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MORNINGSIDE TUNNEL.

ABANDONMENT OF SCHEME. CRITICISM OF MINISTER. COMMITTEE'S INVESTIGATIONS. MANY ARGUMENTS ADVANCED. INDEPENDENT INQUIRY WANTED. A ■ report giving several points of criticism of tho Hon. W. B. Taverner's caso for' abandoning the Morningsido tunnel project has been prepared by a committee which was set up some time ago at a meeting of - representatives of the districts affected, convened by tho Auckland Chamber of Commerce. Tho report will be considered at a further meeting next Friday evening. Tho committee approached Mr. Taverner for information on various points connected with tho tunnel scheme and received the following reply:— "In answer to your request for information in connection with tbq Morningside deviation, I desire to inform you that' the estimated cost, set - down at £449,000 in the statement of 1924, was purely tentative, and was prepared without any detailed surveys or investigation of the proposed route. To obtain anything like an accurate estimate, detailed surveys and careful investigations would be necessary, and even then many items of expenditure would depend on the details of design to be adopted for the various structures. The original estimate provided for one underground station only, in the vicinity of the Town Hall! Provision of Three Stations. "The later estimate of £1,000,000 was prepared after careful survey of the locality, which entailed many months' This estimate provided for three stations on the route, two of them underground. The cost of tunnelling and construction of stations under the city would be heavy and, in estimating this portion of the work, the cost of similar undertakings carried out since the preliminary estimate was mado has been taken into account.

"With regard to compensation for land that would need to ba acquired it was found that since the original figures were prepared a large portion of the land on the route which was then vacant had been built upon. It is quite possible that if the matter were finally investigated and/ designed the costs as set otit in our later estimate would be increased." The committee has gone very thoroughly into the subject and at next Friday's meeting a resolution will be moved to the effect that, in spite of the Government's decision to abandon the Morningside deviation, the scheme provides. the only adequate solution of the problem of transport to distant western suburbs and North Auckland, and is also, in view of the situation of the new railway station, vital to the interests of passengers on the Southern suburban Jine. It will also be moved that, iu view' of the substantial discrepancies between the two estimates for the work, and of the existence of evidence that the second one, at least, is too high, an independent inquiry into the costs and economic aspects of thq scheme should be held immediately.

A Wide Discrepancy. l'ho report criticising Mr. Taverner's arguments for the abandonment of the scheme is as follows: ' "It is difficult to account for so wide a discrepancy between the Hon. W. B. Taverner's estimate of £1,000,000 for the Anckland-Morningside deviation and the 1924 estimate of £449,000. If the increase in the estimate is due to any extent to the erection of buildings on land vacant at the date of the earlier estimate, the position reflects very gravely on the Railway Department. If the increase is due to any extent to provision for further stations than the underground one at tho Town Hall and that in the open at Newton Road, then any such extra station is quite unnecessary. "Ib is not fair to saddle the whole cost of the duplication of tho lino between Helensville and Papakura on to the tunnel; in any case in accordance with the modern trend of railway operating practice, the electrification of the Auckland suburban railways must be .faced eventually, and it has been estimated by experts, Messrs. Merz and McLellan, that electrification of the Swanson-Papakura line would return just under 10 per cent, on the capital cost of the change-ovur.

Nawmarket-Morningside Service. "M 1". Taverner's remarks regarding the necessity for a shuttle service between Newmarket and Morningsido do not impress. A large proportion of the passengers who have hitherto travelled between Newmarket or Mount Eden and stations on the Kaipara line havo done so because of the inconvenient detour by way of Newmarket on the present line between Mount Eden and tho city. Others did so because they were employed at Newmarket workshops, but this factor no longer operates. Most of the present Newmarket or Mount Eden passengers would travel to or from Auckland instead of Newmarket or Mount Eden if the -Auckland-Morningside deviation were completed. "Similarly, passengers travelling between stations on the South line and stations on the Kaipara line would not need to continue to change at Newmarket. Tho distance for them may be a little shorter by way of Newmarket, but, owing to severe grades tho actual time would bo less if tljey simply continued on in the train, which, it is understood from tho report of Messrs. Merz and McLellan, would run between Swanson and Papakura/by way of the new railway station, making the latter a through station for purposes of suburban traffic. Passengers between the Kaipara line and stations between Southdown and Newmarket, or on Onehunga branches could also change at Auckland without great inconvenience; there is no need for a shuttle train to run between Morningside and Newmarket. '

"In any caso, while electrification is admittedly desirable, it is not essential, since the tunnel would not really bo a single double line tunnel, one and a-half roiles long, but two separate double-line tunnels, each of three-quarters of a mile. A longer double-line tunnel is operated by steam, under similar conditions, between Caversham and Burnside, near Dunedin." report advances the argument that the,pew Auckland railway station is being 'lilt at a point Rome distance from tlie centre of gravity of the business and shopping area, and that only the provision of another station, such as that contemplated near the Town Hall, would retain the suburban passenger traffic on the kaipara and southern lines for the railways against tram and bus competition.

