It seems as though the funding issues for the Onehunga Line, that resulted from the removal of the regional petrol tax, have been resolved. This follows on from a post I made a couple of weeks ago that related to progress being made between the ARC and NZTA to provide the necessary extra funding. It also appears as though there will be three stations along the Onehunga Branch: one at Onehunga, one at Te Papapa (quite near Mays Road) and one near Mt Smart stadium.

I have included a map of where I think the stations will be located. I’m not 100% sure of the location of the Te Papapa station and the Mt Smart station, but they would certainly not be too far from where I’ve shown them:

onehunga-line The main benefit of the Mt Smart station seems likely to be for events, and it may well turn out that this is and events only station. There isn’t much residential development within easy walking distance of the Mt Smart station – although I guess there is potential for people who live elsewhere on the rail network but work near the station to catch the train. I suspect that wouldn’t be particularly many people though.

I have a couple of hopes for this line, apart from the obvious one that it’s reasonably popular. My first hope is that it gets decent service frequencies. There aren’t that many available peak hour slots into Britomart left (due to the lack of a CBD rail loop) so I am not sure whether, at peak hour, a huge number of trains will be able to be run from Onehunga into Britomart. I think that it’s most likely that trains which currently terminate at Otahuhu will be re-routed to instead terminate at Onehunga. Off-peak I hope that the service frequencies aren’t cut back too much either – perhaps a train every 30 minutes during weekdays and at weekends would be great. And that links in with my second hope: that the service runs on Saturdays AND Sundays, and at reasonable frequencies on both those days. The reason I hope this is because I actually think it could be damn popular. The big white blob just above the Onehunga station is DessSmart Onehunga: an extremely popular shopping centre with very limited carparking. As Sylvia Park has shown, people are very eager and willing to catch trains to shopping malls at the weekend, and I imagine that Onehunga will continue that trend – if a decent weekend service is provided. And finally, clearly the Onehunga services must start and end at Britomart. That’s a bit of a no-brainer.

So the obvious question is “when will it open?” Well, according to ARTA: “services are expected to begin on the Onehunga line early next year.” So not too far away.

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  1. I read a report on this but can’t seem to find it again (this always happens to me, I need to start saving them). If I remember right the Te Papapa station is in the right place (between Captain Springs and Mays Rd) and the Onehunga station will be built on a very short spur of straight track heading toward Onehunga Mall rather than on the existing curve.
    The Mt Smart platform will be on the other (eastern) side of Maurice Rd, presumably to avoid crossing the road when events are one (I’m sure you’ve seen what those streets are like after a Big Day Out). Interestingly there is an old siding that branches off just there and heads right to the corner of the top field at the stadium, you can see the corridor on Google maps. Maybe one day they could use that corridor to build a station actually on the stadium grounds.

  2. Nick, there was some debate about the final location of the Onehunga station.

    The article I linked to talks about that debate being finally resolved, and the station being located on the ITM site:

    Acting agency regional director Tommy Parker says the proposed stations would be at the ITM site at 109-113 Onehunga Mall, Mt Smart and Te Papapa

    That site is on the curve.

  3. Yes but from my understanding the platform would not be on the curve itself but on a spur from the curve crossing the site. I.e. the station platform will be in the middle of the ITM site (perhaps with a more east-west alignment) and not on the edge against the existing track.

  4. Great to see it’s taking shape. It would be interesting to learn if they’re researching the possibility of running the Mt Smart one all the time, rather than as an events-only station, because there’s a whole lot of factory workers who park their cars around that station when they drive to work. Perhaps at least some of them drive from around the Onehunga terminus and could therefore take public transport to and from work. (It should be noted that the 392 bus runs a similar route though).

  5. Great news, now for the next public trnasport project to fight for.

    I understand that Transit is building a duplicate Mangere bridge. While there is no space for train lines on the new mangere bridge, It includes bus shoulder lanes (see for details). There is another bridge already in existance, to the west of the existing Mangere bridge, known as the “Old Manger bridge” which was used for cars before the existing bridge was built in the 1970s, now used for pedestrians and cyclists.

    We can turn the Old Mangere bridge into a bus bridge, similar to the Wellington bus tunnel. And extend the Onehunga line across the new bridge using the bus shoulder lanes, and have the railway eventually go down to the airport.

