Patronage on the Auckland rail network has taken off over the last decade, rising from around 2.5 million trips a year in 2003 to 10 million now as a result of investment. However we have been noticing that not all growth has been equal. The patronage at some stations has changed little in a decade with the worst performing stations being Waitakere, Te Mahia and Westfield. It has prompted us to question whether AT should continue to run services there. This was being exaggerated by electrification. The electrified network will run from Swanson to Papakura and the initial plan was to run a diesel shuttle to Waitakere in the West and Pukekohe in the South. Late last year we saw that AT have looked into extending electrification to Pukekohe however it would be extremely expensive to extend to Waitakere as the tunnel on the line would need to be lowered at great expense.

Well the question of what to do about Waitakere has now been answered as Auckland Transport have just announced that the service will be replaced with buses. Here is the press release:

Buses to replace future Waitakere to Swanson rail services

Rail services between neighbouring Waitakere and Swanson stations will be replaced with a regular bus shuttle service once Auckland’s new electric trains are operating on the Western Line.

As the Western Line is only electrified and double-tracked to Swanson and no funding is available to expand or cut through the Waitakere tunnel to extend the electrified network, an alternative public transport option is needed.

Auckland Transport’s decision to provide buses in place of a diesel shuttle service was based on a number of factors, including the high relative cost of operating and maintaining a diesel service in comparison to a bus service, low demand for public transport services at Waitakere, capital cost savings and comparative travel times (seven minutes by bus versus five minutes by train).

Auckland Transport’s Public Transport Operations Manager, Mark Lambert, says the large injection of ratepayer funding needed to retain a diesel service along the 2km stretch between Waitakere and Swanson stations could not be justified when a more flexible and accessible bus service could be operated for significantly less.

Buses between Waitakere and Swanson are the best and most cost effective option, providing a $20.8 million cost-saving over 25 years, he says.

An estimated $3 million would also be required to upgrade Swanson and Waitakere stations to provide the infrastructure to support a diesel shuttle. A further $3 million would be required to refurbish two diesel trains to provide the service. Annual operating costs for the diesel shuttle would have been more than $1.5 million.

Mr Lambert says studies show that more people from the Waitakere/Bethells area already forego Waitakere Station to park and ride at Swanson, where rail services are more frequent.

“Once electric trains are in service and running more frequently in and out of Swanson, we expect this trend to be more pronounced,” he says.

Residents will be invited to provide feedback on the new bus services proposed for their area prior to all electric trains being in service by mid-2016.

Personally I think this is the right decision and I applaud AT for making it as I’m sure it wouldn’t have been easy. I also know that there are a lot of people who believe that we should be pushing to retain the service, or even expand it to Huapai but I think we need to be practical. I feel that advocating a rail at all costs approach is counterproductive, playing right into the hands of anti PT proponents and undermining credibility for much needed projects like the CRL. It is also interesting to note in the press release that many people are already foregoing Waitakere and going to Swanson. For a comparison here are the station boarding counts since 2003.

2003-2012 station boardings-800px

AT have also provided me with a patronage count from 1997 where there were 97 daily boardings. They also say that data from HOP (tag ons and paper tickets) shows that on an average weekday boardings are 114 which excludes days when there are disruptions.

With Waitakere closing and the new development going in, hopefully Swanson station will see a decent lift in patronage.

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83 comments

  1. Meanwhile one the same day of this idiotic decision by AT, and support by a small handful on this blog, Switzerland is reviewing 17 smaller passenger rail lines. However, unlike AT not putting customers first( or expanding the rail services to Huapai/Kumeu), the Swiss review will firstly decide if quality of service would be reduced if buses replaced trains.

    The arguments against rail services being extended to Huapai have been weak. I just hope this blog is not corrupted by AT lackies.

    Cancelling Waitakere services instead of extension to Kumeu/Huapai – ridiculous.

    1. I suspect were AT to have the funding support from central government that the Swiss Federal and Cantonal governments provide to rail AT would deliver all this and more. However given that they don’t they have to make difficult decisions that get the biggest bang out of what limited funding they do have.

      I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over Waitakere anyhow as it would be fairly straight forward to extend service there later when the core of the network is sorted.

      Bit like the loss of Byford trains in Perth when it first electrified its network in the 90’s. Now over 20 years later with urban growth service looks like being extended to Byford again.

    2. Unfortunately this has been on the cards for a while now, and is hard to argue with as things currently stand. However closure of the Waitakere service now (for short term expediency) does not preclude the later introduction of a Huapai service once the country finds itself under a more rail-friendly government. Let’s face it, even the CRL is unlikely to happen under the present govt. When things change they could change with a rush, and that is when developments such as Huapai (better still Helenville, but with more than one solitary train per day), Auckland-Hamilton and the too-long-ignored Wellington CBD extension could happen. Don’t give up hope just because the present structure can’t deliver these things!

