The biggest driver of public transport ridership over the last year has been on the Rapid Transit Network (RTN), which consists of the busway and the rail network. Over the 2015-16 financial year both grew an astonishing 20.6% after each also grew by over 20% in the 2014-15 year. Trips on the RTN now make up over 25% of PT trips in Auckland, up from 10% a decade ago and that’s while usage of non RTN services has increased by 35% over that same time frame. The RTN has helped in showing that when relatively fast, frequent, reliable and high quality services are provided, that Aucklanders will flock to use them.

Auckland Transport have now kindly provided the the numbers breaking down both the busway and train results by station including where each

Before delving into it a few caveats.

  • The rail trips only count completed trips i.e. where both the origin and destination are known. This means trips where someone has forgotten to tag off, trips on some passes like the child monthly pass (a paper ticket) and special event trips aren’t included. The trips included below account for about 92% of all rail trips.
  • Where a train to train transfer takes place, such as at Newmarket, the transfer is included as a new boarding
  • The busway figures are slightly different and are based on trips that board or alight at a busway station. Outside of the busway, such as in the city, AT don’t show the exact stops where people board or alight but just group them into the general council area such as Waitemata and Gulf. As an example a trip from town to Albany busway station will show as boarding in the Waitemata and Gulf area and alighting at Albany station.
    • These aren’t busway stats, they’re results for the busway stations themselves. The results don’t show trips where people board and alight a bus outside of the busway where the bus travels on the busway for part of its journey e.g. someone who boards the 130 in Hobsonville and alights at Takapuna despite the bus travelling down the busway.
  • The busway results also include where a paper ticket is bought at a busway station but where the destination is unknown. Surprisingly that only accounts for about 7% of trips from busway stations.

As a result of the caveats above, I don’t think the rail and busway stations can be directly compared but seeing how they’ve changed over the year is valid.

This graph shows the change in boardings for each RTN station over the last year. The colours are based on the ones AT use with the grey, purple and orange depicting stations shared by multiple lines. I’ve also included the Waitemata area in the busway results as most of that will represent people catching a bus from town to a busway station.

  • As expected, Britomart easily dominates the results with 4.7 million people boarding a train from the station in the last year, up from 3.9 million the year before. In total 59% of all rail trips begin or end at this one station.
  • Some good growth too for Newmarket and for buses from the city too
  • Two stations actually saw usage drop, Pukekohe – which will almost certainly be attributed to the shift to shuttle services – and Sunnynook, for which I have no idea why usage has dropped.
  • Hibiscus Coast busway station only opened in about October last year so I haven’t included it here but impressively it now already it has about the same number of passenger trips as the Sunnynook station.

Station Boardings Growth 2016-2

The graph below looks at the how the usage of stations has changed as a percentage. Some observations:

  • Swanson has had great growth from its low base which I would assume is due to the opening of the new park & ride as well as the closing of Waitakere which will have seen a lot of users now drive to Swanson.
  • Manukau had the strongest growth and I expect that will only continue once the new bus network and particularly the new bus station open.
  • Puhinui is also improving well and even if you take the transfers out, it would still be up 28%

Station Boardings Percent Growth 2016-2

Below is a bit of a wall of number which are the basis for the graphs above for anyone interested. On separate tabs is also a matrix showing how many people travelled between each station should anyone want to make a visualisation of it. Or friend Aaron Schiff has in the past.

What do you think of the station usage results?

Update: Thanks to some comments I found I made a mistake with the Sunnynook and Smales Farm results for 2014-15. I’ve corrected that in the graphs and data set.

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    1. I believe Te Mahia has had a stay of execution because of local pressure and the promise of more users from a new subdivision going in at Manukau golf club. However it remains to be seen whether 250 McMansions and a retirement home 1km away will have any effect.

        1. I think you r judging Te mahia to hard. Surveys have shown that there are more users but they are not paying. I guess gating manurewa station plus a couple of others will help improve the stats for both of these stations. I think manurewa is not reaching its potential either.

          I live in wattle downs and take the train. I think u should not make the assumption that only poor people use this station and rich people drive or use classier stations.
          There is a lot of development that will go on in the area. Te mahia has potential. However the state of the station and its access probably puts people off.

          Westfield is a waste of space and should be levelled. I fully support that decision. But Te mahia has potential and the issues of its low numbers should be addressed rather than closing it.

  1. Papatoetoe and Panmure needs to be gated. Both cracking the half a million boarding and alighting, and remains to be growing. Once the eastern bus gets sorted, I expect Panmure to rank 3rd overall overpassing both New Lynn and Papatoetoe.

