I somewhat missed this story over the past few days, with lots of other things going on, but earlier this week the two heritage trams arrived from Melbourne that will run around the tram loop in Wynyard Quarter. Here’s Auckland Transport’s media release:

The return of trams to Auckland streets came a step closer today when two historic tramcars rolled off a ship from Melbourne at Jellico Wharf.

Trams last graced the streets of Auckland in 1956. Waterfront Auckland has leased two 1920’s trams – a W2 Class Tram and X-1 Class Tram – to run on the tracks now being installed in a 1.5km loop within the Wynyard Quarter.

Waterfront Auckland Chief Executive John Dalzell says both trams have been restored at the Bendigo Tramway Museum in Victoria, Australia.

“The trams look great,” he said. “They have both been painted in the original 1950’s ‘carnation red’, and will soon be emblazoned with ‘Waterfront Auckland Trams’ livery.”

The 17 tonne, 48 feet long W2 tram has a seating capacity of 52 and a 2-person tram (driver and conductor). The 9 tonne, 31 feet long X-1 tram has a seating capacity of 32 and requires one person – the driver.

The trams will remain securely within the Ports of Auckland custom controlled area until their purpose built home – tramcar housing currently under construction within Wynyard Quarter – is completed. From early August, following an operational testing period, the trams will run in a 15-minute clockwise circuit along Jellicoe, Halsey, Gaunt and Daldy Streets.

And a photo:

It’s my understanding that quite a lot of thinking is going on behind the scenes – especially as part of the City Centre Master Plan  and the Waterfront Master Plan – about where this tram route might be extended to in the future. The obvious initial extension is to Britomart, and I think that connection is essential for the tram loop to be successful. Once we get to the Britomart the possibilities are endless. Should we go up Queen Street as part of a pedestrianisation of that street? How about out Tamaki Drive to Mission Bay as part of a tourist focused service? Or up to Ponsonby? Or a longer route that links with the current tramline connecting the two MOTATs?

The tram loop being constructed is well described by many as a “beach-head” or a “foot in the door”. We are now having huge discussions about how light-rail might play a useful role in Auckland’s transport future – which I think is an exciting step forwards as it does have a role to play.

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  1. It’s great to see this progress, and exciting to think what lies ahead for Auckland once they get it going properly to Britomart and beyond.

    You have to hand it to Mike Lee for the negotiation to get this started and Auckland Waterfront for investing in this vision.

  2. I wonder if this is ever really going to amount to much more than an expensive tourist tiki tour though, much the same as in ChCh.

  3. not sure if it’s a good advertising having very old slow and NOISY trams around. much better a new flash tram possibly lent by a tram-building company for free, to show off the potential.

  4. I agree with Gian, why not have a showcase modern tram (silent, fast, efficient, clean) to show Steven Joyce and his rural cowcockies what urban transport really looks like and what is needed in Auckland.
    There is nothing worse than a 1950s throwback to prove anti-PT campaigners that rail is “so last century”.

    1. Well, that was the plan until the Japan earthquake. From March:


      The earthquake disaster in Japan could upset plans for a light-rail trial on the Auckland waterfront during the Rugby World Cup.

      Waterfront Auckland has been talking to Japanese company Kawasaki about borrowing a light electric railcar to run on a 1.5km circuit of Wynyard Quarter at cup time.

      Chief executive John Dalzell was not sure what effect the earthquake would have on the trial. An officer from Auckland Transport was to have gone to Japan next month to discuss the details.

      1. I don’t see the connection with the Rugby World Cup. Tourists aren’t going to wander out to Wynyard unless they need some parts for their boat or fancy looking at vacant lots. Were the Japanese engineers looking for an excuse to charge their travel to Kawasaki while they watched the rugby?

    2. 1950s? These trams are around 90 years old. They were manufactured at the same time as the Model T Ford. I’m guessing that you’d still see horses in the streets of Auckland in 1920.

  5. Nice friendly bright red trams running around inner Auckland, perhaps Ponsonby to Mission Bay via Britomart, would be great. They will go a long way toward giving the city some much needed character.

  6. This is the crafty Mr Lee pushing a foot through the door. I have no interest in noddy trams but am looking forward to seeing a real new LRT example down there at some stage….

  7. The next stage should link the loop to Britomart via the existing roads. It’s further than across the bridge, but would link all those apartment and office buildings around the viaduct, with the trains and ferries in town.

    Beyond that should definately be up Queen St, to K Rd. Have modern LRV’s providing a 5-minute frequency up and down the length of Queen St, close it off to cars, and make it the primary method of getting up and down the street, other than walking.

    I’m not keen on it going to Mission Bay or Ponsonby, as that makes it a tourist gimmick rather than something to take seriously.

    1. Geoff as it is it is entirely useless as transport, walking would almost certainly be better (and certainly has way lower capex and opex). Even to Britomart and up Queen St it would be little more than a cutesy noddy-land (Christchurch!). Only by taking on high volume routes like Dominion Rd or Tamaki Dr could the cost be justified.

