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For a long time I have been fascinated with Tilt trains, I have now decided to write a post about them. For those that don’t know a tilting train is a train that is designed to tilt with the curve as banking around it. Think of it this way, when you are riding a bike as you move into a corner you tilt inwards which allows you to take the corner better at a higher speed. By tilting the train combats the centripetal force which causes inertia e.g. when standing you losing balance as you come around a curve. So when the curve goes to the right, the train tilts right, making a more comfortable ride as well as allowing faster speeds.

In Queensland there are two regional lines that run tilt trains, an Electric tilt train entering service 1998 built by Walkers, who are now owned by Downer (Tilt Train) service between Brisbane to Rockhampton covering 638km in in 7h45min, & a Diesel tilt train entering service 2003 built by Downer (Spirit of Queensland) between Brisbane and Cairns covering 1680km in 12h20min. They both have revenue top speed of 160km/h, however the Electric Tilt train holds the Australian record in a speed run hitting nearly 210 km/h just north of Bundaberg. The yellow boxes in the first attached timetable are the tilt train times, while the blue is the standard diesel, notice the 1h5m-1h50m difference in times.

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image-3You are asking why does this matter, Australia has completely different infrastructure to New Zealand, we could never make those speeds. What if I told you these run on Queensland’s rail network, which is 1067mm Cape Gauge (Narrow Gauge) the exact same as us, as well as for the Electric Tilt Train using 25 kV AC Overhead lines the same used on Auckland Electrification, and the NIMT Te Rapa-Palmerston North Electrification.

So could tilt trains be used here, Britomart to Hamilton is over 138.7km, at current there is a 87.1 km electrification gap from Papakura to Te Rapa & 60km gap if electrification to Puke goes ahead. An estimate of the cost of electrifying the former was $433m, however this was 2008 and the actual report is hard to track down. There is also a single track section between Te Kauwhata & Amokura that should also realistically be duplicated.

Interestingly I looked into CAF, who built our Class AM EMU’s, they offer tilt train technology which they call SIBI, recently they have provided 8 Diesel tilt trains to Sardinia for $88m NZD, so they have experience in designing and building using this technology.

http://www.caf.net/en/innovacion-tecnologia/productos-tecnologicos/sibi.php

http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/rolling-stock/new-sardinian-dmus-to-enter-service-in-december.html

So we have a few options depending on the level of works you want to do, however I will simplify to two as examples

  1. Go all out, finish the electrification, upgrade a few stations Huntly, Te Rapa, Hamilton (There is a underground station that exists however is closed at current, double track Te Kauwhata & Amokura, complete the 3rd main (At the very least to Westfield), plus complete any other signal/track upgrades needed. These upgrades minus the stations would benefit freight speed/capacity as well, and many would argue are needed eventually regardless of intercity passenger services being introduced. This would be a quick, clean, modern comfortable service, if built with good windows (Because everyone loves a view), in train wifi, USB charging in the seats, as well as passenger trays for a laptop to watch a movie/catch up on emails, this service could be very competitive with driving.
  2. Start Small, procure from CAF, or another company some DMU tilt trains, upgrade a few Waikato stations, double track Te Kauwhata & Amokura while completing any track/signal upgrades necessary. Over time add upgrades depending on success.

So what do you think, have something like the below running to/from Hamilton, could technology like this give the Expressway a run for its money?

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86 comments

  1. What sort of run time to Hamilton would you anticipate?
    Crickey if they have them in Sardina rather embarrassing that transport options are so limited here in a supposedly developed economy.

  2. My only experiences with tilting trains (the Pendolino run by Virgin in the UK) made me horribly motion sick. Enjoyed the speed, hated the sickness. Note, I am v. prone to motion sickness but generally don’t experience it on non-tilting trains.

      1. The APT famously tried to fully cancel out the corning forces with tilt which subsequently was discovered to be why so many users reported feeling ill. I understand modern tilting trains only cancel out some of the “felt” corning forces, to make it more comfortable for the customers but while still conveying to the brain the sensation of going around a corner. With the ATP the eyes told the brain that you were corning, but the brain says that doesn’t compute with the G-metres in the ears and then throws a wobbly!

