Greater Auckland is proud to present our proposal for Regional Rapid Rail – an Upper North Island Passenger Network.

This post gives you a brief summary of our staged proposal to introduce higher speed inter-city rail to the Upper North Island. The full plan and the detail behind it can be seen in Regional Rapid Rail Report (8mb). This document looks amazing thanks to the design genius of Cornelius from Frontier for the design – who is also behind our website and the CFN 2.0 Report. You can also see a more detailed version of the maps for Stage 1Stage 2, and Stage 3. Feel free to download, print, distribute, draw on, set alight, decorate your room, or re-blog, just remember to cite!

Why Regional Rapid Rail?

The “Golden Triangle” of Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty now make up over 50% of New Zealand’s population and are expected to account for over 70% of New Zealand’s growth in the future. If we fail to provide the necessary infrastructure, we will miss out on many of the benefits from this coming growth.

We need to provide a step change in intercity transit to leverage this growth proactively, rather than reactively waiting for it to congest the Waikato Expressway and Auckland’s Southern Motorway. With the Waikato Expressway almost complete, what is missing is the maximisation of the complementary rail corridors.

We have the opportunity to create a well-planned, integrated Upper North Island transport system– one that is able to deliver strong economic and social outcomes, including regional development, not just for the area but for New Zealand as a whole.

Regional Rapid Rail will revitalise the existing rail network using modern technology tilting trains travelling up to 160km/h on upgraded tracks. This will allow for much faster trains, providing quick and reliable journeys that are faster than driving and skip the traffic completely. This revitalised network will stitch together the economy of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, and extend the benefits of growth and development of the main centres to their nearby towns and villages. This will provide fast and reliable travel options to regular commuters, business travellers, shoppers, students, local visitors and international tourists alike.

However, Regional Rapid Rail isn’t just a scheme for commuter trains on the trunk line. It is an integrated regional economic development plan for the Upper North Island, based on fast and regular intercity train connections between the cities and towns of Auckland, the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.

The proposal has four pillars for success:

  • Using the right technology to achieve speed and performance affordably
  • Leveraging existing infrastructure
  • Providing a frequent, reliable and regular service for all trip types
  • Integration with land use and development plans

Strategic Goals

The specific objectives of Regional Rapid Rail are to:

  1. Connect major employment and population centres, including central business districts, growing metropolitan areas, employment areas and satellite towns in the Upper North Island.
  2. Deliver a fast and competitive rail service with a target travel time of 90 minutes from Hamilton to Auckland and under 2 ½ hours from Tauranga to Auckland. The emphasis is on quality of time and maintaining consistent and reliable speeds.
  3. Provide a regular and frequent rail service, scheduled to suit a range of travel times and trip purposes, serving commuters, tourists, students and residents alike.
  4. Make complementary improvements to the rail freight network. All upgrades should, at the least, not disturb KiwiRail’s ability to move freight now or in the future. Passenger rail network upgrades should also seek complementary improvements that also enhance the efficiency and capacity of the Kiwirail rail freight network.
  5. Assist the creation of affordable housing supply that is well connected by congestion-free transit. Use transit focused residential development to catalyse the local economies of northern Waikato towns, which face potential economic decline by being bypassed by the new Waikato Expressway.
  6. Link regional transportation to well-planned communities with good urban outcomes. This should not just be a rapid train network but the means to create vibrant, livable towns and cities that are economically and socially sustainable.
  7. Integrate directly with local public transport, walking and cycling networks, such as the Congestion Free Network 2.0, to maximise coverage and usefulness.
  8. Deliver environmental benefits by limiting the growth of long range traffic and reducing pollution and CO2 emissions, assisting New Zealand to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement.
  9. Reduce road traffic injury and deaths, to assist New Zealand in reaching Vision Zero.
  10. Ensure value for money for taxpayer investment by optimising investment in infrastructure where it is most effective, regardless of mode.
The complete Regional Rapid Rail network in stage 3

The Proposal

Regional Rapid Rail is a three-stage proposal to deliver higher speed rail to the Upper North Island. It has an interim stage of immediate improvements to be put into place while the main proposal, stage 2, is procured.

Stage 1: Interim Network

The concept for Stage 1 is to quickly deliver an affordable ‘start up’ intercity service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga using existing trains from the current fleet, running on the existing network.

Stage 1 is a short term interim step, with an intended operating life of five years. The main purpose is to build ridership and confirm the viability of the regional rail concept, while significant investment in new fleet and infrastructure upgrades (Stage 2) is underway. Stage 1 is based around maximising the usage of three existing Silver Fern train sets that are currently available, running them from the existing Hamilton station in Frankton to the spare terminal space at Otahuhu in Auckland, for onward connections to Central Auckland. Apart from constructing basic rail station platforms at eight locations in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, no major capital works or network improvements are proposed for Stage 1.

Silver Fern

Stage 2: Investment in Efficiency and Performance 

The strategic concept for Regional Rapid Rail Stage 2 is to invest in new higher-speed, dual-mode tilting trains and supporting track upgrades to achieve the maximum utilisation of the existing upper North Island rail network for intercity passenger services. Stage 2 represents a significant investment programme to significantly improve train speeds, capacity and operational performance and achieve a step-change in ridership. Many of these improvements for higher speed passenger trains would also benefit freight operations.

Stage 3: Expansion and extension

The strategic concept for Stage 3 is to improve journey times, improve service levels, and to extend the reach of the network to new towns and cities in the upper North Island.

This has three main components. Firstly, doubling the size of the intercity train fleet to double capacity and halve headways, and implementing a new signalling system to allow close running at high speed. Secondly, constructing an express bypass line at the core of the network in Bombay, doubling network capacity and saving twenty minutes off all trips to or from Auckland. And thirdly, reinstating rail to formerly abandoned rights of way to extend the network Cambridge and Rotorua, and reintroducing passenger rail to the freight network east of Tauranga. By creating a true multi line network of integrated, frequent and fast train services, Stage 3 will combine the separate economies, housing markets, and job markets of the upper North Island into a single highly-productive powerhouse for the New Zealand economy.

The time for Regional Rapid Rail is now.

A step change in fast, sustainable inter-city land transport is required to integrate the economies of the cities and towns of the Upper North Island. Consistent travel times of less than 90 minutes between Hamilton and Auckland and less than 60 minutes between Hamilton and Tauranga will result in over half the population of New Zealand being linked together into a single economic entity. The regular and frequent service schedule running all-day, seven days a week would support a robust and sustainable economy, providing for a range of trip purposes and serving commuters, tourists, students and residents alike.

Regional Rapid Rail is not just a plan for fast trains, it is a regional development proposal that will help structure population growth and development on a national scale. Investments in new rapid trains and track upgrades will leverage the existing rail network infrastructure, allowing it to provide a fast and high capacity passenger system to complement the state highway network. Without rapid passenger rail, the Waikato Expressway and connecting highways risk being overwhelmed by commuter traffic, as suburban development continues to spill over from the main centres to the towns of the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. At the same time, without Regional Rapid Rail to catalyse new development and reinvigorate local economies, the newly bypassed towns of the Waikato face economic decline as traffic-dependent dormitory suburbs.

Regional Rapid Rail is an affordable proposition for infrastructure of national significance, giving complementary benefits to both the movement of people and the efficiency and performance of freight.

The Stage 2 investment of $400 million dollars, comparable to one section of an expressway bypass, buys a comprehensive three-line rapid rail network linking Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga to each other, and to their satellite towns and villages. The Stage 3 network of $1.5 billion would revolutionise transport in the Golden Triangle area, for the price of one rural motorway.

With remarkably fast train services linking almost all towns and cities of the growth regions of Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty to each other, Regional Rapid Rail will place more than half of the New Zealand population and economy on one efficient and effective transit system.

So we hope you like Regional Rapid Rail, stay tuned for more posts to come on the details of the scheme and what it means for New Zealand. Please give the full report a read, and please if you like Regional Rapid Rail share on social media or with people you know.

The final Regional Rapid Rail network overlaid on a population density map of the Upper North Island. This places half the population and economy of New Zealand on one transit system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a tilt train?

A: A tilting train is a train that is designed to tilt into a curve to allow it to corner better at higher speeds. The main reason that conventional trains are required to slow down for curves is for the comfort of passengers. The limit at which a speeding train would derail on a tight corner is far beyond the level where people inside the cabin would experience uncomfortably strong lateral forces. Tilting trains are a cost-effective way to considerably improve cornering speeds on existing mainline tracks, for this reason, tilt trains can be found across the world including in Queensland as well as Japan.

Q: How fast could trains actually go in New Zealand?
A: 160 kilometres per hour is the feasible maximum service speed for tilt trains running on New Zealand’s narrow (1067mm) track gauge. Trains running on the same gauge achieve this speed in passenger service in Australia and Japan. This would require new purpose-built trains and track upgrades.

Q: Don’t tilt trains cause motion sickness?
A: Motion sickness was an issue on first generation tilt trains designed in the 1960s and 1970s, these used passive mechanical tilting systems that suffered from lag and jerkiness. This problem has been solved by modern computer controlled active tilt systems that predict curves using GPS and have smooth electric or hydraulic control.

Q: What is a dual mode train?
A: A dual mode train is one that can work on multiple propulsion systems. In this case, the rolling stock would be able to run on 25kvAC electrification of the NIMT and Auckland network as well as have a diesel-electric engine when the train is not under the wires. This means that electrification of the whole network is not mandatory making the programme much more affordable and feasible.

Q: I thought Dual Mode Trains were not allowed on KiwiRail network?

A: This restriction only applies to the freight locomotives which are much heavier and whose weight is spread over fewer axles. KiwiRail has confirmed to us that Dual mode multiple unit passenger trains are ok for the current network.

Q: What if the Silver Ferns do not work?
A: The Silver Ferns are old but serviceable. If the Silver Ferns are not feasible in practice, then investigations could be done into upgrading ADL Class DMUs, or SA set carriages for intercity travel. The latter would also require the leasing of locomotives. Another option would be to procure a small tranche of new rolling stock as proposed for Stage 2, but using it to run the Stage 1 pattern.

Q: Wouldn’t it be better to procure the new rolling stock straight away compared to older trains?

A: Potentially, that would be a discussion for Central and Local Government. We would have no objection to this. However, there would be approximately five years lead time to fund, contract, build, deliver and commission a new train fleet. Stage 1 as proposed was intended as a demonstration network, to start operations in the interim while this procurement process is underway.

Q: Won’t this negatively affect KiwiRail’s freight movement?
A: We have been conscious and respectful of KiwiRail’s freight movements in this proposal. Objective number three of Regional Rapid Rail is that any upgrades should not cause any long-run problems to KiwiRail’s ability to move freight and meet New Zealand’s freight growth. Where possible, any rail upgrade should also seek to enhance KiwiRail’s rail freight potential.

Q: Is a Bombay tunnel really necessary?

A: Not necessarily, however, we have proposed these ideas so that Government can consider protecting the corridor now so the option is not taken away in the future. The need for expanded transport corridors often comes just after the corridor has been built out by the very development that has caused the need for additional transportation capacity. Too many times we have seen a lack of corridor protection resulting in increased cost or making a project unviable.
Q: Is this proposal all about Auckland?

A: We don’t see this as just about Auckland but enabling regional development across the Golden Triangle of Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty. The proposal provides as much capacity to leave Auckland and access regional areas as it does the other way around. While Auckland is still highly likely to be dominant, Hamilton is perhaps the greatest beneficiary of this network. The aspiration is not the Golden Triangle cities and towns simply become a periphery of Auckland but great liveable places as well all connected to each other.

Q: Could Regional Rapid Rail be applied to other parts of the country?

A: Regional Rapid Rail could also be expanded to other parts of New Zealand. Networks focussed on Wellington and Christchurch are the obvious candidates.

  • For an expanded network based around the Capital Connection between Palmerston North and Wellington, the same dual mode diesel – electric tilting train stock could be procured. However, would simply have a 1600v DC traction system instead of 25kvAC to work with the current Wellington electrification. The rolling stock could improve capacity, speed, amenity, and environment for this existing route.
  • A higher speed train link from Christchurch to Dunedin, via Oamaru and Timaru, could be implemented on an upgraded South Island Main Trunk. The rolling stock would only need to be diesel powered unless future proofed for electrification. The service could also simply be Timaru or Ashburton to Christchurch if found to be more feasible.
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  1. Wow, this would definitely be a game-changer for the upper north island.

    Re; Te Rapa station, I note that potential still exists at The Base for some sort of access next to Lighting Plus, which would be in a direct line of sight to the existing bus interchange there which the Orbiter serves. Definitely worth contacting The Base/Tainui to see what their plans are I think.

  2. why bother with dual mode rolling stock when diesel tilt trains are available now, the cairns tilt train even runs on the same gauge. A version of the UK voyagers might also be workable.

    1. Main reasons for dual mode rather than just diesel are to be able to access Britomart, and to run cheap, clean and quiet through Auckland suburbs. Also can take advantage of NIMT electrification on the King Country Line.

      Yes the voyagers were one of our examplars for the scheme, good example.

      1. Probably require some modification to the electric supply south of Te Rapa, but that may not be a biggie

      2. Australia used Bombardier trains, which is the same firm who made the Virgin Voyager trains in the UK,for the Aussie Velocity rail service.

        Talking of Virgin Trains, I wonder if the government would be open to a company separate to kiwi rail.. who in short ran the passenger rail network only.

        Kiwi rail manages freight, Northern Rail for example/ southern rail, ran a passenger only train services.

        Two different firms doing two different jobs.

        Then you would have a separate Company for passengers.

        Then it would come to ticket prices..

        What would be considered a reasonable price for a passenger ticket.

        No one would want to pay $500+ to take the train, but a ticket price reflected by distance traveled, that would make more sense.

        Like road user charges, people paid for what they used.

        If people did annual or monthly payments or instalment payments then they could budget for the prices of passes if they were going to be regular users.

        In the UK, we have something called Oyster cards, which are used on London transport, where we top up, for the week, month or year ( if you can afford it)

        Most pay weekly for the underground (tube)

        However they are also used on local trains, and bus networks.

        Then if you want to go out of London to the north or further a field then you pay a national ticket price set by the government.

        I use London as an example, but there are plenty of other examples.

        If your investing in rail, why not phase in two networks, covering not just Aukland and the top of the north island.. but from the top of both islands to the bottom.

        You would get double the return.. especially if tourists used it, and used it to get from one island to another.. locals may use it to if you made the prices right.

        All our railways are privately owned.. virgin/stage coach and Eurostar run the high speed lines..

        Freight companies are separate.

        Other companies Cross Country and other smaller train providers operate local passenger services.

        Like I say.. New Zealand could have a similar network run by different firms.. Japan has loads..

        But the fabled bullet trains are run by JR East and JR West. Another example.

        Kiwi rail seems to run both.. just an idea, may be worth have two separate firms.. for each and a fair ticket price based on local and national travel.

        A high speed line linking north to south on both islands would be a game changer for locals and tourists alike, but would have to be phased in over time due to cost.

        Certainly I personally think a top up pass system for local services and trasport networks.. could be a good idea if it’s not already going..

        1. It won’t let people pay 500+ per travel it be cheaper to travel on u will see and no country has these trains and if Lucky train be able keep the card top up if asking I don’t know how it do that and how much every one will get unless people want to deal with graffiti on trains and other problems that’s whey these trains are best to ride on and trains can dealing with that stuff it self then they given up doing that for good

        2. It be a year to top up the card and u can top up at stations platform at home and on the trains there’s is one thing people can’t out smart the train

        3. Its still working on South island to as well in the north island but has to take time to get it right

        4. Its like Tauranga airport going to be upgraded advanced airport with the rail Link add at the same time and its like the train be the winning loto ticket but every one wins

    2. You can’t realistically run diesels into Britomart now.

      Also its a vision so this is what you could do rather than this is how you must do it.

      1. Well it won’t be running on fossil fuel it be eco friendly fuel for back up all the time it be running on election with out using any fuel and u have to trust it and find out how good the train will be just give it time and the test it has to do before into service

      2. its been upgraded to do so so u wont know the difference and if u want to get the bus to next station with out power or stuck inside the train station with out power

    3. Agree, Are there even available from d/emu manufacturers (CAF, Bombadier etc) a dual mode set with both electric power from OLE and a sufficently powerful diesel genset/alternator pair to produce a 160km/hr capable passenger train?
      Just go with diesel tilt trains and sort out a suitable AK terminus at Strand

      1. The Hitachi “A train” model line is in service in the UK with a model that does 160km/h under onboard diesel and over 200km/h under wires. So this clearly works, and matches our loading gauge too. Meanwhile the same model line has electric tilting trains operation on the narrow gauge network in Taiwan, same as our track gauge.

        So clearly Hitachi could supply a dual mode tilt train that fits both our track and loading gauge, off the shelf from an existing product line. And naturally any manufacturer could make a bespoke vehicle, they all offer dual mode and tilting solutions.

        1. The Hitachi “A-train” models (class 800) are still in the driver training phase – no services until October 2017.

        1. 7 or 8 years ago I would’ve said it’s imperative such a train goes to Britomart, but with ***connections*** in Auckland improving I think terminating at Otahuhu is just fine so we could easily just do a diesel tilt train eg Hokkaido/Wideview Hida/Queensland straight off.

      2. if it just diesel it would refuel lots of times so with many modes it only have refuel once and the train dose all the work the driver dont have to do much and staff on board has it own job in the passenger cars

    1. We looked at it, but full electrification would add almost a billion to the cost of the scheme for little difference over dual mode trains. But this scheme would benefit if electrification did happen.

      1. no it wont because u will see it be surprise how well it will work it could power hole new Zealand up with out people have to pay for power

    2. It would still be good to complete the Papakura-Pukekohe-Te Rapa electrification to link up the central NIMT and Auckland systems, and to save on fuel (and emissions) along the core route section.

      1. Agree, I think with the frequencies they are proposing then it will be financially viable to electrify from Papakura to Tauranga purely based on long term running costs.

        1. Costs aren’t the only consideration though. The power needs to get from the power station to the tracks- and if you want decreased emissions it has to be hydro or geothermal.

        2. thats a good thing about this new one it gives the power back to the power station but they be confused that the numbers going back wards

  3. Great plan. In fact, the only strategy worthy of the name that I’ve seen for this critical region.

    As with the CFN, it’s only a matter of time before this plan, or an evolution of it, becomes the accepted way forward.

    So the debate is _when_ will our politicians sign up and start working on delivery? Which leaders know vision and votes when they see it, and who is willing to be perceived as dragging their heels over the line behind everyone else….?

    1. Brilliant plan, absolutely brilliant.
      It has vision, it has feasibility, and it has evidence behind it.

      This is feasible regional development in action. This is how governments provide infrastructure which enables smart, sustainable growth, which provides genuine choice in transport and urban/regional development. Sustainability and choice should after all be priorities for our leaders.

      As TimR says, the only question is which parties will get behind it, and which are too stuck in their ways. Which parties see a better future, and which parties would rather see their billions of dollars in motorway investment clog up, and require billions more to… just clog up again.

      Remember this on September 23.

    1. Ideally that would be the case, but even with all the money and support up front we’d need a minimum of 3-4 years to procure and deliver the new trains and upgrades, to be realistic Stage 3 is probably a ten year programme.

      1. Ahhh. so that CRL TBM could have a further life… just carefully pull it out of the Aotea station box and get it to the Bombay hills and commence tunelling. That should save a few $

  4. Regional rail is a great idea, and I definitely agree that it should be looked at for NZ – however the Randstad region you compare this to is much smaller than Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga, are you confident that the distances won’t be too far for to get meaningful benefits from rail connectivity?

    1. Randstad is seen as an aspiration

      I.e. Livable towns in their own right not just satellites of the big city.

    2. The Randstad is about the size of the Hamilton to Tauranga region, so not too far off. It might not be exactly like the inspiration but when Hamilton is about an hour from either Auckland or Tauranga, or half an hour from a bunch of towns in between, you’ll get that network effect.

    3. Melbourne Geelong similar to Auckland Hamilton and has a good train service. So could use Melbourne rail as an example.

      1. Actually I did exactly that! The costs, patronage and performance of the latter stages are benchmarked against the VLine service focused on Melbourne.

  5. Cute, and be a nice thing to have. But I went straight to the report cost section and saw $68,000 for annual management; total of $168,000 for management and marketing.
    On top of that estimated costs of train crew are purely salaries. No allowance for generic staff costs other than the salary itself. Or maybe that comes out of the $68,000?
    Stopped reading at that point. If the management estimate is so low (half of one single management person?) how can I be sure that anything else in the report be accurate.

    1. That’s the stage one interim service, which is only two trains. So yes it is a case of half an FTE management staff workload, most likely rolled into the Kiwirail passenger business unit.

      Perhaps you should keep reading, stage three has a $1.6m annual management budget, excluding crew and depot.

    1. Just ask the regional council or council to add any other route to add by rail and we will get it running there one day and the trains be paying for it so the money can go towards housing and busses and routes and roads

  6. The Silver Fern railcars are real old now but you have suggested alternatives. In the long term Te Aroha Paeroa Thames and even a station in the eastern bay of plenty could be added as the right of way is still in govt hands. I wonder if your timing just before the election was the right call might be a bit scary for some. But would love too see it happen. A lot of things have changed since the Kaimai and the Geystland express services ceased. I would venture the biggest thing is everyone is carrying an idiot phone these days meaning late arrivals are not the drama that they used to be back in the 1990,s. Running passenger trains on a single track railway too time is not easy.

    1. Yep we recognise the Ferns are old, there is an allocation of funds for mechanical refurbishment and a five year lifespan put on stage 1 for that reason. Also the schedule only runs two units in service, the third is kept as a hot spare for inevitable breakdowns.

      As you say there are options for other interim rolling stock, but we figured the Silver Ferns are purpose designed for this role and more or less ready to go. Refitting some SAs or something could take a long time.

    2. We are unlikely to see rail make it back to Thames again. The removal of the line from Paeroa to Thames was a stupid decision, and now there are various obstacles in the way – not the least being the Kopu bridge. The formation between Te Aroha and Paeroa crosses the main highway in various places and apparently NZTA does not want level crossings on main highways.
      The same silly mistakes were made when they took the line up that went right into the middle of Rotorua. Now it stops out in the middle of an industrial area, meaning connecting shuttles would be needed to get people into town.

      1. I agree that it is very unlikely that rail would be reinstated to Thames on the old right of way. However I do see some potential for a new line from Pokeno to Thames via Miranda on Miranda Road and SH25. This could take advantage of the proposed Bombay high speed alignment and tunnel.

  7. Great idea. With little possibility of a long distance bus depot being built in downtown Auckland I can see that long distance buses coming from the south could terminate in Hamilton and swap to fast train into the centre of Auckland linking with local bus services. Same eventually with Tauranga. But it means that there has to be a good link between these long distance bus services and the stations in Hamilton and Tauranga.

    1. I went to Tauranga recently on the bus, long distance buses depart and arrive from Wharf Street in the same area as the city buses (which depart from around the corner on Willow Street), about a 2 – 3 minute walk from The Strand.

      Hamilton Central would also be close to the Hamilton bus interchange.

      1. Actually i’m pretty sure they’re across the street from each other now, I think they moved the bus station about a decade ago and built The Warehouse on top of the underground train station.

        1. A little bit of engineering is all that is needed to link the Bus Station to the old rail station under the Warehouse as the rail platforms are still there. It’s not a huge hurdle in the scheme of things.

