Well it looks like Auckland Transport has already started responding to the calls by new chairman Lester Levy to be more transparent. The AT board meets next week and one interesting paper going to them in the open session is the business case for extending electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe. The paper going to the board recommends that the project be including in ATs capital plan but says that more work is needed to work out how the project could be funded which would either need to be by an additional funding source or re prioritising existing projects.

Work completed as part of the City Centre Future Access Study, including looking at where future greenfield development might occur, has helped feed into the business case. They have assessed that the population between Drury and Pukekohe will more than treble over the next 30 years going from around 23,500 to 78,300 by 2041. Four options were looked at and assessed:

The business case also suggests that the options of increasing the frequencies south of Papakura or even running express diesel trains all the way to Britomart were looked at but ruled out due to the operational complexities and that there isn’t enough patronage to justify them. All three of the electrification options contained the following requirements with the only differences being the cost of station construction.

The electrification options (A-C) include signalling, overhead line equipment (OLE) and trackimprovements required for electrification. KiwiRail advise that there is no requirement for additional traction power in any option.

There are nine road-over-rail bridges between Papakura and Pukekohe. Detailed measurement has identified that three bridges along the route would need to be replaced because they lack the minimum clearances required for electrification (see appendix). The bridges are Onslow Road, the Southern Motorway (Northbound) and Stadium Drive No.2. Track lowering is required under one additional bridge at Great South Road, south of Drury. Track lowering was discounted as an uneconomic solution for the other three bridges due to the need for expensive works to underpin the existing bridge abutments.

AT estimate that only two extra 3-car EMUs are required under the electrification options. Spare EMUs are not required given the synergies of operating as part of the wider EMU fleet.

Its interesting to note that only an additional two EMUs are required to enable services to be extended vs needing four to run services using a diesel fleet due to the need for spares. When looking at the benefits however AT suggest that 90% of the benefits for the proposal comes from increased patronage with most of the rest coming from operational savings due to things like having a common fleet. The costs and benefits for each option were assessed using the standard NZTA criteria and the outcomes are below with the recommended option being C.

All up it looks like quite a bit of effort has gone into this business case and it definitely seems like a project we should be doing we should be doing. I would also go further and suggest that based on the maps we saw recently (linked to above) there might even be a case for a station between Drury and Paerata which may bump up the business case even more. The business case suggests that we should be aiming to have the wires up to Pukekohe by 2016 when the last of the EMUs arrive so if funding can be found it could be something that starts to happen fairly soon.

Finally its really great to not only see this report but also to see the level of detail being released, well done AT.

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  1. Well Looking at the cost for Options A – C it does look like it will cost a lot but this is the Auckland Railway Electrification and while people of Pukekohe may not call themselves Aucklander’s at the best of times they are still part of Auckland and this project should be done for the benefit of those areas.

    Option C being my preferred option, it allows those people in the communities of Drury and Paerata to use those proposed stations in Option C rather than having to drive to Papakura and Pukekohe respectively which means less cars on those local roads.Opening it up to public transport rather than the skeleton services provided through the 475 service to Papakura and allow more people to do more business to and from those areas, open them up for future growth of those areas and provide a feasible option for people from other regions of Auckland to work down there without traffic being a deterrent otherwise.

    Of course the cost is the biggest determiner here but it would be a cop-out just to do the bare minimum and keep diesel shuttles between the two towns, it sort of sends a signal to the people of Pukekohe that they are not good enough and are not worth the investment of electrification and additional stations along the line. The cost between option A and C being 8 million is still a lot of money but I do not see how the people in those areas who will benefit cannot contribute towards funding that shortfall, I as someone who would benefit from the Drury station would have no problem helping to raise money to help fund that, it may be tokenism to a degree but it will benefit the people now and well into the future and show the commitment of AT towards infrastructure for the far south.

    Of course it is tight times and finding the money will not be easy for AT but even giving the ‘go ahead’ for the project and possibly extending the timeline in which the electrification can be occur for the line to give themselves more time to fund the project, I see no problem in doing that and even if they could construct with two proposed stations in the mean time so the people can at least benefit from the existing diesel services provided between Papakura and Pukekohe.