      1. Unfortunately that won’t mean much to a mode fetishist.

        I think the bit where it said $6 million dollars up front plus $1.5 million a year is the most important thing, that and the patronage counts of around a hundred people a day. That’s two bus loads, which would cost about $0.05 million a year to carry by bus.

        1. @ Nick R: Two busloads of passengers is all there may be, but don’t insinuate that two full bus runs is all it will take to replace the train. A proper interval-service of ½-hourly frequency from morning till night will be necessary to maintain the level of current service..

          1. Dave, that is indeed true, but it doesn’t stop the fact that it is far far cheaper to run a diesel bus shuttle than a diesel train shuttle. The bus is probably a lot more useful too, in fact checking the Draft RPTP shows AT are planning on running the Waitakere bus via Swanson to Henderson. That means people get a direct trip to Henderson as part of the deal, on the train everyone has to transfer at Swanson.

            Put it this way: $6 million up front is enough to buy about twelve buses. $1.5 million a year is more than enough to staff and operate all twelve all day seven days a week. If you put those resources on the Waitakere to Henderson route you could run a bus every three and a half minutes all day every day, instead of one train an hour.

            What would be a better way to spend that money on our transit system?

          2. @ Nick. You are right, and I am not attempting to defend the dedicated Waitakere-Swanson diesel-shuttle-train option. I don’t think anyone is. But I would just point out that some of the derisory responses to suggestions that closure may not be the best strategic option, may need a bit of reality-checking themselves.

          3. Strategically I think the goal should be to focus that line on doing what it currently does best: freight to and from Northland. Keep those four return freights a day running, boost the efficiency of that operation rather than a two billion dollar motorway. I don’t want to see the line actually closed as it is a great strategic asset, it’s just pretty clear that we aren’t going to run suburban passenger service there for several decades yet (not until there are actually suburbs out there!).

    3. Jon – First of all, views on this blog are our own, not ATs. We are happy to criticise AT when it warrants it but it doesn’t in this case.

      – How many people do you think would have caught the train from Waitakere just to have to transfer at Swanson? Even if the 100 people who do that now continue to do so is it really a good idea to spend $1.5m on 100 people. As mentioned below, It equates to about $45 per trip.
      – How many people from Huapai would have caught the train and had to transfer at Swanson compared to those that would have just used SH16.
      – The RPTP suggests that the replacement bus service will not just go to Swanson but all the way Henderson (passing the local schools on the way).
      – Even if we had a rail friendly govt I think that we should be doing this. It goes above modal debates and is about getting good value for money.

      1. Matt, the existing buses take 35 minutes just to get from Swanson to Henderson. That’s about twice walking speed. A bus from Waitakere to Henderson will take 45 minutes. So 13 minutes train, vs 45 minutes bus. I can’t see many people using it. Has there ever been such a massive slow down in timetabling in Auckland PT history? I can’t think of anything comparable. Nobody is going to spend 1.5 hours in a bus just to go the short distance from Waitakere to Henderson and back.

        1. The existing buses are timetabled for 15 minutes from Swanson to HEnderson, and that is via a route more circuitous and less direct than the one proposed.

          45 minutes to go 10.1km along the proposed bus route? Please. That’s 13km/h, or about 1/3 the average speed of a bus in Auckland. Of course the bus will look bad if you arbitrarily make it three times slower than reality.

          1. What happened to these supposed Waitakere – Henderson buses? From what I can tell they only go Waitakere – Swanson.

            The route, 139, is a footnote on the train timetable and isn’t even listed on the bus timetables which seems odd.

  2. As we have all learnt with rail in NZ….. Easy to cut lines and services, near impossible to reinstate them. Some seem to have not figured that out yet.

    1. Auckland-Rotorua and Auckland-Tauranga were reinstated in the 1990’s simply because the right people with the right vision and motivation were in the right places. This could easily happen again, even if it is hard to envisage at the moment. The case for rail is mounting globally with multiple drivers pushing from many angles. That our present govt has managed to resist this or fail even to notice it is a tribute to their obduracy. Unfortunately the same malaise has infected most of the English-speaking countries until recently. Meanwhile countries such as Switzerland wisely set themselves up to be far better prepared for an oil-reduced future. The question is not if, but when?

    2. “Easy to cut lines and services, near impossible to reinstate them.”

      Sorry to drag out old comments but I feel the need to respond to this. A little over a decade ago Auckland had a broken down legacy rail system running infrequently on weekdays along old freight corridors to a dilapidated terminal on the far side of town.