        2. Yes, another stupid idea in the history of NZ transport and rail travel. They had the Railways/Road Services terminal right above the old Hamilton Station – and with a bit of re-working it could have been an excellent facility.
          The Hamilton station still exists below, but as Nick R says it’s only one platform and any service stopping there would hold up the main line.
          A lot of work would need to be done to turn it into a functional station which would allow freight services to continue though unimpeded.
          Then again, the rest of Hamilton could have had rail servicing the outlying suburbs if a bit of thought had been used in years gone by. Now it’s too late, and the only thing that will be seen are bus services.

        3. U have scene more crashes and so its not safe drive at 110 its safe by these train

        4. These trains won’t be forgotten its still be strong and keep fighting to make it happen

        5. It’s not a stupid idea every one be seeing it in service to every where and cheap fear pieces for every one and I would use it a lot better then just take the bus it be the best train on earth if no short cuts are made u will see what I mean when they put into services

  8. I like the goals. I think it’s a good start in defining projects better, but I think there’s a bit of a leap between those goals and the proposed solution i.e. what are the other options for achieving the travel time benefits? Specifying one of the goals as “delivering a fast and competitive rail service” constrains the solution set and s indeed solution capture.

    This is a great conversation starter. If we set a slightly broader, less solution-focused strategic objective: improving average travel times from Auckland to those four cities (or something similar), I think we could really get the different contenders in the ring – more roads? different roads? rail? additional buses? I know you’ve done some very quick option comparison but I believe you are wedded to a specific solution a little too early.

    1. It’s not completely explicit, but some of the goals are to utilise existing infrastructure better (i.e under-utilised rail lines) and to provide non-road based strategic transport, to avoid contributing to congestion and providing network resiliency. But yes it is a rail scheme, based on the assessment that there is plenty of opportunity to leverage spare capacity the exiting rail networks.

      1. That’s dangerously close to sunk cost fallacy (using existing infrastructure better is basically trying to find a use for something you already have).

        It’s like buying more pizzas because you happen to have a pizza cutter in the drawer.

        1. Not really, its more like buying a woodfired oven and starting a line of gourmet pizzas to expand your customer base when you already run a pizza restaurant.

        2. You’re analogising wrongly.

          Policy/provider split, rent seeking and all that.

          The existence of public assets is not in and of itself justification to utilise those assets; the service needs to precede the asset, or else you get rent seeking.

          “We have all these Ministry of Works staff, they are underutilised, therefore we should also use them to build desks” vs. “we need to build more desks”

          Unless there is a clearly specified additional need (which can come from politicians), there is no need to expand the use of any asset beyond its current need (assuming that use is clearly defined etc.)

        3. JDELH – the requirement can be passenger travel between Auckland and Hamilton in less than 90 mins, and Auckland and Tauranga in less than 2:30.

          I think this would be an entirely reasonable requirement between cities of this size and only rail will achieve this.

        4. We don’t write policy, we’re an advocacy group. We are advocating for rapid intercity trains because we have an underutilised network that we want to put rapid intercity trains on. Is that such a hard thing to understand?

      2. “But yes it is a rail scheme, based on the assessment that there is plenty of opportunity to leverage spare capacity the exiting rail networks.” so then better serving Huapai and Kumeu would be better done by upgrading that rail link now rather than waiting over a decade for an LRT to work it’s way up the length of the NW motorway. Then we can get on with building more cheaper houses out there now instead of waiting a decade or so

        1. I don’t agree. My view is while there is nominally spare capacity in the old NAL freight line from Swanson to Huapai, there isn’t the opportunity to leverage it because there simply isnt the demand for travel between swanson and huapai, while onward travel is circuitous and better served on other corridors.

          The key difference is a lot of people would use a rail link between Auckland and the Waikato, very few would use one between West Auckland and Kumeu.

        2. (this might be better on a different thread, e.g. CFN2 …) but that doesn’t address the issue of the huge pressures from central govt on Auck Council to permit tens of thousands of houses to go in there right now (e.g. threats of ‘if you don’t consent them we’ll take away your right to consent’). If it’s going to take over a decade to get an LRT out there, then there’ll be millions spent on road upgrades in the interim period, keeping folk addicted to their cars for longer. Lots of folk would use Kumeu to stops along the line into and through the CRL for commuting to work taking pressure off SH16.

      1. well its up to the progressing it right and if u want short cuts then well i dont have to say this but train wont work right and derail it self with out short cuts then it will never derail and save so much money long run that the train be cheap to ride on

    2. The first step in communicating is determining who your target audience is. This topic is intended for consumption by the general public. Some readers may be intensely focused on the process behind this proposal, but most will want to get straight to the recommendations. Based on comments, most people aren’t even clicking through to the pdf (no judgement – we all have limited time and attention to spare). The audience of people who want a writeup of the proposal development process can probably be counted on your fingers. How about a hefty donation to GA to cover the costs of this?

      1. I think the number of people obsessing with the process of performance target setting could be counted on one finger. Preferably the middle one 😉

    3. its up to the people that make those time tables up thoe it cant do much unless some one do some thing about it

  9. Are we not jumping to mode specific solutions a little quickly here? If the issue is congestion on the motorways and expressways, congestion pricing is the first answer to that.

      1. It’s the ostensible reason reason why a bus based was not considered in the report, but thanks for the constructive discussion.

        1. If you read the report, there is a section on a bus alternative and why we think it can’t provide the step change required.

      2. This is about moving people much faster than the highway ever could, it’s about revitalizing towns bypassed by the highway, and giving people new choices in where to live and work. Pricing people off the road doesn’t do that.

        1. How silly of me to think that a decongested Southern motorway might improve the potential for people to live further south. Sorry about that.

        2. I’m not sure that pricing people off driving without providing alternative capacity would achieve much. But the second there is a realistic scheme for national road pricing we’ll revise our plan to take it into account.

      1. Glancing through the report it appears that the bus option discounted assumes congestion and therefore requires separate infra. I dont see a consideration of utilising market clearing road pricing to provide reliable fast travel times.

        1. Correct, there is no suggestion or plan for national road pricing anytime in the foreseeable future, so it’s not part of our scheme. Thanks for your input.

        2. Ok. Obviously you have been working to some tightly prescribed terms of reference. Didn’t realise.

    1. it is traffic and country be getting bigger and nothing to do with this train modes at all and more roads and car crashes and people dont know how to drive and speeding and running thue red lights and causing deaths and this train has no record off anything yet

  10. Great proposal, kudos to the GA team and everyone else involved.

    Two quick questions (probably more later when I get a chance to read the report properly):

    Has the possibility of Hamilton – Tauranga and Hamilton – Rotorua shuttles been looked into? A half hourly service to each would make commuting and transferring around the eastern half of the network much more practical. I’d imagine that if it was fast enough there would be demand between Rotorua – Tauranga but at hourly frequencies from each it’s not particularly practical.

    On a more whimsical note, introducing a high speed service to Te Kuiti does open the door for a seasonal Te Kuiti – National Park run (using the Silver Ferns?) which could potential get you from Auckland to the ski fields in 3-4 hours.

    1. Not just seasonal Luxated. These days Ohakune/National Park are almost as busy in summer with mountain bikers and people exploring (hiking the Tongariro Crossing for example). A Friday night service leaving Auckland at 6pm arriving in Ohakune at 10:30pm would be fantastic. On the return departing Ohakune at 5pm arriving back at 9:30pm on a Sunday night.
      By the time stage 3 rolls around that trip time would be reduced by a further 30 mins or so meaning 4 hours which is certainly a lot faster than the current drive time which is typically approaching 6 hours at those times (mostly due to congesting on the Southern Motorway but also slow traffic on the road – middle of the night can be done in 4 hours by someone who knows the route well).

  11. I think the dedicated Bombays line would be tricky (unrealistic) but I think the rest is great.

    You could always aim for wires beyond Puke to Hamilton, which could then become a hub. Maybe trains could switch/split/divide and run from locos at Hamilton, or shuttles could feed into the main Auckland trains from the smaller branches – plus serve Hamilton demand itself.

    I think instead – the four tracking from Westfield to at least below Papakura is essential – with 2 paths per hour for passenger trains at least but hopefully more (you could run suburban expresses, in turn removing stops from regional rail). After Strand/Central, I’d expect Puhinui to be next and then maybe Puke or beyond. These would need to be fast and perhaps the metro express could be flighted right behind.

    Love the network feel at the southern end of it. Makes it look user friendly.

    And yep similar could be done for Wellington (possibly beyond Palmy to Whanganui/Taranaki even) – and with Hutt doubling and bettter timetabling, quicker to Masterton and possibly further. It’s doable.

    1. Yes Regional Rapid Rail has potential to be rolled across more places which will be great.

      Wellington-Parmy near top

    2. It would also be possible to use the Hybrids on the Auckland to Wellington service as then they could use Britomart without the passenger having to go down to the strand to depart

  12. Visionary and reconstructive stuff, helping to resolve issues of congestion, regional decay as well as New Zealand’s current dire tourist infrastructure (hire a car or endure a coach). Sheer professionalism; well done!

    1. Taupo extension could be cool in future but we thought something like that may be a little to much to go for straight away

      1. Yes would be great, serving Tokoroa on the way too, but it’s a hell of a job to get a railway thorugh to Taupo so would add a heap of expense to the programme. Stage 4?

        1. Tokoroa needs an electric car fast charging station before it needs passenger rail. It’s currently the missing link to drive a Nissan Leaf straight from Auckland to Taupo

        2. u look in the states with out power after that hurricane and try and get power back on thanks to these trains that still be running imagine that meany days in Auckland and other city’s with out power how do u recharge then

      2. Taupo extension would make most sense coming off Murupara line near Matahina, so not going to be a lot of use in this type of scenario

        1. All very well to suggest the need to extend train services between Auckland–>Hamilton–>Tauranga,but the golden tourist triangle is Auckland–>Rotorua–>Taupo. This opens up the beauty of our North Island and makes it accessible to our tourists.

        2. So did the government of the day when they authorised and actually commenced construction on a Taupo railway extension from Rotorua in 1928.

  13. I like it Team. You have shown brilliance in your vision of the future to offer an alternative transport network. And then provided an excellent summary of what to do. Went to a funeral in Tauranga from Franklin last week. 2.5 hours each way by car. A train service at these speeds would have been much more enjoyable and less stress.
    Now why did you not include an upgrade and passenger service Auckland to Whangarei. This Northern route is being neglected but does offer a real alternative option.

    1. I suspect that could probably be stage 4? But to be time competitive you’d need to combine it with a full new heavy rail crossing from city direct to north shore, rather than existing route around the harbour. Which adds a couple of billion. Other thing is that the rail corridor north is much less intensively developed than it is to the south, so catchment is more limited. Plus geotech north of auckland is horrendous. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but probably want to prove the concept for first :).

      1. Some LRT units can easily run at 100 km/h. Extending North Shore line further north, and tying in the growing east coast towns, like Warkworth / Ruakaka etc, makes more sense long term than using the NAL route. LRT, due to ability on gradients / radii enables much easier build of a suitable line and more easily would enable (very long term) a service up to places like Kerikeri. Keeping to SH1 corridor enables easy transfer points from rail service to buses. This is all long term of course.

        1. Forget LRT, its good, so some say, for replacing congested roadways of end to end crawling busses but for longer regional services we don’t want curvy twisty see sawing LRTs but rather 160 km/hr proper trains with half comfortable seating.
          A regional Akl to South rail line should be continued North Shore and then Warkworth, further north etc.

        2. I think you underestimate LRT potential. I do not envision a ‘curvy twisty see sawing line’. The terrain north of Auckland, past the growing towns, is hilly. The existing line mostly misses those lines. We do not need HR across the Waitemata. HR is designed for freight. If we’re sticking with passenger rail, LRT provides speed and comfort with ability to be built easier than HR through the kind of terrain seen up north. Which means it is easier to double track as well which means frequency of services can be increased.

    2. The northern line is addressed in the full 65-page report – which I highly recommend reading. Basically the line is not at a high-enough standard and regional trains would get caught up in the all-stops western line.

      It might become feasible if a heavy rail line was built as the AWHC and up the North Shore or if great cost was spent on upgrading the existing corridor. A slow tourist service similar to the KiwiRail tourist trains could be setup on the existing line as well.

    3. Correct we did look into Northland, unfortunately there are three main factors against it being part of this plan, firstly the track is in very poor nick, Kiwirail reports about $240m just to bring it up to the standard of the line to Tauranga, let alone improve it for higher speeds. Secondly the line north is very, very windey and very indirect, it’s literally twice as long as the stage highway. You’re looking at four to four and a half hours to Whangarei to start with. Thirdly, there just isn’t the population north compared to the waikato-BoP, you basically only have Hellensville and Wellsford on the way to Whangarei. Going south you have Hamilton plus eight towns that size then Tauranga, on a route with shorter travel time.

      Our conclusion was that in the near term they should look at a Northern Explorer style tourist service to the Bay of Islands via Whangarei. It would have some use for transport but mostly be for tourists and holiday makers who have the time to take in the scenery.

      1. Thankfully. There’s no way I’d want these buggers rumbling past me every day. Keep your rail sewers to yourself.

        1. I’ve got these buggers rumbling past me every day, and they quite seriously bring joy to my heart. There is something quite wonderful about the sound of a fully laden goods train, with a low but satisfying grumble of noise – but something equally wonderful about the passenger electric trains with a very much lighter touch of the wheels on the tracks as they go by. Far, far nicer than a highway full of cars and trucks.

      2. $240 million is peanuts for infrastructure. If (or when) the Marsden Point line is up and running, the Northern Line will need to be upgraded too. However, I agree that for a passenger service, it is limited as a speciality service is the best option.

  14. Very nice, well done folks, and especially Harriet!

    Question – why did you chose to go to Tauranga (once a day) in Stage 1, instead of providing more frequency between Auckland and Hamilton with the same assets?

    1. With limited trains in stage 1, its a trade off between extending one hamilton run to Tauranga and back, or getting in a sixth (interpeak) return trip between Auckland and Hamilton. We figured we had a reasonable spead of departures through the middle of the day, so we’d get better value out of opening up Tauranga that adding in an extra off peak Hamilton run.

  15. This is most excellent. And would truly change New Zealand for the better methinks. Connecting cities in this way makes so much sense; there’s so many people who need to travel between these locations on a regular basis.

  16. Thank you, thank you thank you! A wonderful plan. NZ needs to invest in TRAINS as a priority! We’re having to leave Auckland next year (as so many of our friends and work colleagues are), move to Waikato and commute. We would definitely use any train service available rather than car! And I know so many others that would too. This plan solves so many issues at once: less road congestion, housing affordability, reducing emissions for climate change, reducing population pressure in Auckland for schools, hospitals etc., increase road safety with visitors catching the train rather than driving, and increase quality of life and happiness for families. Commuter rail north to Whangarei also required and don’t forget the rest of NZ – commuter / visitor rail Chch – Dunedin – Invercargill too. Only freight trains currently run on the tracks – a travesty! Visitors love Rail journeys! Look at how many trucks have been taken off the road per day with the re-opening of the Kaikoura line, 2,000 per day! I’m an undecided voter but am leaning towards NZ First, purely because they are the only party that supports this / Kiwirail. It just solves so many issues and the tracks are already there. If National or Labour wants my vote, they need to start prioritising Rail ASAP. Make RAIL the number one “Road Network of National Significance”. In fact, if you need $10m for start up commuter service, can we do what the councillor in Dunedin did with the chocolate factory and ask for share-holder donations? Raise the money in weeks. We would be willing to invest in it. (PS. If you could get the heavy rail link to airport sorted in next 5 years, that would be great 😉

    1. Where did you get the 2000 trucks per day figure from? My understanding was they were only running two trains a day in each direction initially, which would mean each train would need about 500 40ft wagons!

        1. 2000 trucks per day = heard on national radio (Kathryn Ryan) last week when train line re-opened. Could be wrong though.

        2. I think there are about 700 trucks per day travelling through the Lewis Pass at the moment (not sure if that is each direction?), opening the railway removes about 70 if my maths is correct, which is reasonably significant.

      1. with Puhinui being a bit cluttered, what about the options of having it at a brownfields redevelopment of the larger amount of space at Wiri? A new multi-modal interchange for north/south and east/west links (HR, LRT, busway, what ever) and maybe even the new intercity bus terminal

        1. not if Manukau became a station on the east west link, simplifying the north south timetabling and frequency for the ‘about to get busier’ stations south of Manukau. One stop change to (nearly) anywhere philosophy in the CFN2 could/should apply to Manukau

        2. But then you would have to divert your east/west line via wiri. That would also make most trips from the Manukau area a two change trip. Local bus to Manukau, change to east-west link for one stop, then change to southern line. The point of the New Network isnt to force unnecessary transfers.

    1. Also with HR to the airport they then could take it further down to the warehouses and put in a siding so that can load or unload various size container’s on them during the day and remove at night to send them around the country

  17. I think this plan is superb and desperately needed for the North Island. Its a shame that a first world country like NZ is way behind in this most basic transport need. This would be a game changer for a huge section of society. Great stuff. Good Luck

  18. The best thing about this plan is you guys are starting to get some real buy in so there is a real chance this will happen at some point. I’m also really impressed with the amount of detail and effort that has gone into this.

    1. its good have this and it will be a game changer and never have to be stuck on a train with out power glad its got back up power just in case of that happens so it keeps going till last service its to bad they did not think about it middle of 2014 at less the train can recharge it self so it keeps people on the move even when i come back from Manukau at night going back to tauranga on the bus and it all ways stuck in traffic and it dont get into town about 10:20 some times 2 hours stuck in traffic its faster by train

  19. The costings seems rather patchy. Treasury types will have a field day with poor or omitted costings and will use this to cast nasturtiums, so I suggest you re-examine these rapidly. Some obvious examples:

    – the raw salaries can be multiplied by between 2 and 3 to account for KS, training, OSH, unproductive time, and all the usual overheads of just having staff – an HR function, payroll software, interaction with KS and IRD.
    – there are external costs to account for which are omitted: secure, well-lit, sealed park-and-ride areas adjacent to stations, ticketing and other integrations to bus, ferry and existing urban rail systems, ticketing booths etc at stations, access control linked to ticketing. The point is that everything has to be in place on Day 1 to secure patronage. If it is starts out disjointed the initial experience is bad, and folks talk…
    – Safety – lighting, handrails, disabled access, toilets, and the maintenance thereof. This is a mixture of capex and opex.
    – marketing etc is less important than that total-ride experience. That experience has to be attractive enough in itself, to grab a critical mass of initial patronage. The experience will be mixed-mode: walk/cycle/car/bus to a station, rail journey, bus/walk to destination. Any glitch anywhere along this arc (insecure parking, bus timetables not aligned to train frequency, no lighting, no disabled access) may turn potential long-term commuters into ‘never-agains’.
    – crossing loops??? I’m not familiar enough with the area to know what already exists, but there had better be enough to cater for the ‘don’t disturb Freight’ objective, plus fast pax services which need to cross each other.

    I do think it’s a wonderful idea. I just worry that there are enough obvious cost gaps, that it will be politically dismembered before it gets a good airing.

    1. Exactly. This sort of proposal would have a big appeal to Gold Card users. So a decision would have to be made on whether you want the numbers using it or the revenue.
      Theres mention of a Bombay junction- which doesnt exist. I suppose they mean Pokeno at the foot of the Bombay hills.

      1. My understanding with the gold card is the operators still receive the revenue, it is just paid for by the government rather than the passenger. So it would really be a decision for the government of the day whether to include these services in the scheme.

        1. Yes the Gold Card scheme is a government subsidy, the operators just collect the fare from Winston’s purse rather than the passengers.

        2. Great – more of my tax money paying for oldies to get free income independent PT on top of their income independent super payouts.

        3. Except that there is a moratorium on new services receiving super gold subsidy. It would take a lot of lobbying for them to pick this up. The greater likelyhood is that intercity trains are never covered by supergold.

        4. Using transit means they walk a lot more and then get out and about more which means socialising etc = better health outcomes. If it also means they then abandon driving they are better off financially as well. This would be good for NZ.

        5. That’s a big leap Ian64. My mum left her licence expire and now walks and uses transit. Since doing so, she has reversed a diagnosis of diabeties and is healthier than she was for years. If you walk around Britomart, I don’t think this is an isolated trend any more. Sure, it’s only anecdotal but it brings more than your argument.

        6. so do u think that gold cards should pay the same as passengers or what be a good idea to resolve this problem

        7. The UK model should be applied where gold card holders get a heavy discount, but not free access, due to the residual cost to the tax payer for the system. Likewise students, the disabled etc should receive a discount while buyers of a season ticket recieve a big discount. “free” use of that cities transport system that they commute to should be costed into the season ticket price of course.

          PS am typing this on Berlin’s excellent trams. What a great transport system the city has. Best I’ve seen on my travels and I’ve been literally everywhere!

    2. This is an unfunded schematic proposal designed to stimulate properly funded market analysis, technical feasibility, and economic benfit cost studies. The question of how much detail to go into was hotly debated; basically you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. It absolutely won’t be perfect, but we hope we have struck the balance near enough to lead to much more in depth work. Which frankly requires more than the hard work in our spare time….

      1. But why go into a schematic proposal until you’ve clearly defined the goals?

        It’s jumping ahead. It’s bad policy. Every single dollar spent is a dollar that can’t be spent elsewhere and we have to be pretty sure that we’re spending this for a reason.

        So we need to define that reason in a way that isn’t simply restating the solution (“we need a rail network because we need a rail network”). I think it’d be worthwhile to spend a bit more time really teasing out the problem/challenge/opportunity before jumping into solutions.

        I’ll give you an analogy from a similar sector – water quality. You can’t define the plant you need until you’ve defined the goals (i.e. who/how many to service, and to what water quality). What’s being done here is proposing a plant that will serve everyone in town to a A1 level when we haven’t actually asked “do we want to serve everyone” and “is A1, A, or B the necessary standard?”

        You can’t do anything until you’ve sorted the goal, or you’re literally wasting money.

        1. I think the goal is pretty clearly defined, the cost is marginal (a tenth of a small motorway interchange) and you are making Patrick’s point for him – you can’t please everyone, no matter whether you go in high level or deeply in-depth (also, despite their professionalism, Greater Auckland remains a volunteer body).

        2. Also, your argument can easily be reframed, because our current modus operandi for roads is “we need a road network because we need a road network”. There is a clear case for rail from a perspective of not putting our eggs into one basket, for reducing our emissions footprint, and from an efficiency perspective.

          If you ask for a project-based report to also answer all these higher level political questions, and only then allow them to actually propose a project, you either have no idea how politics works, or you have a lot of an idea, and want this project to fail (the public get interested in projects “Hey, I could travel to X on the train easy peasy if this happens”, not policy – only nerds like on here (myself included) are interested/get excited about things like “Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if we could drop the car mode share by 5% by investing in rail!” discussions)

        3. David, I think the current government approach to transport policy is 100x worse than Transportblog. That doesn’t make TB’s approach “good enough” though.

        4. JDELH, this isn’t a policy (government can prepare that if they like the idea) and it’s not had a single cent spent on it, so it’s impossible to waste any money.

          You are missing perhaps one key point however. This isn’t reactive, it’s not about fixing a current problem. It’s about intentionally creating a different future that we want. The goals are to shape growth and direct development to towns along the rail line, where people can use the train to get around the region.

          I’m unashamed about that, we want a future where we have an awesome intercity rail system and plenty of opportunities to live and work in towns and cities along the way, and be able to catch regular fast trains across the Upper North Island any day of the week. That is our specific goal.

