Occasionally Auckland Transport will publish reports that originally went to their closed after they’re no longer deemed to be confidential. One of these released recently was a deep dive into ATs rail infrastructure and contained quite a bit of interesting but somewhat wonky information, particularly around rail related assets AT have.

With rail, Kiwirail own the tracks, signalling and overhead lines while AT own the trains, stations and other amenities associated with providing rail service.

The paper only looks at the AT aspects. In total, there are 57 electric trains, 10 diesel trains (for the Papakura to Pukekohe services), 40 stations across the network with 55 individual ticket gates across four of them and AT say there are 34 more on order. In total AT’s rail assets are valued at just under $1 billion and a breakdown of that is below.


In an age where multi-hundred dollar and even billion plus transport projects are now common, it seems almost quaint to remember that Britomart only cost a few hundred million to build. It would be interesting to see how the project would have stacked up under the current economic assessment criteria given what we know has happened since it was completed.

On the stations, they say as most are relatively new/recently upgraded as part of improvement works, they have a somewhat artificial “as new” state. Although interestingly they also say that while they’re functional, they “lack the amenity value expected of modern platforms. In particular, there is limited protection from the weather on or approaching most stations“. This is an issue I raised the other day. They also say

Renewals begin from 2021. Station cost for older stations is limited to cleaning and minor maintenance (approximately $150,000 pa) while platforms containing escalators / lifts, glass finishes and on-platform amenities (such as Panmure) rise to approximately $750,000 pa. Total station maintenance cost is approx. $3 million pa.

Below is their forecast for the condition of rail assets out to 2028.


For the trains, the purchase agreement will see the manufacturer CAF responsible for maintaining them based on a rate per train/ kilometre. AT say the cost for the EMUs last year was $12 million and is expected to be $13.5 million for the 2016/17 year due to the increase in services. The document also points out that the trains ran 3.8 million km last year.

On top of these maintenance costs, AT say the annual depreciation is $42.5 million

As mentioned earlier, Kiwirail are responsible for the tracks, signals and overhead lines. AT pay Kiwirail a track access fee to cover their portion of the costs of running the network. For the first time the details of how it is determined how much AT pay is available. This is shown below.

  • Track use split – based on kilometres per annum, changed to 89.5% AT / 10.5% KiwiRail (was previously 88% / 12%)
  • Track maintenance split – based on gross tonne kilometres per annum, changed to 66.3% AT / 33.7% KiwiRail (was previously 56% / 44%)
  • Overhead Lines Maintenance – 100% AT, KiwiRail do not operate electric locomotives in Auckland

While we don’t know the exact figures for these costs, the total amount AT have paid since 2013 along with the budget for the year to June are shown below.


Given the general state of the tracks, clearly a lot more investment is needed. It would be interesting to know how much more Kiwirail would need to spend to get the tracks up to a decent condition

Seemingly in addition to the tracks, the ongoing costs to support the ETCS (European Train Control System) are expected to be about $1 million per year.

AT don’t say how much it costs to run things like CCTV or the HOP infrastructure at stations but do say the OPEX of gating stations is about $500,000 per year primarily due to needing to man the gates.

Looking forward, the report notes that ATAP suggests up to $3 billion of investment will be needed over the next 30 years and includes up to 63 more trains, a second depot, level crossing removal and of course a third and even fourth main in the south. The ATAP table describing this is below.


The major issue though is that other than the CRL, currently only around $150 million has been budgeted in the Council’s Long Term Plan. This along with the investment since AT took over in 2010 is shown below. As you can see, AT spent $737 million from November 2010 to June 2016 but if you exclude the EMU related costs, it equates to $164 million.


All up an interesting paper, if you’re interested in some of the behind the scenes costs for rail in Auckland.

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  1. Given trains have right of way, why do new road crossings of the railway come out of the rail budget? Surely this should come from the much larger roading budget?

    1. This is a problem that derives from the silly hypothecation of funds into ‘road’ and ‘rail’, instead of evaluating all projects against the same criteria (criteria that don’t bias roads of course as is the case currently), I’m sure level crossing removal would stack up well against a lot of roading projects. You’d be able to remove a lot with the 2+ billion being wasted on the Onehunga/Manukau harbour freeway for example.

  2. Nothing there about the SA and SD carriages that are in storage. Or do these not belong to AT as they are also not in the expenditure info.

  3. Interesting bunch of data; thanks for putting it out there, Matt!

    I do think it’s a bit of a worry that there isn’t more of a forward budget for rail improvements. It’s natural that CRL will consume a lot of the available capital, but there are a number of small issues on the rail network that need to be proactively addressed for it to keep working well.

