According to TomTom Traffic Index (2017), Auckland is the 40th most congested city in the world. For scale, Hong Kong and New York are the 44th and 49th most congested cities in the same Index. 

To address current issues surrounding congestion and population growth, which is forecast to see an additional 1 million people living in Auckland by 2046, the city is investing in light rail to alleviate the pressure on transport networks into and out of the city.

Working in a joint venture with Jacobs Engineering, Arup created and designed a proposal for a 12km light rail network connecting Wynyard Quarter and Auckland CBD to the Isthmus, including 13 stations, overhead wire (OHW) pole installations, depot and related infrastructure, and road alignment.

Creating a city for people

Arup’s holistic approach to the proposed route selection is rooted in our development experience for the new light rail networks around the world, including Sydney Light Rail, Gold Coast Light Railand the Luas Line in Dublin.

The Auckland Light Rail route is heavily constrained with steep gradients in the CBD fringe and narrow corridors through inner-city suburbs and village centres. We challenged the “norm” on light rail technology capability using real world examples, optimising a significant route for operation and urban regeneration potential.

To evaluate options within village centres, we developed innovative stop arrangements using time segregated running with LRT and traffic sharing physical space, whilst still providing LRT priority. This balanced traffic capacity and provided widened footpaths, whilst increasing pedestrian amenities and urban design outcomes through high value urban centres.

Through extensive optioneering and innovative stop arrangements within the constrained village centres, we minimised property impacts and maximised LRT operational efficiency along Dominion and Sandringham Roads. This allowed for widened footpaths, increased amenities and urban design outcomes in the newly pedestrianised CBD.

Clash detection and machine learning

This major construction project is placed within a heavily congested corridor containing multiple major utilities – including gas, water and electricity – that provide essential services to the operation of Auckland’s CBD. As a result. it was critical to understand how the proposed route alignment may impact the underground utilities’ location.

Usually a costly manual assessment, we created an entirely new automated system to detect the clashes that consolidated existing utilities’ asset information into a common data environment. We then applied a machine learning algorithm to further reduce any manual assessments. 5183 clashes were reduced to 443, saving 790 hours engineering – a staggering saving. 

*All images Courtesy of Auckland Transport