      Since then we have:
      -Built a new line in a tunnel to a new state of the art underground terminus in the CBD, returning the station to where it was prior to 1930.
      -Double tracked the length of the western line, including building a new underground interchange at New Lynn
      -Rebuilt more or less the entire network’s trackage
      -Resignalled the entire network
      -Rebuilt the Onehunga branch and returned passenger services to it after a 35 year hiatus.
      -Built an entirely new line to Manukau
      -Increased services to six trains an hour at peak on two main lines
      -Reintroduced regular commuter service to Pukekohe

      while currently AT and Kiwirail are:
      -Electrifying the whole network and buying a fleet of state of the art new electric trains to run six trains an hour on all lines
      -Investigating extension of the electrified network to Pukekohe, with new stations at Drury and Paerata
      -Constructing a new station at Parnell
      -Planning a new city centre tunnel
      -Designing an extension to the airport
      -Investigating a new line and stations on the Avondale-Southdown reserve

      All up I would say the work of AT/Kiwirail and their predecessors runs quite contrary to the idea that it is near impossible to reinstate lines and services.

      But yes, during the same time they have closed stations at Tamaki, Southdown, Wiri, Mangere, and soon Waitakere. Not wasting resources servicing very poorly performing parts of the network is part of good network planning, it’s what allows them to run an efficient system to benefit the most people.

  3. A sad but probably sensible decision. As said by other commenters, there is nothing stopping AT from starting up a new shuttle service to Huapai or Helensville if the the circumstances change or there is a more generous budget available.

    Given that Waitakere is going to go, would it be better to cut it earlier (say within the next few months) and use the scarce resources to improve frequency for other parts of the network?

    1. No. The marginal cost of retaining the present Waitakere service is small. Closure only becomes an issue once the existing diesel service ceases.

      1. I would not define $1.5 million p.a. in OPEX as small. That’s about 1.5% of the rail budget being spent on about 0.03% (120 pax per day / 40k per day) of passengers.

        Put another way, each Waitakere passenger requires five times the average operating rail subsidy. At $100m across 11 million passengers per year, that equates to about $45 per trip. Ouch

        And that’s excluding how many passengers would be lost from making all rail passengers transfer at Swanson. And it’s also excluding the CAPEX required to facilitate the connection at Swanson, which are spread over very few passengers.

        1. That $1.5 million is the cost of sustaining a dedicated diesel shuttle service into the future. This requires the maintenance of two diesel sets exclusively for this purpose, plus the retention of facilities to do this in an otherwise all-electric environment. This a different ball-game from simply persisting with the current Waitakere service while the existing fleet is still around and being maintained anyway.

          I do not know the marginal cost of continuing to extend selected Western services beyond Swanson to Waitakere as happens now, but it is disingenuous to suggest that this in any way compares with the cost of sustaining an isolated diesel shuttle service long after the cessation of other diesel services.

    2. Why not chop services back to Swanson now and use the saved money to run Sunday trains past Henderson? Or half-hourly weekend frequencies?

  4. Switzerland understands that quality of service, comfort of service and therefore attractiveness of public transport is of top importance.

    I would have though Matt L would be pushing for the slight extension to the growth areas of Kumeu and Huapai rather than cut backs. Put the service, even on a reduced frequency from Huapai so people moving there are used to public transport from the outset.

    How can Switzerland get it so right and AT and Matt be getting this so wrong?

    And what about the numbers, inflated by AT to look impressive..” savings of $20.8 million over 25 years”. Really? So two things Mark Lambert:

    1) Are you guaranteeing the bus replacements on this section will run for 25 years?
    2) Did you sign a 25 year contract to an operater already? Details please…
    3) What will the growth be in the region over 25 years..if the existing rail service is extended to the growth areas of Huapai/Kumeu?????
    4) How much has been spent on the upgrade to Waitakere station and station carpark which is now going to be wasted investment?????
    5) What about the platform and lighting at Huapai station… what’s the value which is wasted through non utilisation?????

    Basically, Matt is refusing to pick up AT on these points.

    Mark Lambert and AT need questioning over this poor decision. But this blog, oddly, won’t do that.

    1. Reduced frequency from Huapai? The proposal was only for an hourly train and it still cost $1.5 million a year. What are you going to reduce it to, one train every two hours? Who would catch that when there is a half hourly all-day every-day bus planned under the RPTP?

      I can answer those questions for you:

      1) No, all public transport service contracts are six years at the most.
      2) No, see above.
      3) None.. The Northwest growth areas focus on Hobsonville and Westgate in the near and medium term. Growth around Kumeu-Huapai is scheduled to start 30 years from now.
      4) Spending $6 million up front and a further $1.5 million every year to ‘justify’ a sunk investment of a few hundreds of thousands in a carpark and partial station upgrade is absurd.
      5) Spending $9 million up front and a further $3 million every year to ‘justify’ a sunk investment of tens of thousands in a temporary platform at Huapai is even more absurd.