    3. Wayne, you’re not wrong. This is a first cut overview, not a fully resolved business case (Might I remind you we are a zero-budget volunteer organisation with only so many late nights and weekends at our disposal!). I would fully expect Treasury to demand all stages of the business case process before funding anything.

      We certainly haven’t got this estimate perfectly right, but it’s right enough. I have full confidence that for $400m of capital investment we could get a well functioning rapid intercity rail network that covers it’s operating costs on a day to day basis. It might not look exactly like this, but it would be more or less like this.

      However, we have intentionally planned a low overhead business model, and we don’t need to fund a lot of the things you have mentioned, e.g:
      -The salaries for non-crew staff are based on the assumption that the operating company is part of a larger organisation (i.e. Kiwirail or NZTA, or an international consortium). Note that Stage 2 has opex budget for about 12 management/office staff in addition to the train crews, and excluding the depot staff which are accounted for separately.
      -The crew salaries and schedules are based on only 1800 in-vehicle hours per year per crew, this accounts for leave, training, sick days etc.
      -No ticket booths or access control, tickets are inspected or purchased from the train manager onboard, if not prebooked online for checking.
      -No park and ride as part of this scheme: Park and ride is the responsibility of local councils, who would decide if they want to fund and build them near the stations. Same with bus stops actually, although the cities with bus systems already have bus stops at the proposed station sites.
      -Lighting, disabled access and handrails are included in the station build costs. They will be very basic to start with, but will meet code. No separate toilets at stations to build and service, the toilets will be onboard the trains (disabled accessible, naturally).
      -There is an allocation in the capital budget for track upgrades, including passing loops. $200m in stage 2 in fact. Note that almost all of the NIMT line is already double tracked, so it’s just the ECMT that would need additional passing loops (or lengthening existing ones rather).

      1. Thanks for the replies, Patrick and Nick.

        My core worry remains: it’s all very well externalising costs (e.g. “park-and-ride is the responsibility of local Councils” ) but it’s the potential user experience even at Stage I that will decide patronage. Bad experience = tell 7-10 others what a dreadful time you had.

        I’ll cite a local example: our central Christchurch hospital has a massive parking problem (basically down to lack of planning) and so a derelict saleyards across Hagley Park was hurriedly pressed into service and a shuttle bus linkage initiated. Local comment has been simply vitriolic – unsealed surfaces, pot-holes, no lighting, impossible to negotiate for elderly on walking frames, unsafe for nursing staff at night (several attacks)…the user experience is paramount.

        I do hope that this disjointedness won’t strangle R cubed at birth….

      2. Just a point on the crew costs – you’ve calculated crew costs by assuming “only” 1800 “in-vehicle” hours per year. From what I can see, this translates into 1800 trip hours, or 38.3 hours per week over 47 weeks (allowing 5 weeks of annual leave). What about turnaround time between trips, the inevitable inefficiencies in rostering that occur when the sum hours of ‘x’ round trips per day does not equal the average working hours of the crew etc. Timetabling and rostering constraints inevitably mean that your crew utilisation will be well south of 100%, requiring more crew.

        Then we have operational requirements – trains have to be prepared for service in the morning, stabled at night, shunted between sidings and platforms, moved for maintenance etc. All this requires more crew.

        Then if we factor in sick leave, other leave, training, staff turnover, availability of crew to cover unplanned absences etc, your crew availability drops below 47 weeks… requiring more crew.

        Within all of the above issues, the smaller an operation is the more inefficient these additions to cost are – and this will be a very small operation. These costs can’t always be wished away (as you’ve done with some management overheads) by assuming KiwiRail or another large organisation can absorb them – not only is cost recovery prudent management, but you are then baking in inefficiencies in those other areas.

        This isn’t nitpicking – it affects your crew costs by not just a few per cent, but rapidly increases costs by 10’s of %, or even multiples of the original estimate. Take this as constructive criticism – the more accurate the numbers, the greater the credibility.

        1. Hi, thanks for you input. I agree we will certainly not have the costings on this perfect, you’ d nee to wait for a business case for that. However you seem to have misinterpreted a couple of things:
          -We based the times in four weeks annual leave and one week of sick leave.
          -The invehicle time is not running time, it is running time + 15%. This is to account for turnaround times, timekeeping stops and repositioning.
          -Depot operations like vehicle startup and cleaning etc and under the separate depot opex line item.

          Agree that a small operation will be inefficient, that’s why we are suggesting it be part of a large operation. It would be crazy to set up an entire corporate structure and overheads to run two trains.

        2. U have to wait and see and it’s going to be hard getting this job that’s all I know this point

        3. The pay to staff is a really good pay and a bonus as well and it can go to Tauranga to Wellington as well

    4. Yes Wayne. The most expensive part will probably be moving the Waikato towns to their new locations on the map.

    1. What I like about the political discourse on transport these days is that we are starting to move away from piecemeal quick-fixes and into the realm of visionary strategies – and Greater Auckland has played an absolutely crucial role in this. We’ve obviously had the Greens with a progressive approach to transport, and Labour has recently nailed its colours to the mast with its effective support for the CFN-2. Viewing transport as a connected entity, a network, is vital to progress.

      Speaking of political support, I recall that Mike Lee is a strong supporter of an Auckland to Hamilton rail link. I’d be expecting to hear his full and vocal support for the Regional Rapid Rail initiative some time real soon on that basis. However, it may be harder than swallowing a dead rat for Mike to support a Greater Auckland initiative. And maybe also Mike’s support would be the kiss of death for it anyway. Just wondering . . . Mike, where are you? What do you think?

  20. With the Puhinui Station becoming an Interchange, are we going to see it transform from what it is now to a station you don’t mind waiting 15-30 minutes at i.e. put in a few stores and make the station protected from the elements.

    1. It will transform to a full interchange. Also there will never be a need to wait for 20 mins! Even now there is a train every 2.5 mins at peak. The Airport link will be at least every 10 mins… average, 5min wait.

  21. Skip stage 1 – no one will use a 2hr15 service and the whole project will be canned. 1hr30 is almost acceptable, 1hr10 is a game changer.
    I do wonder though, how many people live near the Hamilton station? After taking a local bus to the station (if one exists), will it have been quicker just to drive to Auckland?

    1. JJ it all depends when you travel. Try leaving Auckland on a Friday night (any time after 3pm) and it will take you 2 hours just to get to Papakura! But yes the aim should be to get it under 2 hours in stage 1 (which should be possible even if it is slightly uncomfortable in some corners for passengers – not saying go flying through them but maybe not travel slowly through them either).

      1. OK, one person will use it then ;).
        I doubt many commuters would, maybe tourists, maybe people without cars. But it would have to compete on price with the bus which is pretty cheap.

        1. Not at all, I’d love to see this succeed, just worried that starting off with a slow service on crappy trains might mean phase 2 or 3 never see the light of day.

        2. You might be right SJC, and you are not the only person saying that. However the various politicians we’ve spoken to on the plan all agree on one thing: politically they need to be able to deliver a low cost solution on a short term timeframe before they can commit to a full investment scheme.

    2. they just trying to get things under way and with every ones help it will be less time then that with any good ideas to keep on improving it with no more mistakes but just trust this diesel ok its been improve but never tested before and trust the safety that the train has that no other train has

  22. I listen to Patrick Reynolds on Nine to noon this morning and was disappointed with the initial attitude shown by interviewer Kathryn Ryan. Patrick presented the case well in the time available but was thrown off task several times through diversions by Kathryn Ryan who seems to be in ‘election fever’ mode.
    I live in Morrinsville and would relish the opportunity to ride a commuter rail option within the greater Waikato and to Auckland instead of playing dodgems with the wall to wall 50 tonne trucks on the rural roads. I notice trucks exit the Waikato expressway consistently to avoid the road congestion. Stage one cannot happen soon enough.

  23. Not a mention of a line NORTH of Auckland to Warworth / Whangarei. Once again Northland gets left out of economic development.

    1. There is a section on a line north to Whangarei in the report, page 49. We support a train service north, but more tourist focused. We don’t think that line is a fit with the Regional Rapid Rail model.

    2. I think Greater Auckland has their priorities straight on this one Geoff, and we have to start somewhere. Population of Northland is only just over 150,000. Waikato has a population of 450,000 and Tauranga 130,000 so there’s a far greater potential demand.

      Also Greater Auckland is a voluntary organisation and it’s unreasonable to expect them to solve every regional transport issue at once.

      1. This is superb work from GA that NZTA is very lucky to get done for free – I hope they appreciate it!

        As well as making travel safer and cheaper, a great outcome will be making regional small towns viable again as places families can live in while commuting to work in Hamilton/Auckland/Tauranga. It connects everything up and will regenerate the places in between. No need to leave town to find work any more, with less unemployment and fewer closures of schools and other services.

        As for Northland, maybe it has been too hastily discarded. Whangarei is the regional capital of a large area and has high freight demand, and places along the route like Wellsford, Warkworth, Waipu and Orewa could also benefit from transport-based regeneration as well as extending the reach of Auckland’s working population. Given that we already need to build a rail tunnel to extend local rapid transit, I would argue that this tunnel might as well be designed to accommodate shared use with northbound heavy rail.

        The Northland line might well end up as p[art of stage 3 due to the tunnel lead time, but adding it in as a potential option could enhance what is already a fantastically competent piece of work. Well done again to all involved!

        1. From a cost perspective, LRT more likely.

          Perhaps can continue on south of the bridge as the to-be-built LRT up Queen St, Dom Rd and on the way to the airport.

        2. +1 we may only ever get one PT connection to the shore. It doesn’t make sense to me to build something that takes smaller and slower light rail vehicles. Sometimes its better to pay more and do it right the first time.

        3. It’s ALWAYS ” better to pay more and do it right the first time’. Doing things on the cheap initially, then having having to pay more later to rectify what could and should have been done better and cheaper initially.

        4. Actually the opposite is true. It’s better to save money now and only spend to build extra in the future when you really need it. Google the time value of money for a primer on that concept.

          Say a North Shore heavy rail line costs $5b dollars today. At a 6% discount rate the cost of that money is $300m per year, or $6b over twenty years. So if you spend that $5b in twenty years instead of today, you save $6b. That’s effectively making a billion dollars.

          So you could spend a billion dollars today on a light rail line, then also build a five billion dollar heavy rail line twenty years later… and you’d have both a light rail and a heavy rail line for cheaper than building just the heavy rail line up front.

        5. To make Northland worthwhile you would have to build a more direct line from scratch. The cost would be eye-watering for such a small catchment. You might as well jump to building a hyperloop or charter small planes for the next 20yrs.

          Game changer would be if the port moved to Marsden Point. Then freight would make it worthwhile

        6. It makes me wonder how the Victorians did it. I’m hoping for Marsden Point. Northland has been neglected for so long; I can’t see how the economic knock-on effects of putting rail up there wouldn’t be huge.

        7. The early and extensive spread of railways in New Zealand was aided by inconsequential or non-existent competition from the roads. The railways were often the most feasible, or in some cases only, option for getting freight and people moving.

        8. This plan doesn’t preclude or prevent a Northland line being done before, during or after. We just don’t think it’s a viable part of this proposal.

  24. Without knowing anything about this sort of thing, I’m impressed that someone has put so much time and effort into this. From a visibility point of view, I’ve never seen this sort of communication from the NZ Govt so you’re obviously doing their job better than them.

    I do wonder about the $400 million dollar price tag for tilting trains to Hamilton. Surely the cost would be more than this, with electrification being required?

    1. The trains are also dual mode so can run on diesel and under the Auckland electrification so not mandatory need to extend the wires

      1. Hi Jezza, The post talks about the track upgrades that are required for phase 2. I assumed this could include electrification works. So a valid question in my opinion.

        1. like that time when some people got off the train and got on to the bus and go next station with out running and it was on you tube and they said it would been nice if trains have back up and battery wont last that long if there no power for long period time so that was the change so it keeps running with out have to worry about the battery going flat like in those electric cars have to recharge every time

    2. Electrification is not required, which saves about a billion dollars. Check out the section on dual mode trains. The price tag is basically $200m for the fleet, and $200m for track upgrades, level crossing improvements and station platforms. That level of investment would buy a lot.

  25. Can I suggest Stage 1 terminates at Papakura, where passengers can ride the existing electric network. This would allow Stage 1 to be up and running before the double tracking from Papakura to Westfield. Then we are also talking a 1 hour 30 min trip Hamilton to Papakura – just a little longer than the time for driving it by car.

    1. Could work as an early stage… but Papakura to the middle of Auckland is about an hour. You’d hope they’d just get on with finishing the third main from Wiri to Otahuhu, that’s all it needs.

    2. I don’t think that would be viable. Rushing into it with a sub-standard trial could jeopardise the whole thing. Hopefully 3rd Main will be done ASAP regardless of who wins the election.

  26. The 4th stage would be like creating the High speed Rail network initially from Auckland to Hamilton using dedicated tracks over 300km/h.

  27. This pretty awesome to see! This is actually the topic of my Masters Research Project (Architecture). I have been working on it since the end of last year. I am proposing the design of a Transit Hub in Onehunga. I see this as the most appropriate location of a major hub in Auckland. Users would able to move between the various PT options: High-Speed Regional Rail, Heavy Rail, Light Rail and a Bus Interchange . It also gives Onehunga a great opportunity to bolster.

    Great Article and I hope we can get some real interest in these sorts of proposals!

  28. re different electric supplies: Is this extract from Wikipedia correct?
    “All four suburban lines between Swanson in the west and Papakura in the south are electrified at 25 kV AC,[5] the same voltage as the North Island Main Trunk between Te Rapa and Palmerston North. In contrast, the Wellington suburban network (electrified 1938–55) uses 1500V DC.”
    I’ve read different things about AC or DC between the Auckland and the main trunk line.

    1. My understanding is that the NIMT and Auckland networks are different in terms of the transformer being onboard in Auckland, so the NIMT locos aren’t suited to running on the Auckland network.

    2. it would be great if a way could be found to integrate the systems. Very frustrating that KiwiRail seems intent on going backwards from electric to diesel with one of the excuses being the time taken shunting when changing engines at Hamilton and Palmy. When at a similar time we’re trying to push our electric commuter service further south, progressively towards Hamilton as Auckland sprawls out. Surely there’s a way of making 1 + 1 = 3 with bringing these together

  29. A wonderful conversation starter – thank you and well done!
    I have thought for a long time that something like the Austrian Railjet would be perfect for the routes you are suggesting. Fast, frequent and comfortable without being lavish. I am surprised that you’re suggesting tilting trains – perhaps the line is particularly bendy?
    My biggest concern is with stage 1. I think that’s a huge mistake. It won’t do anything to prove the concept and risks setting it back permanently. If it’s about proving the concept, then no one’s going to support ordering the new trains for stage 2 before it does successfully prove the concept, which it won’t because the trains won’t be frequent enough or modern enough. The nay-sayers will use the inevitable failure of stage 1 to nix the whole thing.
    Don’t do it. Make your arguments based on stage 2 and onwards, and encourage politicians and officials to business case based on that.

  30. As part of this discussion, it would be worth while to look at future transport options and needs for Hamilton.
    Having moved from Auckland to Hamilton recently and seeing the benefit of the changes that have been taking place in Auckland. I am concerned that Hamilton is currently on track to suffer similar transport problems to Auckland albeit on a smaller scale.
    Hamilton is almost 100% car dependent, there is no commuter rail. There are bus routes, but there is no bus priority, a lack of a frequent timetable etc.
    Some things to consider:
    A train station at Ruakura to service the University.
    Underground city centre station (No idea on feasibility and cost but the rail currently goes through a tunnel under the city)
    Te Rapa station right next to the base, This is a large retail area with shops/mall plus plenty of space still to build a park and ride.
    Hamilton would then need to look at developing bus corridors that could potentially be upgraded to light rail to link the suburbs with the city centre and the rail corridor.

      1. Most likely won’t be able to use Hamilton underground with a major ventilation installation due to toxic diesel emissions from locomotives on many freight trains through there everyday.

        1. Please read the report if you want to pick into the details. Stage 3 budget is for for a Hamilton Central in open cut just to the west. Option is for comprehensive britomart style redevelopment with new underground multi platform station, partially paid for by land value uplift. Double tracking in any case, not a cheap part of the programme!

        2. No definitely not. And I automatically thought a key component of a trial service would be a stop at the old Hamilton central. Hopefully I don’t sound arrogant there, but I can see all sorts coming out of the woodwork to oppose spending on such trial services which are the driver to getting something off the ground.

        3. We decided stage 1 to the old underground is impractical, given its single track is also the ECMT freight line.

    1. I agree with you about Hamilton is on track to be a mini Auckland due to Hamilton City Council bad planning. With the problems allowing The Base to develop, Council is now pushing the concept of apartments in the central city area to bring life back to the CBD.

      You are correct, Hamilton is almost 100% car dependent, there is no commuter rail. Hamilton does have the a good basic bus network to the suburbs plus the free CBD Shuttle and the Orbitor that links up the suburban routes with the Base, Waikato University, The Gardens and the Hospital. You are correct, there is no bus priority, a lack of a frequent timetable but what Hamilton has that Auckland hasn’t – a central city bus/taxi interchange.

      The underground central city railway station is located under the Centre Place shopping mall in the CBD. The station needs a good clean to make it serviceable again. In essence Hamilton has the a good passenger transport infra-structure that needs more people using it.

      I agree that Base would need a passenger station the links with the Orbitor bus services. There need to have a station at Ruakura.

      Hamilton differently needs regular passenger rail connectivity with Auckland and Tauranga.

  31. I have for many years now, been trying to get Kiwirail to revamp the night train between Wellington and Auckland but so far they haven’t committed to even trialing this. So it’s very encouraging what I heard on RNZ National this morning. Roll on rail travel!

  32. Here we go. An attempt at utilising equipment well past its used by date. I see the suggestion there, that if the ferns aren’t serviceable, then let’s give the adl/adk’s a go. Disgraceful. Not to mention totally not designed for that sought of running. And then a final shot if need be with the old SA/SD carriage sets. Wow. Do the home work. Not only is there NOT enough locomotives for them anymore, both the SA/SD carriages and adl/adk footsteps are far higher than the fern footsteps. They aren’t designed so you can simply get off at ground level if need be. Many many $m’s would need to be spent either building new platforms that are compatible, or redesigning the carriages. So that leaves us with ferns which don’t have capacity….
    Personally, I would approach kiwirail about the prospects of purchasing some long distance carriages – the equivalent of the Northern explorer which can use current platforms – for a trial. If not successful, it seems apparent they could be used for an opposing service. If successful well they are already there, and higher speed tilt trains can be revisited.

    1. Yep they are old and run down (except the new interiors), so there is a budget of $5m in stage 1 to mechanically overhaul the ferns for the five year intended service life. New platforms are also included in the stage one costing, thanks.

  33. And if one of the two ferns break down(the third is no longer serviceable) what then? I know what I would do…. travel in my car on the new expressway to Papakura, or the proposed drury platform and travel by EMU.

    Also Nick, if there is a budget of that much. Why not just put if forward to new carriages similar to that used on the Northern Explorer? IIRC those cost about $900,000 each to build. And it is my understanding, something very similar out of China could cost about $1.5m each. Upgrade at least 2 x DL locomotive’s (which I may add are very powerful and have quite fast acceleration) for 100kmph running. Then you have a service capable of generating patronage that covers the costs of running the service, as well meeting the expected capacity to justify a tilt train network(I suppose realistically only between Hamilton and Auckland at this stage).

    1. Please SJC if you want to talk details please read the document first. We have budgeted to refurbish all three Silver Ferns, so two can be in service and one as a hot spare on rotation.

      Why not put forward for new carriages? We are, that is stage 2. The only problem is new vehicles or carriages will take years to procure, which is what stage 1 is for. Its an interim network we can start within six months or so, and run for a few years while the new trains are being built and commissioned.

      Why would you order new carriages from China and rebuild locomotives for a stage that has a maximum five year lifespan, that’s only there to tide you over while waiting for the main trains you’ve already ordered?

      1. 1. That is news to me if the third fern can be utilised as a spare. It has no engine, and from my direct information there is no replacement engine. If there is something new for it well done.

        2.There wouldn’t be a refurbishment of the DL loco. The only thing stopping them from being in service, is that they are designed for 100kmph running but restricted to 80kmph running.

        3. Such carriages purchased would appeal to the travelling public and have a far better service life immediately. Giving an 18month trial a far better go at it. After a successful service, they could be utilised on a longer distance service, such as a tauranga or rotorua service as I see proposed. Which by that time the ferns will once again be totally naked.

        It is far easier to replace a locomotive than an old now historic piece of equipment which is also currently speed restricted.

        Also I already know that would be money far well better spent.

        As for tilt trains, if I had my way, I would bring them I asap. Bit we can’t can we. We have to have a damn trial first. Last thing I want to see is a failure. And I see a failure with the above mentioned equipment in the blog post for a trial service.

        1. We’re assuming it would be repowered if necessary, which is why we have allocated millions to refurbishment.

          But anyway, not wedded to that particular approach to stage 1, if you have a better scheme to get things running in six months or so then we’d be more than happy to see the details. It really is just the interim until the tilt trains can be put into service, mostly just so the politicians can implement something soon to build confidence in action. If it were up to me we’d be ordering the tilt trains tomorrow.

        2. Back in the day if the ferns had machinical problems they would put a locomotive in front till they could sort it out. Obviously not a perm solution but it can be done. However if they are too unreliable maybe pull out the motors and just use them as carriages. Not to sure how the hotel power worked though. But anyway now is the time to start on this project so time to start thinking a bit laterely.

        3. Since the SA cars have been suggested then taking what SJC says about platform access the SAs would need doorway modification for additional steps to use lower height platforms
          Additionally, several SAs would need toilets installed.
          Would all this be possible with existing railway workshops in NZ? And within a six month timeframe?
          Using 100km/hr DL lococs would mean reliable powerful motive power with decent acceleration and top speed.
          And of course paint SAs and DL in a nice regional rail livery 🙂

        4. What worries me mainly about using the ferns is this. Even with money spent on them (and $5m is not much on the rails…) there is bound to be service failures. That some days, instead of 192seats available on a peak service there will only be 96. And some days there will be bus replacement, which would be very unfortunate. That could go on for a week or more, for example there is stress fractures found in the bogie equipment, or the structure of the actual rail car itself. Who knows, it could see the eventual full retirement of them, which they are basically in now.
          In saying all this, aren’t we really going down the road of something similar to the use of the sx carriages in Auckland? I don’t mean to sound nasty at all, but those came out of a rail museum and caused many headaches for everyone on Auckland’s network when in use.
          Personally, I think the more expensive option of a SA/SD refurbishment loco hauled is a better option. Plus get capacity as well. Surely some of those could be refurbished within a six month time frame, and refurbished to something similar as the SW cars used in the wairarapa (they are basically the same carriages). Approximately half of the SA fleet are on S-ride bogies which are fairly new still, have air cushions for suspension, and could be quite comfortable to ride in with the right seats. Seats similar to ak carriages?

        5. I’m picking up the vibe that something other than Silver Ferns will be better for the trial, surely there is some country upgrading it’s fleet but have units that are pretty much fit to travel without much or any refurbishment?

        6. You mean like leasing Vulcan railcars from the CRS and refurbishing them for daily mainline running? They were quite happy to get back a fully refurbished EE EMU after GW had finished borrowing it for use around Wellington. 🙂

        7. Maybe someone should talk to JR Hokkaido or JR Central (operators of diesel ltd express Wideview Hida) as maybe they have some older running stock that could be purchased fairly cheaply. JR Hokkaido especially is deep in the red and needs some cash. JR Shikoku also has a fair amount of unelectrified line so also runs diesel intercity expresses. They may also have some older running stock.