    1. Papakura is a station that already has more boarding than all three you mention and it is also the second largest on the network area wise and there don’t appear to be any plans to properly gate it or provide more than a single guard, there have been some very pathetic gates that appear to be night gates (not that they have ever been used, even over the last weekend BOL they were still locked open). Looking blindly at the tag figures supplied doesn’t give an accurate idea of Papakura boarding’s as the Pukekohe figures must also be added as ever person that boards at Pukekohe must also go through Papakura and it would be in the extreme high 90%s that would then board Britomart bound trains.
      Papakura would have in the vicinity 611,000 boarding exceeding New Lynn, Papatoetoe and Panmure, this is likely to keep growing and even AT are currently looking at the possibility of increasing the park and ride capacity at Papakura while the redevelopment of Pukekohe increases the capacity there. Once the future stations at Paerata and Drury are build there will be no stopping the increases.

      1. Park and ride delivers a small percentage of journeys, even at Albany where there is the biggest car park supply. Sure it looks like a lot, as carparks take up so much space, but they can’t match the much less visible walk, bus, and drop off numbers.

        Bus connection is the best and almost efficient deliver of RTN ridership,especially now with fare integration. Density of activity [residential, commercial, educational] around stations is a far better use of land adjacent to stations than car parking for centres like Papakura is becoming. Though of course PnR is a good way to service dispersed more rural catchments, and in this Papakura’s PnR does need to move to a new station at Drury, and be opened to intensive development.

        Also with extension of electrification and new stations Papakura’s growth in boardings will be cannibalised somewhat by these new stations, so I don’t get your reasoning there at all; yes ridership on the line will grow, but some ridership from the new stations will be people currently using Papakura, no?

        In fact one additional benefit of the extension is that it enables Papakura Station to become more focussed on its own growing community rather be a wider regional hub.

        Bike up is a hugely undervalued mode in Auckland, so it is great that AT haver begun to work on station focussed bike routes, initially New Lynn and Glen Innes. And hopefully these Southern Line stations too. Including secure bike storage.

        Also AT does have a programme to extend gating to the busiest stations, and those where there is the highest value in making that investmnment.

        1. Patrick I agree about the the efficiency of park and ride facilities but the electrification south of Papakura is a long way off meaning it will continue to be the southern hub for many more years yet. The new stations at Drury and Paerata are hopefully going to be built sooner rather than later as there is no need for them to wait for the electrification before they are built.

          There is a media statement due from AT (or so we have been told) about the possible extensions to PnR facilities at Papakura.

        2. Ted, I know AT are planning on building a car parking building at Papakura; I am suggesting that this is shortsighted.

          Also the utility new stations further south without a solution to the Papakura forced transfer is questionable, though as longer term place shapers I would still be supportive of their earlier construction as there is a service there now, and two intermediate stops would add little time to the journey to Puke… Despite it being suboptimal to transfer after one stop [at least Drury is in the same zone], I would really like AT to investigate building an a station and at grade carpark at Drury over a multi-level carpark at Papakura. Though they may not own much land there, enabling more southern rural commuters the option of not driving through the Papakura centre by offering a Drury option may have higher utility.

          As I say above it is time to focus Papakura on its own growing community and to urbanise that land proximate to the station.

        3. Patrick I fully agree on all points there, Kiwi rail owns all the land that is currently used at Papakura and not AT but it is also possible Kiwi rail also owns sufficient at Drury. The question is the location of the Drury station, does it go behind the shops (the logical place) or in its original location closer to the motorway?

        4. Yes Patrick the logical place behind the shops, there has been talk about it being on the site of the original station further south toward the motorway.

        5. Bigted – why would you gate Papakura based on it’s stats being high because of transfers. I would have thought gates would be designed to pick up those entering and leaving the station, not those transferring.

        6. Jezza around 80% of Papakura boarding’s are not Puke transfers so there is still sufficient to warrant gating of the second largest station on the network.

        7. Patrick Newmarket is not even close at 180 metres long by 3 lines 4 platforms wide, even with the extra story it is nothing on 430 metres long by 4 lines (not including the down main) 4 platforms wide with the ticket office off to the side. That is not including the depot that is half that area again.

        8. Bigted – what do you mean by second largest – is it the number of platforms you are talking about? Looks like it is 6th largest in terms of boardings and alightings so yes it would definitely be in line for gating after the 4th and 5th largest – Papatoetoe and Panmure are done.

        9. The objective of a railway station is not to occupy a lot of space, it’s to move a lot of people. Which Newmarket does more of than Papakura.