      1. Or the ongoing and ever rising costs and vulnerabilities of oil dependency. This is a no brainer. We’ve got plenty of our own home made electrons and this is current [excuse the pun] technology ready to go, not fantasy future kit of dubious value. If pollution and carbon externalities were priced into the BCR it would be even more obvious.

        And if we’re going to sprawl, as we’re constantly told that we want to, let’s at least do it better than we have in the recent past, and do it connectively.

        1. Exactly Patrick. I remember a comment made recently, when I suggested NZ taking up PV as per Germany, that NZ has plenty of non-fossil electricity generation but I disagree. If households were making more power of their own and feeding it back into the grid then there will be significant amounts of surplus for electric trains and cars. Without this we will have to build more mower stations. We can, and should, be looking to make NZ as self sustainable as possible. That is an industry, a skilled industry, in itself. Much better than just building roads.

        2. Oh I agree in general, except there is no supply problem in the medium term, in many ways NZ is suffering from oversupply if you were, I dunno, thinking of investing in the sector….

          There are a great many renewable generation projects, wind and geo, consented and ready to go except the demand outlook, a bit like the driving data, has gone very flat. No CEO of a powerco wants anymore electrons on the market now.

          Lots of reasons for this, the hollowing out of the manufacturing sector accelerated by laissez fare macro economic policy, the shift to small less power hungry devices, the spread of the home insulation scheme, the replacement of thermal heaters by heat pumps, LED lighting, some home generation, etc. But also, and let’s not forget, the way over inflation year on year price rises in electricity; there is some elasticity in this market after all.

          Kawerau paper mill is returning some, IIRC, 2.5% of NZ’s total generation back to the market by shutting down production [off to Tasmania]. That’s no small amount. Then there’s the not impossible prospect of a full 15% needing a new local use if Bluff finally closes down or even contracts some [global aluminium markets over supplied too].

          But yes micro generation is the future, and for it we’ll need a smarter grid, but generation is no kind of immediate problem like the 7.1 billion we had to find last year to pay for imported oil, or the 4.8b we also spent on the vehicles we burn it in.

          We’ve got to hunt down the urgent problems first. Now if only we had a fund with multiple billions in it every year that we could use to reorient the biggest waster of that oil; the transport sector….???? This is why the RoNS are not just a mistake but are a huge intergenerational fuck up and lost opportunity of the highest order and Joyce will go down in history as a bigger idiot than even Muldoon. May even beat him the greatest agent of our impoverishment yet if he gets the chance….

        3. Patrick- that is an idea I’ve never heard before and it’s genius.

          “yes, you can sprawl wherever you like, once there’s a rail station within 800 metres…”

          Could gain a whole bunch of unlikely rail fans.

  2. The really exciting thing about this proposal, assuming it goes ahead, is that for once we would have a high quality Transit service preceding proposed greenfields development on the edges of Auckland. This will alter the shape and quality, and viability, of new developments along the Southern Line and its vicinity. The possibility of these small towns growing to become vibrant centres around their stations as well as hosting rural service businesses should make them both more commercially successful and greatly increase their charm and attractiveness. Needs to be planned though; set aside space for a village ‘green’ and public centre.

    This is a huge change from how Auckland has expanded in the last 60 years, where we just kicked that can down the road, and mostly didn’t even bother leaving room for it to ever happen. See all of Pakuranga and south east Auckland, Albany and the rest of the Shore has been able to be retro-fitted only because of the Motorway reserve.

    Of course it is just a return to how we used to plan growth. The expansion of Wellington to the Hutt valley was all planned around and coordinated with the extension of the rail service and the construction of town centres focussed around stations.

    These are stations that because they will serve a rural catchment are appropriate for park + ride and kiss + ride facilities, but it is important that the stations don’t just become isolated in a sea of their own carparking but on at least one major frontage are integrated with their communities. Because these stations are sure to be followed by cafes and other small businesses which need to be properly accommodated for the community to benefit fully and Drury and Paerata can grow to become more than truck stops.

