Claudelands Rd / Heaphy Tce rail grade separation

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Wikipedia tells us that “the East Coast Main Trunk (ECMT) carries 52% of freight between Waikato and Bay of Plenty and is one of Kiwi Rail’s most profitable lines. In 2018, 163 trains a week passed under Hamilton, 90 of them on weekday nights, or evenings, 37 at weekends and 36 between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. The line is at 70% capacity and growing”

Although there is space to double-track along the existing rail corridor through the Claudelands neighbourhood, it will more than likely mean people will have ‘plant or equipment working within 5m either side of the track’ for long periods of time, which may impact the rail operational area. This is why double-tracking through O’Neill Street maybe an option.

Grade separation of the Heaphy Tce rail crossing would benefit the whole Claudelands neighbourhood and users of Heaphy Tce. The O’Neill street option does this, but the O’Neill St double-tracking option cannot realistically be staged. Using the Claudelands Rd alignment for double-tracking allows it to be staged. Let’s say stage one is rail grade separation under Grey St.

Claudelands Rd east of New Street will be most affected over the long term. The Cosmopolitan Club car park reduction will gravely compromise the club, along with the Cosmo Bowling Club greens being rearranged. There is no need to remove people’s dwellings, but people living at 17 Bell St and 29F Claudelands Rd will most likely lose a corner of their private properties.

The beauty of running a rail line along Claudelands Rd is that every part can be done in affordable stages. For example, it would be possible to build a short part of the roof* of the tunnel as part of a Heaphy Tce/Grey St/Claudelands Rd intersection road diet , so when it comes to major cut-and-cover work, north/south traffic can still flow freely.

*Roof reference. Cut-and-cover: Top-down method: Side support walls and capping beams are constructed from ground level by such methods as slurry walling or contiguous bored piling. Only a shallow excavation is needed to construct the tunnel roof using precast beams or in situ concrete sitting on the walls. The surface is then reinstated except for access openings. This allows early reinstatement of roadways, services, and other surface features. Excavation then takes place under the permanent tunnel roof, and the base slab is constructed.

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