    2. From what I understand, Switzerland “gets it right” by ticket-clipping on dodgy bank deposits and giving state protection to large pharmaceutical companies. The money that generates is subsequently available to waste on hugely expensive rail projects.

      Not sure that financing option that is available to AT, but perhaps you should write a guest post explaining how they might make it work. After all, some people in Fiji might be looking for a stable place to store their money …

      Imagine the Herald headline now: “AT funds rail services by issuing dictator bonds”.

      1. Umm I think you should revisit your views on Switzerland, and I don’t think this forum is really the place to express xenophobia, there’s a heck of a lot that New Zealand could learn from Switzerland. Claiming the country is a banana republic run off corruption is a ridiculous claim. New Zealand could have a comparable rail network but it chooses to blow its money on pointless motorways and engages in dodgy back room deals at governmental level. New Zealand could only dream of having pharm like Switzerland does and the massive flourishing biotech industry that goes with it.

        1. P.s. “Xenophobia” is defined as “deep-rooted, irrational hatred towards foreigners.” I don’t think my comment qualifies – even if it was not said in jest. Also, you’ve used a couple of big strawman arguments there: I never suggested we could not “learn a lot” from Switzerland in a transport sense, nor tit was a “banana republic”. All that I (jokingly) suggested was that Switzerland earn a tidy sum from financial products and pharmaceutical companies, both of which are industries that (from what I have read) 1) have somewhat dodgy practises and 2) are not viable means of tax revenue for New Zealand. Phew!

          1. “Switzerland earn a tidy sum from financial products and pharmaceutical companies”

            More relevant to the transport situation… Switzerland has the transport infrastructure required to support northern Europe trading with southern Europe. If there were 150 million people living north of Auckland and 50 million living south of Auckland then we could charge them to trade with each other, and then spend the money digging 20km tunnels through granite. We could also charge a tax for every motorist entering or transiting the city, with police at the border selling tax stickers.

            Waitakere? Even London couldn’t justify supporting Epping on the Central Line and closed it back in the 90s. But no transport requirement is too trivial that rail-fans won’t support addressing it with a rail solution, no matter how expensive it is. If (as Matt L asserts) this would cost us (as in “US THE RATEPAYERS”) $45 a trip, then it is probably cheaper to lay on a helicopter to fly Waitakere commuters in to the city. For free.

          2. Just to be a pedant, the Epping station on the London Central line is very much still in action, i’ve used it to go mountain biking.

            You’re probably thinking of the Epping to Ongar shuttle service. “However, carrying only 100 passengers a day and losing money, the section closed in 1994, and is now used by the heritage Epping Ongar Railway.[37]”

            Of course, that’s a whole line they closed, which is a slightly difference case here as the cost to maintain the line to waitakere will still be incurred.

  5. It makes sense to me. Only a few people use Waitakere station each day, and if that number were growing, we’d have seen it by now. People in the Northwest have better transport options available to them by road, and they’re using them. In the future I would like to see light rail and bus priority measures in the region to reduce car-dependency.

    Pukekohe is an altogether different story. People pushing for an extension to the electrified network should focus their efforts there.

    1. Exactly. So much better if AT was no longer running any old stinky Diesels

      And if Auckland grows this way then then may be a future case for extending electrification past Swanson to K/H or beyond, but the only way to build that case would be the growth of use of the bus service. An expensive and crappy Diesel train service with a very short run and interchange is no answer.

      Also AT need to focus resources and attention on the efficiencies of the new fleet and work the whole network integration hard. This is a distraction; a more frequent bus service will serve the area better.

  6. Spending $6 million up front then $1.5 million a year to move around 50* people a day would be incompetence on a staggering level.

    Spending $3 million a year for thirty years in advance of the Northwest growth area around Huapai would also be incompetence on a staggering level.

    *There are about a hundred a day now with direct service to the city, turn that into a one station shuttle train and all the park n riders will simply go to the electric railhead at Swanson.

    1. Anyone care to explain a little more about the Kumeu/Huapai bypass which apparently envisages the railway line being moved quite some distance away from the town centre and separated by the new highway? There is a graphic of this over at http://www.bettertransport.org.nz/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4290&start=180

      Seems to me that this move away from the town centre to the other side of the state highway will substantially reduce or eliminate any possibility of rail having ANY future role to play in passenger services to the Northwest. There has been talk that the North Auckland Line (NAL) is only one bad derailment away from mothballing. I suggest that the severing of 2km of the NAL to create the roading bypass will provide the excuse for the powers-that-be to close the railway altogether.

      If I have read this correctly and putting the very best spin that I can on this, as a piece of town planning this rail relocation is at best unbelieveably shortsighted.