          Occupying a lot of space is not a good reason to gate a station. It’s a point *against* gating it, since it means more cost to gate it for the same benefit.

        10. Stephen we were talking largest as in size not busiest as in boardings (third in terms of boardings).

          Jezza at around 611K it is far busier than every station other than Britomart or Newmarket, remember over 98% (maybe even 99%) of the just under 141K that tag at Pukekohe also have to board services at Papakura. Every boarding at Pukekohe alights at Papakura and everyone that alights at Pukekohe has boarded at Papakura, they don’t tag at Papakura if they are transferring but they definitely board and alight there.

        11. Bigted – they don’t leave or arrive at the station, which means they wouldn’t go through gates anyway, so they are irrelevant to any gating calculations.

        12. Jezza it is still the third busiest and 80% of the paying passengers would, there would even be more paying passengers if it was gated as the single guard and handful of TIs occasionally on a station that size are little is any deterrent. Having such a large site with so many access points puts it into the too hard category where as other stations (like Papatoetoe and Panmure) are relatively easy to gate.

        13. Ted who gives a shit how physically big a station is, that has no bearing on it’s use. As also mentioned later on in the comments stream, I think it’s fair that they don’t count people getting off the shuttle and so it’s irrelevant. And no way of looking at it puts Papakura as third busiest. Even at a basic level of all boarding and all alighting, including all Puke trips, Papakura has 1,200,004 trips, New Lynn had 1,246,488.

        14. @Patrick and @MattL So, … when do the “be nice” rules apply to you guys? You seem to be getting pretty aggressive to me.

        15. In the case of Swanson, the park n ride will be making up a good proportion of the rail patronage. Few arrive by bus, especially from Waitakere in which the community have shunned the new 139 bus since the trains were cancelled. It runs empty for most of the day, 5am to 11pm, with the former rail passengers now driving in their cars instead. A number of people drive to Swanson from Kumeu and environs too, as they prefer taking the train than a bus direct from Kumeu.

          Swanson will likely continue to lead the growth of stations, with 300 new houses being built right beside it, and more planned now that the UP has approved more homes in Swanson outside the existing RUB.

        16. There is also significant subdividable land in Swanson within the current urban limit. Check out Yozins Orchard here, note that the Google image is very recent, showing houses currently under construction in the new “Penihana subdivision.

      2. Don’t know where you have been reading your data from but Papakura has less boarding and alighting than Papatoetoe and Panmure. It is below half a million while the latter two are over.

        Panmure’s growth will outpaced the growth in patronage out in Papakura; especially with the changes in bus routes focusing more on connecting the southeastern suburn with the city via Panmure.

        1. The data is ‘tags’ not boardings and every single person that ‘tags’ at Pukekohe has to board a train at Papakura to continue their journey (those continuing is in the high 90%s maybe even 98-99%), so to get accurate figures the Pukekohe numbers need to be added to the Papakura ones, thus making it the third busiest to go along with the fact it is the second largest.

        2. According to Matt’s caveats this would be included.

          ‘Where a train to train transfer takes place, such as at Newmarket, the transfer is included as a new boarding’

        3. Sorry, you are correct it doesn’t appear they are including transfers at Papakura for some reason.

        4. I don’t think they count Puke to Papakura trips as transfers as they’re a continuation of the same journey on the same line, the only reason for the transfer is because it’s forced – as opposed to other lines where someone chooses to transfer to go to a different destination. That seems like a fair distinction to me.

    2. Actually the need for gating isn’t really driven by total passenger numbers but the number of unique trips i.e. if all trips from a station are to Britomart which is gated then there’s little value to be added by gating that station too. That’s one reason Panmure isn’t a priority.

      If you take out the current gated stations, the next three busiest by boardings are Grafton, Middlemore then Henderson. There other factor to consider in gating too, for example the data you see here represents people already doing the right thing so are not so much of an issue. As such also considered in the mix is the evidence they have around fare evasion and on that basis I know Henderson is high but some other stations are too. Lastly they also consider just how easy it is to gate. Some stations have been built in a way that makes it a difficult prospect with multiple platforms and entraces while others, such as Henderson only have one entrance so could likely be done fairly easily.

      1. Manurewa and Middlemore are both high up the list to be gated but both, Middlemore in the short term will require almost a total rebuild to allow the third main to pass.

      2. Matt – that’s good to know, I would hope they don’t go reducing entrances just so they can put gates in as accessibility is more important than revenue in my mind. I’d hate to see Panmure for example loose it’s northern entrances, which would be hard to gate, but are very convenient for many.