  34. Hamilton should have two light rail loops (East side loop and west side loop) and then bus connection over lap the train stations like a spider web

    so 6 or 8 stations on each loop plus the stations in that plan above

  35. This is a brilliant “put-it-out-there” start to revitalising passenger rail in New Zealand.

    Great work Greater Auckland !!!

    What saddens me is that it takes a group of unpaid volunteers to generate this vision, while professional bodies such as the Ministry of Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency and KiwiRail – bodies which you might expect would have an interest in this regard – actually have no vision that comes anywhere close to this. Managing BAU (Business as Usual) is mostly all that they do, although to be fair, the objectives of each of these entities are dictated by a non-rail-minded government and enthusiasm for trying anything beyond these objectives is not exactly encouraged.

    GwGA !!!

    1. Exactly. Where are the strategic thinkers who are paid to think strategically? Answer: they’re cowed by the need to not embarrass their political masters.

      1. This relates to the one area of concern I have. GA have based their plan on being run by KiwiRail. I have serious doubts over the enthusiasm, vision and competency of that organisation to do this. Not just under this National govt but even during recent Labour govts this organisation has shown no enthusiasm or energy towards developing a rapid regular regional rail service.

        I think there’s a better chance of this plan being implemented through a respected private operator coming in from overseas. Of course Kiwirail would do everything in their power to derail that because they don’t want anyone else using the rails but at the same time they’ve shown no inclination themselves to do anything.

        So I think to get this plan up and running it’s also important first to split up Kiwirail ops and infrastructure into different entities, one a non revenue crown organisation, and the other a profit motivated SOE. Then Kiwirail becomes just another transport operator and the rails are open to multiple operators.

        1. Not sure we’ve made any claims about who should run the services, no reason why it couldn’t be a private sector player, but KR do control the network so would be involved to some degree unavoidably.

        2. I am sure KiwiRail would get enthusiastic for Regional Rapid Rail if the government was supportive of it.

        3. Hope it dose and how relaxing it would be even from rugby world cups and come from speed way nights with out stuck in traffic and waste on gas and other special events

  36. I think this proposal is the best thing I have heard as an election proposal – ever. This is the sort of thing that we need our politicians to be concentrating on – leaving behind the bitchy personality politics, and concentrating instead on new, invigorating policy. Whichever political party looks to take this on board, I’m voting for them.

  37. Would it not be better to spend the $10 m ( may be more ) to upgrade Hamilton Auckland section to a higher speed aiming to reduce the travel time to under 90mts. This would encourage people to live in towns between Auckland and Hamilton. If this becomes a success in patronage and financial terms then the authorities will be convinced to spend money on Hamilton Tauranga section.

  38. Great work GA & looks good, I have quickly read the detailed document. I would presume the Puhinui Station would be the main stop (or as well as Otahuhu) in stage 1 if the timing were such that it was already upgraded and or had the rapid Bus link to the airport already running? Also thinking, the potentially, at absolute most, 96 Silver Fern passengers arriving at once shouldn’t overwhelm the Auckland EMU’s at peak.

  39. Did somebody forget that later this year POT are ramping up their train service to Westfield, so paths through the tunnel may be a problem?

        1. Electrics are faster and accelerate faster (not sure if that applies in this case or not).
          Also without all the diesel fumes in the tunnel (I’d imagine at some point of frequency too many diesels would choke the tunnel up both from a safety/health point of view but also degraded engine performance from the fumes). Also safer – less chance of engine fire in an electric.

        2. Thanks. I imagine the acceleration difference would be minor in this context but I can see how running two trains at once in the tunnel or soon after each other would be better with electric.

          I suspect by the time we are needing to batch trains in the tunnel for efficiency (having a freight follow a passenger train for example) the line use would justify electrification anyway.

  40. Excellent stuff but my god there are a lot of moaning minnies on here – quibble, quibble, quibble. The number of them who obviously have not even read the article but still rush in with criticisms is unsurprising but still irritating.

  41. Excellent idea – bring it on. This requires long-term commitment to change established ideas. Protecting corridors is an essential first step – something we have failed on in Auckland Suburban Rail!

    A couple of questions.
    [1] Is the route the Hautapu Dairy Factory to Cambridge this possible? I think the new overbridge on State Highway 1 will prevent re-installing the rail track into Cambridge now.
    [2] Where does the rail corridor extend into Rotorua? I know the line into central Rotorua has been removed so how far out of town is it now?
    [3] The biggest challenge I see is that the lines south and east of Hamilton are only single tracks. For this to work it requires a lot of double tracking.

    1. 1) Yes it is, but it needs all new track obviously. The SH1 alignment has left the corridor free, although there will be some interesting requirements at the motorway ramps. It probably means level crossings across the ramps.
      2) Currently it goes as far as Pukuatua St. You could put the station there, but we’d like to send it a bit further east across the side of the park to Ranolf St. Thats fairly easy if the local community are happy with taking a strip off the side of the park.
      3) Both of those are single tracked but with passing loops. South of Hamilton there isn’t much traffic to worry about, and yards and sidings through each of the station sites. East will require lengthening passing loops, and in stage 3 most sections will be double tracked.

      1. What about between Tauranaga and Hamilton, especially when the 2 inland freight ports are complete in Hamilton. There would need to some serious double track from the Kaimai Tunnel to Hamilton or longer passing loops to the current ones.

  42. An absolutely, bloody marvellous, astonishing effort. No wonder Matt email me recently saying he had been a bit busy!!. This is better than anything I have seen from any government agencies, Wow!

  43. Stage 2 and 3. Maybe could work. But stage 1 is a waste of money.
    Tomorrow 18/08 you can take Mana Bus from Central Hamilton to Central Auckland 7.20 dep 9.40 arr.
    Thats 2hrs 20min on peak. Cost is $13.99 . If you travel off peak travel time drops to 2hrs.
    As far as I know there is Zero subsidy for this service.
    5 services each way weekdays and 2 weekends. You will be providing 69888 seats per year.
    2 Million of subsidy with a highly unlikely 100% occupancy would equal a subsidy of $28 per trip.
    at your own estimated 70% occupancy subsidy would be $40 per seat. You may as well boost the frequency of the buses and subsidise them to a flat fare of $5. If patronage proves demand then move straight to phases 2 and 3.

    1. I think this is the risk of doing the elcheapo trial. Don’t see how you can do slightly better trial though. I think the Hamilton Station location could be an important aspect if $5M+ more was spent? Maybe buying/refurbishing some more used off-shore train sets to run more services, but then you have different rolling stock to deal with. You probably raise some good points, AZZA, if those bus figures are correct…apart from bus time reliability of course…which could really go downhill with more housing development coming online in the next couple of years.

    2. Just do note it’s five return services a day, ten services in total. The estimate is based upon 30% occupancy average by seat-km (60% of seats used per run with an everage trip length of half the service length).

      Not sure where you get 100% occupancy from. The actual revenue and subsidy per passenger, and per passenger-kilometre, is listed in the appendix of the report.

      1. So I calculate a total of 2912 journeys per year point to point AKL-TRG-AKL and AKL-HLZ-AKL combined.
        Multiplied by 96 maximum seats equals 279552 total point to point seats per year. Appendix states 373905
        boardings per year (boarding = someone paying a fare). So every available seat will be sold 1.33 times. But you only assume average occupancy of 60% ? This could only be relying on the unrealistic assumption of large number of passengers making short trips from within the point to point routes. In order to make the subsidy per passenger/trip figure as low as possible.

        1. I think you are right there AZZA, it looks like we have the wrong figure for boardings in the tables. It actually seems to be a consistent 50% greater than it should be reported as, which sounds like some annoying excel formula error.

          But not to worry too much, the cost and subsidy analysis is actually based around the core metrics of the service-km and passenger-km, not boardings. So cost is mostly related to service-km and hours, passenger revenue is calculated at 15c per passenger km, occupancy is based on that too.

          The boardings were actually back-estimated after the fact after people kept asking about it. I think I got that bit wrong, although I’ve checked the service metrics, revenue and subsidy, they are all correct. Divide the fare revenue by boarding and you get only $11 bucks, about 2/3rds what it should be.

          If you divide the passenger-km by the service-km you’ll see the actual occupancy rate, which is 59 passenger-km per service-km, i.e 59 seats of a 96 seater filled, or about 60%.

          Thanks for picking up on that, its very annoying that we published with a largely irrelevant but very distracting error.

        2. I’m mulling over whether to do that. It’s really inconsequential because the passenger-km and subsidy calculations are right, but wrong boardings is distracting. Not sure what is more confusing, correcting the document and having two versions floating around, or not correcting it and having to explain the issue to anyone digging in to the data.

    3. InterCity has 13 bus/coach services between Hamilton and Auckland city from $10.00 of which 4 of them are express to the Auckland airport.

      There are people like me would prefer to travel be train to Auckland city as oppose to a bus/coach unless if I am travelling to Auckland airport, then I will take a InterCity bus/coach travelling on their Gold seat service for $25.00.

      None of InterCity services between Hamilton and Auckland are subsidized.

      1. Maybe Mana just lie about their trip times. 125 km in 2.20 is not exactly flying. As they are doing the most conjested part of the trip in the tail end of the peak it seams possible

  44. Now this is what I call a strategy! Sadly our political parties can’t put together something like this – it’s all in double speak – and government agencies simply don’t have the commitment to long-term planning (dare I ask where is NZTA in rail planning…?) If this was a policy of any party, they would have my vote immediately.

  45. Brave and inspired plan. I hope it happens and sees a revival and extension of other lines around the country to increase the catchment of our major cities.

  46. Thanks GA. Great work. This would be life-changing for many people. Yes it shouldn’t take volunteers to start the ball rolling, but thank you all the more for sticking your necks out like this. Fantastic. I look forward to government refining the details.

  47. There could be a connection to the Coromandel via the old Thames branch [now a rail trail] or to Tauranga from Waihi using the old ECMT permanent way. What about Northland. Perhaps a spur to Warkworth from Kaipara Flats with trains going, eventually to Marsden City [if that grows] and Whangarei as well as Auckland. First things first. We need to get below wheel costs firmly into the governments area of responsibility as infrastructure funding, with a proper funding steam for it, with possible $$ coming from the fuel excise tax!

    1. Thanks for mentioning the Thames line. A big loss for the Waikato and the Coromandel back in the late 90s/early 00s when the line was lifted by Tranz Rail.

  48. Fantastic work, absolutely love it. With much of my life spread over these three regions, being able to catch the train would be a game changer. The reliability of travel time and not having dead time concentrating on the road for the entire trip are the two winning aspects of this proposal for me.

    It’s a running joke in my family that I could just jump on the fast train down to Morrinsville. Now I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to do just that.

  49. NZ uses narrow gauge rail track. This is not going to support high speed train travel. That is just science! If we want HS rail, we would need to lay new track. If you compare the costs of HS track, the cheapest is China, at USD17M per KM and the highest is the USA at US$39M per km. Thats NZ$ 23.24m – 53.31M. If we take the mid point (more or less the European costs), thats NZ$38.275M per kilometer of track. Auck-Ham is 112km and Auck-Tauranga is 246km (rail distances). That is a rail track build cost of 4.3 Billion to Hamilton and 9.4 Billion to Tauranga. Then you of course have to buy the trains! 400M according to the train spotters. Then you have to look at ticket costs. The cheapest HS rail fare is 10 cents a km and the most expensive is 51 cents. If we take the mid value of 30.5 cents per km, the return fare Auck/Ham would be $68.32 and Auckland to Tauranga return would be $150.06. So using science and facts – this project could not be delivered for the costs you are promising.

    1. Please read the report, or even just the summary above. This is not a proposal for high speed rail, we are not suggesting building new track, let alone a high speed line. It’s a proposal for 160km/h running tilt trains on narrow gauge track. This is exactly what they have in Queensland, Taiwan and Japan. It works, they’ve been doing it for decades.

      Thanks for your science and facts, but they’re not relevant to this proposal!

      1. Nick, you’ll need to build new track because the existing single track ECMT is often at capacity. You would currently be faced with lengthy stops at crossing loops waiting for a slot. I’m also pretty sure you’ll need to replace all remaining wooden sleepered track with concrete sleepers, and likely need trackbed rehabilitation over the entire Auckland-Tauranga route (or at least wherever you plan to exceed 110km/h) to create track stable and robust enough to maintain the geometry needed for safe 160km/h running.

        It can all be done, but at huge capital cost, and huge ongoing opex. When cheap buses and planes already exist, with a wide range of timetable options, it’s a bit hard to justify.

        1. Yes Geoff, that’s why there is $200m of track upgrades included in stage 2, and again in stage 3, plus the deviations and extending the .passing loops. Track stability is the key thing indeed, rather than changes to geometry. There is also a very large allocation of track access changes in the opex sheet ($4.50 per service-kilometre) to keep it well maintained.

          Not all track sections are allocated for full 160km/h in the speed model either, just the straighter and more conventions sections.

        2. At the end of stage 3 we’ve costed almost two billion dollars of capital development, most of it fixing, extending and duplicating track.

        3. Geoff, remember that for a large chunk of the route (from Ruakura to the western portal of the Kaimai Tunnel) you’re also dealing with relatively good topography by NZ standards. Flat or gently undulating, it makes curve easement and double tracking relatively straightforward. This is major potential for speed increases across the Waikato.

          And also don’t forget that as higher-speed rail is using the same tracks as freight, track improvements for passenger trains will also benefit intercity freight services. Everyone’s a winner.

        4. Except Glen, the major generator of demand, and driver of revenue, for major upgrades is already in place. It’s a busy freight route, and a profitable one. It’s freight that pays the bills and drives the economy, yet to date we don’t see major upgrades to the route. Why would the addition of loss-making services suddenly be a driver of major expenditure, when revenue-earning services are not?

          I think the proposal is being viewed through rose-tinted glasses, ignores economic reality, and could only possibly happen under a Green government, which is unlikely to ever happen.

          IMO the value in these types of proposals, and generation of public and political interest in the topic, is that it can potentially lead to a basic service being put in place. If you push for a lot, you can sometimes get a little across the line as a concession to full-rejection. And for that, I thank Nick and Harriet for the effort.

        5. Geoff – Auckland’s suburban services run at a loss but they have driven significant improvements in the track.

          Kiwirail only look at financial benefits and they are able to run a profitable business on this line without upgrades so have no reason for improvements.

          Future passenger services are more likely to happen with NZTA in charge of the tracks, who tend to take more of an economic approach meaning improvements could be made if they benefit the wider economy.

        6. Geoff, you only have to look at National’s announcement of $10b of new RoNS to upgrade some middling low volume state highways… those certainly aren’t making profits.
          New passenger services will attract capital investment in the network because they are new passenger services. They’ll be popular and politically desirable. No politician campaigns on spending money to speed up freight turnaround times, because the public generally doesn’t understand or care and it’s not a vote winner.

          In fact as the freight already turns an operating profit, the politician or layperson would probably ask why we should spend more money on it.

          …but rapid passenger rail is hugely popular, based on the response to our plan, so it could very easily attract some serious funding and political grandstanding.

        7. Geoff, if you’re wondering why we haven’t seen major upgrades to the route to provide for further growth despite the freight service being profitable – you should be asking our current political leaders that, not volunteers and blog posters.
          Evidence and logic suggests we should be investing in this mode now.

          But to agree with Nick, new passenger services used by tens of thousands of people will be the catalyst for the infrastructure investment which also benefits freight services. They allow politicians to justify what should have been done anyway, but which didn’t win them many votes. The improved rail infrastructure then benefits both the new passenger and existing freight users.

          This is called a win-win situation. I suggest you get behind the plan rather than scrabbling for reasons not to like it.

    2. Did you read the bit about using tilt trains with a top speed of 160kmh? This is done on narrow gauge track in Queensland already. There is no suggestion of 300kmh running so no need for expensive track upgrades.

        1. While it is true that the Queensland tilt trains have a 160kmh max speed on 1067mm gauge, the ability for it to be exploited only arose as a result of extensive deviations of the QR North Coast Ine in the 1980s and 90s to get rid of the worst most tortuous sections. Similar expenditure , as well as resignalling ( for increased braking distance at signals) and Automatic Train Protection ( for speed supervision) would most probably required to enable 160 kph operation in NZ.

        2. Alphatron, none of that expenditure would be wasted as freight efficiency would also increase significantly with upgraded trackage.

          FYI if anyone would like another example of higher speeds on the Cape Gauge, check out this line.

          I used to ride this train frequently, it’s fast and smooth. You’d never know you were zipping along on the narrow gauge. Track condition is the key. This is what we need to do better in NZ. We simply should demand better of KiwiRail.

        3. We have included track deviations and upgrades in the costings, and also $400m for regionwide ECTS1 signalling and train protection is Stage 3.

        4. That’s great Nick.

          The comprehensive nature of this plan is one of its many points of appeal.

          It really is amazing work for a volunteer organisation, puts our political and transport professionals to shame. Or rather, it should inspire them to do better!

  50. What about north of Auckland? To Whangarei, if not beyond. Surely just what is needed for regional development in Northland.

  51. I don’t see any point to stage 1 as its not competitive with taking the bus by either price or speed. Its failure would set back support for options 2/3.
    The 3rd main would need to be in place and allow overtaking.
    17 trains with 300 people per train sounds too big.
    A smaller scale option 3 focusing on Auckland-Hamilton commuters, something like 3 trains providing departures from AKL & HAM @ 6am and Auckland at 7am could be a start.

  52. Visionary! Having lived in places with fast and affordable rail – including linking satellite centres, I’m a huge fan. Plus I applaud the realistically tiered sequence of the modules – making it both simple to conceptualize and affordable (i.e., at or close to cost neutral), will hopefully garner the required political/ public acceptance.

    The advantages of this proposal over continually wasting money on road based mass commuting is a massive NO BRAINER.

  53. Interesting population map with the blue fuzzies showing the population thickets and how regional rail lines would tie them together.
    That fuzz patch out west of Puke, probably Waiuku looks as dense as many of those waikato fuzz patches yet it seems to be the unwanted black sheep. There is a perfectly good, high quality, main line going that way BUT not a whisper about either Metro rail or Regional rail going there.

      1. Indeed. This regional rail proposal is excellent work, i just wish whoever is the new govt will see the logic and sense in this and use it as the basis for sorting out decent north north island PT.
        Well done GA. This topic and the Airport rail dicussion shows the underlying enthusiasm from many people to get NZ rail ‘world class’

  54. Regarding the Silver Ferns, one is on long term lease and is not available. Of the other two, one is stripped of parts and requires significant structural work. So really only one available, but none are up to frequent running from a mechanical perspective. When they run long distance excursions they even take a mechanic with them, and it’s not uncommon to have them towed by a locomotive after breaking down. To use them as you suggest, they would first need a major overhaul, likely including a new engine.

    Two questions:

    1) How will the high opex be paid for? Maintenance of 160km/h track is not cheap, and neither is network access.

    2) Have you measured demand? What are the patronage targets and are they realistic given the generally low population combined with a very well established car culture in which people will likely want their car for local travel at each end of the main journey?

    1. Yep we’ve assumed repowering could be required, have allocated about five million to the refurb.
      1) The opex will be paid for out of ticket revenue, although the initial refurbishment of the track is included in the capital budget so that will effectively defer a lot of renewals for ten or fifteen years. You’ll see in the latter stages a huge part of the budget is payment to kiwirail (or their successor agency, hopefully) to fund track maintenance to an exacting standard.
      2) We have not measured demand, because there is currently none. I think you are asking if we have predicted demand! We benchmarked demand against the Vline network in Victoria. In effect our stage 2 is about a fifth the service of the Vline network, a fifth the cos to operate, and we’ve assumed one fifth the patronage as a result. This is an assumption that kiwis are about as willing to use rail as Aussies, all else made equal. Australia likewise has a low, spread out population who love cars etc… but that hasnt stopped the Vline project being a massive success (or urban rail in Auckland, same tired arguments were used there). Bear in mind this is project to create demand and shape development, measuring against what people do now will only tell you a fraction of the story.

    2. I wonder if anyone can accurately estimate the demand. Rail (and cycling) have such high latent demand. There’s certainly nothing the authorities are doing to convince me they have a clue about demand. Remembering of course that this would affect land use patterns and dynamic land use models are not NZTA’s forte.

      I think 251 mainly enthusiastic comments (so far) speak volumes about public preference.

      1. We did benchmarking of other systems for that very reason. Nothing about status quo models fed with historic census and travel pattern data will tell us how people will use a ‘gamechanger’ system ten years from now.

        1. Yes, that was a good approach. Did you look at how those systems changed with time too? No worries if you didn’t – just means your figures will be conservative.

  55. Amazing! How can I help you to make it happen? I’m in Wellington and we had a week with the rail down and 2-3hr commutes. As soon as the rail came back, we were back to 45 min commutes! Never believe anyone who says roads are the way to go.

  56. Great comprehensive plan GA! Hopefully this gets picked up as a football by all parties come the election, this could signal the biggest shift in how we get around since that soul destroying monstrosity landed on Northcote in 1959

  57. The Kaimai tunnel is 8.9km in length. It does not have forced ventilation, so does not comply with international design and safety codes or practice for fire and life safety and evacuation. I prepared the Auckland City Rail Link budget in 2012 which was published in the Herald at NZD 2.86bn. Therefore, in order to overcome the Kaimai tunnel constraint I estimate that this will cost between NZD 1 and 1.5bn for a new Kaimai tunnel alone. I’d be happy to provide you with other realistic budgets so that rail commuting became a reality in New Zealand.

    1. “The Kaimai Tunnel does not comply. . . . .”

      And the same would have to be true of 100’s of similar or much older railway tunnels all round the world which continue to *safely* operate passenger services.
      (* ‘Safe’ being a relative term)

      So what do we do?

      a) Be pragmatic about the proven-miniscule risk that a conflagrational or asphyxiational disaster might happen in the Kaimai Tunnel if all sensible precautions are taken?


      b) Be dogmatic that passenger trains should not use the tunnel unless a whole new tunnel is built, which in practice means that passenger transport over the route will continue to be dominated by road transport which carries a proven far-greater risk of injury/fatality.

      This is an increasingly-confronting choice that transport- and legislative-authorities need to get their heads out-of-the-sand over.

      1. …and this is exactly the excuse being used for not continuing Auckland metro beyond Swanson to kumeu/huapai that would have to go through the Waitakere tunnel. PC crazy

        1. I’ve been thinking for some time that all rails H&S policies do is make rail less competitive and results in a modal shift to the led safe mode of road.

          That railway sidings deemed dangerous to shunt now serviced by a large truck passing thru residential streets.

    2. That is a problem. Rather than having people travel through a tunnel that is statistically several times safer, people are directed to roads that are a lot less safe, just because that tunnel does not comply with some arbitrary rules.