      I completely accept that at present the Waitakere railway service has to go. However I suggest that severely compromising future rail transport options is in another league altogether.

  7. Why can’t a Helensville / Waimauku / Huapai / Waitakere to Swanson and Henderson be run as a bus for now? The rail line (or in the very worst case, the land designation for it) will remain for future mode-shift to rail should development and patronage one day warrant it.

    Given the current hostile-to-PT national political environment, and costs involved versus patronage,running a bus until patronage justifies a train seems a far more sensible way to manage costs.

    Integrated fares will be with us before the Waitakere train service is withdrawn, so it will still be a single journey, just with a mode change at Swanson for those wanting to continue by train.

    1. Agreed, as that would provide a direct enough journey from Huapai to Henderson. Off-peak, Huapai-Auckland is better served by direct bus, as at present.

    1. At the point where there is enough development around Huapai-Waimauku to justify a regular train service (about 25-30 years from now), justifying electrification of the line will not be an issue. Until there are people out there to actually catch the trains justifying any form of investment would be bad, including fancy battery EMUs.

      The simple fact is the entire Riverhead-Huapai-Kumeu-Waimauku area (a huge area) only has around 6,000 residents. That’s less than the number that live within walking distance of Meadowbank or Mt Albert, as two examples.

      “Build it and they will come” only works where you have reasonable population and latent travel demand.

      Start with 6,000 residents, drill down to those that actually leave the area each day, then drill further to those going to destinations along the western line, then down to those that are likely to take public transport, then down to those for whom the bus isn’t a faster option. You are left with perhaps a few hundred trips a day as your potential pool. No matter how much money is thrown at the line, how rolls royce a service level is provided, you can’t overcome a tiny catchment of potential customers.

      The only thing that will change the fortunes of that line is a large increase in suburban population in an area that is very low density and rural at the moment. At this stage that is planned for about 30 years from now.

      1. Does it change things that Huapai is now a strategic growth area for auckland, not in 30 years, but right now?

  8. Growth isn’t just going to happen in Kumeu-Huapai-Waimauku in 25-30 years – it’s happening now. You just need to stand by the roadside waiting for a bus in the morning to see how much single occupancy traffic has already been encouraged in the absence of a more attractive public transport service. I can see the expense of maintaining the rail service to Waitakere but there would be much more benefit in extending it to Huapai etc with decent frequency. The Waitakere service was already undermined by reduced frequency which is why people from out west already often parked and rode from Swanson- a vicious cycle. This move definitely reduces service options for the wider Waitakere/Kumeu/Taupaki and beyond, catchment, that buses just won’t mitigate.

    1. Well, we can either extend rail to Huapai, or build the Eastern airport link for the same price. Which would you prefer?

      1. I think AC have greatly underestimated growth out West. The reticulated sewerage project alone will, I believe, lead to an even greater trend of people wanting to live out Huapai / Waimauku way. The 2 subdivisions being developed in Riverhead indicate to me that developers will get their hands on whatever land becomes available. To me, this means we should be looking at a rail solution for the NW corridor sooner rather than later, which could be linked to the NAL at Kumeu to give a much more direct route to pretty much anywhere other than Waitakere or Henderson. Follow the Euro lead and build the PT route before 4 laning to Kumeu or Waimauku (as included in the ‘Auckland Plan’ projects list). Yes, the rail line will be expensive but so too will the road build. Start with PT.

    2. Well said Christine. A factor often forgotten by those who agree with this plan to shrink the Auckland rail network is that a lot of people, some from Kumeu and beyond, are driving to Swanson to catch the train. That means cars on roads, which also means greater road maintenance costs, and more accidents. Those costs should also be factored into the decision.

      Nick, may I ask that you seriously consider popping out to Kumeu, or perhaps half way between Kumeu and Waimauku (you can park safely beside the road opposite Matua Rd) and observe traffic between 0630 and 0730 on a weekday morning. I really do think you will be surprised, as your comments to date about low density etc just don’t line up with the real world state of play out there.

      1. Geoff are all these cars on the road – driving to the nearest rail park and ride as you suggest they should be?

        Or are they doing, as Matt suggested, driving past the rail stations for many different reasons and not using rail at all?

        If the former is the case, then why don’t the station statistics up top show this?

        If the latter, the doesn’t that show that the current offerings of AT, whether Rail, Bus or whatever aren’t actually meeting the current needs of the folks who live out that way.

        And if so, why will keeping Waitakere open for passenger rail solve that issue?
        Isn’t that indicating that the problem is a bigger one that what mode PT people use to get to where they’re going?