        1. At places like Manurewa they have already mentioned needing to rationalise some of the entrances so yes it will happen. As for Panmure, I expect it they’ll do something similar to what is done at New Lynn – but I don’t think Panmure is high on the list to gate

        2. Add places like Manurewa they have already mentioned needing to rationalise some of the entrances so yes it will happen. As for Panmure, I expect it they’ll do something similar to what is done at New Lynn – but I don’t think Panmure is high on the list to gate

        3. With the platforms around 150m long, that’s a significant impact on the walkable catchment for a station if everyone has to go to one end. I don’t know the other stations but at Panmure I think the majority of walk-up comes from the northern end, which I imagine would have to be closed of if it was gated, as the buses pull in at the southern end.

  2. Sunnynook drop of is probably because buses are always full when they get to sunny nook so passengers have to wait ages at peak times to catch the bus. Therefore the passengers may have started going to constellation instead to ensure getting on the bus

        1. They actually gave me monthly data. But I’ve just gone back and yes there was an error in there and sunnynook has actually increased slightly, up 9% or 28.5k. Smales was incorrect too and is up 17% or 63.4k

        2. Similar thing for HBC? They now have some DDs too and an expanded park n ride along with new network…

        3. Matt, can I suggest updating the text to reflect the revised Sunnybrook figures? With the change, the words and the picture now say two different things.

    1. But that has been an issue for almost a decade now. I remember having to wait regularly for several buses to pass before being able to board even before 8am not long after its opening in 2008.

  3. The difference in percentage increase in boardings between Orakei and Meadowbank is interesting. Orakei seems to be primarily used by the Park and Riders, so the growth is limited, whereas Meadowbank has more streets close-by to park in, so the growth rate is higher. The increase in street parking by train commuters near Meadowbank station is significant, and people are having to walk further and further to get to the station.

    1. Orakei became 2 stages this year so for many people now it’s easier and same price to get the train from Meadowlark. Hence the increase

      1. That only happened a few days ago, so these stats wouldn’t reflect that. But yes in future, that will probably be the case.

      2. As Jezza says, Orakei only became 2 stages on Sunday when Orakei moved to the same zone as Meadowbank Station [and GI and Panmure stations].

        Now its more expensive, the park n riders at Orakei may now decide to park elsewhere.
        Although even at a 2 zone fare rate “each way”, “free all day parking” at Orakei is still a massive steal over parking rates in town if you can find a park there.

        Its not really the best use of that valuable land as Park n Ride as it only induces traffic on adjacent roads for folks driving to the park n ride by the train station.

      3. Pretty sure Orakei went 2 stages a few months/weeks ago as an interim step before the new zone system? Tried out the other day (pre simplified fares) from Meadowbank (was $3.10 HOP) into the city to look around (we were in the area by car already), and yes parking seems to be further and further away at Meadowbank. Locals probably not too happy about that? Would be good for connecting bus to there which I see AT are looking into as part of the new network.

  4. Growth figures looking good across the board although Pukekohe has stood out for the wrong reasons.

    The Pukekohe electrification and the two new stations at Drury South and Paerata need to be built sooner rather than later to take all that Future Urban Zone and live zoning growth down that way. Will it canabalise Papakura Station? Nope not with Papakura having its own Future Urban Zone areas and continued development out at Karaka and Addison. Strangely enough getting the two new stations built further south might very well delay the need for a multi level parking building at Papakura Station (although last I checked that facility is now on the way).

    As for Manukau? Stand out yet again

    1. Ben the electrification won’t continue to Pukekohe until AT and Kiwiwrail stop arguing over who will bear the brunt of the cost of getting under the southern motorway.

        1. AT need the old Great south rd bridge that is now part of the motorway (the south bound onramp I think) higher for the OLE and Kiwirail will need it wider when they get the third main down that far so neither will commit to doing any work.
          Back in 2008 when Kiwirail was formed ontrack should have been kept separate just like it would be under NZTA.

        2. In which case AT would probably pay for it now and then should Kiwirail expand the NIMT electrification in future then they can come to an arrangement with AT for not just this section but the entire Auckland network.
          But yes really NZTA should control the rail network like they do roads and Kiwirail/AT should just operate the trains

        3. So we are back to the off the cuff comment from Len Brown, battery trains would require a large heavy battery that make carrying any decent amount of passengers uneconomical.

        4. They’d be the same trains ted, just wth a battery taking up a few seats and adding a couple of percent to the weight (you realise an AM class emu weights 130 tonnes right?)

        5. 132 tonnes empty, batteries will take more than a few seats to push that along for 30 plus minutes that it takes just driving time to Pukekohe and back.