    1. Probably significantly less and with a much better BCR than the Waikato Expressway, but since it goes across territorial boundaries neither party will want to take the lead and NZTA is banned from spending on railway infrastructure.

    2. I think that Kiwirail did an assessment of it a while ago which suggested that there wasn’t much point doing it to Hamilton unless you also went all the way to Tauranga and that make the thing uneconomic.

      1. Uneconomic unless you factor in that even cars are going the way of electric so why not do the same for our rail system. Long term thinking seems to be unusual in NZ.

      2. yes based on economic benefits for them running freights I no doubt, so not really a business case looking at the affect this would have in improving connections between the cities by allow electric passenger trains, reductions in costs associated with road crashes, reduced CO2 etc etc

  3. Shouldn’t there be central government involvement for this, especailly at a cost of 100 million?
    Is the central Governement behind the current electrification?

    1. The government is only involved in the electrification because it became an election promise not to cancel the electrification, after they came in they quickly rewrote the manual and banned any further funding on rail infrastructure. There certainly should be central government involvement but we won’t be seeing it from this current one.

  4. Once the teething pains of electrification are over, this will be such a logical step, and the remaining diesel trains such a (comparative) anachronism.

    So I am confident it will go ahead, just not as quickly as it should be if we had a government that was willing to think beyond motorways.

  5. Means we need to keep Len Brown and Mike Lee in next year. Cameron Brewer is not known for promoting electrification extension.

    Also means….next general election, let’s vote the Nat Pack out!

  6. I think if we are serious about creating these satelitte towns, to provide access to the housing market, then express services would need to be considered.


    Maybe runs once an hour to start with. You could buy a (relatively) cheaper house down south, with some space, a more relaxed lifestyle but be in your CBD Office within (say) 30mins. I know I’d consider it.

    1. I second that. I used express services so I could live outside the M25 in London and still be only a 25 minute train ride into the city – damn brilliant. Through the slow train stopping at everystation was still an option it took forever.

      1. Will express services work with the existing track capacity? I am familiar with London where our line (Chiltern) was paralleled by MetropoIitan line from about Ruislip so there were 4 tracks. The Metro run the stopping service while Chiltern was express after a certain point which worked because they had their own separate track.. With only 2 tracks the risk is that an express would catch up with an all-stops service and be constrained by it. No doubt it has been modelled (or could be).

        1. I am no expect but I doubt it, my line – Welham Garden City to Kings Cross had 4 tracks – with the inner tracks for the express trains.

        2. My town, being a satelitte city (popn 50,000) for Kyoto and Osaka had limited stoppers as well as all stops services. However it also had four tracks as like the NIMT/NAL was a main freight corridor as well. Definitely at the very least three tracks (if not the four) would be required. That is partially under construction/planned between Wiri and Otahuhu pending additional funding to complete it. Unfortunately it’s going to be purely a freight corridor, and not electrified so it’s not going to help much towards future express EMUs! AT has refused a request from Kiwirail to help with it’s funding so AT wouldn’t be in a position to ask ‘Could we please use the 3rd line?” anyway.

        3. Yes, an express pattern can be designed to work without any additional infrastructure, and a better one can be designed if there is a southern chord to Manukau, but in that latter case, the Manukau spur becomes in effect the slow loop.

        4. Yes, Pukekohe services will be a long way with all stops. If we get a three or four tracks eventually on the Southern Line then we should look at express trains.

      1. Won’t happen, though – Wellsford is tiny, further from the CBD and most jobs than Pukekohe is, and has no rail linkages. In terms of a sustainable city it makes much more sense to create growth nodes in the south than in the north.