        I have also heard that tilt doesn’t allow faster speeds for rollingstock as it does little to help keep the bogie on the track or reduce the wear on the track , but tilt does allow speeds that wouldn’t be possible for customer comfort reasons otherwise.

        1. I worked as an engineer on the commissioning team of the APT in the 1980’s. “Tilt sickness” was not a big problem, though certainly affected a proportion of travellers. Had the project not been canned in 1985 (just as our team started to get on top of the teething problems!), the plan was to reduce the amount of tilt so as not-to-try and compensate cant deficiency entirely. When the Fiat Pendolino came along a decade later they did this and I have not heard any more about Tilt Sickness.

          The sad part was, British Rail put all that work into developing the tilt-train concept, only to throw in the towel (Govt decision) and allow other countries to grab the idea and supply the world. Shades of Chinese, Korean and Spanish-made rollingstock here!

          1. I’ve found the sickness entirely absent on some trains (particularly new Japanese and Russian tilts) but had a horrible time on the Swedish X2000, never felt so rank in my life.

    1. I’ve caught tilt trains on a near weekly basis between Basel SBB – Neuchatel – Geneva in the past few years I was living back there. You really don’t notice the curves.

      This makes sense for Hamilton – AKL and possibly extending across to Tauranga/the Mount. Perhaps buy some diesel sets initally that can be moved to other regions later as electrification is extended.

  3. The line from Auckland to Hamilton us reasonably high speed anyway and well maintained. What brings speed down us section between Te Kauwhata and Meremere being single line built in swamp. The rest would be issues of being held up by slower freight and local commuter trains. But given the desire yes it’d work at least two trips either way would secure patronage and support. Wellington service capital coast fights for survival whilst the Wairarapa services are well patronized. Three trains a day more options etc

  4. I think pushing for electrifying the gap is a realistic option. This then helps keep the EF’s in operation and we can upgrade the line (and EF’s) to allow them to run right into Akl. I understand that right now there are some limitations for the EF’s that mean the Akl electric network creates issues. Fault triggers or something like that? Amperage differences?

    1. Even if the tooth fairy came through with funding to electrify the gap, I don’t think the EFs would be at the top of the queue in the long run. They’re well past it and it’s probably only the fact that the electrified section is so limited that stops complete replacement from having already been done. That is to say, if there were no gap in the wires, there would already be electric DL-alikes on order, because they’d be worth the effort.

      1. Many other railways would have given their “EF’s” a half-life overhaul by now, and have them performing well for another 25 years.

  5. Isn’t much of the line between Auckland and Hamilton fairly straight anyway? Tilt is used on West Coast in the UK for example as there are very few straight bits of track for parts of the route. I would say electrification with 160km/h trains and most importantly some serious money spent on the track itself (and its formation) to allow these speeds would probably deliver most of the benefits. With Auckland not having enough houses, providing fast intercity journeys for commutes under 1.5 hours is something the central government should really be prioritising.

    The elephant in the room is how you get these intercity trains from Papakura to Britomart without too many delays. If they left just before a stopper from Papakura then they probably wouldn’t have caught up with the next one (10mins ahead in peak) far before Homai, then onto the 3rd Main which would probably need a fly over to connect it to the Sylvia Park line at Westfield and timed so the trains slot in just before a stopper service heading to Britomart via Tamaki. This could be made to work if everybody pulled in the same direction. I am amazed that no political party is pushing this as a solution to Auckland’s housing (not apartment) problem. Most other cities have feeder towns with decent high-ish speed fast trains feeding the CBD, for those people who don’t want to live in small townhouses/apartments near to the city centre.