      1. All three of those tunnels differ and have their own operating instructions. I am certified to operate freight trains through the kaimai and can vouch for some of it without to much detail. Yes there has been passenger services through the kaimai tunnel in the past. And yes there has been the odd excursion through there recently. And yes, very recently the LAW has changed, and tunnels fall under these laws. My understanding is that KR would prefer to stay away from passenger services through the kaimai because of the high volume of freight services through there. The tunnel is currently having many many $m’s spent on its upgrade, including cellphone coverage inside the tunnel. There is some form of time limit on when a passenger train can actually travel through there after the clearance of another train. Also, there rules in regards to air flow within the carriages which I believe the ak carriages meet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rimutaka tunnel gets away with it because it is mainly passenger through that tunnel, and there is a ventilation port midway as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Otira tunnel gets away with it now because the there has been a reduction in freight services through there as well as a fully operational ventilation system. Something which the kaimai does not have, it has to naturally “air out”. And I can assure you that there is an accumulation of fumes within that tunnel from time to time. The DL locos have helped reduce those emissions drastically. We actually had an LE evacuate that tunnel in the last two years who required hospitalisation afterwards. The effects of nitrogen dioxide poisoning are irreversible, and can be easily fatal.

        1. I would have thought that carbon monoxide would have been a more significant hazard.
          That being said your point re the Health and Safety at Work Act is relevant. It’s fine to talk about what “we” should do but if there is an incident it is not “we” who is in court; it is the PCBU.

        2. How difficult to run an electrified section through the Kaimai Tunnel, much like they did through Auckland’s Eastern Line tunnel?

        3. If carbon monoxide is present as a result of diesel emissions, then so is nitrogen dioxide. Carbon monoxide is also toxic, but simply a return to fresh air is all that is required for a recovery. I suppose similar to a lack of oxygen…. Nitrogen dioxide however is extremely toxic, and the side effects are irreversible. So you fall victim to nitrogen dioxide poisoning, you basically live with the damage done by getting it I to your system. Also, if you sweat when evacuating in such a tunnel, or you are get, nitrogen dioxide will turn into an acid which will eat through your clothing and your skin, and so on. Patrick, typically, looking at 12 MP trains per day. And approximately 14 other trains between te rapa – tauranga, and kinleith – tauranga. So most days at least 26 trains a day, which is more than one per hour. And THEY are serious on running more through there as well.

        4. Nitric acid to be more precise, is what forms when nitrogen dioxide dissolves with it. And since there is moisture in the human lungs…… and a flowing creek inside the kaimai that looks exceptionally good to drink….. hmmmmmmmnnnn

    3. Anon thanks for bringing some sanity to the discussion.

      This idea looks like it’s been designed by some first year AUT students on a drunken night out.

    4. “”The first Kaimai Express ran on 9 December 1991, a morning service from Tauranga to Auckland ….
      ……… It operated for the final time on 7 October 2001. “””


      The Kaimai tunnel obviously complied at some point.

  58. Wow. A great and positive plan. At least there is some serious thinking outsize the square is going on for the regions. I am glad the the Green Party has endorsed the plan. All we need is to get NZ First and the Maori Party to endorse it and when a Labour, Green Party, NZ First and Maori coalition government is in place, it can happen.

    There is differently a need for Auckland to Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua regional commuter passenger connectivity. I also think Auckland to Whangarei should be part of the plan.

    This is how I see it –

    1. Take the track and infrastructure, signalling and train control away from Kiwirail and place it under Ontrack with financing administration by NZTA. Make Kiwirail as rail operator only. This will open the track network to other interested parties like the Iwi Rail concept.

    2. Upgrade and double or if possible triple track between Papakura and Hamilton with heavy rail for increase freight loads and higher speed passenger services.

    3. Electrify Papakura to Hamilton and Hamilton to Tauranga in 25Kva for freight and passenger, especially when the 2 inland freight ports in Hamilton are completed. This will allow electric/battery passenger trains to between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga and onto Te Puke, Hamilton to Cambridge and Hamilton to Te Kuiti.

    4. Electrify Palmerston North to Waikanae in 25Kva which will allow dual voltage electric locomotives to haul freight and the Northern Explorer train.

    5. Run the Northern Explorer train daily between Auckland, Hamilton, National Park, Palmerston North and Wellington hauled by a dual voltage electric locomotive.

    I think a ’tilt’ trains is going a bit to far for NZ’s current population unless the population doubles to 10 million by 2027.

    With regards to the other regions, I would like to see a fleet of eco-friendly diesel railcars like the old 88 seater Fiat railcars for –

    1. Wellington to Hastings and Napier either via Masterton and Woodville or via Palmerston North and Woodville.

    2. Between Wellington to Whanganui and New Plymouth via Palmerston North.

    3. Between New Plymouth and Hamilton and Auckland

    4. Between Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

    5. Passenger rail services between Christchurch, Blenheim and Picton still handled by the Coastal Pacific train all year round and between Christchurch, Arthurs Pass and Greymouth by the TranzAlpine train.

    With regards to passenger rail services between Auckland and Whangarei, if Mardsen Point becomes the new port for Auckland, then the existing rail line can be double track and electrify for both freight and passenger services,

    Rolling stock for regional passenger train services can be electric/battery and eco-friendly diesel as twin and/or triple railcar train sets. CAF has a range of regional commuter passenger train products to make this happen.

    We have an under utilized national rail network that needs to some new life breathed into it. If Labour, the Green Party, NZ First and lessor extend the Maori Party with their Iwi Rail concept is committed to regional development and building a decent regional passenger and freight transport network, then lets do it.

    1. Why do we need a larger population for tilt trains? They seem like a pretty essential part of this plan, because otherwise the times are not competitive with driving off-peak. Also much cheaper than electrifying (though I wish that would happen too).

      1. ‘Tilt’ trains need a dedicate track for high speed operation as seen in Queensland pushing the cost up plus the traveling distances are small for ‘Tilt’ trains to just the high cost of laying dedicated track. The current track infra-structure whilst needs to upgrade for heavier axles and higher operating speeds plus knocking out some of the kinks in the track is fine and would be be cheaper option as upgrade as oppose to a complete rebuild.

        With regards to your comment “Why do we need a larger population for tilt trains” there will be a higher population density of users to cover the build costs of the ”tilt’ train service.

        1. Queensland certainly isn’t known for it’s high population density. Also I don’t get your argument regarding short distances, wouldn’t that just mean there is less track that needs upgrading?

        2. I dont follow, the Queensland Tilt Trains run on the normal, often single track freight line. They don’t have any dedicated track. They also dont require heavier axle loads, compared to freight trains they are lightweight multiple units.

          Also your list of electrifications is over a billion dollars worth. You say we dont have the population for new trains but we do have the population for billions on electrification? How do you figure that?

        3. Firstly, I standard corrected over ‘Tilt’ trains needing dedicated track. Upgrading the existing track to high speeds and heavier axles loadings will handle ’tilt’ trains.

          Secondly, you missed the point about electrification for the ‘Golden Triangle’ regional network, I said ‘ Electrify Papakura to Hamilton and Hamilton to Tauranga in 25Kva for freight and passenger, especially when the 2 inland freight ports in Hamilton are completed.’ for electric/battery passenger trains, allowing battery operation between Hamilton to Cambridge and between Tauranga and Te Puke.

          With regards Auckland to Rotorua passenger train services, this would have to be diesel like between Wellington/Napier/Hastings, Wellington/Whanganui/New Plymouth and New Plymouth/Hamilton/Auckland.

    2. Kris, tilt trains operate between Sapporo and hinterland smaller towns and cities in low popn density Hokkaido, Japan. By the way, they’re diesel too.

  59. This is a visionary strategy that provides a range of solutions to problems facing a large part of the population of the country.

    I look forward to following it’s progress into reality.

  60. Good proposal with some decent figures to back it all up. Many a person probably had similar plans, but has not developed them so well. Certainly, I had drawings and timetables of a similar network, soon after I arrived in Auckland from overseas over 20 years ago.
    Often you need the vision before you can analyze things well. Those people who suggest that a pure problem solving process should be applied just don’t live in the real world.
    If four trains an hour between Hamilton and Auckland clogs up the network, the European wing-train solution could be adopted: two trains meet at one station and are connected within seconds using automatic couplers; they then travel as one longer train to their destination. Currently, this is not possible in NZ due to safety concerns, but in Europe it has been done for decades now without any safety incidents.

    1. They used to do exactly that until 2001. At Hamilton the split the two silver ferns apart and one half went to Tauranga and the other half went to Rotorua.

      1. I’m pretty sure that the Rotorua/Tauranga Silver Ferns ran independently, and they didn’t divide/join at Hamilton (or anywhere else). I don’t think that such splitting/dividing in service has ever been normal operational practice in NZ.

        And the whole process always takes longer than just seconds – while the actual coupling/uncoupling may be quick (but probably not that quick), there has to be at least the normal signalling headway between trains before they couple and after they uncouple.

        But this is largely academic anyway – I can’t imagine that such operation would be proposed.

  61. Just watched an infantile and rather ignorant article discussing these proposals on TV3’s The Project. Including Steven Joyce apparently suggesting that NZ needs another 50 million in population to make it all worthwhile.

    Sadly, I feel there’s still a long way to go yet in advocacy and argument.

    1. Actually the only dissenting force, are one or two dinosaurs among the Nats. One of those is the kiwi Joyce that Hipkins should be focusing his efforts on.

      1. OMG, has Hipkin suspected some of our pollies are aliens hence deserving his focus? Joyce and Brownlee and perhaps other ample Nats could be Slitheen in people suit disguise

        1. Yeah, a wet dream as in the reality it is in most other decently developed countries in the world, including our neighbours to the west?

    2. A rather ridiculous thing to say when Australia already has a superior regional passenger rail system compared to New Zealand in many respects, including trains and services in-line with what has been proposed by GA, with a population only half of this absurd number.

  62. This is honestly one of the most comical things I’ve ever read in my life.

    The best bit has to be the zero subsidy at stage two and the massive profit projected at stage three. I mean you couldn’t dream up a better punchline in 100 years.

    Good news is the Green Party have hit 4% in a poll released today. Soon we won’t have to discuss loony ideas like this in the public sphere.

    1. “Soon we won’t have to discuss loony ideas like this in the public sphere”

      Don’t count on it. This website is part of the public sphere and I’m sure it isn’t going away any time soon.

    2. The best bit has to be your cut-and-paste negative response.

      Where’s the analysis on the numbers if you so disagree?

    3. So group of people have put hundreds of hours into analysing information and producing a report and we are supposed to believe someone who’s speciality is producing short comments that mostly criticise others and may well be just Matt L’s parody account.

      1. The idea is good, its just that the budgets are wrong by several magnitudes. Take for example Parnell Station which is classified as a basic station, the upgrade is forecast to cost $18m (both stages), so I am really unsure as to how a budget of $750k was determined for a basic upgrade. There is a whole host of other costs that are well short and a whole lot that have not been included as well.
        Someone needs to take a serious look at these.

        1. Parnell was likely a lot more expensive than most due to realignment of the tracks (esp. in a busy section of line) & restoration of the historic Newmarket station building (I guess was in that budget). Tricky ground work I think and various other reasons. I guess there is good figures of upgrades of old Auckland stations done back in 2010 or when ever it was. I also expect one like at Pokeno would be very basic but could be enhanced by Waikato funding etc.

    4. Erm, if you think $13m EBIT on $110m of revenue is “massive profit” you’ve clearly never run a business (or if you have, you clearly no longer run a business!).

  63. Guys, is there any way you can post or link to any media that you do, i.e. the Nine to Noon interview mentioned above?

  64. At last! This proposal if implemented, would make a huge difference. It’s the only answer to NZZ traffic problems. Road safety would improve and It would also have a contribution indirectly towards solving the housing crisis.

  65. Great effort Greater Auckland! The Victoria case study of how regional rail was transformed with Vlocity trains, better stations and bus connections, and of course much improved tracks is a very good starting point for Auckland. As with Victoria, regional rail out of Auckland is an enabler of regional growth.

  66. The listed benefits need to include developing a more CBD-oriented employment pattern in Hamilton, and to facilitate decentralisation of functions into urban environments away from Auckland. Here in Victoria there is now a strong in-bound commuter flow into Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong on the regional train system. Geelong has been the recipient of several government departments decentralising to new office buildings in the area between the Geelong station and the Geelong retail area, an area where there is little new parking. The current Victorian Labour government also wants to decentralise some government departments to central Ballarat (includingVicRoads).

    This counter-flow of commuters into the regional centres comes at very low marginal costs, because the railcars are required for post-peak services to Melbourne.

    1. +1 Good to hear of industry going to Ballarat, a place that reminds me a little of Oamaru and Dunedin. Neat university there too!

  67. Would it be possible to include investment plan in trains such as German ICE, French TGV, or Japanese Shinkanshin for this proposal?

    1. That would be a huge increase in cost. We are talking about $1.5b here for the final stage, with true high speed rail we would be talking perhaps $50b.

    1. Looks a bit bumpy there, but perhaps the owner of it could fund the station & faster realignment through that section given that Hampton Downs is all privately owned?!

      1. There’s a lot of residential development in the long term plan – at least there was when it was first launched. Not sure now given Tony Quinn’s takeover, but there is likely to be a lot more out there than just a racetrack.

    2. A station at Hampton Downs for special events, with shuttles to the raceway, would be awesome. I don’t attend races there due to traffic. Drives me nuts.

  68. Excellent first proposal! This is a great and well researched first attempt at putting together an upper north island rail strategy.

    1. I don’t think a service to Cambridge is appropriate in this context. Matangi and Cambridge are not going to support the kind of rail service being proposed. Also, I think services to Cambridge could be covered within the Waikato Regional Transport provided by WRC, rather than being bundled with inter-regional services.

    2. Ōhaupo doesn’t get a station but it is zoned for growth, and is similar size to than other centres such as Waharoa or Tīrau that do have a station.

    3.Why isn’t there a station at Ngongotaha? There are major tourist attractions there and I think the distance to Rotorua centre would make a station here worth having.

    4. I would add a stop at Ōmokoroa that could serve areas north of Tauranga, the northern road corridor is already congested, and despite future planned investment, it will still have high demand.

    5. The Waitomo station (technically Hangatiki) doesn’t really make sense in terms of location. There is nothing around that station and to get to the tourist attractions would still required busses or other transport options, which people could just as easily take from Ōtorohanga or Te Kūiti.

    6. There are other centres that would benefit from similar regional services such as Waiuku, Te Aroha and Tokoroa, I’d be interest to know if they were considered?

    1. Hi Ben, thanks for your comments. My responses:

      1. I do think Cambridge can support a regular train service to Hamilton and Auckland. The Cambridge run is really just an extension of the Hamilton to Auckland short runner, the extra service length is actually pretty minimal to reach quite a sizeable town. What is wrong with hourly trains all day?

      2.Ohaupo is pretty damned tiny right now and wouldn’t justify a stop, but if there is a growth plan it can easily be added to the line, an easy way to encourage a good development form.

      3. My assumption was that most people would transit through the central area in Rotorua for hotels, food and services. However if there is plenty of demand for day trippers and stuff to Nongotaha, then a stop could be built there also. Each stop adds a few minutes to the running time, so its a fairly simple evaluation of whether you think it is worthwhile or not.

      4. Yes we had been talking about a western Tauranga stop, that might be a good idea too. Again its travel time vs. accessibility.

      5. Yep the Waitomo station would be at hangatiki like the old days, with a shuttle connection to the village. You could do that from Otorohanga of course, but the main point of having it in the scheme is to show people that the train network could be really beneficial for tourism across the upper north island.

      6. Those three towns were considered and the are the obvious sizeable towns that are on the current or former network but have been left out. The same problem with all three is that they are at the end of a branch line off a main line, so you’d end up running a whole entire train service (to Hamilton? To Auckland?) just for one station. It would be replicating the Cambridge situation three times over, for three much smaller towns. Thats not consistent with the RRR service model of frequent regular trains, all day, seven days a week.

      We have been toying with the idea of a crosstown line from Tokoroa to Te Aroha (and perhaps eventually back along the old line via Paeroa to Thames). This would aim for timed connections with the Geyserland Line at Putaruru (toward Rotorua) and the Bay of Plenty Line at Waharoa (towards Tauranga), and with connections to both lines going the other way towards Hamilton and Auckland at Morrinsville. Thats a little more efficient, but it’s still running a whole extra line for just a couple of towns.

      I think Waiuku’s destiny is being the end of an auckland suburban type line, serving new residential development along the way at Patamahoe and maybe one new village. You could eventually see the southern line splitting at Paerata, with half the trains going to Pukekohe and Tuakau, the other half to Patamahoe and Waiuku.

      1. Having upgraded long distance buses (eg on board toilets and wheelchair access) stopping in small towns like Tokoroa would improve the overall network in the medium term. I think it needs to be a mix of buses and improved trains.

  69. Wow this is great – the sooner the better. This really would make us world class. Currently commuting from hamz to Auckland using car and train (2.5 hours each way). Sadly so many more job opportunities in Auckland otherwise wouldn’t commute

  70. I really love this. My one question was about Matangi. That seems like a really small town. Why not a station in Hamilton East/Claudelands instead? Surely that would have higher patronage.

  71. Nick has mentioned the v-Line, and it is indeed a resounding success.

    It links a major city of 4.5m with regional centres of with populations of approximately; 200k (Geelong), 125k (LaTrobe Valley) 100k (Bendigo), 100k (Ballarat), 90k (Albury-Wodonga) and 50k (Shepparton). Patronage has boomed as the services have been upgraded from slow rail to fast rail, and bypass sections and duplication have allowed them to avoid other rail traffic.

    Most of these are within 200km of the city, and so are less than 2 hours away with 100km/h-160km/h service.

    It’s a very strong model, and has revitalised the state outside its capital. If Labour or National wants to secure the gratitude of the upper North Island, this would be a very good move.

      1. None of these lines are double-tracked in their entirety. The Geelong line is double-tracked as far as Geelong station, after which there is a single track section for a further 3 stations within Geelong (and is constrained to a daytime service every 40 minutes). The Ballarat line is single track with passing bays from the edge of the Melbourne built up area, but is being duplicated as far as Melton. The Bendigo line was previously double track all the way, but was controversially singled for half its length as part of the Regional Fast Rail project in about 2006.

        While double track is certainly an advantage, there have been enough passing bays for a clock-face timetable with hourly services, and this has been sufficient to achieve the benefits of both in-bound commuters into Melbourne, and regionally-bound commuters into Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat.

    1. Yes, but like all good public infrastructure projects it needs to have funding behind it to make it happen.

      Remember that when you vote on 23 September.

  72. Dream scenario. Sell Auckland property. Buy Tauranga home. Easy relaxing access to the big city for events and shows. Late night train home. This project might even pay for itself if retirees move out of Auckland and free up housing. Gives them the best of both worlds. But regional towns will need to improve their PT.

    1. …then the Tauranga house prices rise…as they have been with retirees moving out of Auckland…except at the moment they all drive there and back & family visiting plus drive while there as that’s all there is….mini-Auckland.

  73. Nick R, what is the plan for getting passenger trains through the Kaimai tunnel, and has it been costed? I glanced through your report (very comprehensive, and well done btw), but didn’t see anything about the tunnel. Passenger trains are currently banned from using it.

    I agree Cambridge could support a service, though it should have a Hamilton focus. Hamilton is where most people from there are going, and I tend to think Cambridge is best suited for a Waikato regional commuter service foussed on Hamilton, rather than the Auckland market, which will be small.

    Have you taken into account the need to fully replace the track and formation of the Cambridge line, the need to bypass the dairy factory, and have you considered the fact that KiwiRail have recently sold the Cambridge station site to big box retail developers? The unfortunate reality is that reinstating that branch will be very costly, and therefore not worth it unless a lot of passengers can be sourced.

    1. I think the idea of the Cambridge service is that it would be useful for people travelling from Cambridge to both Hamilton and Auckland. I agree more would probably be travelling just to Hamilton, but of course other people would then get on in Hamilton and travel further north. One service, multiple purposes.

    2. Geoff, if the Kaimai Tunnel is off limits to passenger trains (presumably because of fumes?) then that is an argument for prioritising the electrification of the NIMT to Hamilton and the ECMT to Tauranga to allow electric passenger trains to run through the tunnel.

      Of course, by extending the electrification a little further to Mt. Maunganui, that then allows freight services to be electrified as well, with the attendant massive savings on OPEX and carbon emissions.

      Everyone’s a winner – how about you get on board with the plan?

      1. If these train work and we can do that with other trains and bus and cars so it be good to make a difference with no lack of anything

    3. Hi Geoff, sorry I didn’t see this comment till now but seeing as you asked directly I’ll try and respond directly:

      -No we do not have a specific plan for the kaimai tunnel, but we do have an allocation for $80m for network improvements not otherwise specified which is something of a catch all for things like this. To be fair we have no idea what is actually required for the tunnel. I have been working on the assumption that most modern higher speed intercity units are pressure sealed to deal with the transition between open track and tunnels anyway, so this should hopefully allow them to run through without problem, in regular service at least.

      -As people have noted below, the Cambridge service is focused on Hamilton, but also allows trips from Hamilton to Auckland, Cambridge to Aucklad, and vice versa. If you compared to stage 2 you’ll see the Cambridge run is also the short runner for extra Hamilton to Auckland capacity, so it is fulfilling three roles at the same time. A route that operates on just one role (Cambridge to Hamilton) only is unlikely to achieve a lot of patronage.

      -Yes we have taken into account the need to replace the Cambridge line and have allocated $31m to this task. This is based on a single track alignment (except for at the terminus station) with level crossings and a standard speed limit to Hamilton (not 160km/h). From what I can see the dairy factor already has a central bypass track in addition to two sets of sidings to the factory sheds either side. In practice we would probably have to double track a stretch between Matangi and Hautapu for a long passing loop, however we don’t need more than single track into Cambridge proper to run hourly trains (but two tracks at the final station would be very useful for operations).

      -For the station site we have suggested something slightly upstream of the former site, mostly within the road corridor alongside Whitaker Street.

  74. This is a very good idea! All these hours getting wasted in traffic jams in Auckland could be eliminated and be charged to clients instead. All these hours can now be spent in a productive way. That money now earned and taxed would help fund the railways.

  75. There is lots of potential here, but the budgets / allowances need a serious review.

    A couple of points in relation to stage 1
    1. There needs to be more crews, 4 is not enough unless you want them working 12+ hour days, 7 days a week. Plus there is no allowance for sick days and or annual leave
    2. More trains are required to give bi directional peak service
    3. The station refurbishments will cost upwards of $4m each.
    4. Management over head is too low at 10%, more like 50%
    5. Marketing allowance is well short
    5. There is no cost of capital included

    It goes on.

    I’d suggest this document is withdrawn with a proper robust costing done there after.

    1. “1. There needs to be more crews, 4 is not enough unless you want them working 12+ hour days, 7 days a week. Plus there is no allowance for sick days and or annual leave”

      Why are four crews not enough to operate 2 trains?

      “3 The station refurbishments will cost upwards of $4m each.”

      To build a concrete Pad and install a bus shelter? I suggest that you find some new builders, you are being ripped off.

      “4. Management over head is too low at 10%, more like 50%”

      This is the marginal cost of management. Why would adding two more services to Kiwirail’s huge operation have such high management cost?

      “5. There is no cost of capital included”

      The cost of capital shouldn’t be included. This is a government proposal, not commercial.

  76. This is exciting stuff! Great work team!
    Strategic and sensible leveraging of existing assets at what appears to be very modest cost (especially stage 2). And clearly not just a transport project – it will be fantastic for revitalising Waikato towns and unlocking new housing opportunities.
    The challenge is now to get public policymakers to take this seriously!!

  77. I can see a a few things overlooked here. And things that could make the whole thing even more attractive.

    Like double tracking direct from taupiri to morrisnville. That wouldn’t only speed up the trip from tauranga and rotorua even more, but also reduce train congestion in the Hamilton area. Additionally freight services tga-all could be sped up using that route which would reduce costs of operating those services as well, quite substantially.