        6. Battery trains are more than an off the cuff comment, the engineering work needed for them is already done by CAF, the only thing that is needed is for AT to have money to buy them and for them to decide what kind of battery they buy. The battery takes up about 10 seats and will go in the trailer car while everything else in the EMU stays exactly the same. It means that if wires are ever strung up that the batteries can be removed, seats added and you’d never know the difference.

        7. Ok Matt but DMUs will run the shuttles for a lot longer yet and probably until the electrification is actually done due to the costs.

        8. Yes the shuttles will run until a decision is made, if they don’t buy the battery trains then they will have to spend money (like originally planned) to refurbish the diesels but if they can get the battery ones they’ll do that. I’ve had it said to me that even if they were given the money for electrification they’d spend it on the battery trains and just get more of them. Solves the electric issue and gives more trains which are needed across the entire network (frees up current ones being used on Southern line)

        9. Do you think people will be happy with the Battery EMUs if off the wire they have a lower top speed and slower acceleration (i.e. are just like a quieter DMU)?

        10. It sounds like an excellent solution if it works as planned. You get electric trains to Pukekohe and you remove the need to transfer at Papakura. While you would need enough battery trains to run most of the southern line in order to operate it properly, doing so would give you enough fleet to run full six car sets on all lines at all times, except Onehunga.

          So instead of spending the money on wires you spend it on more fleet. Win win.

        11. Another advantage to battery trains is that if Waikato council comes to the party, there is nothing then preventing extending the service to Pokeno.

        12. Trundler – they will have the same performance as the EMUs.

          Nick – exactly and why AT is keen on them, why spend $100 million+ on wires when you could get battery trains that also serve to expand the fleet which AT say needs to happen anyway as patronage growing faster than expected. A two birds with one stone situation.

          Bryce – yes being able to use them to expand service elsewhere is definitely part of the thinking

        13. What puzzles me about battery units is, if they are so easy to do, why aren’t other places doing the same? Eg the UK is investing heavily in several different classes of bimode, but the off-wire capability for all of them is diesel not battery; BART has built a new extension of its otherwise fully electric system for DMUs not EMUs.

          What do CAF/AT know that other people seem not to, and when are they going to share this information?

        14. One can only speculate; perhaps the length of the unwired section? Who knows. But perhaps there’s a hint in the very way you have phrased your question; railway people and systems seem to be among the most conservative and change resistant groups around; perhaps it’s just too new an idea or technology for these groups?

        15. Mike, the answer to that is they are a niche product that serves the particular niche we have: a relatively large urban rail network that is recently electrified, while the rest of the national rail network it extends into isn’t, and where there is a plan for a short extension of relatively low demand urban service which would have to wear the full cost of electrification itself as the freight or intercity (ahem) network isn’t electric.

          Britains diesel dual mode is for national rail where whole intercity lines beyond the main trunks are unelectrified. We are only taking about 18km to Pukekohe, whereas Cardiff to Swansea is over 80km, for example.

          The east BART one is interesting, at 14km you’d think it’s ideal however reading into it they are talking about basically a standard gauge diesel Caltrain shuttle to the end of the broad gauge third rail BART. So no opportunity to run through in the first instance, which removes your ability to recharge under wire in the second. Also it was planned about ten years ago and signed off for funding in 2009, so for Auckland the technology is about a decade more advanced.

          Useful to note that these BEMUs are in testing and use in provincial Japan in similar situations, an electric urban network with a few low traffic fingers out into the hinterland that they can’t justify electrifying for a couple of trains an hour.

        16. It’s a fascinating discussion. I look forward to seeing some progress her for Pukekohe’s sake.

        17. Matt – have AT told you that they will have same performance as EMUs off the wires. Do you have a source for that statement? I would not be so sure if I was you. There is a big price/space difference between enough/type of batteries to thrash the things like we do on the wire, vs those to drive in “eco” mode.

        18. There’s nothing unusual or uncommon about having diesel services running beyond the wires. Most major cities with urban rail have a core electrified network and diesel services running beyond it. It’s not clear why AT even want to electrify beyond Papakura for this reason. There will still be a need eventually for diesel services to Tuakau, Mercer or Hamilton.

          In Wellington they run very succesfull diesel services under the wires. No transfers required at Upper Hutt, just run them right into the city. Melbourne has several hundred diesel services in and out of the city every day, and it is an extensively electrified network.

          AT could implement many more services, further afield, at low cost, by taking it’s electrified-or-nothing blinkers off. Instead we get ridiculous claims like “diesels can’t run into Britomart” when they have just done so on a massive scale for 12 years!

