A pretty important day in the history of Auckland’s rail system today, with the magical figure of 10 million rail trips over the past 12 months having been surpassed. There was even a celebration down at Britomart:
Rail patronage in Auckland has reached a record high with ten million passenger journeys within a twelve month period achieved today.
The ten millionth journey on rail is being marked at Britomart this morning with Mayor Len Brown greeting commuters and inviting them to share slices of a large celebratory cake in the shape of a train.
Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive, David Warburton says, “This is a significant milestone in our public transport journey. Four times the number of passengers are using rail now than eight years ago when Britomart was opened. In 2003, there were 2.5 million trips on rail compared with the ten million we have just reached.
“There are a number of reasons for this. They include more services, customer service improvements, an improved network and better facilities at our train stations. It is also generally cheaper to travel on rail than to run a car and pay for parking. Train travel also provides the opportunity to use travel time effectively.”
Dr. Warburton says, “Growth in the number of services on rail has raced to keep up with ever increasing commuter demand. In 2003,784 train services ran each week, in 2011, this number has increased to 1,950 services. There were 18 train sets with 38 carriages, now there are 38 train sets and 147 carriages.
“We have upgraded, redeveloped or added brand new stations to the majority of the network. These include Newmarket, New Lynn, Avondale, Grafton, Panmure, Penrose, Te Papapa and Onehunga.
“There have also been a number of network upgrades completed with our partner KiwiRail. These include the completion of the double tracking on Auckland’s western rail line and the redevelopment of two new rail lines, Onehunga which opened in 2010 and Manukau which will be completed early next year.
“Electrification and resignalling of the network is well underway, with the first electric train due in service in 2013 after years of our operator Veolia Transport doing a great job maintaining service performance with aged rolling stock,” Dr. Warburton says.
Auckland’s Mayor, Len Brown says: “I’m committed to making Auckland the most liveable city in the world, and central to this is an effective, integrated transport system which gives Aucklanders options for moving around the region. Our rail network is going from strength to strength, and our rapidly increase patronage figures just prove to me that if you build it, people will use it.
“The great cities of the world are focusing on mass transit, particularly rail, and the upgrades we are making to Auckland’s network will transform this region as people and commercial freight moves around more easily.”
Veolia Transport Managing Director Graham Sibery says: “Auckland rail has experienced strong, consistent average annual growth of around 21 per cent since 2004, which is excellent by international standards. Working together, we provide a great service for Aucklanders, who are increasingly adopting rail as their preferred mode of travel.”
The next milestone will be a 12 month rolling total of 70 million trips across all public transport, a figure not surpassed since the 1950s. Depending on the patronage boost that the Rugby World Cup provides, it could be some time within the next six months I think.
Congratulations anyway to Auckland Transport, Veolia, Auckland Council and all other parties involved in this result. I think particular credit is deserved by Christine Fletcher (who made Britomart happen) and Mike Lee (who made pretty much every other rail improvement of the past 6-7 year happen).