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).

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    1. It seems to change all the time and I guess we won’t know until we hear who wins the tender (although its positive that the AT CEO is saying in service in 2013 as the recent board report said he had been quite involved in negotiations.)

  1. It is a fair bit to accomplish in 8 years! I hope the next 8 are as fruitful, but I won’t be holding my breath!

    Even a few little tweaks, like doubling Onehunga, West/South services, and Parnell station (double ended with ramps to try cover off both catchments!) – would continue momentum even if the [i]grand projets[/i] don’t arise.

  2. CM – holding one’s breath is not useful anyway when one wants to achieve things (beyond going purple in the face) 😉

    I am actually quite positive about the next 8 years. By then, we will have had another couple “bumper crop” years for PT and specifically rail, Steven Joyce will not be transport minister anymore, fuel will be twice what it is today, and the CBD rail tunnel will just have started digging. That’s my predictions.

    “It’s always darkest before the dawn” is a false cliche, seeing that we are actually doing remarkably well, and seeing the resistance that is still being thrown up against us is massive. So if we can look back at the LAST 8 years and be reasonably happy, I see no reason to be negative for the next 8, despite our frustrations.

  3. I think things will improve in the next deacade although not under Joyce. Once he consigned to the dustbin of history things should progress pretty quickly the public appears to be getting in behind it. That is if he hasn’t gotten us to deeply in hock with his monument building.

  4. cough. And the Greens who made a deal with Labour to convince them to pay for electrification. And Labour who paid for Project DART (that wasn’t the council, by the way, it was central govt). And everybody else on the regional council who voted with Mike Lee for improvements. And Campaign for Better Transport for their effective advocacy, and all the local board members and councillors around the region who supported better public transport… Sorry, but I think it’s silly to say that rail improvements are due to the efforts of one or two people.

  5. I don’t believe the 2013 date at all. The first may arrive in late 2013, but there will be an extended period of testing and crew training to get through. My prediction is that public services, with a small number of sets, will commence in Q3 or Q4 2014. We won’t see any substantial numbers of new trains in service until 2015.

    1. Is is possible that the company that wins the tender will have a much shorter time between the signing of the contract and construction, with Auckland not having the same restrictions as Wellington we should be able to get a more off the shelf design which wouldn’t require so much modification and therefore could be in construction sooner.

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