          If they want to spend up large, do so on providing a third main, and bring us up to speed with expresses from beyond the core network.

        19. Geoff – why would we invest in all the overhead wires that we have in the last few years, only to run every second southern line service as a diesel? Also why bring fumes back into Britomart all to avoid looking at alternative solutions to an 18km section of track?

          We would need to either buy new diesels, which would probably cost as much as the battery units anyway, or bring a fleet of noisy 30 year old diesels back into action on the Southern Line, I for one wouldn’t be looking forward to it.

        20. @Trunder: As Matt said BEMU will have the same performance as EMU since our EMU are designed to be able to cope with the gradient of CRL so are more powerful than normal. EMU are artificially limited for both acceleration and top speed so BEMU shouldn’t have any degraded performance in that regard. The extra weight is minimal the proverbial fly on a horses back or in something more contemporary it would be like having a smart phone in your pocket…

        21. But of course Melbourne has just spent a couple billion dollars to get their interurban diesels off the suburban network and out of the way of suburban services, which they were screwing up royally. I guess it comes down to whether you want slots taken up by a full size, full demand suburban EMU, or if you want the slot taken up by a little DMU serving one station. Naturally my choice is to have the full size, full demand EMU serve the one station as well.

        22. I guess they figure if they are building a fleet, going the diesel/wire version is cheaper and offers more range right now. For Auckland, I’m not sure that doing so makes sense. I’m not against a diesel/wire version though if it can be done easy enough by CAF. Using diesel on the non wired part offers a good compromise and is still has vastly lower CO2 emissions than a) the old ADL’s we have now and b) driving.

        23. Nick R: the bimodes that I was referring to are the local/provincial ones referred to in the Railway Gazette item above, being bought to extend operations to non-electrified lines (just like Pukekohe). The intercity IEP bimodes are a very different kettle of fish!

          Agreed the BART extension goes back a few years. They had to completely rebuild the whole line anyway so extending the electric service was technically perfectly feasible, but instead they established a separate diesel operation with a different gauge, precluding any through running.

        24. Mike “why aren’t others doing it”
          Maybe because battery tech is only really just becoming viable enough for these kinds of applications. Bet in 5-10 years time it will become much more common. AT seem to be looking closely at things like the development of electric cars with the likes of the Tesla giga factory making batteries much more affordable.

          As for why not a bimode electric/diesel train, that would require an entirely new design and probably wouldn’t be allowed in the CRL. Perhaps if we’re needed 30 it might different. The battery pack is designed as a bolt on unit to be added by taking it through the door of the trailer car. Batteries also don’t materially change depot processes and skillets like diesels would.

          I appreciate the scepticism but if AT and CAF are right on this, that would put Auckland at the front of some fairly cutting edge train tech, that’s not something we could ever have said before.

        25. The need to only have to build some overhead sections at stations would save a small fortune. The potential for service extensions is huge.

        26. In response to Nick R’s comments on Melbourne: there are 3 major projects which have been recently completed (Regional Rail Link separating diesel expresses from stop at all stations emus), or in planning/tendering stages (Melbourne Metro Rail and Sky Rail, both of which aim to boost capacity and reliability on the electric network). In all three cases, rough and tumble state politics between left and right, and their various lobby groups, typically biased and uneducated media encouraging the populace at large to take up pitch-forks, have resulted in compromised programmes. The Regional Rail Link as alluded to by Nick R has been less than perfect while the other two projects have many hoops to go through, not least the changing tides of opinion and politics before any measure of success is certain.

          For Auckland the lesson is: the longer it takes to build capacity in rail and rapid transit corridors, add new routes etc, the more expensive and controversial it will become.

        27. “Why can’t they just couple to a diesel engine and drag them to Pukekohe and back?”

          It depends what problem you are trying to solve. From a passenger perspective I would have thought that being able to stay on the same train and for the stop at Papakura to be of similar duration as others further down the line.

          From an AT standpoint I would think that being able to offer the above but at a lower cost than the current diesel shuttle operation would be the objectives.

          From an environmental perspective we are committed to reducing CO2 emissions and a reduction in particulates is desirable as well

          Coupling up a diesel locomotive to an EMU for the non-electrified section would, in my estimation, only achieve the objective of staying on the same train.