    1. The elephant has a friend – let’s say, a rhinoceros – who wants to know where these trains are going to terminate. The obvious answer is the terminal platforms at Britomart, but they’re booked up until possibly a couple of years after the CRL opens, when the final track layout that makes the terminal platforms useful is to be complete. By that time, the third main(s) may well extend from Glen Innes to Papakura – satisfying both the elephant and the rhinoceros. That’s the thing, though. An intercity service of some kind is needed much sooner than 2024. Tilt trains and third mains will be great in due course, but I really hope some of these TRON campaigners are brainstorming solutions that are feasible now or at least soon.

      1. I’d assumed that this electrification to Hamilton would not be completed before CRL (of course it should have been done long before, but lets be realistic), and my understanding is that the 2 terminating platforms at Britomart post-CRL are designed for such long distance. If such a service does start sooner, it could either terminate at Papakura, Otahuhu (on a new platform) or Strand, so there are options (not ideal, but which work as an interim solution).

        1. Indeed, electrification isn’t happening any sooner than those other requirements, so as a set they would be ideal. None of this is short term stuff – ordering trains, signalling upgrades, station upgrades, finding the cash, etc. I feel like the best way to accelerate these longer term opportunities is to start ASAP with something a bit lower down the fanciness ladder – but not so low as to be abandoned prematurely like previous trials and attempts, mind you. It’s a tricky balance and has gone wrong in the past. That old gem comes to mind – don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

          1. I think there is a real risk that if this service was introduced without an anchor station like Britomart it could fail, which could put AKL – HAM rail back a long way, I think it is one that is worth getting right (not necessarily perfect of course!)

            Just out of interest, if I am right most diesel trains are actually diesel-electric, does this mean a pantograph could be put on top for them to run underground into Britomart? Or is it a bit more complicated than that?

          2. So what do you suggest would be the asap way to go? Getting some of the lower cost infrastructure sorted out, such as the 3rd main or perhaps starting a minimal cost intercity AK-Ham service using the 3 KR diesel railcars with maybe a strand Ak terminus?

          3. Jezza – most are diesel-electric and there are increasing numbers of hybrids that have some combination of diesel power and pantograph electric power (eg Hitachi Class 800) Some passenger DMUs are diesel-hydraulic, including Auckland’s ADL fleet.

          4. Dgd – I can think of two ways with the least resource demands. 1. as per Wellington’s locomotive hauled regional services using some of the still-not-gone SA/SD stock. Some work may be required to make them sufficiently suitable for inter city use, but the cost would be tiny compared to most of the alternatives. 2. Progressive southward expansion of the current ADL Pukekohe shuttle service. There are surplus units ready to go and qualified drivers who would leap at the opportunity (same for SA/SD and ADL). There would be a number of hidden issues to overcome like pulling staff away from the already established and funded Auckland Metro operations, and infrastructure at the Waikato end, but they are problems that have to be overcome with any service that might be proposed. This wouldn’t be a sexy new extravaganza of bling and Euro-swish like electric tilt trains would be and there would be all the same whining that the Pukekohe, Wairarapa and Manawatu services get, but it could prove to offer bang for buck and it can be done maybe within a year if the will can be stoked.

          5. Yes, a few refurbed SA and SD with a few repurposed DC or DFTs would/should be nice and much cheaper then new swish emus or dmus. So it would be issues with staffing and probably some sudsidy from Waikato/Akl councils to cover costs/KR fees
            If the will was there to try this then this could probably be done within 6 to 12 months

          6. Dgd – look at the reliability and on-time performance of the metro rail network in Auckland since going all EMUs – it has jumped from low 80%’s to high 90%’s and this is key to continuing ridership growth. The last thing they need are old diesel loco hauled long distance trains with worse acceleration and reliability clogging up the few remaining paths. Do it properly with high spec DMUs or EMUS or DEMUs or terminate at Papakura.