        1. I would suggest that some are driving all the way, whereas they may go by train if it was available to them.

          Something overlooked in this debate is that there is more commuter traffic passing through Kumeu each day than there is to/from Pukekohe. SH16 at Kumeu has 20,000 vehicles per day, whereas SH22 north out of Pukekohe only has 12,000 vehicles per day. Pukekohe may be bigger in population, but most of its residents go to work or school within Pukekohe, whereas the norwest has a much higher percentage heading to suburban locations each day. Some 5,000 vehiles per day off SH16, head down Don Buck Rd toward Henderson, and another 1,000 take the back road through Swanson.

          These numbers are very favourable in the here and now, and will only get much bigger as development continues to escalate in the district. It makes no sense to can a train after 132 years of continuous service, right when growth is about to accelerate. It should be built upon, not taken away.

          I reckon a Huapai train would match the viability of the Pukekohe trains within the first year of operation. It would only need around 250-300 passengers a day on an hourly service, to equal the performance of the current Pukekohe operation. That’s a realistic and achieveable goal.

          1. A big problem with that argument: ‘SH22 north out of Pukekohe only has 12,000 vehicles per day’ is that SH22 is only one of the ways out of Pukekohe – the other major way is via Bombay. I live off East street which is the main road out of Pukekohe towards Bombay and I can tell you there is a very steady stream of cars heading out of town in the morning and then coming back in the evening. Only counting one of the main roads for your argument is setting yourself badly. Perhaps if you looked up the number of cars heading alone Pukekohe East Road and Mill Road and added those to the 12,000 vehicles per day on SH22 you may give a more accurate picture.

          2. Yes Leah, this is something I have raised with Geoff elsewhere. NZTA data shows that over 5000 enter the motorway at Bombay heading north. While some will have been from people pulling over for a rest, the majority will be from Pukekohe or the surrounding area.

          3. Leah, since that way is 4km longer, I wouldn’t think too many would choose it. As Matt says, only 5,000 vehicles enter the motorway per day at Bombay, and of those I would say 1,000 are from east or immediate Bombay vicinity, and at least 2,000 in the form of through traffic stopping for food or petrol. So perhaps 2,000 doing as you suggest. That’s still a total well short of the Kumeu traffic flow.

          4. Geoff, it may be 4 kms longer but an easier road to drive along, it also depends on where in Pukekohe you live relative to the two routes, and still takes the same amount of time Pukekohe to Drury where the two routes connect. I also think your estimations on the breakdown are inaccurate. Interesting in your argument you states your numbers as cars going through Kumeu and opposed to those originating from Kumeu and use that as an argument for a train station there – stating that those cars going through Kumeu would hypothetically use the train station. If we’re talking of through traffic, for the Pukekohe scenario you should also be including all those thousands of people south of Pukekohe – Tuakau/Pokeno etc that commute in to AKL, who get on the motorway further south of Bombay who aren’t included in your lovely numbers who would hypothetically use trains if the service was better – more frequent, electric, running during the weekends. You can’t just pick out the facts to suit your argument.

  9. Does the decline in boardings at Pukekohe, Papakura and Manurewa between 2012 and 2013 correspond to stopping the express service during the peak?

  10. It seems logical to run buses to waitakere instead of trains. A bus could go up northfield rd then mcentee rd thus serving houses in waitakere not so close to the station. So it could be an improvement in service for the area.

  11. Christine, agreed. Some commentors seem to only have 30 years away in their minds, where as you can see with your eyes the growth is happening out there now.

    Rail needs to be retained for the West, and expanded 1 or 2 stops to Kumeu / Huapai. Therefore encouraging growth to be around rail stations.

    1. “Disappointing to see ATB side with the roading lobby.”

      Bit rich surely? While I’m sure we can all appreciate you have an opinion on this topic, it seems uncalled for to hurl what looks suspiciously like a smear at the blog, especially given the rationale for the position of the editorial is made fairly clear in the text. I don’t have any particular stake in the matter (as I don’t live in the area), so you’ll have to excuse me for glossing over the part in the editorial where roading alternatives were championed, but I fear that whatever points you may contribute to the debate you undermine by attaching pithy ‘us vs. them’ dismissals to the end (I’m reminded of your views on the upcoming apocalypse, in which swathes of foolish Aucklanders rue the day they failed to obtain a lifestyle block, allowing them to sidestep a crisis of mass starvation via small scale agriculture, or something to that effect).

  12. @ Sailor Boy: “we can either extend rail to Huapai, or build the Eastern airport link for the same price”.
    This is nonsense. Why are you saying this?

  13. Will they maintain the rest of the line for the future? Speaking of maintenance, as a side point, http://youtube.com/watch?v=uOH9sq4KOZA

    Can’t believe this was only 13 or so years ago.

