Hamilton Central – three rail routes

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Let’s say we want to plan for a high-frequency mass transit route through Hamilton central that runs independently of rail freight.

The 2015 Hamilton Central City Transformation Plan tells us that ‘19,440 people are currently employed in the central city’ (p8) and plans for a ‘10% increase in the number of employees working in central city by 2023’ (p11). That’s over 20,000 people travelling to/from central Hamilton each morning and evening.

A Greater Auckland  (GA) post from July 3, 2017 tells us that Auckland’s current network runs at a maximum of 20 trains per hour (TPD), 6TPH on the Western, Southern and Eastern lines and 2TPH on the Onehunga Line, with the capacity to move 14,000 people per hour. When the City Rail Link (CRL) opens, we can expect 36 TPH, lifting capacity to 27,000 people per hour. By increasing this to 48 TPH, and adding 200m*-long platforms suitable for 9-car high-capacity trains, the ultimate potential capacity of the CRL could be as high as 60,000 people an hour. The Mayor of Auckland puts it at ‘a peak hour capacity of 54,000’. (GA post July 25, 2018 ‘City Rail Link to be Future-Proofed’)

*comment Nick R July 3, 2017 at 11:43 am 

Hamilton Central is a long way from needing 48 TPH. The EPA* hearings for the Ruakura Inland Port ‘expected to increase train volumes from 1.25 per hour to 2 per hour’*(para44). Let’s say we have 200m-long platforms and want to move a modest 2,700 (13%) employees by rail per hour using 9-car train-sets carrying 450 people each (50 people per carriage). We would need 6 TPH + 2 freight = 8 TPH. This may not justify double tracking, but at an at-grade road crossing ‘driver[s] could experience up to 4 minutes of disruption’*(para49), 8 times per hour. The crossing barrier arm will be down more than it is up. This may justify grade separation at crossings.


*Statement of Evidence in Chief of Anna Wilkins on behalf of Tainui Group Holdings Ltd and Chedworth Properties Ltd 26 February 2014 – page13

  1. The evidence of Tony Boyle is that train volumes are expected to increase from an existing volume of 30 per day to 48 per day when the inland port is at full capacity. This is an increase from an average of 1.25 trains per hour to 2 trains per hour. This change is expected to occur over a period of approximately 30 years as the inland port develops.

  1. My analysis shows that a driver could experience up to 4 minutes of disruption when a 3 minute barrier time coincides with evening peak hour traffic. This compares to around 3 minutes 40 seconds of disruption under base conditions for the same barrier time.  


Final Report and Decision of the Board of Inquiry into the Proposed Ruakura Development Plan Change Volume 1 of 3: Final Report and Decision – Rail capacity page 88

‘ECMT is used to transport freight with approximately 24 to 28 freight trains per day … At the inland port’s notional capacity of 1 million TEU movements a year, the potential exists for 12 additional train movements per day to and from the Ports of Auckland, with similar volumes to and from the Port of Tauranga.

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Claudelands Rd / Heaphy Tce rail grade separation

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Wikipedia tells us that “the East Coast Main Trunk (ECMT) carries 52% of freight between Waikato and Bay of Plenty and is one of Kiwi Rail’s most profitable lines. In 2018, 163 trains a week passed under Hamilton, 90 of them on weekday nights, or evenings, 37 at weekends and 36 between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. The line is at 70% capacity and growing”

Although there is space to double-track along the existing rail corridor through the Claudelands neighbourhood, it will more than likely mean people will have ‘plant or equipment working within 5m either side of the track’ for long periods of time, which may impact the rail operational area. This is why double-tracking through O’Neill Street maybe an option.

Grade separation of the Heaphy Tce rail crossing would benefit the whole Claudelands neighbourhood and users of Heaphy Tce. The O’Neill street option does this, but the O’Neill St double-tracking option cannot realistically be staged. Using the Claudelands Rd alignment for double-tracking allows it to be staged. Let’s say stage one is rail grade separation under Grey St.

Claudelands Rd east of New Street will be most affected over the long term. The Cosmopolitan Club car park reduction will gravely compromise the club, along with the Cosmo Bowling Club greens being rearranged. There is no need to remove people’s dwellings, but people living at 17 Bell St and 29F Claudelands Rd will most likely lose a corner of their private properties.

The beauty of running a rail line along Claudelands Rd is that every part can be done in affordable stages. For example, it would be possible to build a short part of the roof* of the tunnel as part of a Heaphy Tce/Grey St/Claudelands Rd intersection road diet , so when it comes to major cut-and-cover work, north/south traffic can still flow freely.

*Roof reference. Cut-and-cover: Top-down method: Side support walls and capping beams are constructed from ground level by such methods as slurry walling or contiguous bored piling. Only a shallow excavation is needed to construct the tunnel roof using precast beams or in situ concrete sitting on the walls. The surface is then reinstated except for access openings. This allows early reinstatement of roadways, services, and other surface features. Excavation then takes place under the permanent tunnel roof, and the base slab is constructed.

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