          Any diesel locomotives used on this service would have to be dedicated units to cater for the Scharfenberg couplers fitted to the EMUs and their various safety interlocks. Since there are no turntables at Papakura or Pukekohe I am thinking that the locomotives would require a cab at each end so the options would be for AT to buy 3 such locomotives (for the current train frequency) and arrange for their maintenance somewhere or to contract Kiwirail to modify 3 DL class locomotives to do the job (but since they are having more built for them at the moment it is assumed that an additional 3 would need to be built to replace them and in 2009 a standard DL cost $3.75 M so let’s assume $4M in today’s dollars and with the necessary mods implemented).

          The locomotives would, I suspect, require a separate dedicated crew from the EMU crew (who would deadhead between Papakura and Pukekohe).

          The track layout and signalling arrangements at both stations would need to change to accomodate pocket sidings for the locomotives and possibly revised crossovers. The train control arrangements would have to change as well (if my understanding of the block signalling arrangements are correct).

          The process of uncoupling the locomotive from a northbound train at Papakura, running up to a crossover and bringing it back on the southbound track to a pocket siding to await the process of coupling up to the next southbound train will invariably add several minutes delay to the passengers and a similar situation will apply at Pukekohe. In addition the regular occupation of both southbound and northbound tracks will result in a decrease in route capacity compared to EMUs operating striaight through.

          So…setting aside higher fuel costs, higher personnel costs, higher operating costs, higher maintenance costs, higher emissions, track civils costs, costs associated with train control changes and increased delays to passengers and possibly freights compared to the battery EMU option hauling the EMUs with diesels sounds great.

          The more I look at the EMU plus battery proposal the more I like it.

        28. MFD: in that hypothetical situation, organise it so that the loco can operate in multiple with the units (there are precedents overseas for that) and nearly all those operational issues vanish. No need for loops, double-ended locos, pocket sidings, running round, crossovers, occupation of both mains simultaneously…

          Doesn’t do anything for the other issues, though.

        29. MFD, I think the advocates for the drag the EMU option are basing their views on what KiwiRail did up until a couple of years ago hook and towing Ganz EMUs to the Wairarapa for the Toast Martinborough Wine and Food Festival. You’d need to look carefully at the operating practises used to see if practical for day to day commuter ops in Auckland – yes indeed that loco coupler for starters would need substantial modifications.

          I think the battery option is definitely worth very serious consideration. This technology across the board in transportation is going to receive massive R and D investment over the coming years, so why not get involved now – the product is only going to get better and better. So long as the commercial risks of engaging emerging technologies are understood and mitigated. When Papakura-Pukekohe-Hamilton is electrified, then it should be easy to remove the batteries or re-purpose the Battery EMUs to other outlying routes. Christchurch? Re-charge at Palmerston North station for a Waikanae shuttle to connect with Wellington’s EMU network?

        30. “organise it so that the loco can operate in multiple with the units”

          Not sure what you are proposing here; operating an EMU in multiple with a diesel between Papakura and Pukekohe is a bit of an oxymoron. The EMU has no power source so, unless you are advocating running a low voltage AC or DC bus from the alternator or rectifier of the diesel through all of the powercars of the EMU it is not MU operation on this section . Are you suggesting operating the EMU and diesel in a push-pull configuration? In which case you could keep the diesel running between Papakura and Britomart and shut it down for the CRL or shut it down for all but Papakura-Pukekohe. Either way, you are going to need around 12 locomotives which really only deliver any benefit for around 25% of their journey. Most of the time they are a useless 120 tonne dead weight tying up $3.5M to $4M of capital for each locomotive.

          Any configuration involving using diesel locomotives to haul (or push) EMUs is a violation of the KISS principle and is going to to be unnecessarily complicated and expensive to operate.

        31. MFD: I’m saying that a much simpler method of operation would be: at Papakura the southbound EMU draws up to a waiting diesel loco, which then pulls the EMU to Pukekohe, and pushes it back to Papakura controlled from the EMU cab, perhaps driven by the EMU driver both ways. The loco is uncoupled from the northbound EMU at Papakura: the next southbound EMU couples to it, and repeat. Requires minimum locos, minimum shunting, minimum infrastructure changes, short dwell time at at Papakura.

          Whether it would be sensible/economic is another matter entirely.

        32. “The need to only have to build some overhead sections at stations would save a small fortune.”

          The proposed battery EMUs are viable because on the almost 2 hour return journey to/from Papakura the battery is on charge. The battery discharge occurs over about 30 minutes. Obtaining sufficient charge at a station for the subsequent journey to the next station is a different proposition altogether.