        1. It could have rail linkages though, and I think that is why Bryce is suggesting it over Warkworth. Otherwise I agree.

        2. Wellsford is tiny which is a good place to start for a satellite in the future. It also has better geography around it for a good sized town and it is not surrounded by lifestyle blocks at this time as Warkworth is. As for driving distance from CBD: Wellsford = 76 km’s Pukekohe = 54 km’s. At present, on a normal day, it takes roughly an hour to get from Wellsofrd to Auckland. Wellsford has 2 x roads linking into it from Auckland – SH1 and SH16 and it does indeed have a rail link. In my opinion, as a misplaced Northlander, it makes a far better proposition than Warkworth as a entry hub to Northland. Instead of a expensive motorway through dome valley, I would build a new road (2 lane / divided) along the Puhoi Valley to link to SH16 and carry out works to speed up the Northern Line. Just opinion and unlikely to be taken seriously but opinion none the less. Personally, I wouldn’t be moving to Pukekohe but I would consider a shift north.

      2. The mistake was made years ago when they built the Northern Gateway to Puhoi. The road should have been built much further west and looped around the Dome to join with SH16 close to Wellsford, but those “in the know” tell me that it wasn’t done because of expected opposition from the local iwi out west and because of pressure from the Warkworth business association to bring the satellite status to the town. They’ve now lumbered themselves with a hugely expensive and environmentally damaging project to get the motorway up through the Puhoi/Pohuehue area and an almost impossible (from an engineering perspective) job of getting the motorway through the Dome. The outcome is inevitable. The section North of Warkworth to Wellsford will never be built and it will become a monument to the folly of Steven Joyce and the idiotic bunch of National politicians and their road lobby friends who can’t see further than the end of their noses. The dream of the road becoming the “umbilical cord to Northland” will be shown up for what it always was – a pipe dream.

        1. Yes the best option was considered to be in between both SH1 and SH16, roughly along the route that the rail line takes and it wouldn’t have been hard to build a spur off that to Warkworth but the the main reason that option wasn’t taken was that it would have required the entire section to have been built in one go, upgrading the existing route enabled a staged approach but is one that will end up costing a lot more if it is ever build due to the terrain.

        2. Apart from having already spent tens of millions on engineering, there is still no reason (in my view as someone with admittedly no training in this kind of thing), why the road can still not be split at Puhoi with the current SH1 continuing to Warkworth and even keeping Dome Valley open as a tourist route (with some safety improvements of course). It does not even need to be a 4 lane highway. A basic 2 lane, expressway style, divided road, with passing lanes where it is economically favourable would have enough capacity given the volumes that NZTA are recording. I’m sure that it will still be much cheaper than the current proposal but I acknowledge that there is probably zero chance of this happening under the present regime but maybe there would be some chance under a new govt? Who knows.

  7. I don’t know if I am fully convinced. Isn’t the question we ought to ask, if we had NZ$102m to spend on anything transport related, would we spend it on this?

      1. Well it would go a long way on cycle infrastructure, new buses and ferries(?), or even kept in the kitty as a down payment on Karangahape and Newtown stations.

        The increase in passenger numbers will be relatively small, even in the medium term, given the small and dispersed population in this corridor, (equiv. to less than 2 per cent of Auckland).

        1. You could have pretended you meant an underground extension of the Wellington railway to the airport via Newtown. 🙂

        2. Matt, the question there would be if we spent $100m on cycle infrastructure, buses or ferries would it result in the same benefits, the same number of people moved etc. I know this one would stack up very well in economic assessment because those rail trips out of the Pukekohe region would forego some very long car trips on the southern motorway. Five hundred cars off the 50km run at peak times is worth a lot more in an assessment than five hundred people not driving 4km to the shops.

          For example, you could throw $100m at a bunch of new ferry boats and wharves, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the runs you put them on would actually carry many people. The only ferry routes that are screaming out for service are getting runs shortly anyway. Same things with bus, we’ve pumped a lot of money into extra bus service in the last few years without a lot of gain, and the changes needed to sort out the bus network aren’t really infrastructural. We’d have to be clever about where the money was used, otherwise it could be squandered.

          There is also the operational cost consideration. Spend $100 million on ferry vehicles and infrastructure and you’re up for a bill of several millions a year to run the things. This capital expenditure reduces operation costs, i.e. it makes it cheaper to run the trains year in year out.

          Having said that, I think Auckland should pump $100 million into cycle infrastructure. That would create a big change in cycle modeshare and seed the shift to a cycle friendly city like nothing else. There are some great cycle plans out there, all miles cheaper than any road or PT scheme.

