Protecting Future Avondale Line


Protecting a future Avondale/Southdown Railway Line link is covered in todays Board of Inquiry draft decision on Waterview. It’s protection that is crucial.

KiwiRail Group was a submitter concerning the Waterview Project, having interests as the holder of a designation in the Auckland District Plan to provide a corridor for such a future Avondale/Southdown railway line.

Corner Stoddard and Richardson Rds, Owairaka -where a station would be

The corridor runs through sectors 8 (bottom left) and 9 of the Project.(Bottom far right)

Essentially, NZTA proposed to build the motorway on designated railway land, and relocate the railway to a corridor generally to the northeast, and more or less parallel.

The Board of Inquiry says that a great deal of work and negotiation has occurred on the part of both NZTA and KiwiRail, concerning sector 9 where NZTA wishes to place the motorway above ground.

“While many parties in the hearing chose to place doubt on the future construction of the railway line, KiwiRail appeared by counsel and lodged submissions asserting that the work remains strategically important to it, and that its interest in the proceedings is in preserving the opportunity to develop rail along the route.  As such, NZTA requires both s177 and landowner approval from KiwiRail.

” The extensive work and negotiation have produced a comprehensive written agreement between the two authorities, granting both.

“It was expressly recorded that the agreement precludes the need to provide for specific conditions in the motorway consents if granted, except to the extent that it has been agreed to create certain draft conditions about such things as including KiwiRail in the Working Liaison Group.

“The consent was also put forward on the basis of inclusion of one condition described in the planning evidence of Ms Butler on behalf of KiwiRail, relating to the future relationship between the authorities in connection with any conditions imposed on designation of replacement rail land.  ”

The requested condition reads:

“A number of conditions of the designation require works on land that is to be acquired by the NZTA to provide land for a rail corridor to replace existing rail land required for the Project (”replacement rail land”).

Any conditions applying to the replacement rail land must be met by the NZTA up until (and if) construction of rail commences on that land. Once construction of rail commences on the replacement rail land, under a  new or altered rail designation imposed through a publicly notified process, any conditions relating to the replacement rail land shall cease to have effect.”

It adds: “The expectation is that the planning process authorising the construction of such rail will have imposed appropriate conditions to apply in respect of the rail corridor and any mitigation and interface with the Waterview Project.”

If any monitoring required  to be undertaken by any party by the designation conditions indicates non-compliance with any designation condition, the NZTA must provide written notice to the Auckland Council  ass oon as it becomes aware of same, stating the following: (a) A description of the non-compliance(b) The proposed measures NZTA proposes for addressing the non-compliance, including any additional mitigation measures.Subject to the Council’s approval, the NZTA must implement the  proposed additional mitigation  measures to address the non-compliance.

A year ago, a Council officers report to the Auckland Council’s transport committee, discussing factors related to the Western Ring Project said it was essential to provide for a new rail station for Stoddard town centre at Richardson Rd and ensuring quality access between the station and the surrounding community.

The report, discussing the location within the Owairaka town centre said:

The council has consistently sought that the interchange and related structures should not detract from or create severance within the towncentre. This primarily consists of addressing pedestrian and visual features, but also ensuring that the future rail station is provided for in an appropriate location.
The council has sought that the station be located within the towncentre, just south of and accessed from Richardson Rd, rather than isolated within the interchange. This would give the Council and landowners confidence in the station being an integral part of the town centre’s future development.
The council seeks that NZTA ensure the motorway design and changes to the rail designation do not preclude the construction of a quality rail station accessed from Richardson Rd.
The interchange works require the culverting of a portion of an Oakley creek tributary behind the industrial properties and it is intended to partially mitigate this through improving quality of ecology along open sections of Oakley creek elsewhere, such as Alan Wood Reserve.




  1. Matt L says:

    I think they should build the line from western line though to Dominion Rd with a station at Richardson like the council has suggested and one at Dominion Rd. It could operate as a spur line like Onehunga for a while until we sort out the money and the route to get it from there to Onehunga. This should be fairly cheap as the bridges are designed for a rail line under them (would have to grade separate New North Rd though)

  2. ingolfson says:

    It may not be all that clear from the lawyerly stuff, but essentially, my understanding of the process through the last months is:

    - The designation for rail will be protected, though in some locations moved north. KiwiRail may have to demolish some existing houses though, to get the new corridor freed up (I am not sure whether or not that will be done as part of THIS project - it was a concern that KiwiRail, years down the line, would have to carry the can for driving people out of their homes, when previously it had a mostly clear corridor - as I said, not sure where that ended up)

    - the new interchanges, overbridges etc… will be built so they can function for a two-track electrified rail line without having to be modified in the future again.

    - some earthworks along the motorway corridor will also, to my understanding, already be formed to the rough future rail alignment

    In short, I suspect that KiwiRail actually did pretty well out of this. If they built the line before NZTA went through there, they would have had to pay for all the bridges themselves, now they are getting some structures done and land cleared. In some ways, I suspect the project may thus make a future Avondale line more likely, not less.

  3. Andrew Miller says:

    Why not build the line and the motorway together? Like in Perth…

  4. ingolfson says:

    Andrew Miller - logic does not enter into the current MoT’s decisions all that deeply. Waterview at least actually has a reasonable benefit-cost ratio, but:

    - we are actively progressing several motorways in this country with a *negative* BCR

    - allowing the trucking industry to get away with such nonsense as allowing trucks to do 60% more maintenance damage to our roads so they can carry 20% more load

    - and ignoring CBD rail tunnel projects that, while costly, would have essentially no other drawbacks - unlike all these motorway projects, which involve huge amounts of mitigation to even be able to be considered, and cover more land with tarmac, instead of retaining it for parks and houses

  5. richard says:

    Interesting Kiwirail are keen to protect the reserve for the Avondale - Southdown line which was always primarily for South - North goods traffic when they are suggesting mothballing the North Auckland line??

    Curiouser and curiouser as the saying goes perhaps the threat of closure is a way to generate trade and get the Marsden line moving?

  6. Julie Fairey says:

    Thanks for this - worried to hear some parties cast doubts on the future construction of Avondale-Southdown. Our Local Board has identified it as one of our key priorities to have in the Auckland Plan. Can you provide some more info on which parties were naysaying it? Thanks.

  7. Ingolfson says:

    Richard - not everyone at KiwiRail is following the “let’s close rail lines for the better good of all” argument. Thankfully, no one in KiwiRail’s higher management dared to follow Mr Joyce’s secret wish and pulled the plug on KiwiRail’s counsel defending their future interests.

    Also, as Julie points out, this is not only for freight rail - this is also a very viable through-isthmus commuter line for the future.

  8. Julie Fairey says:

    TBH I hadn’t even been thinking about it as a freight line, but as a way to make rail a commuting option for the southern isthmus. Plus building a train station at Stoddard Rd would be a great way to rethink the area as a whole and look at how to revitalise it.


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