        33. Not convinced that you would save much, longstanding Mike. You would avoid the run-around but it’s alternate trains that go on to Pukekohe and there are freight trains passing through. It takes around 15 minutes for Papakura-Pukekohe and assuming 5 to10 minutes for the turnaround it becomes apparent that 2 diesels would be in use simultaneously. Under your operating scheme each of those locos would spend nearly 30 minutes of each hour stationary and crewless on the mainline. Workable?

        34. MFD: it’s not a proposal, merely a simplified version of the scenario that you described at 17.56, minimising the operating costs and all but eliminating the substantial infrastructure changs that you saId wold be necessary.

          And please reread my caveat!

        35. Mike, I am arguing that your hypothetical, suboptimal, non-recommended scheme is only marginally less suboptimal than my hypothetical, suboptimal, non-recommended scheme whereas you are arguing that yours is significantly less suboptimal. I say yours is a bit of a train wreck because there would be locos abandonned on the main line…it’s just not good railway etiquette! (and will probably get them wheel clamped or towed…or something).

        36. @Nick, BEMU are probably not very common due to a few factors 1) Battery technology has only very recently reached the point where they have the capacity and density to be feasible along with battery costs finally coming down.
          2) most other networks have electrified already where needed so anything further is typically done with a DMU. In our case we are talking about a relatively short distance to just extend the network reach a little.
          3) as this is a relatively new technology in terms of trains the above reasons along with development costs gave probably made it quite a big ask until now.

        37. NZTA have acknowledged some considerable time ago that the bridge at Drury needs rebuilding and that they will have to pay for it.

          It’s just when it will be done that hasn’t been decided.

  5. I don’t believe the figures for Sunnynook. For a start, despite buses often going past full in the morning peak it seems to be busier than ever. Secondly, even though the figures might be calculated slightly differently from last year I believe the numbers have been transposed between Sunnynook and Smales Farm for 2014/15. Look back to your post in January of the 2015 figures for the two stations. They were 339701 for Sunnynook and 407916 for Smales Farm.
    In your post today the figures are 380816 and 327216 respectively for 2014/15. Clearly they have been reversed. Both stations have had an increase in keeping with the increasing busway numbers I believe.

    And as for counting going from a busway station to a “ward” in Auckland. Surely that is hit and miss. I have made a number of journeys from Sunnynook to Glen Innes railway station using ATHOP (and return ones). No records in the matrix provided!

    1. Regarding rail figures, I guess these figures are estimates or I don’t understand in regards to “transfer is included as a new boarding” as the “tag-ons” are the same figures as the “with Tranfsers” in the xlsx for a lot of the stations where you can transfer but don’t normally (eg Westfield transferring from eastern heading south to southern heading north). They seem to assume all the eastern to souther done at Puhinui? You are not meant to tag on off with rail transfers so I guess they can’t really tell apart from timings.

      1. The numbers are actuals not estimates but they have assumed where a transfer will take place i.e. if you tag on at a western line station and tag off at a southern line station they assume you’ve transferred at Newmarket. For transfers between Southern Line and Eastern Line services they assume it happens at Puhinui but yes could happen at any of the stations between there and Westfield.

        1. And of course nobody in their right mind would transfer at Puhinui when safer stations like Papatoetoe or Otahuhu are available

  6. Of course these are the first figures since pretty much a full year on fully electrified network (except Puke of course). When was the Western running electric only service? Random other thought: Would be good to get the Sylvia Park proper bus interchange & improved ped/cycle links going sooner rather than later, I suspect more people use this for commute/kiss and ride than just shopping (or as well as) than people think.

  7. Anyone know what’s driving the increase at Sylvia Park? It appears to have gone past Glen Innes. I wonder if it’s a popular commuter station or whether there’s been a significant increase from shoppers using it. Would be interesting to see Mon – Fri numbers vs weekend numbers.

    1. I would like to see access to Carbine Rd built from S Park station would expand catchment for low cost. A real low hanging fruit on the network tbh

      1. Yes, especially as the elevated South Eastern Arterial has that peculiar raised full width footpath shoulder thing a mere 15m away from the Sylvia Park station footbridge, which could easily serve as a footpath with the addition of a fence.

        In fact it could go both ways, east to Carbine Rd, and west to Aranui, both only 3-400m away.

        1. Yes there is that oddity, or just a connection east to join the current elevated access… some private land etc, but it would also make for Mall access, hard to object to…

  8. The beauty of Sylvia Park is that you don’t have to drive your kids there to go to the movies. Put them on the train watch the movie come home. None of the other movie places in the south can you do that with as easily. My sub driving teens learnt that quickly.

    1. Good point. I personally think sylvia park has been really good for that part of auckland in general and eastern line in particular. It needed an anchor between britomart and manukau.

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