"The Minister, in quoting elaborate figures to show '.ho amount of saving in net ton miles per annum on account of the Morningsido deviation being constructed, seems to saddle the tunnel with the extra mileage involved it. the Westfield deviation, ' tho report continues. "Moreover, he neglects the point that, with the construction of the Morningside deviation, substantially flat gradiants could bo secured, resulting in cheap hauling costs, whereas the route by way of Newmarket involves heavy gradients. An accurate estimate should allow for the cheaper costs of operation on lines of easy grade. At least on the original cost of construction the saving in working costs on (he basis of mileage alone, without taking into consideration the reduced working costs owing to bettor gradients .resulting from the prosecution of tlie Morningside deviation, or from electrification, would just about pay interest on the capital expenditure involved. " In the 1924 statement it is estimated that the saving of a mile and a-half between Auckland and Morningside, on 50 trains a day, would amount to 23,745 train miles a year, the cost of operating which is somewhere about £12,000. If the Auck-land-Morningside deviation is not proceeded with, duplication between Auckland and Morningside is essential at a cost of £130,000. The difference between this and (lie original estimate is £316,000,' which at 5 per cent, per annum is equivalent to £15,800, or very little in excess of the estimated saving, on account of reduced mileage only, in working expenses. On the top of this Messrs. Merz and McLellan have shown that electrification would bring in an added return equivalent to nearly 10 per cent, on the further capital outlay involved. Reduction in Distance. " The fallacy of the net toil miles argument is shown by the fact that the construction of the Auckland-Westfield deviation has increased the distance between Auckland and Otahuhu by approximately two miles. In spite of this the saving in working expenses through flatter gradients has been estimated to pay more than the interest on the capital, expenditure. The Morningside deviation would not only entail substantially flatter gradients, but also a substantial reduction in distance and operating time. The same traffic as now handled by way of Mount Eden could be handled after the construction of the Morningside deviation with only about two-fifths the power and at about two-fifths the cost. " The construction of the lino would result in a saving of at least 15 minutes in running-time between Auckland and stations on the Kaipara line, and Messrs. Merz and McLellan have estimated, on the basis of experience in other parts of the world, that the shortening of the time between Auckland and Henderson to 40 minutes by electric train would make the suburbs served by this line so popular that there would bo a 50 per cent, increase in passenger travelling. There is also the saving to the community as a whole in increased leisure that would result from the saving of time, the value of which cannot, of course, bo assessed. This shortening of time would do much to bring back to the railways traffic which, with the present circuitous detour through Newmarket, has been driven to the roads.

"The harbour bridge is not really a factor in the question, as the bulk of the railway traffic on the Kaipara lino is between Auckland and stations this side of Tahekeroa, which is tho most southerly point at which a line by way of the North Shore could link up with the existing line. The bridge proposition cannot, therefore, affect traffic on the western suburban line out of Auckland, or between the city and Helensville, even if there is a phenomenal development of the North Shore. Such a development on the North Shore does not mean that there will be no development in the western suburbs served by rail. Difficulties Not Insurmountable.

"The alleged difficulties and dangers incidental to constructing a double-track tunnel under a city have been met with arid successfully overcome under much more adverse conditions in hundreds of cases in cities such as London and' New York, and, very much nearer, in Sydney, where an inner circle double-track railway, partly in tunnel and partly in cut and cover, has been constructed through and under the city for 3 miles 63 chains, traversible by electric railway every 11 minutes, including four stops, at a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour. "The Morningside tunnel will have ample vertical clearance of overburden almost throughout, except near the suggested city station, somewhere near Wakefield Street, where, for about five chains, the depth would be so little, that cut and cover methods would have to be adopted. This would mean the removal of all buildings for this length, but this removal, together with underpinning in other places and other necessary operations, would bo simplicity itself compared with the difficulties and complications that have been successfully met in the cities mentioned.

Relieving Unemployment. "There could be only one underground station; that is near the Town Hall, and its construction would be very much easier than similar works recently completed at St. James* and Wynyard Srjuare in Sydney. "There is no difficulty about passing under or alongside buildings on this line. The buildings near the Town Hall, in any case, could with advantage be removed, for there are not any of magnitude. At any rate, it would be quite practicable to swing tho line on easy curvature to avoid any particularly difficult situation, and still obtain a suitable site for tho city station. "The construction of the line would, incidentally, do something for a space to relieve the present unemployment difficulties bv providing employment in definitely productive work and tho line, if electrified, would provide an outlet for some of (he surplus electrical energy developed at great cost as a national undertaking at Arapuni. Quirk communications to western suburbs Mould do much to relieve city congestion."

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19300315.2.139

Bibliographic details

MORNINGSIDE TUNNEL., New Zealand Herald, Volume LXVII, Issue 20514, 15 March 1930

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MORNINGSIDE TUNNEL. New Zealand Herald, Volume LXVII, Issue 20514, 15 March 1930

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