    Hope National do not decide it is a good idea to recreate another Tranz Rail if they win the next election 🙂

  14. Hello. Long time reader (since the demise of Akl trains) first time poster.
    I used to take the train from Waitakere and or Swanson into the city for about 3 years up to the end of 2009. After about a year or so of doing the Waitakere thing and dealing with all the uncertainities of getting all the way home in one trip (spent a more than a few times waiting on the Swanson platform for the next train) I switched to the better option of taking trains from Swanson, like it seems a lot of others have.
    It will be a pity to lose the trains to the village but it seems a practical inevitability in, at least the medium term. Indeed as a poster pointed out earlier a bus travelling to Waitakere railway station via Northfield and McEntee Rds, with a few suitably placed stops along the way will provide a much better service for the people of this village with both Swanson and regular/reliable trains into the city.
    With the coming of electrics to Swanson and the possibility of a seven day a week timetable I have sometimes wondered what will become of the carboot fair that Swanson hosts at its station carpark. I assume AT/Akl City Council would want to keep that free for Sunday commuters. Well there is a relatively new and under utilised carpark at Waitakere train station-perhaps that could shift to there. That could give a bit of a boost to village life as well.
    Along with a bus service I think it would be a good idea for AT to complete the walking option in Waitakere Village by building a footpath along Waitakere Road between Northfield and Township Rd. That would give people a sense of security as they walk either west or east towards their nearest bus stop.

  15. I find it strange Matt L and others praise AT for setting up a ferry service to the Upper Harbour, which will all its “sunk costs” moves less than 100 people a day. The wharves cost about $3.5 million to build and the services cost a huge sum to operation. Yet he and a select few others vocally endorse stopping the Waitakere service and and refuse to want it extended to Huapai!

    Well done for taking AT’s bait hook line and sinker on Waitakere and refusing to push them for expansion. The growing population out West really will endorse you for your “vision” for the region.

    I just am a loss over your stance on reducing the rail network, the easy option, rather than the progressive option of expanding it a couple of kilometers to the where many people and businesses are, or are moving to.

    I support the ferry service expansion AND the expansion of rail to Kumeu/Haupai.

    Auckland Transport = 1
    ATB = 0

    1. Jon – there is a big difference between Hobsonville and Waitakere. There are ~3000 dwellings going in at Hobsonville as well as a rest home so there will likely be over 10,000 people nearby to use the service. There is less than 1/4 of that at Waitakere and no growth planned. Further the rest of the growth in the north west area is primarily going to be around the Westgate area and there won’t be significant growth at Huapai for 20-30 years.

      The money saved from not running services to Waitakere can be used to put on more services within the electrified area which would generate far more patronage than what this shuttle would do, even if it was extended (which would cost even more). I am interested to know why you think we should spend $6m upfront and then $1.5m a year on a service for 50 people.

      Lastly we have no problem with saying if we think that AT are doing something wrong and do so frequently, we are able to objectively look at a situation and make a judgement rather than have a bias of saying rail at all costs, even if it isn’t practical. We don’t mind alternative views however If you want to moan about the coverage we provide then go do it elsewhere or start your own blog. It is also counter to our user guidelines, point 4 http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/user-guidelines/

    2. Jon, I’d suggest you (and others) stop trying to paint this issue in such divisive colours, e.g. AT versus ATB. This blog freely forms its own opinions on many issues, irrespective of what AT think. To suggest otherwise is, frankly, a little childish. The word “shit-stirring” springs to mind. You’re welcome to express your opinions – just don’t expect us to agree, and don’t paint ATB as selling out just because we disagree with you.

    3. P.s. Also note my comment below: I believe the cost of the wharves at Hobsonville were covered by a developer. Plus the services cost very little, as they are an extension of the Beachhaven service just across the way. So it was certainly cheaper than the cost of continuing rail services to Waitakere …

  16. Matt L: – “there is a big difference between Hobsonville and Waitakere. There are ~3000 dwellings going in at Hobsonville as well as a rest home so there will likely be over 10,000 people nearby to use the service. There is less than 1/4 of that at Waitakere and no growth planned. Further the rest of the growth in the north west area is primarily going to be around the Westgate area and there won’t be significant growth at Huapai for 20-30 years.”

    – Last time I was in Hobsonville last year there wasn´t more than 50 houses. When will all be completed?`
    – And all 3,000 will work in the CBD therefore need the ferries?

    The money saved from not running services to Waitakere can be used to put on more services within the electrified area which would generate far more patronage than what this shuttle would do, even if it was extended (which would cost even more). I am interested to know why you think we should spend $6m upfront and then $1.5m a year on a service for 50 people.

    – You are assuming a lot. From what you have publicly posted you have not questioned AT on anything they will do with the proposed amazing savings “over 25 years”. For all you know they might be going to buy helicopters to AT officials can fly to work. That would make Steven Joyce happy and his old Quote of flying commuters from Hamilton to Auckland by helicopter!