      As it is this is wily old Mr Lee, doing a work round of the Wellington Taniwha, similar to Ludo’s softly, softly introduction of shared spaces. Our leaders have been forced into a policy of Incrementalism, because they access to little power and even less money. All strength to their elbows I say. The one potential danger here is that the idea of LRT could get stuck with these silly red relics and muddy the actual transport debate. But I think Lee is smarter than that (even though he is a nostalgist) and I expect to see a brand new machine down there at some stage….

      Remember this is the policy that got us Onehunga and soon Manukau. This will work too, especially if we can do more clever things with buses to keep the pax growing…. ‘complete the network’ is a great slogan…. now where have I heard that before?

    1. Capex is $8 million. No idea of the Opex. They probably don’t know themselves. It will be at least partly influenced by whether it will become a semi-successful TOURIST operation. Ticket prices are going to be pretty high, I hear (something like $5-7 is what I heard), so it certainly has no use as a public transport vehicle, even for the locals wanting to pop down to the seafood restaurant on North Wharf during lunch break.

      But that’s the point – it IS a tourist tram for now. And maybe a display / test bed for a LRT display vehicle some time later.


      1. $8 million … wow. And high ticket prices? All this leaves me feeling a less than enthused about this project although I appreciate that the project combines transport/heritage and so may have wider benefits. Here’s hoping it attracts oodles of passengers and that economies of scale allows them to drop the ticket prices.

        1. The project was funded using money that was earmarked for a project such as this i.e. the money was available to create a drawcard to attract people to the area. If they wanted to make money off it then they could have left the money in the bank. I personally don’t see $8 million as much when you see it in the context of the amount of waste involved with NZTA’s projects.

  8. Does anyone know the exact specs on track and loading gauge, power supply etc? One hopes if they are running an old Melbourne W class that they will be identical to Melbourne specs. That would prove very usefully in the future when it comes to buying new LRVs.

    1. I haven’t ready anything to suggest what they’re doing isn’t identical to what’s in use in Melbourne and elsewhere with trams. I think they can quite easily drop in a modern tram without any problems.

      1. During their presentation to IPENZ they stated that the design (especially gauge, curve radii and power supply) are SPECIFICALLY designed to be able to “drop in” modern LRT.

  9. My vote would be for on to Britomart and up Queen Street and then eventually Dominion Rd to Mt Roskill. Maybe another line following the route of the Link bus in the future.

    1. I don’t think the Link route attracts enough passengers to justify light rail atm, routes such as Mt Eden rd, and Tamaki drive carry much larger volumes.

      In addition the link route could be made redundant by if higher quality radial and cross town routes are established, you want to be sure the route is going to be important long term before spending big bucks on infrastructure.

      1. The link has such a long route it would be difficult to switch over in any case, better to start with switching what will be the new Queen Street shuttle over – the route has in fact been designed to very much mimic what an initial tram route would look like if the current tram is extended to Britomart and then up Queen Street to K’Rd.

  10. Why do we have to wait another 5 years for a decent bridge that can support trams, pedestrians and cyclists as well as buses and have the trams go all the way to Britomart now. Wouldn’t this be the sensible option?. National seem to think spending billions of dollars on holiday highway and millions on the designing of it is money well spent, whereas we could have a decent bridge that would generate heaps more benefits. The bridge would also provide an alternative route for buses to go down instead of having to go down Fanshawe street getting caught in traffic.

    1. BD “Why do we have to wait another 5 years” – money. There’s not enough (as you pointed out, that is to a good degree due to the current funding setup).

      For buses, the bridge route would be less useful, I think (and Fanshaw Street has quite good bus lanes anyway). Running too many buses through Te Wero Island and over the bridge and then through the new public areas of Wynyard Quarter could also degrade the feeling of the area they want to create there. Trams would be a nice addition, but buses should probably continue to access it via the existing road network.

  11. Putting in LRT from Queen St to Dominion Rd, would almost make sense of the absurd over engineering of the New North Rd/Dominion Rd intersection, as well as Ian McKinnon Drive itself. I would love to see that intersection dismantled and returned to grade and lights…. It’s so useless there’s not even space for a busway through that thing on New North, despite all the land it occupies and how vile it is for anyone who dares to try to walk through there….

    1. @Patrick R – In that case, you may be happy to know that this morning, construction started towards add walk- and cycleways to the Ian McKinnon Drive Road and fly-over. A combination of cycle lanes (some sections on, some off-road) from Dominion Road to Piwakawaka Street, as well as cycle lanes on all the fly-over ramps – and some new walking paths on much of Ian McKinnon Drive itself. The works are to be completed before RWC.

      1. Why on earth are these new cycle lanes not linked to the nonwestern cycleway? Or am I missing something? NZTA land? Doesn’t that cycleway desperately need to have somewhere useful to go at the city end? Especially Symonds St and hence the universities?

  12. Takes the RWC to get a bit of decent non car infrastructure in this town, or, as we saw with Waterview, legal action.

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