Wellington: Under The Mountain, Part 2

After I posted my idea for a Wellington heavy rail extension in Under the Mountain, I got some helpful questions on Twitter, so I’d like to expand some of the ideas a little more.

Are you really planning to just dig a giant open trench through Wellington?

Parts of the plan are in trenches. Bridges would be able to cross it, flat at street level. These would be at intersections, pedestrian crossings and so on.

This is not ideal from an urban design point of view. But it does keep the cost down, and the trenched parts are only in the medians of some of Wellington’s worst traffic sewers: Waterloo, Customhouse, and Jevois Quays, between Kent and Cambridge Terraces, and in Adelaide Road and Rongotai Road. The at-grade parts are along Cobham Drive, already a solid barrier, or along the airport boundary.

All trenched parts could easily be covered later, if the surrounding road was improved. But unless it is, there’s not much point.

What will the trains do, exactly?

The existing lines will simply continue from where they terminate now, to terminate at a new, 6 platform station at the airport. If expansion is required, the airport is next to Miramar Golf Course, which it has gobbled up part of before and doubtless will again.

The only trains that won’t are the diesel services from Masterton and Palmerston North, and the Northern Explorer. These would continue to terminate at Wellington Station, or could be electrified themselves.

Plan for services on proposed Wellington heavy rail extension

I’ve fiddled with the Metlink map a bit to show the arrangement of services. Black is the number of services at present, red is what I propose, and green is probably the maximum. Increasing services will also require double-tracking to Upper Hutt, and on the Kapiti Line double-tracking to Waikanae. If this proposal is on the table, though, those relatively small projects could be assumed.

Could there be more stations?

Yes, it depends how you want to trade off speed and walk-up coverage. In Option 1, the Hospital, Kilbirnie and Airport stations would all be fed by local buses which would no longer need to go all the way in to town. But alternatively, you could add more stations, e.g. Basin Reserve, a second, southern Newtown station, and a station at Rongotai.

Extra stations plan