    Quite frankly I think AT have pulled a fast one, an easy option instead of researching a logical extension to a larger and growing area of Huapai and Kumeu. But AT are so incompetent in managing rail that, unlike Wellington, they have to outsource operations to Veolia at a cost of millions of dollars every year (and I don´t see ATB being critical of that blatent waste of money).

  17. The cheapest way to allow continuity of the Waitakere service after electrification would be to provide a single diesel locomotive to diesel-haul selected EMU sets through to Waitakere and back. For many years this was done with Wellington’s electrified service prior to the extension of wires to Paraparaumu. A diesel loco coupled to, and hauled the English Electric sets through to P’ram. Even today the process still occurs on the Wairarapa Line during Martinborough Fair weekends. Ganz Mavag units are diesel-hauled through the Rimutaka Tunnel to Featherston, from where a fleet of buses shuttle the masses through to Martinborough.

    It can be done, and has been done.

    So the scare-off costs which have been bandied about to kibosh the Waitakere Service are just that. There is a cost-effective way to sustain the service if the will was there to pursue it.

  18. The cheapest way to allow continuity of the Waitakere service after electrification would be to provide a single diesel locomotive to diesel-haul selected EMU sets through to Waitakere and back. For many years this was done with Wellington’s electrified service prior to the extension of wires to Paraparaumu. A diesel loco coupled to, and hauled the English Electric sets through to P’ram. Even today the process still occurs on the Wairarapa Line during Martinborough Fair weekends. Ganz Mavag units are diesel-hauled through the Rimutaka Tunnel to Featherston, from where a fleet of buses shuttle the masses through to Martinborough.

    It can be done, and has been done.

    So the scare-off costs which have been bandied about to kibosh the Waitakere Service are just that. There is a cost-effective way to sustain the service if the will was there to pursue it.

    {I don’t understand this message board’s workings. When you try to reply to a comment, your posting often gets shoved to the end. Now, when I wanted it at the end, it got shoved in the middle somewhere!! This is a copy!}

  19. The shuttle bus will be leaving in advance of the time of the train scheduled time in order to be at Swanson to connect with the train. Running along the tortuous route via Northfield road will further discourage patronage. It could take 20 minutes to get to Swanson from Waitakere. I made use of a bus once from downtown . Apart from noticing what an excellent service it provided to the good folk of K road, Arch hill, Pt Chev before getting on the motorway I spent much of the time seeing the distant hills of my destination through the rear window of my bus. I never knew there was a Mosque in Ranui.
    When I finally staggered out of the 1600 bus at 1745 I resolved never to catch another bus.
    Could someone explain where is the “park” and ride is at Swanson? There I very little parking now and there is 300 houses building in Swanson

    1. I agree Mike, the bus will be much slower. Waitakere station to departure of the train at Swanson will be 20 minutes at least, compared to the 5 minutes by train. I’ve always said the bus option is a waste of time, as nobody will use it unless they are totally reliant on PT. Most will simply drive. My prediction is that the bus service will only run for a short time, then Waitakere will be abandoned completely, PT-wise.

  20. “tortuous route via Northfield road” It’s a pretty straight forward road. There is a hill between us and Swanson but we’re not exactly in the Himalayas!

  21. Dave – {I don’t understand this message board’s workings. When you try to reply to a comment, your posting often gets shoved to the end. Now, when I wanted it at the end, it got shoved in the middle somewhere!! This is a copy!}

    Agreed the responses are getting posted all over the place. Is there something technically wrong with the site? Have a look at the dates/times tesponses are posted..

  22. The reason why some people forego Waitakere Station and ride at Swanson is due to the inconsistent service we now get at Waitakere Station. Could even be suggested it is a ploy to down play
    the volume of regular customers who prefer to catch their trains at their local station to substantiate the decision to discontinue the service at Waitakere . Anyone can play with numbers to make the argument more appealing to the powers that be. Forget about the locals and the history of Waitakere… the council has no vision for the future or sustainability plans in place for the expanding rural community.
    I commute daily from my home in Township Road into town every day ; it was a deciding factor in the purchase of our family to our rural paradise which our family are throughly enjoying.

  23. This has nothing to do with the Waitakere line, but here goes…I simply cannot understand why the powers that be have not built a short curving “connecting line” after Sylvia Park to connect onto the Southern Line and they would have a ready-made “Circle Line.” Passengers coming from Glen Innes, Panmure, Sylvia Park etc etc and wanting to go to Penrose, Greenlane, NewMarket etc, would not have to change trains at Westfield and passengers from Newmarket Greenlane etc wanting to go to Sylvia Park, Panmure, Glen Innes etc would not have to change at Westfield either. It wouldn’t cost a fortune to build as it would be a very short curve, and it would create a ready made ‘Circle Line.”…..Just a thought.

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