    What about holding off, rushing into this, and perhaps entering discussions with kiwirail about them replacing their northern Explorer with these tilt trains Auckland to Wellington and ordering standby sets that can be utilised for a trial service. If successful, purchase more new equipment and then use the trial equipment on tauranga route, and eventually the same process for rotorua and Cambridge. Of course the king country would already be served!

    1. SJC. Yes to both. As we say this proposal is a starting point, not a last word. Would also be ken to see an evaluation of whether Taupiri is the ideal reconnection point for the Hamilton bypass, not Ohinewai? And that all these improvements are great for freight too.

      Think of the Tau-AKL freight time savings with both the Hamilton bypass and Bombay tunnel. And a new Whangamarino swamp alignment.

      1. Even better from Ohinewai Patrick.

        A tunnel through the Bombay, that would be exceptional and reshape the way this country works.

        A realignment through the Whangamarino, bring it on. But I could imagine that being the biggest challenge of changes on these routes due to various reasons…. eg a massive swamp….

        1. I don’t think the swamp, as such, should be seen as all that much of an obstacle. It’s really only a matter of engineering.

          After all, when the transport agencies decided they wanted to build an expressway through it they just went ahead and did it. No dithering, no expense spared, no problem.

      2. That could be up to at least a while hour of time saving for just a freight train from Auckland to Tauranga. Which could carry many many other benefits.

        1. And speaking of time savings don’t forget that a substantial amount of money was spent building a motorway tunnel in order to save only 20 minutes driving to the airport.

  78. I worked on the Silver Fern railcars 20+ years ago on the Kaimai Express and Geyserland and I’m absolutely an advocate for utilising train services over automobiles at every opportunity.
    Unfortunately, my personal experience was that they were terribly under patronised and that enevitably lead to the services being financially unviable.
    We would take the evening Kaimai service to Tauranga and swap with Tauranga based crews around Morrinsville to bring the second Geyserland service back to Auckland.
    Crew often outnumbered passengers so it was understood as basically a paid break all the way back home.
    As far as I can tell, the proposal is not much different than what used to run so I’d curious to know if the mistakes of the past have been taken onboard and why anyone thinks that anything significant has occurred over the past 20 years to make a material difference to passenger voume and make the service viable?

      1. Well if they have doubled, (which I doubt) …That would have us bringing back 4 passengers instead of 2…

        1. 300/301 Kaimai Express (1 service)
          401/402 & 403/404 Geyserland (2 services)
          All ran through Hamilton so commuters had 3 options per day to Auckland.
          It was very sad to see these get cancelled but there just wern’t the numbers…

        2. Don’t forget in those days Auckland rail “didn’t have the numbers” either. We were moving less than a million a year by suburban rail then. Now we’re just about to crack the 20m mark. A lot has changed in two decades.

        3. Part of the reason for the Geyserland struggling had to be the monumentally stupid decision in the 1980s to tear out the line into Rotorua city centre. Sadly typical of New Zealand transport policy.

        4. Dave B, that is actually a fact. Good point that no one raised. Just shows how well our planners look forwards into the future.

        5. Dave and SCJ. Agree. Land-use and transport planning are inseparable.

          Planning and society in general in last half of last century was in the grip of a widespread anti-urbanism which was hugely destructive to the centres of almost all cities and towns. And especially the transport systems that supported them. In many ways all of our work here is about urban repair, the transport programmes we propose all go hand in hand with a very different vision of the built environment than the one that drove the hollowing out of centres and ripping up of track.

          High quality spatially efficient Transit is concentrating of human and economic activity, it helps create walkable, diverse, busy, vibrant, and productive urban places at every scale.

          The return of a beating heart to places like Rotorua is the fervent wish of the local authority for so many reasons from increased business to improved security and so on. But it in no way precludes those centres being surrounded by more dispersed car served suburbs. The answer is a balance.

          And he sub will thrive better with a more intense and productive urbs to be sub to.

    1. It was interesting Rich how it was reported that many people said they never even knew there was a train service when the service withdrawal was announced in the press. It seems a big problem for the service was how badly it was promoted.

      1. That’s my major concern. Will we have learned the lessons of the past?
        Being a small operation, will there be the funds to advertise and market it effectively?
        Feedback from customers at the time was that although they loved the service and travelling by train, it took so much longer than travelling by car, (even if it ran to time), and was often much more expensive than the fuel (especially if more than 1 pax)
        We had the same problems on the Northerner, Bay Express, Southener, Costal Pacific…and these services have also gone..
        My worry is that unless a rail service competes well in speed and value with cars, people will not utilise the service and it will slowly die or not provide a complelling enough option for phase 2 to be implemented.
        My personal opinion is that the only way to get such a service to succeed is to HEAVILY subsidise it and go straight for a big-bang approach until the numbers support it.
        I fear there will never be the political stomach for that.
        If we put a service model back in that has failed many times before due to it not being an attractive enough option, why do we think it will be succesful this time?
        Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing and failing repeatedly??

        1. When I worked for TranzScenic it was a daily service all year round. Before the earthquake it had dropped to a seasonal reduced timetable from memory. Same as the Overlander/Northern Explorer. (and the Northener night train dropped completely).
          Unfortunately the trend is fading passenger numbers, not growth.

        2. Yes, it was still on a seasonal pattern but I think it still did a return journey daily during the summer months. This was as a result of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake having a significant impact on tourist numbers in the South Island. This was bouncing back by 2014 and passenger numbers on the Coastal Pacific were growing prior to 14 Nov 2016.

        3. I think that it will only be necessary to maintain the momentum with stage 1 for 2 – 3 years before the next election where we can hopefully push for stage 2.

        4. Indeed, nothing else has changed since the nineties. Auckland doesn’t have twice as many people, nor do Hamilton or Tauranga. Auckland doesn’t have 20 times more rail patronage. Traffic on the motorways is no worse, and no more people commute from the northern Waikato to Auckland daily, or even for meetings weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.

          And this rail proposal is no different either, what with it’s twice daily services to Hamilton.

          Therefore, obviously the result of this would be the same.

          All of this is sarcasm in case anyone can’t tell.

  79. Would you bother with a station at Waharoa, in Stage 1? The station would have to be out of the “town” due rail line branching before just before the town proper to Tauranga. I guessing it’s because it mainly could make for a bus connection to bigger towns of Matamata, Tirau etc?

  80. I note in the report a preference for using the AT Hop infrastructure for these regional services. However, there doesn’t appear to be any cost built in to install readers and top-up/ticket machines at the new and existing stations. Can this be clarified as to what additional costs would be incurred if using hop cards?

    Also, if hop cards were used for the regional trains, it would also make sense that these can also be used on the buses both in Hamilton and Tauranga. I note that both cities appear to already use cards on their buses, however are these systems compatiable with AT Hop, or would this require additional investment?

    I think this is a good initiative, but to make it even better, it should be as seamless as possible, and if passengers can just have one card that covers the whole region, it makes it a lot easier for them.

    1. Martin it could be done by developing a card reader that will accept all three card , and then pay the fare straight into the rail companies account the same way all eftpos machines work when you go into stores . They seem to work with all the different bank systems around . And also the rail company good develop their on so that way all 4 could be used on the network .

      1. The whole bus card issue in New Zealand is all a bit unfortunate. I think that we really misses an opportunity by not creating a single national card that could be used anywhere in the country. A lot of money could have been saved on the online and backend infrastructure if every city didn’t have its own card. Not to mention the ease of use for both New Zealanders and tourists.

        For a hop card system to work, either the train doors will need readers (like on Auckland Buses or every station is going to need a card reader and ticket machine. Regardless, Stage 2 should probably include gating Hamilton and Puhinui Station.

        1. I think a ticket machine/tag post at each station wouldn’t be too major a cost. Its probably something like ten grand to wire up a platform with power and data and install a card reader post, maybe another ten grand for a ticket machine?

          There are two other options to use Hop on the regional trains:
          -Use only the paper ticket function of the Hop system, and have the train manager check and sell tickets onboard.
          -Use disposable hop cards for single tickets (these are common overseas) that operate under an honesty system in smaller places but have fare gates at the main cities.

        2. Staff in Auckland have mobile hop readers, so I don’t see why not. I think for stage 1 you’d just do the paper ticket thing, and sort out the proper system for stage 2.

        3. You must also remember the problems that AT have with fare dodgers in this cause the ones that show paper tickets to guard showing one station then getting off at another because they didn’t have enough coin to get there , so the card is the best way to go and the provider will then make money . it will also help when the don’t take off and they have to pay for the full trip

    2. Surely the obvious solution is to have ticketing on the train in stage 1 and then add a single tag post and a single top up machine to each station in stage 2? We would be talking at most $100,000 per station and only for the stations not in Auckland.

        1. AT is currently gating various stations (they’ve just done Henderson) so there are redundant tag posts available that could be used elsewhere, presumably at minimal cost.

    1. Since we rebuilt the website we lost all the statistics from the transportblog days, but since GA started this is the most commented, and now just gone the most viewed post (Has beaten Congestion Free Network 2) with over 19,000 direct views.

        1. Indeed. It shows how the GA team has both captured and helped to create the zeitgeist around transport and urban – and now regional – issues.

          More power to you all 🙂

  81. The topic of rail to Whangarei seems to be quite a contentious one, with GA (quite rightly I believe) concluding that the indirect nature of the NAL, makes rapid rail too difficult. However it is looking more and more likely that Winston Peters will play a role in the next government, who would be a traditional supporter of a scheme like this, so it is a shame that it does not benefit Northland in any way.

    What I have noticed is that due to the extra peak services offered in the morning and evening, there will be at least 1 train spending most of the day waiting in Auckland. I wonder if it would be feasible to have one of the extra peak services continue to Whangarei, and make it back to Britomart in time for its evening peak service back to Hamilton.

    1. Actually in stage 2 it is four trainsets that sit in Auckland during the middle of the day to provide the extra peak capacity, for about eight hours. However I would question whether you could reliably schedule in a return trip to Whangarei in eight hours. Given the need for some time keeping and turnaround time at the end, you’d need about a 3.5 hour one way time for that to work. That’s pretty unlikely given the current state of the track combined with it’s very windey nature. The old Northland ‘express’ used to take five and a half hours.

      As we said in the report, kiwirail reports over $200m of work required to bring the line up to the (fairly average) standard of the NIMT and ECMT, i.e. 80km/h. That’s before doing any improvements to allow higher speeds.

      This isn’t a slight on Northland or NZFirst or whatever, it’s just a sober assessment of the facts. Going north with RRR would require at least as much capital investment as the whole Waikato-Bay of Plenty network, yet still take maybe four hours to get to Whangarei. At the same time it has just Hellesville and Wellsford as the only significant population centres along the way.

      It doesn’t stack up for the rapid rail model, but like we are proposing in the report it could work well under another model. Personally, I think a bit of investment to reconnect the line all the way to Opua (to the current basic standard to start with) would allow a very good tourist service. Say five hours (ish) to Whangarei and maybe seven (ish) to the Bay of Islands. One trainset with some of the new Kiwirail Scenic carriages could do one return trip per day, every day. That would be popular with tourists who want to spend some time to take in the scenery and enjoy the travel, and for whom one train a day is ok. But not for commuters who want a frequent regular timetable and fast journeys.

      Not saying never for fast trains in the long run, but for now I think a Northern Northern Explorer is the way to start.

      1. WRT Northland, we leave Northland behind in all this at our peril. And the sole driver to Northland’s economic advancement is industry.

        We have: horticulture, dairy, meat, agriculture, and some forestry.

        Road transport can cope so far, either to Marsden Point or to Auckland. The two change-makers are an expansion of logging, and expansion of activities at Marsden Point.

        Unfortunately I believe that the logging solution should have begun 30 years ago by planting pine everywhere.

        And only by Auckland divesting itself of some port activities (cars ?)will MP have new industry.

        So put the word out : plant pines everywhere, and 30 years hence we can revisit this question.

        1. Given National just announced new wave of RONS worth $10.5B we could do this I’m sure as well if they changed tack.

        2. Typical National Party bullshit. Just re-announce existing spending and rely on journalists being to lazy to realise.

          * Wellsford to Whangarei – At least half already funded/ under construction
          * Auckland’s East-West link – Already funded
          * Cambridge to Tirau
          * Piarere to the foot of the Kaimai Range
          * Tauranga to Katikati – Already funded
          * Napier to Hastings
          * Levin to Sanson
          * The Christchurch Northern Motorway, and Christchurch to Ashburton.

        3. 2014 and most of 2015 there was a daily southbound pine log and pine chips train on NAL. Pity that traffic ceased and I think I remember reading it was lost to road transport. Now there seems to be just a daily container train each way although sometimes northbound is just a couple of locos, no wagons. Pitiful non use of a rail resource…

  82. After having read and reread the pdf document I am not clear as to how this will not have a negative effect on rail freight. Freight trains in NZ are limited to 80 km/h for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the classic 3-piece bogie fitted to almost all freight rolling stock. At a pinch speeds of 90 km/h can be maintained with this design but beyond that the bogies develop an oscillation that causes excessive wheel and track wear and increases the risk of derailment. To mix freight trains with a maximum speed of 80 km/h with passenger trains with a maximum speed of 160 km/h and maintain the timekeeping implicit in stage 3 of the document implies that freight will be sidelined to allow passenger trains to pass, ie. freight will be slowed down. No amount of passing loops will change this, in fact the addition of passing loops on the double track between Auckland and Hamilton is a tacit admission that freight will defer to passenger.

    I have done some spreadsheet analysis of the peak period on the Auckland Hamilton route with a 7.5 minute passenger train headway using a mean passenger train speed of 96 km/h (from the pdf document) and a mean freight train speed of 65 km/h ( a realistic estimate accounting for acceleration and deceleration and maximum permissible diverging turnout speeds. Assuming a freight train is dispatched immediately behind a passenger train, allowing for the block to clear, the turnout to be aligned and the train to accelerate to a maximum 80 km/h the freight train will travel ca. 16 km before having to decelerate and take a siding to allow the following passenger train to pass. Estimated delay to freight train: 8 minutes. On that basis it is doubtful that freight trains would be viable in the peak periods. It is doubtful that a third main in the Auckland urban area will be sufficient; a fourth will be necessary.

    For non-peak periods it’s every 35 km that a freight train will have to cede to a passenger train. That’s an extra 24 minutes added to the Auckland-Hamilton journey time and that is taking into account the 14 km reduction in distance due to a direct Drury-Pokeno route.

    I note that reference is made to “high-speed freight”. This would involve specialised (ie. more expensive) rolling stock and locomotives, both of which are un-costed.

    Turning to the swamp bypass; why would the old line be used as a freight route? It would involve northbound freights crossing the southbound line at both ends with the consequent time delays. If a new route is to be established far better to incorporate loops for both directions at the same time.

    On to the costings; for stage 3 I don’t see land acquisition costs (sizeable in the Drury, Ramarama area), project management costs, consenting costs, cost for an additional bridge at Ngaruawahia (currently single track). Have I missed something?

    I appreciate that there is a limit to how detailed the cost estimates can be at this stage. I know from experience that a considerable amount of time and money can be consumed in developing a project from concept through to full feasibility however low-balling the estimates at this stage runs the risk of not being taken seriously.

    1. The stage three network would have triple or quadruple tracks from Te kauwhatata all the way to Auckland, and again from Te Rapa to Frankton and in parts of Huntly. It’s more multiple track than not.

      Land acquisition, project management etc are rolled into the per-km unit cost rate, as those rates are benchmarked against full projects.

      But in general you are right, surprisingly this three stage extensive network development and operating plan proposal make by volunteers hasn’t been costed perfectly in full detail.

      If you happen to know a QS willing to do a thousand hours of work for free, do point them our way 😉

  83. The Labour Party have just announced they are going to support this plan and build rapid regional rail! Brilliant! My husband and I weren’t going to vote for them but plan to now, based on just that announcement. That is how important we believe this plan is. Thank you so, so much to the volunteer authors of this plan. You have great vision, done an amazing job and, may have even changed the government in a few weeks! If so, we look forward to seeing you join the government to implement this wonderful plan.

  84. A Billion dollars looks like this $1,000,000,000. What else could you do with that ?
    You could give 100,000 of New Zealand’s poorest families a gift of $10,000. That would be for most of them a life changing amount of money. Probably give the NZ economy a healthy kick as well.
    Or if you want to spend it on transport you could give it to Air NZ. Based on the current $100 fare they could fly 10,000,000 people between Auckland and Tauranga. Using the 50 seat Q300 they could offer 20 flights a day (1000 seats a day) for free for the next 27 years.

    1. Or you could spend it on a few Kms of motorway like the East-West Link (except that a Billion dollars is not enough). And unless something changes on Sept 23, this is where $1.8 billion is likely to end up.

      What was your point exactly?

      1. My point was that 1 Billion dollars is a lot of money. Politicians and lobby groups talk in billions like it is chump change. A rapid rail network would be cool. But it would cost billions to set up subsidize and maintain. Right now I can put everything I need in my average private car and drive from my house to whatever address I want to in Hamilton. The fuel cost for that trip will be approx $18.00 and it will take me 1 1/4 – 2 hours depending on the time I choose to travel.If other people are traveling with me then the economics are even better, If I didn’t have a car I could make my way to the nearest intercity bus stop and travel to Hamilton for $10 -$20. This is a commercial operation that requires no subsidy.
        If we agree that Intercity Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga transport is a public good. The why not subsidize the bus service. Make the fares $5 each way. 1000 seats at day $10 per seat subsidy. No upfront capital cost 3.6 mil to subsidize for a year. If you fill every bus then maybe you have proven the demand for rapid rail. You could survey the bus users to see if they would support a train service and find out what Price,Transit Time, Frequency it would need to have for them to support it. Call it stage 0.5

        1. Kia ora.

          What you are overlooking is the actual cost of vehicle travel – it is much more than just fuel. It includes the public subsidy for raod provision and maintenance.

          Yet you compare it to a system that has to cover all track and running costs.

        2. A large proportion of what we pay for petrol is fuel excise. That money along with RUC’s from Diesel vehicles gives the government about 3 billion a year to spend on road creation and maintenance.Previous governments had the habit of using the money for various brilliant schemes. Hence the need for a bit of borrowing to catch up over the last few years. The roads already exist and lots of people use them.

        3. No one will pay for its fuel because it no longer needs refuel after once and its got Lot’s of surprise in store no one knows how this train works thoe and smarter then any one

        4. The train will say high voltage so don’t try because it Will be high voltage especially when u don’t think it is

        5. The subsidies to road vehicles also include non-state-highway roads (~50% paid for from rates), free rent (fuel excise only covers construction and maintenance, not land), and free or cheap parking at each end of the trip. There’s also all the externalities we currently don’t bother charging for, like delays inflicted on everyone else trying to use the roads, noise, vibration, pollution, deaths and injuries, worse public health, lower property values adjacent to highly-trafficked roads, etc. These are effectively subsidies even though no money changes hands.

          Many of these also apply to trains, although generally to a much lesser extent. Nevertheless, to say that Intercity bus requires no subsidy is not true.

        6. My point being that once you factor all those costs into the equation, then intercity bus quite possibly doesn’t actually have a lower overall cost to society than intercity rail. The business case process is meant to try and work all this out, but unfortunately it has a tendency to be ignored when it comes to very political projects…

        7. “This is a commercial operation that requires no subsidy.”

          You clearly have no idea how transport is funded in New Zealand. That $10b expressway/motorway that they run on seems like a pretty big subsidy to me!

          And the bus or a car will never achieve 1h10 CBD to CBD, let alone at peak hour. The reliable and fast journey times are the appeal of the train.

        8. What if they add a free car wash while park n ride when u come back cars been clean

  85. Plenty of comments here, too many to read them all but regarding Airport rail, surely the easiest, cheapist and quickest option is to join Puhinui to Onehunga via a through station at the airport. Many commuters travel there every day, a figure that is increasing annually as are the number of passengers moving through the airport itself. Coupled with that, a southward connection at Puhinui would serve the Waikato too. Easy peasy, all that’s required now is for is for one of the main parties to pick it up and make it part of their policy.
    Love the concept of extending the rail southward as a ‘rapid rail’ network.

  86. Yes, just heard Labour, if next govt, will do the $20M for stage 1. Got my vote now. Just have to see who runs with this project, NZTA or KR or some new govt company.
    I hope, whovever, they go with refurbed SA sets and hired DLs from KR.

    1. It’s starting to sound like that might be the better option. Anyway there is about a third of that budget for trains/carriages, so all good.

  87. As much as I love trains I try to maintain a pragmatic view of such proposals. Though it looks good on the surface, I was left with the impression that the proposal was somewhat disingenuous with regards to the resources required during the Stage 1 phase.

    The proposal states that Stage 1 is expected to last 5 years at which point Stage 2 can be introduced if the proposal is deemed viable. However, before Stage 2 can commence, a significant capital expenditure must have already occurred to upgrade rail network infrastructure and procure the new rolling stock. Both of these things will require years of lead-in time, and though the infrastructure works could be somewhat justified based on their contribution to improving freight services alone, the rolling stock would have to be ordered well before the end of Stage 1 to allow enough time for design, construction, and testing/commissioning before Stage 2 could commence. This is despite your proposal’s assertion that, apart from the construction of some basic passenger station facilities, no additional major capex would be required during the proposed Stage 1 period.

    If one were to look to the failed Helensville commuter rail trial as an example, that was given approximately 1½ years before it was terminated. The amount of time available on which to judge the success or failure of the proposal based on Stage 1 is rather limited, before a commitment must be made to major capex for it to be ready in time for Stage 2, during which time the remainder of the Stage 1 phase may still show a decline in patronage to non-viable levels. When it was announced that the Southerner would be cancelled in 2001 due to unsustainably low patronage levels, public pressure saw to it that the service received a government subsidy that kept it going until the following year. Though there was an initial boost in passenger numbers following the news that the service had been “saved”, they soon dropped off again returning the service to its previous state and confirming its demise.

    1. I don’r think the 2008/9 trial to Helensville is relevant to this Stage 1 proposal.
      Ok, it run 1.5 years but there were just too many other factors that had it doomed to failure long before it actually terminated. The extremely small commuter catchment area coupled with just an early morning in and evening out service severly limited its usefulness. No good for students, daytime shoppers, visitors, tourists, etc,. plus the crippling availablity of further trainsets to expand the service timetable.
      None of these apply to the RRR Stage 1 trial

      1. It was not my intention in citing the Helensville trial to argue that this RRR proposal couldn’t or wouldn’t work; rather, it is an example of a more realistic timeframe for a trial of a new service before a decision would have to be made on its future, and not the 5 years implied by the proposal. If this RRR plan does get off the ground I do hope it succeeds.

        It would be unfortunate if someone were to think “I’m going to support that” based in part on the idea that the capex required during the entire period of the first stage (5 years) would be minimal, and therefore low-risk to the government and taxpayers. The reality is more likely to be a much larger (financial) commitment having to be made much sooner than the end of the initial 5 year period, or the commencement of the second stage would have to be pushed out beyond five years to allow for time to procure the new rolling stock at the end of the proposed initial 5 year period, if a decision was made to proceed with Stage 2.

        1. I don’t disagree with your views on this, in fact it would be preferable to go straight to funding Stage 2 so that any lead times in acquiring the 160Km/hr demus/trackwork/infra would mean a maximum of five years for the Stage1.
          This stage 1 would then not be used as a proof of RRR viability but as a startup to get something underway and encourage patronage with the knowledge that faster services are in the near future.

