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Preparing rail level-crossings for high-speed trai

Preparing rail level-crossings for high-speed trains

15 March 2008

Auckland Regional Council will provide financial assistance to local and district councils to ensure the region’s busiest level-crossings are ready for high-frequency trains.

The regional council has earmarked money from a dedicated fund of $21 million in its draft annual plan to immediately assist with investigation and design work for the grade separation of level crossings.

The current rail upgrade, including the proposed introduction of electric trains, means there will be many more trains. They will be moving faster, more quietly and more often.

The busiest level crossings need to be grade separated so that roads pass over or under rail tracks. Otherwise traffic will have stop to allow trains to pass every 10 minutes or less during rush hour, causing localised congestion, and increasing the potential for accidents.
Some other smaller streets may need to be closed off where they cross the rail line.

The Auckland region has a large number of rail level crossings: 31 on the urban line between Swanson and Pukekohe, 8 on the Onehunga branch line and 13 between Swanson and Helensville.

These level-crossings need urgent attention:

 Manuroa Rd, Papakura District
 Sarawia St, Auckland City
 Morningside Dr, Auckland City
 Normanby Rd, Auckland City
 Woodward Rd, Auckland City
 Glenview Rd, Waitakere City

The level crossing St Jude St in Avondale has the most vehicle traffic of all, but the road is so steep that an engineering solution, so far, remains elusive.
The dilemma, as the regional council sees it, is this:

 ONTRACK will provide signalling, barrier arms and other safety measures at crossings, but isn’t responsible for roads.
 City and district councils look after local roads. They can get Government transport grants, but must be able to raise about half of the cost themselves to qualify.
 The regional council, through the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, can provide high-frequency trains but has no direct responsibility for level-crossings.

The regional council is able to offer financial support because it has been reimbursed by central government for money spent on the first stage of double-tracking the western rail line (Project Boston).
ARC chairman Michael Lee says: “The local councils of the region are confronted with the cost of fixing level crossings as an inevitable outcome of new, high-speed electric rail services.

“The ARC believes money originally earmarked for rail would be well-spent assisting local councils with this challenge.”
Transport and urban development committee chairwoman Christine Rose says ARC councillors have been unanimous that the scale and urgency of the works merit regional assistance.

“These works are expensive and present issues complex to manage and resolve. The ARC sees that by assisting with funding, these important works can be undertaken before electrification begins, saving both lives and money in the longer term.
“We are happy to be able to assist councils to bring projects forward given the significance of the issue to the region.”

ENDS

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