More questions about proposed route, Answered

The following comments and questions came through the site’s contact form. FIT has omitted the names of the submitters, but the questions raise important issues which deserve discussion.

Q1.

I WAS in favour of light rail in Wellington when it was proposed through the central city and I am fully aware of its advantages, but now that I know that the route you favour will wreck our beautiful waterfront, I will do all I can to oppose it.

The diagram-map on your website has been cleverly designed to avoid showing that the actual route is along the waterfront. Just as well (from your point of view) as the vast majority of Wellingtonians are certain to oppose that section.

Wellington’s special feature is the waterfront bordering the central city — a wonderful place to saunter. But, wow, it’s a battle to keep the spoilers out.

I’ll do my best to communicate, in conversation and in writing, that your favoured route will wreck most of our precious city waterfront.

A1.

FIT agrees that "Wellington’s special feature is the waterfront bordering the central city — a wonderful place to saunter." FIT's proposal does not change this; the proposal is that light rail will replace 2 traffic lanes on the Quays, one northbound and one southbound, with a light rail stop at Frank Kitts Park. This will replace 2 continuous streams of noisy polluting cars with a much quieter clean light rail vehicle passing at most every 5 minutes. In FIT's view, this will enhance not "wreck" our precious city waterfront.

Furthermore we would hope that the introduction of a mass rapid transit option on a waterfront quays route would provide a competitive alternative to private motor vehicles and thereby reduce the numbers of private motor vehicles on the remaining four lanes. It would be desirable to incorporate protected cycle lanes into the design, giving people on bikes and scooters an alternative to mixing with pedestrians on the waterfront.

FIT also considers that the Frank Kitts Park stop creates an opportunity to improve the pedestrian connection from the city to the waterfront, for example in the form of a second city to sea bridge. The light rail tracks would be at street level so easily and safely crossed by pedestrians at any controlled intersection.

Q2.

HI. Have you considered that the light rail system will need a service depot. If the track gauge and the is compatible with the railway system then servicing could be done at the railway workshops in the Hutt Valley. If not then a service depot would be needed. I don't think there's any spare land along the proposed route suitable for storage yards and a maintenance depot.

A2.

FIT has two sites in mind, one of them in the eastern suburbs, but they need to be confirmed by professional studies before they are made public. A likely layout is light rail at or below ground level, with development above: residential or commercial.

Q3.

I read in the article on stuff (What is light rail, and how would it work in Wellington? by Damian George·16:48, Jan 11 2019) This group’s proposal is for a one lane tunnel for Mt Albert. Is this due to costs rather than having a two way tunnel which increase network capacity and will reduce the need to come back later on to add an extra tunnel. Surely it would be better to provide two way and not have any single line sections. It would end up being like the current bus tunnel where buses have to wait to pass through.

A3.

One advantage of light rail over buses is that by giving light rail dedicated lanes and priority at intersections, the service is much more predictable. This means we can schedule light rail operations so that one vehicle never has to wait for another to clear the tunnel. A vehicle will take about a minute to pass through a Mt Albert tunnel. With a planned maximum service frequency of 5 minutes, it is relatively straightforward to stagger the arrivals of up and down vehicles at the tunnel. With stops at both ends (Zoo and Kilbirnie), a vehicle can if necessary be held at the stop for a few seconds while one from the other direction clears.

However, FIT's route also requires a tunnel under Mt Cook from Taranaki St to Adelaide Rd. It is not practical to make both tunnels single track. FIT chose to make the shorter tunnel double track.

In the long term, the maximum practical frequency for on-street at-grade light rail is 3 minutes, maybe 2.5 minutes at a stretch. Higher frequencies generally require grade separation at busy intersections to reduce traffic congestion. In FIT's estimation, a 3 minute service can operate with a single track Mt Albert tunnel and a double track Mt Cook tunnel.

If the preferred route for light rail includes a Mt Albert tunnel, FIT expects that council officers will carry out detailed modelling before a final decision on a single or double track is made.