Airport Rail Connection in Christchurch ???

Today’s little exercise is to answer a question of how to get an airport connection in Christchurch. How do you make a connection when an airport when it is surrounded by residential areas? Actually it isn’t as surrounded as you’d think. There are noise corridors defined, and bringing a rail line through these corridors is the way to get into the airport. Back in the day, there was a proposal to build a rail line between Sockburn and Styx in order to bypass the part of the Main North Line that goes through residential neighbourhoods. Fortunately this was never completed, as it would make a northern rail passenger service very difficult to establish as a great deal more of the rail corridor than is presently the case would be in the airport’s noise corridor and away from the residential heart of the city. It would have, however, passed very close to the airport.

If we look at how to get a rail line into the airport there are two main possibilities. These are from the north and from the west of the city. Coming from the north a connection can be made off the MNL that bypasses the start of the former Styx-Sockburn corridor (as it has been built over in residential subdivision) and then follows that route practically all the way to the airport. This is depicted on the map below.

MNL Airport Rail Route

(Click for larger version)

For this route, the overall distance from the CBD to the airport by train would be around 19 km – 1 km from the CBD by road to our proposed Moorhouse Ave railway terminal, 2 km from there to Addington, 8.5 km from Addington to Styx and then 7.5 km from Styx to the airport. This isn’t a favourable comparison with the distance by road from the airport to the CBD which is around 10 km.

The second option is to come in from the south. For this we would look at joining onto the MSL near Templeton. AgainĀ  we follow the old S-S corridor as much as possible. For this route the maths would be less favourable – 1 km CBD to city railway station, 13 km from city to Islington and then 8.5 km from Islington to airport – a total of 22.5 km. Here is the route map.

MSL Airport Rail Route

(Click here for larger version)

Now what other alternatives are there? Anything that can use an existing more direct transport corridor. I don’t actually personally think heavy rail to Christchurch airport makes sense and will never actually happen. Christchurch does not have the population of Auckland and the placement of the airport relative to the rail corridors makes the distance by rail considerably less direct and therefore longer than by road. This can only change if a rail corridor is pushed through existing residential areas, which would greatly increase construction cost.