I was pretty gutted to miss it, but on Saturday the Onehunga Line reopened to passenger trains for the first time in 37 years. Jon C at Aucklandtrains has extensive coverage, including photos, of the opening. It seems like the opening event went incredibly well, with a huge crowd turnout. Furthermore, mentions of rail to the airport were very popularly received.

The NZ Herald also had an article, here are some extracts:

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee, a long-time proponent of reopening the Onehunga line to passengers, said the huge turnout yesterday indicated a seachange in the way Aucklanders viewed rail passenger transport.

Referring to the Onehunga and New Lynn rail developments, he said people would look back on September 2010 as the day the phrase “Aucklanders never get out of their cars” lost its meaning.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the developments were a step towards Auckland becoming an “efficient and prosperous world class city”.

New network-wide timetables began yesterday, with more than 400 extra train trips a week across Auckland, about a 25 per cent increase in services according to ARTA chairman Rabin Rabindran.

I’m very much looking forward to catching the train out to Onehunga on the weekend to do shopping at DressSmart, and to check out the awesome second hand bookshop there. Will certainly beat trying to find parking.

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  1. Trains on the eastern line were running fine early this morning, a bit of a hiccup coming into Britomart, but that is something they can sort out.

    I noticed a number of comments on some site where people are upset about the new lines and money being spent on rail. A lot if these people do not mind spending money on roads…

  2. Why doesn’t Auckland Airport Ltd do something about rail to the airport? They’ve invested very recently in Queenstown Airport. Why was that a higher priority to them than their own feeder network?

    1. There is a lot of money to be made in carparking, taxi stands & shuttle stands etc. I think they would take rail if somebody else paid but don’t think they will be keen to poor hundreds of millions into it.

      1. You’re probably right about priorities. But the Auckland councils are big shareholders in the airport and should be able to influence the priorities. I’m guessing that if the airport put a couple of hundred million on the table to get things started then progress would be rapid. Sort of like the Canary Wharf people contributing to the Jubilee Line extension in London, even if that was marred by an intervening bankruptcy.

        Is there a problem with lack of airport innovation due to it being a (partly) publicly owned monopoly who will rake it in no matter what? Would a second airport at Whenuapai force Auckland-Mangere to raise its game by co-developing services like a rail link?

        1. Why would AIAL put any money on the table when the government is so openly, unashamedly hostile to the very idea of rail to the airport? There’s a big gap between the borders of the airport and the current rail spurs, and even if AIAL were to wholly fund the rail development within the airport’s precincts (which I would consider to be a very, very unjust demand) that still leaves a curve of line that’s connected to nothing, taking up land and generating no revenue, for decades to come.

        2. Building a mass transit link to your business can be very smart. However as an AIA shareholder i would be very annoyed if the board decided to fund the entire line. I don’t think there is any way the extra business the airport could generate by having a rail line running there could cover the hundreds of millions of investment required (even if they charged premium prices like Sydney and Hong Kong).

        3. I don’t think that anyone would expect AIAL to build a line all at their cost but I do think that they should contribute a decent amount to build some of it.

        4. I don’t have any problem with AIA funding part of the total length of the extension to the airport and, as I’ve said, an offer of cash might help to kick start the project. If nothing else it would show that AIA believe the air travel benefits outweigh the costs. Or lack of benefits if Scott is a representative shareholder. I wouldn’t expect them to fund the whole thing because there would be intermediate destinations on the line that aren’t airport related.

          But… Auckland councils own close to a billion dollars in airport shares. If there is a social benefit to the airport line then they could easily build it by selling their shares and funding the line from the sale. Then it wouldn’t matter if central government were hostile or not. It would show Auckland taking responsibility for infrastructure development. Announcing an innovative funding mechanism like this would allow a mayoral candidate to put their money where their mouth is, because all the current “promises” to build various items of infrastructure are limited by the fact that the mayoral candidates currently think their job is to lobby for improvements rather than actually build projects.

    2. Actually I believe AIAL are very supportive of rail. They have a corridor for it marked on their masterplan, plus I heard one comment recently that they are very keen to get a rail station built into their new terminal and are frustrated by the government’s failure to progress the route (obviously they would only build in a station if they new the govt was going to build the line).