    Also, is the existing Onehunga line double tracked? If not, we might want to design the stations so it can be double tracked in future, especially if the line is to be extended to the airport, and the Avondale-Onehunga-Southdown line is to be built.

  6. We can turn the Old Mangere bridge into a bus bridge, similar to the Wellington bus tunnel. And extend the Onehunga line across the new bridge using the bus shoulder lanes, and have the railway eventually go down to the airport.

    It’s not really that easy unfortunately. The “old Mangere bridge” is in a pretty sorry state and the works required to upgrade it to a standard where it could carry buses or trains would be significant and very costly. The current Mangere bridge project has built its piers strong enough to carry a future double-tracked railway line that is “clipped on”. This was one of the main items that the ARC pushed for in the bridge’s design.

    Also, is the existing Onehunga line double tracked? If not, we might want to design the stations so it can be double tracked in future, especially if the line is to be extended to the airport, and the Avondale-Onehunga-Southdown line is to be built.

    It’s a single-track. Double-tracking works here would certainly be required if an airport line or Avondale-Onehunga line was built. This would be quite expensive.

  7. I’ve grown up in Wellington and was shocked about the poor public transport service that Auckland runs in the weekends. Dressmart was a big backer of this project and I’m sure they to will want weekend services as that is when most business takes place. If the train linked eastern line (where Silvia Park is) and Onehunga (Dressmart), this would also be popular with shoppers. We may get shopping malls reducing their car parking capacity for more shops?

    Many public transport services may be unprofitable at first, but in the long run they encourage transit orientated developments and change urban landscapes. I hope this will be the case in Onehunga, allowing more people to have better access to the city. I just hope Auckland City council has a good development plan for Onehunga. This rail line can only have positive outcomes for Onehunga.

    Steven Joyce many have to re-arrange his funding policy if the rail services in Auckland become too much of a success. However I’m sure hes going to give a great speech on opening day about the importance of rail

  8. Brent, Steven Joyce hates how public transport patronage is booming and state highway usage is falling. That’s why he’s doing everything he can to reverse those trends!

  9. Yeah there is a bit of sarcasm in there.
    It will be a great speech about how important rail is, but he will end he is likely to talk about his 7 roads further.

  10. Well one of his 7 is pretty much dead, with the Transmission Gully motorway have a BCR of around 0.3-0.5. Steven Joyce admitted in parliament today that none of the other options were much better either.

    One stupid idea down, six to go?

  11. Thank god for that! At least now the Waikanae commuter rail extension will serve some purpose without the gully road stealing its commuters.

    Maybe that airport rail extension isn’t too far off…

  12. I think it would be stupid to build the airport rail link before the CBD rail loop. There simply aren’t enough slots at Britomart to handle it. The only alternative is to somehow duplicate the Britomart tunnel, but that’s a damn expensive project in itself (which means you might as well go the whole hog and build the CBD rail loop).

  13. Or build the CBD tunnel all the way to Quay Park Junction, with new platforms under Quay St. Two birds with one stone.

  14. I agree. Ideally we should build more acess to Brotmart and the CBD rail loop at the same time, as we might want to build a North Shore line in future.

  15. The main point is that the next piece of serious rail infrastructure that needs to be built in Auckland is the CBD rail loop. If we don’t build that next then all these other plans for a North Shore Line, rail to the airport or a Howick/Botany Line will never happen. The CBD rail loop has to happen next.

    Hopefully something will hold up the Waterview Connection and at the next election there will be a huge debate about whether that $1.4 billion should be spent on the Waterview Connection or on the CBD rail loop. If petrol is $3 a litre then people may lean towards the rail loop.

  16. I have thought about the idea of a citizens initiated referendum on wether the Waterview connection should be cancelled, with the money going to the CBD rail loop and other public transport projects. Problem is that about one quarter of Auckland has to sign the petition, with about 4% from the rest of the country. And the public transport lobby might not be strong enough to collect that number.

    And if we loose the referendum it will be a disaster. One the other hand if we win it, the government will have a huge political cost if it looses.

  17. The problem with referenda in general is that they’re very backwards looking, by simply focusing on the populism of an issue. Politicians and planners need to be forward looking – beyond what the current situation is and seeing how things might be 5 years down the track or so.

    If one does look 5 years down the track then the Waterview Connection starts looking very silly and the CBD rail loop starts looking rather essential.

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