          7. Trundler, I agree that the best would be new emus or dmus for the intercity service, but I also think that we should get something going asap using low cost resources available now.
            The DC locos and SA/SD sets or ADL sets would be a great start, the silver fern railcars even better but these seem to be committed to other services
            If nothing else to prove the need for intercity and encourage patronage. If proved then this would encourage planing better/faster dmus or completing electrificarion to Hamilton and emus, perhaps tilting types and 160km speeds.
            I also think the future event CRL completion should not be an excuse to get something going.
            Loco hauled freight services already slot into the nimt to POA so despite the plans for 10tph emus,or whatever, the existing rail bandwidth should permit some intercity routing.
            Failing that then Papakura/Otahuhu looks promising

    2. Trundler there sounds like there is lots of support of a 1.5 hour service, what sort of support would there be for a more realistic 2.5 hour service? The service would need to stop at Ngaruawahia, Huntly and Pokeno as a minimum (any more and it slows the service, less looses to much potential catchment) before at least one stop on the current Auckland network (to allow for those not wanting to go to Britomart, the further south the better)

      1. 1 to 1.5 hours would be the sweet spot for places to live for a rail commuter, somewhere between Hamilton and Auckland. I don’t think many people would want to live in Hamilton CBD and work in Auckland CBD, so probably acceptable for full length of route to be a bit longer!

      1. Absolutely. Keep it simple. Also at the other end. 1 hour Te Rapa (right behind The Base?) to Otahuhu.

        If it had a reasonable frequency (at least hourly) it could be hugely valuable for day time business travel to/from Hamilton. Put the opportunity cost of substituting three mind numbing hours doing nothing but driving with productive time in the business case.

        Is there any way it could start next year, rather than 2030.. has QR got any second hand half decent diesel sets?

  6. Great discussion. I think this is such an opportunity. Imagine what faster, reliable, frequent trains could do for development between Auckland and Hamilton.
    But not sure tilt trains are necessarily needed.
    As with all discussions, it starts to raise all sorts of questions on how this could be achieved.
    I think the biggest challenge is managing longer distance trains with shorter distance ones. You don’t want a train coming from Hamilton having to stop at every Auckland station. Even travelling from Pukekohe you need a fast, express service. But this can’t happen until we build a 3rd (and possibly even 4th) line.
    I think this is the priority.

  7. A brilliant idea that has been essayed here and elsewhere repeatedly. Unfortunately those that make the decisions in this country regarding rail specifically and transport generally have the experience of a stay-at-home cost accountant, the depth of vision of a mole, the understanding of a flea, the business sense of a bankrupt, the ecological awareness of a coal miner and the communality of a tick. We need only look at NZTA/AT’s recent decision to can any heavy rail proposal to the airport or the board of KiwiRail’s decision to abandon electrification of the NIMT in favour of more diesel-powered locomotives.

  8. What is the condition of our regional tracks? I have heard a lot of naysayers to trains mention that we cannot have fast trains as the condition is horrible, and it would be simply too dangerous to send trains quickly.

    Is there more info on what the case is with this?

    1. Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga is kept in pretty good nick. The Silver Fern readily manages the 110km/h maximum between Auckland and Hamilton where it’s possible and permitted to do so. The Auckland EMUs have lead the way in re-examining how speeds limits are applied on the railway in that ETCS and the higher calibre of design allows them to be exempted from the fundamental limits that all other rail traffic must adhere to. EMUs are allowed to travel above the mandated curve and medium speeds in a number of locations – modern tilt trains may get the same allowances because they don’t impose the same forces as a fully laden freight train.

      1. How realistic would it be to have trains running at 130kmh on significant sections of AKL – HAM track? I imagine this would make the service quite competitive.

        1. Depending on the rolling stock it’s possible, but would those peak speeds last for long enough to be worth pursuing? I don’t know. The Silver Fern chaps would be the most familiar with the route at that end of the speed spectrum. As per other comments here and there, it’s the not slowing down that does the most to reduce the trip time.

          1. That’s the point of tilt trains, at least under the Japanese model. The point isn’t that they can do 160km/h on the straight, but rather that they sit at a consistent 120-130km/h including through curvy sections.

