a small diesel engine.

Continue reading →

KiwiRail to Dump Electric Trains – Dominion Post

The following article was first published in the Dompost in January. A list of other articles, opinion pieces and documents that relate to KiwiRail’s Electric Trains can be found here

KiwiRail has announced plans to ditch its North Island electric rail fleet and replace with diesel freight engines – a decision derided by environmentalist and Opposition MPs. 

But chief executive Peter Reidy says the switch will improve reliability and efficiency for Kiwirail’s customers.

Plans to replace 16 electric trains – each about 30 years old – which operated between Hamilton and Palmerston North would see diesel locomotives begin operating in phases over the next two years.

SUPPLIED


An electric freight train is to become a scarcity in the next two years.

Continue reading →

KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line

I can’t read this with a straight face.

The title implies that KiwiRail have been mulling over the ‘decision’ for a while, just that they had to write a press release and make it seem credible to get it over the line. Then they gave up, wrote some drivel, and released it the day before Christmas in the hope that no-one would see it. Happy reading, especially the bit where the CEO drags Air New Zealand into it.

A list of Electric train press articles is here.

KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line

21 December 2016 11:11AM

KiwiRail will improve its reliability and efficiency for customers by employing an all-diesel fleet on the North Island Main Trunk line, KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says.

The small fleet of almost 30 year old electric trains that currently operate only between Hamilton and Palmerston North will be phased out over the next two years and replaced with diesel locomotives. The decision allows for the electric infrastructure on the line to remain in place and be maintained to a safe standard for any future use.

The North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) runs from Auckland to Wellington but is electrified only between Hamilton and Palmerston North. Mr Reidy says KiwiRail is essentially running “a railway within a railway” by having the electric section.

“Imagine having to change planes at Hamilton and again at Palmerston North, just to fly from Auckland to Wellington. That’s not efficient, it’s more costly and ultimately delivers a less reliable service.

Continue reading →