    1. For comparison, the 9km section of motorway know as the Hobsonville deviation cost $220m to build. This was on pretty flat land and was an all new road so no real traffic issues to hold up the build. I think the $102m is good value for money given that includes new bridges and 2 stations.

  8. What is missing from the analysis are
    – differences in operating costs of new EMU’s vs old DMU’s
    – uplift in land values surrounding the new stations
    – the beneficial effect of the new stations on greenfields development
    With stations in place it would be much easier to zone the surrounding walkable area for transit-oriented development, for example with a minimum residential density.

    The electrification costs could perhaps be offset by future developer contributions.

    1. Malcolm some of those are covered.
      Operating costs are included on the table on page 23, 4.94m per year for diesel operation to Puke only vs 3.97m per year for the electric option with the additional two stations. This is broken down further on page 38 splitting up opex between rolling stock, overhead line maintenance and station maintenance.
      The majority of the funding would need to come from the council which could choose how it wanted to raise that and a decent proportion could come from development contributions.

    2. Further to what Matt said, the uplift in land values around the stations mostly reflects the accessibility benefits conferred by the rail improvements (reduced travel-times etc). So you can’t count property value uplift in addition to these benefits, because you’d be double-counting.

  9. Thinking ahead, with Auckland PT now that’s unheard of ! Getting electric trains into Pukekohe before the population expands in more suburban wasteland is a good idea.

  10. Definitely an opportunity for another station or two between Drury and Paerata with all the growth that’s proposed down there:

    1. Proposed! There is some new housing in Pukekohe Project Area and east of Hingaia, and I would think that in the future there will be growth in Opaheke-Drury. The other growth zones are far too distant to even think about them at the moment.

    2. Have a look on Google; it would be heart-breaking to cover that farmland in crappy subdivisions…. The very least we can do, after exhausting all within urban limits sites is do it well by keeping any new developments compact, with good connectivity, and decent amounts of preserved countryside between them. So certainly not landwastingly dispersed highway-villes.

    1. Not now but with the growth being looked at in the map above there likely will be. Also the report makes it clear they think that the Paerata station will mainly be to serve northern Pukekohe along with being the station that rural dwellers from around the area would use as Puke itself becomes more urban

      1. Yeah presumably the Paerata station might still have a park & ride long after the Pukekohe one has been taken over by intensive transit oriented developments.

  11. The report says the morning peak under Option C, in 2041, would be 808 passengers.
    would translate to 3,000 -odd boardings and alightings across a whole weekday….. Is this enough??

  12. Looking at Patronage growth, there is no reference to the option of extending rail service south of Pukekohe.
    Waikato Distric Council. 2011/12 Annual Plan page 26
    “the council has decided it should consider the feasibility of a train service between Auckland and Tuakau. An upgrade of the Tuakau rail platform is included in the budget.”

    With Electrification, extending rail services south into the Waikato become much harder.

  13. Can I just criticise the descriptions?
    They say “20 minute peak headways”.
    If that is what is asked for and that is what is provided, you will not get a passenger train every 20 minutes.
    There are peak freight trains to and from Auckland and there are peak freight trains to and from Mission Bush and they will continue into the future (and perhaps even increase in number if we want to have economic growth). What is actually required is “20 minute peak frequency passenger service”, and if you want to be really specific add “with sufficient capacity for existing freight traffic and an allowance for freight growth”.

    1. “and there are peak freight trains to and from Mission Bush and they will continue into the future”…That is not a certainty at all.

  14. No more stations, they slow down services. There is no population to support stations at either Paerata or Drury and not likely to be for a long time. Proposed growth in Franklin along with projected growth around Kumeu, is no more than a vague idea on the part of planners. Better to develop Pukekohe into a transport hub for public transport.

    1. Park and rides at Drury and Paerata serve the wider rural community, and far better to get viable transit in place before development for once in this city and region than to try back engineer it to communities built in the highly dispersed car based model.

      3 minutes each station not a huge time cost to pay for having a direct service in brand new electric trains is it? Little bit selfish to expect 100m just for the good people at Pukekohe and no one else on the route, isn’t it?