  9. Great post, I’ve long been in interested in tilt trains, could be a very nice solution. Extending the wires from Te Rapa to Papakura seems like common sense, although some might argue that to capture full benefits of electrifying the NIMT, you should also electrify to BOP, as that would avoid the need for any loco swaps. That would allow an electric tilt train service to Tauranga too, which would make the service more viable. Obviously a lot more costly and not sure if there’s enough clearance in the Kaimai Tunnel?

  10. Interesting proposal. An essential consideration is how much time would be saved – any thoughts on that?

    Since the blue times in those timetables are faster than the yellow ones, I think you’ve got the tilt/standard distinction the wrong way round.

    1. going on those queensland distances a diesel one could cover the wellington run in about 8hrs. much better than the existing scenic stock and a real point of difference over 12 hours on a nakedbus.

      1. But what about between Auckland and Hamilton, the route under discussion?

        Not forgetting that the current infrastucture is designed for 110/120km/h maximum, so that would be the limit for tilt train operation unless the track/signalling were upgraded as necessary.

        1. The great merit of tilt trains is that it is the curves where they get their speed advantage. Even without changing the line speed, they just don’t have to slow down as much. I don’t think it would be possible to reliably speculate on how much in this case without doing a route survey with these exact questions in mind. It’s the state of things below the rail that make the difference to allowable speed, as much as what’s running on the top.

          1. Agreed, JC, but there’s no way that the extra cost and weight of tilt trains can be justified without knowing what the benefits would be.

  11. Great article, well done. Here’s a diesel tilt train for parts of New Zealand with no wires. This train is currently available “off the shelf” in Japan and has exactly the same rail dimensions as New Zealand. You can see this is no “bullet train” line, it’s on crappy narrow gauge.

    1. Japan has some excellent tilt trains running on secondary narrow gauge lines (electric and diesel), although one issue is their loading gauge is quite a bit bigger than ours so we wouldn’t be able to just buy one off the shelf. Actually as we have a very similar loading gauge to Britain it would probably be best to buy some Voyagers or similar with different track gauge instead.

      1. NR: anyone who’s travelled in a Voyager might well disagree with you (noisy, vibrations,, claustrophobic are common descriptions) – and the tilting ones have all had their tilt capability turned off.

        But I’m still unsure about whether tilt would give any significant time savings between Auckland and Hamilton, even if you could get such a train into Britomart or overcome the time taken and inconvenience of terminating short of there.

  12. Great to see the discussion taking place. I think any commitment to Auckland – Hamilton has to be a long term one with a realisation that it will likely take a decade to build the sort of market needed to support a train service. Looking at the operating economics, it has to be electric EMUs to allow the frequencies needed at an economic price. Therefore, we are talking electrification.

    Ontrack I believe did a report costing electrification to Hamilton and Tauranga at $2 billion. Yes a big number, but not in comparison with the Waikato Expressway and the other RONS Projects. Electric freight locos cost substantially less to operate per km compared to higher-end diesels such as DLs or DX variants. In the long term, the electrification of the combined freight and passenger operation of the core upper North Island network in combination with the existing Auckland and Central North Island 25kV networks, will be money well spent.

    1. I would have agreed with you re building the demand a couple of years ago. However, the growth in people commuting from the northern suburbs of Hamilton combined with the dramatic growth in commute times on the Southern Motorway recently suggests this may have already become viable. The problem at the moment appears to be the lack of platforms at Britomart, express tracks in Auckland and freight priority on the NIMT.

  13. You’re a breath of fresh air to the blog Harriet!

    But of course whenever the issue of using the rail network for modern passenger operations comes up, I’m going to jump on my open access hobby horse. Currently the network is at the mercy of a state-owned monopoly, and whilst access can be negotiated by other operators, the monopoly will charge like a wounded bull for anything and everything it can charge for. You end up with whatever is proposed being unviable.

    The network needs to be “unbundled” by having a publicly-owned, unbiased network provider, with equal opportunity access for any accredited operator to use, be it publicly or privately owned.

