Auckland Transport is making safety improvements to the Church Street East Level Crossing.
Project Location: Central Auckland
Project Status: Under Investigation
Auckland's rail network has seen sustained, significant growth over the past few years. This is because of successful improvements of passenger services, and a shift in commuter behaviour as more people choose to travel by rail. As Auckland's population continues to grow, we'll see further increases in people travelling by rail, and a need for further scheduled train services.
We have several rail network improvements planned:
- The City Rail Link (CRL), which is due to go live in 2024
- The introduction of a third main line (Wiri to Quay Park) on parts of the Southern Line
- Electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe (P2P)
These improvements will significantly increase Metro Rail capacity and provide more flexibility for freight train operations.
We're developing a new train timetable, improving inbound frequency and service capacity without increasing overall train movements at some level crossings. This means that we need to investigate options for some level crossing sites, such as Church Street East.
Why Church Street East?
The Church Street East crossing is the only remaining vehicle level crossing on the Southern Line between Britomart in downtown Auckland and Spartan Road in Takanini. This section of rail track also forms part of the North Auckland Freight Line.
We're proposing substantial increases in train frequency. That's why we've singled out the combined road and pedestrian level crossing at Church Street East, Penrose, for early consideration.
The level crossing at Church Street East consists of a barrier arm-controlled two-lane vehicle crossing, and a fenced but otherwise uncontrolled pedestrian crossing.Travelling west over the level crossing, there is a building and a business precinct with a no-exit road.
Recent traffic counts showed about 300 vehicles, 75 pedestrians, and 55 cyclists using this crossing on a typical day. The day count also recorded 78 trains (both passenger and freight).
Once the City Rail Link is complete, the number of trains using the level crossing is expected to increase to 24 trians per hour. This 100% increase in trains will see the barriers down for more than 30 minutes of each hour during peak traffic.
This increase in services and varying train speeds through this level crossing create a complex situation. The visibility north of the crossing is also reduced due to the South Eastern Highway bridge and track level changes. Combined, these make the crossing inherently unsafe for all users.
We've commissioned a Single Stage Business Case (SSBC) to understand how the level crossing would handle the changes expected in 2024. It will also examine what actions could be used to increase safety for all.
We considered three options in the investigation phase of the SSBC. These included:
- Make no changes to the level crossing
- Close the crossing with no investment
- Close the crossing with investment
Early in our investigation, we summarised that making no changes to the level crossing was not a viable option. This is because it would impede the future operation of Auckland's passenger rail network once the CRL opens.
For this reason, the project team is investigating the best way to mitigate the closure of the Church Street East crossing for people driving, riding bikes, cycling, or with accessibility requirements.
In December 2021, the AT project team will begin consultations with affected stakeholders. We'll work closely with the few local businesses who may be directly affected by the level crossing closure. We'll work to understand the closure's potential impacts on their businesses and develop possible mitigations.
We'll also talk to community stakeholders about their use of the level crossing and other local travel routes. We'll ask them for feedback on potential options for mitigating the closure, especially for cyclists, people walking, or those with accessibility needs.
Feedback from all these stakeholders will feed into the SSBC.
- September 2021 – SSBC begins
- December 2021 – Engagement with stakeholders begins
- February 2022 – Public Consultation on the preferred option
- Late March 2022 – Public consultation closes, feedback assembled
- May 2022 – Public consultation feedback reported published
The strategic need for this project
This investigation aligns strongly with several AT and Government policies, such as the Government Policy on Land Transport (GPS) 2021, the draft Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), and AT's Statement of Intent.
These documents provide the strategy direction for this project. They also support it through:
- Supporting Auckland's Vision Zero programme and ensures our transport system is safer by eliminating harm
- Enabling interventions that improve passenger safety and security
- Ensuring our transport system makes our cities and towns liveable by providing people with good travel options. This requires all parts of our transport system, such as roads, rail, buses, walking, and cycling, to work together.
- Supporting the movement of freight through the most appropriate mode, improving interregional corridors, and improving resilience
- Identifying investments in the rail system that will result in the right infrastructure and services, at the right time, to the right level, at the right cost
- Supporting the implementation of the City Rail Link opening.