Update: Parnell Rail Trail

October 8, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog

The Waitemata Local Board’s Greenways Plan has been promoting the benefits of building a walking and cycling path that would connect Newmarket via the Parnell rail corridor into Auckland’s inner-city since 2012.

This was the map I published to the community in 2012 showing the proposed route:

Parnell Tunnel and Rail Trail 2

As part of the feasibility planning for the route an engineering report was commissioned by the Waitemata Local Board in 2012 which looked at the structural integrity of the Parnell abandoned rail tunnel. This engineers report indicated that the tunnel was structurally sound and could be re-purposed. In fact, I think the exact words of the Engineer was the tunnel was more structurally sound than the existing rail tunnel used by kiwirail. The report went on to say that since the tunnel was curved and there was no visible exit to the tunnel there would need to be designs incorporated to improve CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) issues.

Plucked from the internet, here are a couple of examples of walking and cycling tunnels that have overcome the same issues overseas:

Walking and Cycling Tunnel Parnell Options

Since 2012 many thinks have changed with the proposed Cowie Street Bridge planned to be built by Auckland Transport and a massive surge of political support to fund $90m of cycling infrastructure in Auckland’s Inner City. After the Government announced these plans, I expressed my concerns in a blog in July 2015 that a part of the network was missing:

“One project missing from the list which needs to be addressed is the Parnell Rail Trail. This is our once in a lifetime chance to open up the former rail tunnel, former home to the glow worms, before the land is developed and the opportunity lost forever.”

As a result of asking the question, Auckland Transport investigated the Parnell Rail Trail option and presented a report back to the Waitemata Local Board at our workshop on Tuesday 6th October 2015. The report commissioned by Auckland Transport took a much broader view of the corridor with the connection from Remuera Road all the way to the cycleway on Stanley Street. As part of the corridor identification they looked at multiple options through Newmarket, Auckland Domain, Parnell and of course the rail corridor:


Auckland Transport has landed on a “preferred design” which would connect Remuera Road, Newmarket Railway Station, Broadway Park, Laxon Terrace, the Parnell Rail Tunnel, Parnell Train Station, University of Auckland accommodation and Stanley Street. They estimate that 300 people would cycle along the track on an average day:


As part of the analysis they have also identified the potential cost to build the 2.4kms cycleway. They estimate the cost would be between $16.5m (utilising the existing rail tunnel to the Auckland Domain) to $24.5m (building a bridge over the Parnell Train Station). The BCR (Benefit Cost Ratio) for this project lands on 4.3 which is higher than the Victoria Park Tunnel Project which was a 3.2 BCR.


When comparing existing cycleways built by NZTA and Auckland Transport this is how it stacks up on cost:

  1. Nelson Street Cycleway which is 2.5kms* and cost $13m, click here
  2. Parnell Rail Trail which is 2.4kms* at a cost of $16.5m
  3. Grafton Cycleway which is 1.7kms* and cost $20m, click here

*distances taken using www.plotaroute.com

So the price of the Parnell Rail Trail is comparative to other cycleways that link suburbs of Auckland into the innercity.

As the population of Newmarket’s Metropolitan Town Center and the Eastern Suburbs continue to grow there will be increased pressure placed on our roading network to deliver transport solutions. The Parnell Rail Trail provides a safe alternative off-the-road solution that would encourage an increase in walking and cycling. Along with these transport, recreation and health benefits would be the ability for the community to fully restore the Waipapa fresh water stream.


Previous Blogs:

April 2012 – Light at the end of the Parnell-Tunnel – click here

September 2012 – Laxon Terrace – Sarawia Rail Level Crossing – click here

December 2012 – Waitemata Greenways – click here

July 2015 – Big win for Cycling in Auckland – click here



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