    Imagine what the state of our telecommunications network would be if it was still a single government-run monopoly. We would all still be using rotary phones and dial-up.

    It won’t be easy getting regular high-speed passenger trains on this particular line. Currently, at any one time, there are generally four or five freights using the line. That fast passenger train will come up behind one fairly quickly, and KiwiRail are not going to want to put their freights into passing loops all the time. Bi-directional signalling is useful, but not so much if you have plenty of trains going both ways. So, triple tracking of much of the line may be needed. Add to that the cost of maintaining track suitable for 160km/h, and you’re going to have both high CAPEX and OPEX, that won’t be able to be recovered from users, as patronage wouldn’t be high enough even with the best of efforts. I would stick with conventional trains for now. 110km/h if maintained along much of the line, is still pretty good.

    1. I’d say somewhere in between – 130kmh. There will be some catching up with freight trains, but with well positioned loops this could be minimised. I think if it can be done in two hours with a number of stops it would be very viable.

        1. Do you recall how often and where it stopped? I imagine it would have been a bit less often than a AKL – HAM commuter train would, also it would have been in the days of less congestion between downtown and Papakura, so it might need a bit more top speed to make up for this. I agree though if it is realistic to achieve two hours with 110kmh running then we should do it first then improve speeds at a later date to make it even quicker.

          1. The bus takes between 1hr 50mins and 2hrs depending on time of day and costs between $1 and $20.
            To compete, the train would need to be significantly faster and cost similar.
            I doubt it could be done economically.
            A passenger train Auckland-Tuakau would make sense, as Tuakau is a reasonable distance to the motorway, and there are already people commuting to Pukekohe to catch the train.

          2. Rubbish, I caught the bus on a Sunday afternoon, zero congestion and that took over 2 hours. At peak times it takes over 3 boys to do the drive without dropping into Papakura and Manukau.

            The best thing about a train isn’t that it doesn’t take much time but that it always takes the same time.

          1. You clearly don’t regularly sit on the Southern Motorway with no other choice to get to Auckland bemoaning the lack of a train like my partner and I do.

          2. Anything under 2 hours to CBD, including a transfer at Otahuhu, would be a pretty good time at anything close to peak, right?

    2. Perhaps we need better quality electric or diesel locos for freight movements too? This will required upgraded wagons as well. Expensive in the short term, but longer term it provides better asset utilisation as the turn around will be significantly faster.

      1. In the past KiwiRail/its predecessors have had specially maintained wagons capable of running at 90km/h in freight trains and 100km/h in passenger trains rather than the standard 80km/h, but no longer, I think. DLs are limited to 80km/h, but other mainline locos can run at passenger speeds.

    3. With several passing loops, crossovers between up and down mains and suitable signalling, the insertion of higher speed passenger trains into a predominantly slower freight line should be fairly straightforward. The Ak to Hamilton line is not exactlyl filled with freight traffic.
      Of course higher speed freights will ease traffic issues but probably not worth the cost,

    1. On the contrary it’s a great solution.

      Traditional railways, especially in hilly countries with low population density, are far too windy to be ran at decent speed. Building new railways to get to higher speeds is prohibitively expensive. At the sametime, it’s not very economical to run slow passenger trains in the developed world.

      Tilting trains allow you to run fast trains on old railways.

  14. Major problem though. You’re stuck doing ~40km/h average on your way out of Auckland, as you’re surrounded by commuter traffic. Even out of Auckland you need to be timetabled around freight traffic.

    Won’t work without a third track through Auckland, and probably quite a bit of additional junction/siding work along the route.

    1. 3rd or 4th track(s) through most of the metro area is needed to avoid the 10 (or possibly in the future 5) minute stopping services, but south of Papakura, it is perfectly possible to share the railway with the amount of freight that this country moves on the rail network. Most much larger countries do not have 3 or 4 track mainlines outside of their major cities and manage to share OK.