    2. @ J90
      You need to beware of the mindset, “Because something didn’t work in the past, then it will never work, period.”, or “If at first you try and you don’t succeed. . . . . give up!”

      There are many factors which can determine the success or otherwise of passenger-train services, and changing a few of these factors can alter the whole outcome. One major factor is the enthusiasm in the business to make it succeed. I believe many of the former long-distance passenger trains ceased through lack of interest and lack of innovation by the management at the time, which in reality stemmed from a lack of political enthusiasm.

      Remember the how the Auckland-Wellington service came close to extinction. Now, despite a sparser offering, it has nevertheless picked up. Pressure is also growing to reinstate other services because the perceived need is there.

      And by all accounts the Wairarapa service should not be justifiable because it doesn’t have the massive population base rail-“pragmatists” assert to be a prerequisite. However in reality it thrives and is considered by the local body as worth subsidising.

      I believe the Regional Rapid Rail proposal stands every chance of success if it is supported by the political establishment. This is what will make or break it.

      1. Wairarapa is the perfect example of circumstance. The dramatic difference in climate between there and Wellington means there is a higher demand for commuting than you might expect for a metro area the size of Wellington. Coupled with the advantage of a tunnel makes this an appealing route.

        People simply wouldn’t tolerate that length of commute to get to Christchurch for example.

  88. Don’t wait for stage 1 to end then. Fund stage 2 straight away, then use stage 1 to tide things over until stage 2 is procured and delivered.

  89. With rail to Rotorua and Taupo, a much better route would be to build an extension of the Kinleith line east across to Waipa mill at Rotorua (near Whakarewarewa) and then south to Taupo via Broadlands.

    This route along a similar route to SH30, SH5, and Broadlands Road, would have much better grades along a route with the least difficult terrain and would enable much faster train services (160km/hr possible on much of this route), compared to the old slow steep winding route of the Rotorua Branch over the Mamaku ranges. Also very difficult to extend Rotorua branch with the way Rotorua has developed.

    The Kinleith-Rotorua-Taupo option would be ideal for tourist passenger services, general freight and forestry traffic with linking 3 major mills, Rotorua and Taupo with the Port of Tauranga, Auckland.

  90. With the Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga regional passenger service, to help ensure the success of this service, it needs to run to Mt Maunganui to a new station which could easily be built right in the heart of downtown Mt Maunganui on the corner of Totara Street and Rata Street where the old fire station is.

    Lots of Aucklanders travel to the mount for holidays and to make it attractive for people to use trains, they need to run to where people want to go to and the stations need to be in visible locations within walking distance of town centres (such as The Strand station was in Tauranga).

    The Kaimai Express was let down by the fact that it didn’t run right through to Mt Maunganui and a lack of advertising and marketing by Tranz Rail.

    Similar story for the Geyserland Express, with stopping short of the Rotorua city centre in the dusty windswept Koutu freight yard. The line should have been relaid into the Travel Centre in the city centre or near to it on the corner of Ranolf Street and Amohau Street, as was proposed in 1995 but never got built.

    Weekend package deals should have been made to both Tauranga and Rotorua, with evening services on a Friday afternoon from Auckland and again returning on Sunday afternoons to Auckland. This should be part of the proposals.

    Ultimately, a proper premium locomotive hauled carriage train like the Northern Explorer should be put on to replace the Silver Fern railcars.

    1. Its beater if its running Monday to Friday and weekend and public holiday so u can travel when u want to instead of having no trains on weekend and have to drive or take a bus I did like pukekohe had trains on weekends it was easy and relax with the bus it was like waiting around for nothing and back on the train Monday and got to next one before it left but on the bus to Tauranga still gets stuck in long traffic come out off Auckland at night faster by train

    2. these new heavy rail is beast is at 120% beater then what it used to be and it be on time every time and if delays happen it will make up time and safe and some things on this are top secret its new improve train witch it has no errors and no u cant hijack this thing cant say whey but it works instant it can go all over with out refilling it if any one ask what licence to drive it u need all that include air plane one and it has 8 cars and lots of room

  91. I am surprised more comment and backlash wasn’t made to Minister of Road Transport Slimy Bridges criticism of the Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga service with his claims that it takes 4.5 hours to travel by train from Auckland to Tauranga – this was the rail travel time from Auckland to Rotorua. Tauranga is 3.5 hours.

    His other criticism about the lack of capacity to run passenger services on the NIMT and ECMT between Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga could be addressed by building a new more direct faster route along the already half constructed route between Pokeno-Paeroa-Te Aroha and the Kaimai tunnel.

    This route has much better grades along a relatively straight route similar to SH2 where 160km/hr running would be possible along much of this route and avoids the slow and congested NIMT route through the Whangamarino swamp.

    It would increase the rail capacity between Auckland and Tauranga, provide route resiliance with two routes on this important busy route and would reduce rail travel times to both Tauranga and Rotorua.

    1. The original motivations behind the construction of the Pokeno–Paeroa Line have largely been made obsolete or superseded by other works since that line was cancelled. It was to have shortened the distance by rail from Auckland to Coromandel (Thames) and Bay of Plenty via the old ECMT route through the Karangahake and Athenree gorges; Coromandel no longer has a rail connection and the opening of the Kaimai tunnel significantly shortened the distance between Hamilton and Tauranga, negating much of the distance savings the Pokeno–Paeroa Line had offered via the old ECMT route. There was also an issue with frequent trains through Hamilton conflicting with road traffic in the central city that the Pokeno–Paeroa Line would have eliminated, but this issue was later dealt with by trenching part of the line through Hamilton and other mitigation works.

      With this RRR proposal, the justification for the Pokeno–Paeroa Line is even less clear as that route would completely bypass Hamilton, a significant and important hub for the whole system. Neither is there likely to be a justification for the line to be constructed for the use of freight trains only, and anyway there would still be the “bottleneck” of the Kaimai Tunnel that both types of services would still have to share (reinstating the old ECMT route is not a viable option). Route resilience? That argument didn’t save the Stratford–Okahukura Line! I suspect that the best option for maximising rail capacity between Auckland/Hamilton and Tauranga would be to double-track the existing ECMT (minus the tunnel).

      1. The Pokeno-Paeroa line would still have relevance today and would be a useful route for providing faster rail services between Auckland and Tauranga, particularly for freight, along a more direct route.

        Having more freight trains operating along this route would help free up more capacity for new passenger services on the route via Hamilton.

        The other advantage of the Pokeno-Paeroa-Te Aroha-Kaimai tunnel route, is that it links towns with more affordable housing with a new direct rail link with Auckland which new commuter passenger services could operate on, enabling these towns named and others such as Maramarua and Ngatea to become like satellite suburbs of Auckland.

        1. I think an Ohinewai to Morrinsville line would be a better idea. It’s only 36km (compared to about 100km new track for Pokeno via Paeroa), but ends up having the same rail distance from Pokeno to the Kaimai tunnel. Plus you can do it pretty much dead straight for a very fast run.

        2. Yes, I guess would be quite a zippy line for more direct link. Not sure missing Hamilton & it’s hubs would impact on that, but I guess that’s more a PoAL thing & this line would be a POT thing? Time soon for another tunnel coming out around say south of Katikati area or enlarging the current Kaimai tunnel? That would give resilience & cost to build it probably still chicken feed compared to major new highway. Old one built for $56M including deviation…old time money I guess.

        3. Just refreshed the screen after posting, so just saw Nick R’s comment above…yes could be a better idea depending on what you want to develop along the route…or you want the new port in the firth of Thames…

        4. So is someone going to finish the train Tauranga to Auckland first because I here that they got other projects as well going on top of it

        5. It will take more years to come back yes all party was lies about it and only place for it now parked up at the mount where 2 old passenger train and carriage the sa but not given up it make more scene once running it’s like buy electric train with out the upgraded vision on the old one has more advance every thing and fastest

        6. U be surprise that it can use any rail and its better then any other country trains big time and safe

  92. With the road route through the Manawatu Gorge currently closed indefinitely and the adverse affect this is having on retailers in Woodville, consideration should be made to run a daytime return rail passenger service between Wellington and Palmerston North via the Wairarapa line and Manawatu Gorge using the Capital Connection train.

    There is sufficient time to run a return service along this route between the time the Capital Connection arrives in Wellington at 8.30am in the morning and departing again for Palmerston North at 5.15pm in the afternoon.

  93. Curious to know about the branch line to Cambridge. As it stands now, the line terminates at Fonterra Hautapu, whereas it used to go right into the town itself (an idiotic decision saw it lifted some years ago).
    Are there plans to re-lay this section of the line so that the trains will actually get right back into Cambridge? I can’t see a commuter service working if people have to shuttle out to Fonterra to get to the station.
    In the same vein, what will happen with Rotorua?
    Obviously the rail-riding golf carts will have to stop using the line, but given that the line now terminates in an industrial area, are passengers going to have to make their way here to catch the train?
    Typical bumbling bureaucratic decisions to remove the perfectly good infrastructure that used to exist – namely the rail / road service terminal in the middle of town.
    I really hope with the rebirth of the service that something better than a bus shelter in the middle of nowhere can be built.
    From what I remember it’s not possible to get the rail back into town now as things have been built over the old formation. If I’m wrong I hope someone will correct me!

    1. Is the land that rail lines use to sit on still owned by KR or has it been on sold so the politicans can drive around in those BMW’s ?

      1. By the looks of the satellite photos, the line has just been converted to a gravel footpath/road for most of the way. Fortunately the path of the line was in between 2 streets, both seemingly named Victoria Street. I think the only issues will be that it will have to cross SH1B (Victoria Road) and the Eastern ramps of the Waikato Expressway.

      2. At Rotorua, the line was lifted beyond Koutu yard into Rotorua central in 1990.

        In more recent years, the Lake Road rail overbridge at Koutu was demolished and a widened four lane road built over the top of the track into the old Koutu yard.

        The land south of the old Pukuatua Street level crossing was transferred from NZRC to Land Information NZ (LINZ) and appears to have been sold with a big new Mitre 10 Mega built over it and the former neighbouring Telecom depot site.

        A new station could potentially be built on Railway Road at Koutu but this is not close to the city centre and would be tucked away on a side road in an industrial area.

        The Rotorua Branch would probably now need complete relaying to bring it up to its former (slow) full mainline standard suitable for passenger trains to operate on.

        It would make much more sense to instead build a new line between Kinleith and Waipa mill near the large tourist attraction at Whakarewarewa at Rotorua, with a station on the corner of SH5 and SH30, and extend the line onwards south to Taupo via Broadlands.

        In Cambridge I believe NZRC still own the land between Hautapu and Cambridge. I think it is a cycleway now.

        1. This is a excerpt from the RRR plan relating to their proposal for Rotorua Station:
          “A more extensive reconstruction is required to reintroduce services to Rotorua. Stage 3 includes a budget allocation to refurbish the existing active freight line between Waharoa and Putaruru to higher speed standard, including stations serving Matamata and Tirau, and a more substantial allocation to reconstruct the mothballed 20km branch line between Putaruru and the Rotorua suburbs. Also included is the construction of a 1.7km line extension from the former Lake Road terminus to a new central Rotorua station, proposed for the corner of Ranolf Street and Pukuatua Street, two blocks west of the city centre core. This would require some land acquisition and the reconfiguration of the edge of the Kuirau Park playing fields and access road but would locate the station within walking distance of most of the Rotorua CBD, including many hotels and tourist attractions.”

          Your suggestion of a station on the corner of SH5 and SH30 at Whakarewarewa seems very remote, although it is next to a major tourist attraction. Would it be feasible to run a track up Fenton Street to the center of town?

        2. Thanks for the info – quite interesting. What is RRR? I’d like to see what else is suggested,
          I think their idea has merit, but I can’t see how they’re going to construct a line from the old terminus near Lake Rd (Railway Rd) to the top of Kuirau Park. That would require a substantial land acquisition, probably affecting a number of businesses and houses. Getting around the outside of the park is no big deal, just means the park is a little bit smaller than it used to be!
          At least they have the foresight to build a station near the city centre.
          I took a look at Google maps and Jag is right. The path of the old line into town is clearly visible, and mostly undisturbed.
          There’s just a great big building in the way! (Mitre 10)
          If that wasn’t there they could more or less re-lay the old line into town, and build a station where the skate park is – bordered by Pererika, Ranolf and Amohau St.
          There would need to be a cut and cover rail tunnel at Lake Rd, an over-bridge wouldn’t work as it would be too close to the roundabout.
          Also you’d need to put the level crossing at Pukuatua St back in.
          Yup, I know – it’s never going to happen, but it’s fun to postulate!

        3. It would be nice to show the finish train and soon they be relies they should of done it even one stage at a time

        4. @Jag interesting route, but seems to far out of the town itself. I wonder if trench is a good idea for the final station even, from either direction into town? Given the thermal area though, could be hard in some areas? Rotorua is or should be one of NZ’s premiere tourist locations & that in itself could justify a bit of spend in here. If can be future proofed for on wards to Taupo, then even better. Fenton Rd looks pretty wide with a tree median, but only for LRT I guess…but could go HR elevated….great views??

    2. As damned annoying as it sometimes can be to see railway land and other fixed assets being disposed of when, in hindsight, there could be a possibility of reinstatement, it doesn’t always mean an end to new opportunities! For example, the Waiuku Branch will eventually reach a new terminus much closer to the centre of town than the original terminus.

      Even if it were possible to reinstate the Rotorua Branch to its original central terminus, that may preclude other opportunities, like eventually extending the line through to Taupo.

      1. Relaying the Rotorua Branch and trying to recreate a rail corridor and a new station in the centre of Rotorua as currently described and proposed in the RRR would be a waste of money, as it would not cater for freight, in particular the significant amount of forestry traffic and extending the line south to Taupo through built up urban Rotorua would be very difficult and expensive and highly unpopular with locals.

        It would make far more sense to build an extension of the Kinleith line east across to a new station on the corner of SH30 and SH5 near the Waipa mill and Whakarewarewa at Rotorua.

        A station here will still be closer to the Rotorua CBD than the airport and will actually be close to the major tourist attractions at Whakarewarewa as well as all the motels and hotels in this area in Rotorua. Lots of tourist buses also run through this end of Rotorua into the CBD and onwards south.

        A Kinleith-Rotorua-Taupo line would link the large mills at Kinleith, Waipa and Taupo, the Fonterra dairy factory at Reporoa, and would run through or close to many large forests in this region, including the Kaingaroa Forest.

        The line could run south from Rotorua to Taupo along the relatively flat route similar to SH5 and Broadlands Road and into a passenger station in Taupo along the middle of the very wide road corridor along Rifle Range Road (which could be rebuilt as a boulevard with the track running down the middle like Victoria Street in Cambridge) to a station either in the Rifle Range Road road corridor or on the road frontage edge of the Kaimanawa Reserve near the Taupo District Council offices / fire station.

        Greater Auckland, Labour and Greens need to seriously investigate this option.

        1. No one ever scene a rrr train before and what it looks like and its not waste of money its better then what Auckland did and might run out of rail’s

  94. Will a third/fourth track be needed on the Westfield Deviation/Eastern Line at stage 3?
    At peak there will probably be 12 commuter trains per hour stopping at 5 or 6 stations as well as the 10 Rapid Rail trains trying to run at high speed, not to mention any freight. Then there is also the potential for express commuter trains from Pukekohe and Papakura.

    1. Probably yes but it might not be essential, especially if the eastern line trains aren’t quite that frequent.

      Note that the travel times don’t assume high speed running through the Auckland suburbs, but they do assume the trains can move through at normal speeds aren’t held up especially by suburban trains.

      1. well depending on electric train dont have a malfunction and running short on power and u take this train any weather conditions with out put out of service and u dont have to maintenance on these ones ever and never have to refuel up at all just only once

    2. What’s the point have express when it don’t stop at all stop along the way plus u see what happen when it does but it won’t take u the express way

      1. In countries overseas freight works around passenger services for around 12hrs per day so KR will 12hrs at night to move as much freight as possible at night and on the the 2 branch lines going to Cambridge and Rotorua from Hamilton they could possibly have around 18hrs free time to move the freight . So it could then be a win win proposal for both passenger and freight services

        1. Know the new one would go faster then 160 kph to a 800 kph straight and bends with all stops

  95. Obviously there will be disappointment in some quarters about Northland, as has been expressed above. As has been stated, the issues are the circuitous route the railway takes from Auckland to Whangarei, and the lower population of Northland. I’m wondering if, hypothetically, there was a more direct rail route (say one that more or less paralleled State Highway 1 from Auckland to Whangarei), would that then make Northland viable in this proposal, or would the lack of population density be an issue in and of itself even if a more direct route existed?

    Looking at population estimates to 30 June, 2016, the Northland Region at 171,400 has a similar population to just Hamilton City at 161,000. Broken down to the three territorial authorities, it is:

    • Far North District: 62,000
    • Whangarei District: 87,600
    • Kaipara District: 21,700

    (I assume the reason these add to 171,300 rather than 171,400 is due to rounding)

    If we look at urban centres in Northland with a population over 1000 (I’ll throw in Warkworth and Wellsford there too for reference), we have:

    • Whangarei: 56,400
    • Kerikeri: 7,220
    • Kaitaia: 5,670
    • Dargaville: 4,930
    • Warkworth: 4,650
    • Kaikohe: 4,410
    • Wellsford: 1,960
    • Paihia: 1,970
    • Taipa Bay-Mangonui: 1,880
    • Ngunguru: 1,730
    • Moerewa: 1,600
    • Maungatapere: 1,470
    • Kawakawa: 1,430
    • Mangawhai Heads: 1,380
    • Ahipara: 1,170

    Of those, only Whangarei, Wellsford, Moerewa and Kawakawa lie on the North Auckland Line, while Dargaville sits on a branch which departs the North Auckland Line south of Whangarei. Kaikohe used to sit on a branch which branched off the North Auckland Line at Okaihau, just on the Auckland side of Moerewa, but this branch was closed in 1987. A hypothetical SH1-aligned railway would connect Warkworth, but most other places on that list would still be away from the railway – you’d be looking at major extensions to get to Kaitaia and Kerikeri.

    So would the existence of a more direct rail route between Auckland and Whangarei make a regional rapid rail service viable between Auckland and Whangarei, with possible extensions to Dargaville, Kaikohe (or even Kairae’s), and Moerewa/Kawakawa (or even Kerikeri), or is the population base simply not sufficient regardless of how direct a line existed? To be clear, I’m not asking about building a more direct line for the purpose of providing regional rapid rail, but rather wondering if such a direct line existed, what would that mean for the viability of establishing regional rapid rail?

    1. If we are going to build an entirely new northern line, including a new harbour crossing, the question must be asked, is Cape Gauge the most appropriate?

    2. NickM Have a look at a relief map and see if you can plot a route that’s less than 25% tunnel. You have to admire those early surveyors who actually found a route through the morass.

  96. Question 1: Why do we persist with narrow gauge?
    All this talk of ‘upgrading’ of lines that are nowhere near up to standard. What is the cost of this versus upgrading to standard gauge, which would allow minimum 200kph running and higher if you went to HSR spec. TBMs are cheaper now than they have ever been so time to put tunnels where once the rail would have to wind around the hillside.
    Average speed over the distance is what will be required to get people out of their cars.

    Question 2: Why is it the NZ way to want to haul out some clapped out rail equipment?
    The Silver Ferns have more than had their day. Is it a preconceived plan to have the whole thing fail from the start? Because that is what will happen if you roll out a moving scrapyard to the public.

    1. Well if u seen pukekohe still use ad and still slow and yous completed about not have back up and all these upgraded trains will improve then ever before and they should of done it when the sa was running then every one be on time and not been late and it will keeping new Zealand on the move and u have to trust it any more upgraded ideas be fast imputed like extra trains on weekends as well Monday to friday

    2. Changing gauge is a pretty big call, it’s unlikely to be justified across the whole North Island so you would end up with separate bits of network. It may also require a significant number of bridges to be replaced? I think 160kmh running would be more than sufficient for NZ.

      Tunneling is still very expensive, and not really necessary between Auckland and Tauranga, unless the Kaimai tunnel is eventually double tracked.

      1. Yes it is a big call, but I think in the long run necessary. As has proved to be the case in other parts of the world where you have different gauges co-exist.

        By wanting tilt-trains the report admits that current speeds are too slow to be competitive and therefore higher speeds will be required.
        My question is, will 160kph (max) be competitive?

        I would say not because the average travel time will be lower than the max, – maybe on a par with car travel once stopping times are factored in.
        So the question then is will the average person take the train and give up flexibility the car offers. I would say not. The speed advantage is simply not there.

        The report argues that HSR requires expensive investment which is true, but then talks about realignments etc required for 160kph. Why spend money realigning tracks on old network that will never get up to decent standard or be capable of anything faster than 160kph in the long run?
        Then there is the issue of level crossings on the existing route. Trying to run trains @ 160kph at increasing frequency is a disaster waiting to happen both in terms of risk of accident and ensuing delays to road traffic simply because barrier arms have to be down for longer.
        You already know what the political response to level-crossing accidents will be – slow the trains down! And we would be back to square one.

        I would be interested in a initial costing of Auckland-Hamilton electified line on higher spec line. Regional existing rail/bus options could feed in to Hamilton at least in short-term before extending the network to Tauranga etc.

        1. They are already on their way to build the road from marsden point to Whangarei are they not? struth, one hopes not that we see railway builders build that road in our country….

        2. The trains nice in side and I’ll take this train anywhere and back it dose work I be the first to see what it looks like before any one when they bring it in

        3. Chinese don’t know how to build this one and this one don’t care about the weather

        4. The train automatic stop if some one or vehicle on the track u won’t know the train had stop its got eyes to watch out for

    3. I seen what people do on and off the trains and disrespect them this one will sort them out and will proven every thing and save Lot’s of money in the long run and provide every thing

    1. Anthony alot of this will cost 10’s of billions to build as per map they will have to build a long bridge across the harbour twice and each of those bridges would have have means for sail and large motor vessels to pass under the line . There is a part thet could reinstate around the foreshore between the Onerahi wharf and Whangarei port where a previous railway line use to be . It can be seen as you drive out Onerahi look out over the mangroves towards the port and you can still see the embankment that the rail use to use when the passenger boats use to leave from Onerahi .

      1. The tilting is for keep the train at high speed around the bends so it help’s the train turn quicker so the carriage be same possession as the train in front and back turn the same time like the SD and sa used to do when dft 7104 went straight and bends at high speed

  97. The stage 2 and 3 maps include a line that continues south to “Palmerston North and Wellington”. According to the key, this would be a daily or twice daily service. Considering that the Northern Explorer only operates 3 services per week in each direction, I am assuming that Greater Auckland must be advocating for more services on this line. Are you just suggesting that there should be more frequent Norther Explorer services, or do you see some potential for something else?

    1. something else like commuting hole of new Zealand thats never done before so any one can travel to any where besides the stops long the way these trains can do allot more the 3 days a week on all lines just trust the new ones they will show what they will do and how good they are i think its got 150 star safety ratings on this one and it will beat the northern explorer in and it beat the bus in u get there with all the shops open and plenty of time get to work

  98. Here is an idea 🙂 ) For political Parties to ponder.

    Get Kiwirail to propose a new “Rail of National Significance” program funded through the NZTA.

    The first program of “Rail of National Significance” is: A rail line following the North Western Ring route. ( Wiri via Airport to Kumeu) This will open up many potential gains. 1.) A rail line from South (Wiri) Passing by the Airport, and along the West will allow a commuter rail to operate and gain a lot of patronage. It will allow Rail to run across currently Kiwirail land corridor and open many untapped rail commuters.