    Based on the October patronage data, rail added 2.8 million trips last year to hit 17.6 million annual boardings. AT’s expecting the rail network to carry a total of 19.5 million passengers during the current financial year. But how much more will it be able to grow after this point? I have a nagging worry that we’re going to see a lull in patronage growth starting in about 1-2 years and lasting until CRL is complete.

  4. Interesting data on capital spend. $113,000 listed for “Rail Crossing Separation” is in fact for minor safety improvements of existing level crossings – the $25.7 million for future expenditure would only pay for one actual grade separation. Apart from the already budgeted Sarawia Street crossing (listed as “Newmarket Crossing”) which is a snip at just $7 million there is no other funding for grade separating our level crossings at the very time that our cousins in Melbourne (admitedly larger and wealthier) are investing $AU 2 billion in their program of level crossing removal (with more to ear marked for future decades). Hopefully Auckland’s next ten year plan will include many times the current allocation – say $30-35 million per year for ten straight years, which with matching government funding would be enough to deal to most if not all of our level crossings by 2028.

    1. Surely there are some candidate crossings to be closed rather than grade separated which must be the cheapest option e.g. Morningside as this blog proposed. If it’s closed to vehicle traffic but a grade separated walking and cycling link is created this would be (marginally) more expensive but might deliver much better outcomes from both an access and a traffic calming perspective. Why not insert a little creativity into this process instead of the options being only do nothing or spend massive $$$.

        1. Yes. Also some other candidates could be closed to general traffic simply because they are much too have low usage and can’t justify full separation.

          Some out west could be closed, TFUG Report had Closure of Spartan and Manuroa Road road/rail crossings as part of the preferred programme. Walters Road and Taka Street were recommended to be grade separated.

          Gates & other Engineering Controls could be installed on the rest, they are currently installing on George St Level Crossing for example until full separation be arranged for crossings.

          1. I think closing both Spartan and Manuroa would have fairly disastrous effects unless there was at least one grade separated crossing in place.

            And I’m not sure that only one would be sufficient to cope with the traffic volumes as Walters Road already frequently has queues almost the entire road length between the two roundabouts involved and the two roads also already have long queues in play

          2. Manuroa Rd would be busier than Taka St by around 5 to 1 and closing Spartan Rd require a major upgrade of the GSR intersection to cope with several thousands vehicle movements daily from the two businesses between the GSR and the NIMT. The Walters Rd crossing is not as straight forward to separate as it may appear.

          3. Well if you look at the other projects in that part of the TFUG, yes Manuroa is a closure, but Spartan isn’t so much a closure as a grade separation on a relocated alignment.

            It would be pretty impractical to grade separate Spartan Road because of the close spacing of Great South Road, the railway line and the motorway offramp. So instead they appear to be proposing a new grade separated crossing between the intersection of Mahia/Great South and Rangi Road (which runs parallel to Spartan a little further northward) . As grade separations go that would be pretty expensive given that it appears to require a lengthy flyover crossing the railway line, the motorway, and a stream.

          4. Elbear as the Auckland council has Manuroa Rd as Priority 2, second only to St Jude St why would you think it is going to be as simple as just closing it? The realignment of Rangi Rd has nothing to do with any current level crossings and is part of the traffic plan for the extensive comercial and residential developments on and around Takanini School Rd, Popes Rd and Spartan Rd. The removal of Spartan Rd crossing will be as impractical as grade separation due to the close proximity of GSR, the Southern motorway interchange and the NIMT, the most practical solution is to close the access to GSR but I can see that being opposed by VTNZ one of the two businesses both with high vehicle traffic located between the GSR and the NIMT crossing.


  5. How come AT classifies what looks a pretty ordinary sort of report as “confidential”? Hasn’t it heard of the Local Government Official Meetings and Information Act, or is there some obscure clause somewhere exempting it from the act’s provisions?

  6. 10 diesel dmu for the Papakura-Pukekohe service? Seems excessive and there always appears to be four or more of the dmus parked at Westfield.
    A couple of these on a Swanson-Waitakere-Huapai service with transfer to emu at Swanson

    1. Agreed, there are only ever three in use during a normal peak (I think they may have used four during the V8 weekend) plus one as a spare and one that goes to Westfeild to be swapped with another one from there.

  7. Can we be certain that the money from track access charges is in fact spent on the Auckland network or is it used anywhere in NZ

  8. Can we be certain that the money from track access charges is in fact spent on the Auckland network or is it used anywhere in NZ?

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