    1. NZ has no shortage of electricity. The problem is where it is being used. Tiwai Pt is essentially a huge welfare payout to Southland / Invercargill. If / when it closes there can be plenty of hydro power available. And less smelter fueled pollution.

      1. “New Zealand Aluminium Smelters has a contract for electricity supply with Meridian Energy for the continuous supply of 572 megawatts” (Wikipedia) (But I also see 400 quoted post deal, so the numbers drop)
        572,000 kWh minimum supply, at say $0.03 per kWh savings (That’s a guess as it depends on reducing the spot pricing increase)
        That’s ~ $17,000/h of spot price demand, which might be say 8 hr per day (4 each morning and evening)
        ~110,000 / day * 365 = ~$40,000,000 per year.
        The plant employs (supposedly) ~800 people
        Assuming those people make $50,000 per year or more, it’s a net benefit to the economy to have the plant
        IF you ignore all secondary benefit both for and against.

        Anyone got a way to firm up numbers?

  15. Great post, Harriet!

    For those people wanting numbers, here’s a back of the envelope calculation. Japan Rail in Hokkaido also runs diesel tilt trains on exactly the same narrow gauge as us, with a top speed of 130km/h. They shaved 30 minutes off the 319km trip from Sapporo to Hakodate, which now takes just over 3 and a half hours, including a dozen intermediate stops. This is an average speed, including stops, of 86 km/h.

    That’s on a route possibly even windier than ours, although fully double-tracked. If we could manage the same average speed and stop spacing we’d have 5 intermediate stops and go from Britomart to Hamilton in 1 hour and 38 minutes.

  16. Just from a practical / not ideal stand point, wouldn’t it be better to say run a bus service Hamilton to Pukekohe that continues to Manukau and the Airport?
    Basically an integrated fare where you get on from maybe 3 destinations in Hamilton or one at Huntly (and maybe Pokeno).

    You could then seamlessly transfer to a waiting Pukekohe – Papakura – Otahuhu – Britomart / Strand diesel or future battery electric express.
    Or stay on the bus and reach Manukau and the Airport direct and express.
    Hamilton: Ruakura / Uni, CBD, Te Rapa; no cash fares only smartcard / HOP.
    In the distant future these 3 stops can be replaced by train stations.

    This is all using existing infrastructure – Expressway + Rail.
    Put a fraction of the cost of electrification / double tracking into the service; wifi / USB / charging, recliner chairs, pull down tables, large storage internal / external, WCs, be allowed to eat / drink on the service with the exact same standard for the train service too.

    Essentially buy in a modern fleet of bus coaches and use diesel / battery electric trains to get you Hamilton to Pukekohe to Otahuhu / Akl CBD one transfer or Manukau / Airport direct.

    Expressway where it is uncongested, bypass with Rail where it is congested.

    1. I concur John. It’s crazy to think that there are not coaches already going from Hamilton to AKL Int. They should not compete against rail but offer a complimentary service to rail for those or a budget or just do not like trains for whatever reason.

      1. There are already direct coaches between Hamilton and Auckland Airport, operated by Intercity, taking 1h 45min four times a day, plus connections at Manakau between Hamilton-Auckland coaches and bus 380.

  17. I would absolutely love to see a new commuter line to Hamilton…If the Waiarapa can do it (Only has a few thousand people) then why not Waikato?
    Imagine the property boom in Ngaruawahia and Huntly. Regarding Britomart being full to capacity, is it possible to use Newmarket as the terminating point until the CRL is built?

    1. Newmarket currently has 30TPH (15 in each direction) so not really any spare capacity there either, it would need to be The Strand if you want close to the CBD but there is no link to Britomart for those wanting to go there. There will need to be at least one stop on the current metro network for those that want to to go somewhere other than the CBD so that station may as well be the terminating station, Papakura or Otahuhu would be the best options.

      1. Yeah the strand is an issue, but eventually Parnell station will also be not that far away, likewise the events centre and University. A stop at Puinui with a bus shuttle to the Airport would be ideal.

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