      I think they realise that they have run out of land for cheap parking, and that taxis in traffic aren’t reliable. There is much less money to be made from parking once you have to start building and maintaining parking buildings rather than cheaply paving the ground. The new Western Ring Route connections and some bus upgrades will help that in the shorter term, but I imagine if AIAL wants to maintain it’s top ten rankings in worlds best airport service for decades to come they are going to need a top quality transit link.

    3. I think I read somewhere (might have been around the time of the RLTS consultation) that the airport are now keen for a rail line and they know they will have to contribute to some of the costs. The big problem is they need to know the exact route the line will come from and cross into their property so that they can plan things on their side. Until a detailed route study is completed they can’t do much but I think they are just about to start one.

  3. Man there are some uninformed morons out there, like the guy claiming there are no successful airport railways in Australasia (Brisbane’s privately owned airport line turns a profit!) while suggesting that an airport line is impossible because there is no where to put the station at the airport (despite the AIAL clamouring to get a rail station built into their terminal expansion).

    1. I’ve taken Brisbane’s airport line several times, and also used it to change between Domestic and International a few times for free. It is a good system that will take you all the way down to the Gold Coast so you can revel in tackiness for a few days 😉 They seem to do infrastructure well in SE Queensland. Maybe this is a function of the rapid population growth?

      1. I took it from the airport straight to the Goldie last year too, very easy. There is potential there for something similar in Auckland as the airport would be less than 90 minutes from Hamilton by rail, not that Hamilton has quite the tourist pulling power of Surfers Paradise!

        They should seriously consider building an airport line with an elevated station at the terminals (not underground) so that it could serve as the southern hub for diesel powered intercity services.

        1. There’s always Rotorua and there’s plenty of space for an elevated station just build it over a car park and have some sort of footbridge linking it into the terminal.

    2. But where would the line actually go? sure there’s a 6lane (10 lane bridge) motorway for it to take some land from, but that’d make the station a bit of a walk from Mangere Bridge community as well as favona/mangere

      1. It is actually relatively straightforward:

        -The Onehunga line corridor reaches from the CBD to the waters edge by the Port of Onehunga and the bridges.
        -The new bridge foundations have been designed to support retrofitting with a rail crossing
        -From the bridge the current SH20 motorway corridor expansions were done to one side to leave room for the rail corridor on the other side.
        -From the vicinity of Mangere Town Centre there is room alongside SH20A as far as the airport industrial park.
        -From there there may be a couple of land purchaces required but otherwise there is a clear route to the proposed airport terminal.
        -From the airport eastward to the southern line and the Manukau branch is open land the whole way.

        You have the CBT’s campaigning to thank for the fact that the bridge can support a rail deck and the motorway leaving enough room for the rail corridor.

        I think that this line would resemble the northern busway more than say the western line, and very similar to the new lines in Perth that run along the freeway there. Mangere Station would be reasonably close to the town centre, but in general the stations would probably be focused on bus interchanges and park and ride like those in the north. The airport station would obviously be right in by the terminal.

        1. Their long term plan is to consolidate both the domestic and international terminals into one building.

  4. Yes, the existing domestic terminal is to be closed and the international terminal will be extended with a new north wing facing the new domestic runway which is under construction. As I noted above the airport company are interested in building a station into or alongside this new wing.

  5. I did a radio interview with a manager from AIAL, they are very enthusiastic about Airport rail and seem happy to work together with the council’s to get it… Short of spending too many $$$…

    They realise the more transport options they can get the better and that there is plenty of need for additional transport options going forward – transport need will be greater than parking, taxi and shuttle capacity – which means buses and trains…

  6. Off topic I know but yesterday I flew into Mangere right over the vast road and tiny rail works going on there and it is so so sadly plain that the line stops just short enough of the Mall, Rainbow’s End and the busiest law court in the country to be a problem. It’ll make for an annoying and unpleasant highwayside and unsheltered walk to these amenities. I know MIT is going on top but what a missed opportunity… I think of those London Underground ads for attractions at the end of the line… we could have those for the fun fair and the District Court if you like. And it would also make being dragged around Rainbow’s End almost bearable if it was more obvious you could just jump in a train there and back. Silly silly Manukau business owners should be screaming for an extension especially as St Lukes is likely now to be sucking in even more car driving mallers…. Very hard to get Aucklanders to imagine a customer who is not in a car.

    Still it is a flaw that could be fixed, and should be, come on Len…. Also so easy to see where the airport line from Manukau can go… bring it on.

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