      Possibly the best case for a direct service to Pukekohe is as part of an additional AK-Hamilton scheme…?

    2. Station at Drury makes sense because of the catchment to the west, e,g. Waiuku, which naturally flows there rather than to Pukekohe. Drury is a natural location for P&R too, very close to SH1.

  15. Hello Ian
    Pukekohe to far from SH1 to be transport hub, extending rail service to Pokeno or Mercer my be better loctions for south of Auckland transport hub.
    Presently City to city Buses are using Bombay and Manukua as transport Hubs,
    Problem with Bombay stop is that it does not link with AT services. Problem with Manukua is that it can take a long time for the SH1 Bus services to get to and from this stop in peak traffic.

    Note: WRC Annual Plan. page 66 “Upgrade the Tuakau rail platform to extend the passenger rail services from Pukekohe to Tuakau. Budget $500,000. 2013/14”

    1. I don’t see SH1 as being vitally important when considering Franklin. Puke is as good as, if not better, for residents of Waiuku and Patumahoe. When I visit Auckland I usually stay at Bombay and it is about a ten minute drive to Puke to catch the train. This is way easier than boarding at Papakura. Residents around Drury could use Papakura which is now being revamped. Better facilities at Puke will also tempt more people from the south. The station desperately needs upgrading along with a lot more secure park and ride space.

      1. Ian much better for park ‘n’ rides to be at properly rural stations for several reasons. The land is way cheaper and it takes the load off the local streets in the provincial towns at the peaks, when school kids are riding and and walking to school. Keeping unnecessary traffic out of these towns goes a long way to allowing them to retain their rural and pleasant nature longer. Also the land around urban stations is far better used for intensive development or public space and amenities like cafés etc than low value car parking.

        Like I say above Puke is most likely to be served by express services as part of a Ak-Hamilton programme… will just have to wait for a non rail-hating government. One not entirely captured by the road lobby….

  16. Is an “express” service doable? A 40–45 minute service to downtown would make living in Puke a lot more attractive.

      1. The current plans do not include stringing wires above the third main but given that it will have been resignalled and the clearances addressed that would seem to be relatively low cost. The issues to be dealt with are whether that cost could be justified by a few express services each peak period, whether freight operations would allow it and whether the 60 to 90 second gain per station along the triple track section justifies the cost.

  17. I wonder what it would cost to build a dirt-cheap platform and extend electrification to the Stadium just down the line where the V8 Supercars will be held? Its a perfect spot and has the potential to really boost spectator numbers if there was a platform open just on days it was needed.

    1. The railway is on the wrong side of the racetrack, though, running behind the back straight. Where would you put a platform that’s going to be a much shorter walk?

      1. The the circuit used to be aligned, yes, but now the back straight will be modified and viewing mounds installed. I think the aim is to make the whole track more accessible. Maybe a bridge or underpass, from the suggested station, to enable access to the infield is required?

  18. 64 mins is a long time. Can’t the new trains go faster? Having stayed in Shiga prefecture in Japan. Their suburban trains took less than 60mins to go from Maibara to Kyoto – about 80km. Pukekohe is only about 60km according to google. Of course the bullet trains (Shinkansen) did this trip in 23mins but NZ is never going to have them! But having faster trains and express trains would make it feasible to live further out in Pukekohe, Tuakau or beyond.

  19. They should cut about 10 minutes off the journey time from Papakura and Swanson. However of course Pukekohe people will lose some of this in the short term due to need for transfer. However despite the inevitable complaints will still be quicker than the current diesels.

  20. I have a question, with what I expect will happen that if the electrical trains are approved to go to Pukekohe, they will not be ready when the other areas are complete and the diesel transfers is required for a period of time. could addition services or some of the diesel route’s be extended to travel from Pukekohe to manukau. the manukau southern link would need to be complete for these to happen. more trains need to be put on this line especially in the early morning (40 minutes between services is to long if you miss a train to wait for the next train) and late evening train services to Pukekohe. this could be improved with additional services running from Pukekohe to finishing at manukau and vice verser.

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