    1. The new trains be so cool inside and I’ll have so much money one day thanks to the trains and travel comes cheaper then a bus or car or fly there’s all ways a canceled or rebooking and delay and long Que’s if flying that’s whey these trains don’t have that problems it will get any one to anywhere on time and its great less electric cars can be towed if no battery power middle the motorway or stuck some place or in the gararge with out recharge and when power goes out

      1. Trains don’t get cancelled, i’ll have some of what you’re smoking. Trains are frequently cancelled.

    2. One day have a app for the trains so can use it to track you’re train and have time as well u can use it with WiFi also offline and other fetcher

    1. its every one going the wrong way but one stands out and national is going wrong way to these trains be so good that no weather or storms effect the trains and never derail every one would find out what the train dose and how it runs and how safe it is and by traffic its got more safety ratings then a car has and get people on time still working on the freight trains but hope then there be no delays any where if people stop playing chicken with the train thinking they beat the train but train all ways wins because u think one train but u cant see anther train special the dft 7104 coming along at high speed and with out been on the phone playing music other wise u here the train or sound on the track to know when train comes

      1. WTF does this mean? All in one sentence too, I’m intrigued to know what the diesel loco dft7104 has to do with anything.
        Interpreter please…

        1. Not sure who blair is, but he/she sure needs to work on his/her sentence structure etc.
          Maybe a young person, struggles with English or raised on txt speak? Good on him/her for his/her pro-rail comments, but I just have to delete any of his comments lately as it does my head in trying to read them…

        2. so people hate people that all it takes to dislike every one even if they cant spell or learning that people dont help i cant believe that its coming to a hate thing for this country Auckland cant drive and other people course every thing so there whey do they have cars if they cant drive right so they course for death and other things and worse traffic bring it to author area so they build up more traffic there as well like i say every one gose wrong even typing

        3. at less the new trains won’t need fuel truck after one refuel or a gas pump for good it means that it never have to fuel up never again it’s thanks to the design

        4. it thanks to commuter typing that involved the mistakes and it dont have good txt speech in that and not good English spell checks

        5. once train runs every one be good with this and national took it away from me so if yous think i need to learn it but where thanks

        6. every ones wrong about me and they wrong about these trains if u want try steeling the train then u find out what train do to u

        7. it means u find out and u will see the number dft 7104 but no know what kind of loco that been since last time been passenger train but it seems it fools every one thinking its in air plane or electric train or when rain its been a steam train but faster there is a him on you tube running with fright and also passenger cars on so take a look u will see but these are much beater and lot faster

        8. Blair, can you get a friend or someone close to you to look at your posts and help with what you are trying to say? It seems you are trying to make a point that may be relevant to this topic but its just too difficult to understand what you mean.

        9. ok i will but is it to difficult to under stand this train that no other country has and bullet prove on the train

        10. its base on all over new Zealand so there be no catch up on population so theirs more choice in public transport because population grows over time and yes the train is different and difficult to understand it but once used it it be more easy to understand it i do make points of what it dose have and what it can achieve in long run so all the money goes back to the government and the people it is hard to say some things about it it be easy if the train showed yous then me make points of it once comes in and it be cool free WiFi on board when off the train it disconnects

  99. Great concept and no doubt a game changer for the upper North Island. Concern I have is a 1.5 hour Hamilton to Auckland ride. How many would truly be prepared to commute 3+ hrs a day to and from work? If Hamilton to Auckland could be achieved in 1 hr or less I think you’d get a lot more people using it. Would do wonders for easing Auckland’s housing woes. Lots of land for residential development in Hamilton, a lot already happening in the Northern suburbs such as Rototuna. Perhaps fewer stops (North Hamilton, Huntly, Pokeno, Akl CBD) and/or faster trains could make this happen?

    1. Including transfer the train takes about 1:10 from Pukekohe at the moment, which plenty of people do, and there is a much bigger population in Hamilton. Also it will be shorter the 1:30 from Ngaruawahia, Huntly and Te Kauwhata.

    2. The new trains are faster then any other we don’t know really how fast its only some been tested before but some stuff never been tested on anything before and at less u not stuck in traffic and not waiting for accent’s to happen and its safe travel on at less u get to places and get home safely and if any one has any long term plans that works for freight trains so they be not holding the services so that the passenger trains be running fast and freight trains be running on time as well so every one be happy but removing platform and stations be won’t be good it means that they have to use the bus to go where they wanted to go and they have to use the platform for crew change over time they will have to use the trains if any one could time A to B day and night during traffic hours from Tauranga to Auckland or from Hamilton or Wellington or Taupo or roturoa? and back in a car or bus then u see a difference if any one like the old or new timetable that used or a both timetable that could be use

    3. @Patrick – Yes people currently do commute these crazy amounts. One thing is the car commute on these journeys will likely only get worse whereas a train one should only improve if anything and importantly be consistent from day to day.

      1. +1, it isn’t just for people going CBD to CBD every day either. Lots of people wok two days a week in Auckland but live in the Waikato. Lot’s of people would probably like to stay in Huntly and work in airport precinct. A train line like this will never just be about CBD to CBD commuters.

        1. Thanks to these new trains they will pay every one and extra pay go back to people on the fuel tax on how much they pay

      2. These new trains are improve about 180% it just has other things to improve as well and safety rate on it about 150 star’s rating but no other country has these trains its safe fast economy friendly 0% co2 and 0% oil and other surprise in store I don’t have a clue what that might be and there be top secret stuff to be in and outside of the train I know that the trains be same weight as they start with and it don’t have Chinese parts into or on the train at all

      3. if they want to get on a 8 car train dont mind might soon be more cars put on might end up 50 cars i think not shore how meany yet till they say

  100. There was an item on checkpoint last night [mon 4/12/17 ] about a NZ/Chinese group planning to convert around 30 odd ex Auckland SA/SD carriages into a hotel style train that will go from Auckland to Dunedin as an Oriental express style excursion style train doing weekly trips up and down the country with a future plan to going to Northland when KR finally upgrade the NAL . Going by the report this all will happen in the next 2-3 years and hopefully the said they will use the hillside workshop’s in Dunedin to do the refurbishments .

    1. That’s not made like that China stay away from those sa /SD cars because they are going be back into service and add some upgrade on them we don’t need hotel on rail service that only the northern explore be with that

        1. We do have the real plans here that be beast and no one has seen this one it can hold up to 80’000 cars in total and every stop with in 5 min got so much power and so safe and people don’t know if the train has stop and super hybrid highest heavy rail and no damage to tracks new highest technology ever that works best

        2. yes thats good news, I read about this in railway magazine and apparently the SA carriages with S-ride bogies have been selected for this new luxury train.
          Although the new govt indicated they would support RRR and start with Stage 2, I can’t help thinking this will be many years away.Whereas a Stage 1 RRR service could have been sorted out with SA carriages and DL or DF locos in 2018/9

        3. Yes it won’t work with DL only df DX dc and have new ad and no one will notice it and this new one is rrr and hybrid rapid heavy rail and it’s so cool and no engine noise or fan it can do lot more then rrr can do in one day

        4. there are things there that says the trains in charge of the cars and rail it knows where it wants to go and from with out a driver to do it all and if any one pushes in front off people while boarding it wont let u do that its all most where no one be driving it or staff and if it says no smoking or drnk or food it will see u at all times u cant hide any thing or do any bad things on it and windows are 100% safer then having a big hole in it

        5. If this company does it right the should get themselves 3-4 hybrid engines which then could run out of Britomart instead of the Strand and then use most of the inverstructure on the NIMT , and then there is no hiring engines from KR . And might go on to show KR they will a better buy than those Diesel that hopefully not ordering for the electric network . An also the only charge that they incur will be track fees

        6. no track fees and these engines not from KR and yes they are diesel and electric and yes ordering for the new improve networks around the glob if any one eles know what im talk about and see them the first one be a EMD DDA40X

        7. Its great to read about Hillside being resurrected for this project although I did read elsewhere that KR were retaining 25 DC locos and these were being refurbished at Hillside. Definitely good news
          Thats also a long train, 16 SD carriages and may need two locos to haul it and station platforms that long?
          Also they seem to know something about rail to Bay of Islands

        8. this new one with upgrade dc and with other locomotives it will pull more 16 sd cars with just one single locomotive and easy entry and exits of the cars with no gaps and no cutting the lines and no refuel stops

        9. these new ones can beat any trains and its really the beast train ever and nothing like these ones ever

  101. yes magazine is not a grate read about it and if they take the bogies off it runes the hole infrastructure and derail any time with that idea but with the real plans hole thing will work at %800

  102. Has you organisation looked into affordability of more modern fast transport technology so that the upper regions are connected by 30-60 mins making it possible for more people to live well away from central work areas but stay connected by both the internet & rapid transport.
    Trains are old technology [1800s] with many accidents as they are not held onto the tracks.
    1] Maglev trains; but I hear the network is expensive.
    2] Skyway string technology; According to Wikipedia issues around funding, trials but potentially cheaper than Maglev..
    3] Await further developments into local air travel with Lilium, VTOL jet aircraft.

    Accepting that we now have limited use of city transport coridoors due to land use [we can not widen our motorways in some areas] Going vertical rather digging tunnels is cheaper. Elevated very fast monorail concepts reduce significantly the impact on the land; [minimal earth works ] plus create an amazing tourist spectacle. Imagine rapid rail of some type being built up high above the centre of motorway systems that markets itself to commuters stuck in traffic below.
    Very fast trains provide the medium distances we travel.
    Buses/cars etc takes us to the access points.
    Trains stopping at multiple small stops or buses travelling on the same transport pathways as cars slows the trips and puts people off using current systems
    If there was rapid rail that could take me from central Auckland to Papakura in 10 mins or from Auckland to Tauranga in 1hr why would you use other transport most of the time. Flying from Auckland to Tauranga is too long if you look at security/ loading/ unloading, transport to-from Airports.
    Teh lium VTOL concept of flying people from Manhaten to JFK airport in 5 mins for the same price as a taxi in 55 mins certainly appeals.

    1. No, we have only considered technologies that actually exist, are proven, and are available from a range of suppliers on the international market, and could actually be funded, procured and delivered.

      Maglevs are an emerging technology with only a couple of practical applications so far. They really are still a developmental technology. Also they are horrifically expensive to build, and you are locked into a single supply chain with one product line.

      Skyway string is vaporware, doesn’t exist and probably won’t.

      VTOL passenger aircraft, again a piece of fiction at this stage, and basic physics suggests lifting people against gravity is never going to be more energy/fuel/cost efficient than running on rails. The idea that it could do that for the same price as a taxi is simply incredulous. Once there are actually VTOL aircraft in passenger operation and they have proven track record of reliability, safety and economic performance, then we could consider them. Let Manhattan be the test case if they want to, no point sending Auckland broke on fancy promises.

      We did look at true high speed rail, of the kind that actually exists and is run in dozens of countries around the world. This would be great, but simply the cost is the barrier. Auckland to Tauranga via Hamilton would take about 35 minutes with a latest generation HSR system… but it would cost about $20 billion dollars to build. Maybe one day, but if we can’t get an package of upgrades worth a few hundred million going then we could never do HSR.

      1. i think the new improve heavy rail can do just more then passengers service but new engine will beat any aircraft in the world

    2. the new improve heavy rail got the ultimate upgrade high tech ever but later stage it wont be running on fuel ever once new engine has instilled it takes every 5 min but then it will take every 0 seconds

  103. I have been giving some thought to the missing connections to Rotorua and Taupo in Stage 2. I think that an express bus service operating Waharoa-Matamata-Rotorua-Taupo would be an ideal addition to Stage 2 of RRR.

    I envisage an operating pattern of 1 bus per hour leaving Waharoa and Taupo. The northbound bus would be timed to arrive at Waharoa Station shortly before the Auckland bound passes through. The south bound bus would depart Waharoa Station after the arrival of the Tauranga bound train.
    This would allow seamless transfers from bus to train to take place. As every train (to/from Auckland) would be met by a bus, it would be very easy to understand the schedule.

    It would also be almost as fast as the proposed Geyserland Line in Stage 3.
    Based on Google Maps:
    Wahora-Matamata 10min
    Matamata-Rotorua 60min
    Rotorua-Taupo 65min

    (the return trip north would need to allow more time to ensure it didn’t miss the train)

    Such a service would significantly increase the passenger loadings on the proposed Bay of Plenty line, and would help prove the case for further investment in Regional Rapid Rail (stage 3).

    While significant resources would be required to provide a frequency of 1 bus per hour over this relatively long route, it would not be very significant against the total costs of RRR.

    If 3 hours per direction is allowed to account for delays and turnaround, then 6 buses + 1 hot spare will be required for over 14 hours each day. To allow for breakdowns, maintenance, and training, I have estimated a fleet of 9 buses would be required.

    This link:,%20Andy.pdf provides some information of the costs of operating buses in New Zealand.

    At $400,000 per bus that is a capital cost of 3.6m. Plus 2.5 million for a deport.

    Allowing $250,000 per bus per annum for operational costs (including maintenance, fuel, and drivers) comes to 2.25m. Allowing for 20% overheads that comes to 2.7m per annum

    If the average distance traveled on the bus was 120km and the average loading was only 18 passengers, at $0.15 per km, revenue would be 2.83m per annum. Enough to cover costs, while driving an increase in patronage on the train.

    I would be very interested in any feedback on this suggestion.

    1. Very good ideas. The integration of coachlines and RRR isn’t something we really talked about, but it is an obvious thing to do. Actually I wonder if the RRR company shouldn’t be a joint venture between government, Air New Zealand, and one or more of the main coach operators like Intercity and Mana. Have all the players cooperating to build an integrated network for mutual benefit.

      Do bear in mind there are already a large number of coachlines running around the country, for example from Taupo there are coaches via Rotorua to Tauranga, and via Tokoroa to Hamilton and Auckland. You wouldn’t need to run new routes so much as just tweak the existing ones. In some cases that might lead to big efficienies if you don’t have to run all routes all the way.

    2. U care about you’re self u should the traffic from the Mount Daly and go Hamilton and Auckland then u think twice that they need rail as well as every where

  104. shouldn’t stage 3 involve a more high speed service, 1 hour 10 minutes is still quite lengthy. I’m sure with some better investment we could reduce this down significantly with a more direct service. When i recently rode the train from Barcelona to Madrid (630km) it took around 2 hours 30 minutes to complete the journey where as the distance between Auckland and Hamilton is a mere 130km surely the train journey could be 30 minuets approx on a high speed 250km/h train?

    1. It’s not a high speed rail proposal – would cost zillions. I’ve quoted from from above: “Nick R says:
      August 17, 2017 at 3:29 pm
      Please read the report, or even just the summary above. This is not a proposal for high speed rail, we are not suggesting building new track, let alone a high speed line. It’s a proposal for 160km/h running tilt trains on narrow gauge track. This is exactly what they have in Queensland, Taiwan and Japan. It works, they’ve been doing it for decades.”

    2. That Barcelona to Madrid line is great, have taken it myself and marvelled the whole way, but it also cost fourteen billion euros to build. That’s about $25 billion in today’s NZ dollars.

      We’re talking about investment of less than a tenth of that for all three stages complete.

  105. Given Auckland’s airport target of growing its passenger turnover to 40 million people p.a. surely the plan should include a direct regional connection to that airport as is the standard across the world? A modern connected airport can provide a more effective international gateway with direct regional feeders. Examples for me are Charles De Gaulle, London Stansted, London Gatwick and Frankfurt plus many more.

  106. Too many comments to read them all!

    The western line is inspired. That side of the Waikato is slowly being left behind, and it is great they aren’t being forgotten in your vision to integrate the upper NI. The matching plan through to Kaikohe (Kaitaia?) would be interesting to see too, because of the social dislocation issues up north from having to send its workers to the Auckland outer suburbs.

  107. Its been a year since this original post about RRR. It looked like there was some enthusiasm to see something start in 6months. However nothing so far and apart from the govt supposedly supporting the RRR concept it been a case of no progress.
    Anyone have any updates?

    1. I believe that a business case will be brought before the Hamilton City Council in October, but I am surprised we have heard so little about this during 2018. I am also interested to see how the government’s proposal will differ from Greater Auckland’s RRR plan, are there any documents that could be obtained under the OIA that may give more detail on how this is progressing?

  108. “Bogle” and “Sam W” this good please you
    An item on the AM Show this morning [22-11-18] about the 1st part of the service is now heading to NZTA for their approval

    “Waikato Regional Councillor and transport committee chair Hugh Vercoe says the next steps depend on the Government.”

    “The immediate action that we want to take if Government give us the money, is for us to purchase rail carriages that are currently owned by Auckland Transport, and KiwiRail will take them on and refurbish them.”

    Now hope the Government does the right thing so they purchase the carriages from AT and so KR can do a refit for the longer journey i.e toilets and cafe setup .And if NZTA gets of their cuffs we could see it sooner than the 2 years they are predicting

    1. And this it from Stuff’s the Waikato Times last evening

      Waikato Regional Council has endorsed the business case to create a passenger rail service from Hamilton to Auckland.

      In a packed meeting with representatives from the Hamilton City Council, NZTA, Kiwi Rail and central government, councillors voted in favour of the plan by 11-1.

    2. And 1 more major vote to go before NZTA gets their fingers into it , so it’s 2 councils down and 1 to go ,Ya

      ” The Waikato District Council will vote to endorse the business case on November 28 and the Hamilton City Council on December 6. From there, it will go to the NZTA board who will vote whether to approve funding on December 14.”

      1. The Waikato District Council endorsed the plan on Wed, Nov 28 .
        “The business case has already been endorsed by the Waikato Regional Council and now awaits endorsement from Hamilton City Council before it goes to the NZTA board on December 14”. This is the article from 1News now dated 5 days ago

        And after watching a youtube video this could be the train for stage 2 if
        and when they agree to the 2nd stage as it can run on either the overhead power supply or use a backup diesel Generator for the power supply to the electric traction system when running on the unwired sections of the track , and they have a maximum speed of 200kph or 125 miles per hour

        1. 3 more News item’s 2 from the Herald’s Hamilton’s News and 1 from Kiwi Blog

          1] this is a positive Item :-

          2] This may put off the Park and Ride traveller’s to start with .They have got the return fare to Auckland wrong as various posting’s have stated @12.20 to Papakura from the Base plus AT charge from Papakura to Britomart $6.10

          “Train commuters will have to pay to use the planned Park and Ride at the new Te Rapa station, on top of the expected $40 ticket for a return train trip to Auckland.

          While no official decision has been made yet, Hamilton Mayor Andrew King told Hamilton News that a small payment of around $5 a day would prevent people not using the train from parking at the facility.”

          3] And this from a bunch called the New Zealand tax payers union posted on Kiwi Blog who just seem too be a bunch of Nay/Doom Sayers and they just seem to be lovers of the ACT/National party and the road/car owners lobby who don’t want any thing spent on a good idea .

          So the way it works 1 Good , 2 So So , 3 Trash or just Idiotic

      2. I found these 2 Articles online while trying to find out if the NZTA board had past the motion to accept the Waikato’s proposal for the rail link and there is an item in both 1 verbal and 1 written on the RNZ website

        “The Greater Auckland transport blog supports a commuter train from Hamilton, but warns it could fail because the plan is being rushed.

        Greater Auckland’s Matt Lowrie said a number of rail construction projects are happening in Auckland and it would be better to hold off until they are completed and there’s more to offer commuters.”

        And the verbal posting on the Stuff Website

        So Matt L why is it being rushed ? as it’s going to take a while do get the carriages up and running for the long distance service with Hutt workshops being overworked through their ongoing maintenance work .
        And there is a comment from this so called Taxpayers group moaning about the money being used to start this service but the way they carry on it sounds like they live on trust accounts and never pay any taxes themselves
        So we may find out next week if they have agreed

    3. It’s good to read about this progress. I hope NZTA fund this with some urgency so that the nine SA and SDs can be acquired and work started asap to update them.

    1. There was a more recent announcement stating March 2020 but I can’t find the link to it. This looks like a rubber stamp job given the NZTA attended todays WRC meeting.

  109. The funniest item I have seen is from Nationals transport spokesman Paul Goldsmith is this quote;-

    “National had a better plan for rail. We would have pushed ahead with complete electrification of the network from Pukekohe to Tuakau”

    Then why when they were in power didn’t they do it ?
    This is the item from Scoop and he was also newshubs 4pm bleeting the same thing
    and stating when Electrification gets to Taukau the service could start from there , so how do the passengers then get from Hamilton to start their journey ? do they walk or hitchhike . It goes to show the party paid for by the transport/roading lobby don’t have anything that will help reduce problems

    1. I hope we get some regular RR progress posts on GA. It would be nice to have a positive attitude concerning RR and encourage support for this new rail venture. Cant wait to see it expand to offer morning or daytime trains from Auckland to Hamilton (and Tauranga) with later day return.
      After tv news report tonight I know a trip organiser who would sort groups of 20 to 30 from retirement village for monthly return trip. I wish AT would get involved and consider implementing the Ak to Ham and return service

  110. Im 37. Cant wait to try these trains out on my 65th birthday with a gold travel card. Your’e so far behind the times when it comes to infrastructure I’m surprised you haven’t tried to redesign Noah’s Ark! You don’t have enough workers or the materials. For them you have to go abroad. Thats means a hike in immigration, which leads to more houses, more cars, endless roadworks, more workers needed, sleep, repeat.
    With the amount of houses going up and plots being sold on the North Shore, Warkworth, Wellsford it is soon going to be impossible to drive to the city under 2.5hrs at rush hour. Trains are the answer. We lost the beautiful untouched land when Auckland spread further and further out. Just do it like any other city. Sydney, London, Paris. Have pockets of beauty but all in all its just a bustle with great public transport.
    Drive north or south if you fancy some quiet time. Fighting against the change is only going to set us further and further back.

  111. These new trains be really handy and yet still long time for the waiting u never seen these and see when it goes pass unless you at the stop before 5 minute

  112. What is the progress for this proposal? Regional Rapid Rail makes a lot of sense. Providing excellent infrastructure makes it possible for people to live further out, spreading out the metropolitan pockets across the north island backbone instead of a massive concentration in central Auckland.

    It seems ridiculous to have a housing problem when there are so many non usable green space between Auckland and Hamilton or Tauranga. We have a planning problem, not a housing problem.

    1. There’s a watered down version of Stage 1 being introduced in March 2020. It’s far from ideal but it’s the best that could realistically be delivered with our existing infrastructure.

  113. The earliest start date so far is March 2020 . As they have to upgrade the carriages with toilets and build a couple of new stations/platforms at the southern end at the base and huntly

    1. Here is the latest on the Carriages for the Hamilton – Auckland link from the TRON fb page and Kiwi Rail Blog

      “Four basic concepts were designed, then considered by stakeholders, all based on former SA and SD class carriages made redundant in 2015 by Auckland Transport. These included:

      Refurbished SA carriage with 54 seats
      Refurbished SA carriage with 50 seats and toilet
      Refurbished SA carriage with 20 seats, severy and toilet
      Refurbished SD carriage with 28 seats, space for bicycles, generator room, staff compartment and driving cab

      Other combinations were also designed early on, including a refurbished SD carriage with severy that focussed on wheelchair accessibility, but reduced the number of regular seats to just three. But it was the four above mentioned designs that went through to final consideration, and of these, the second, third and fourth designs listed above were recommended. The 54 seat version was not taken further as it was recognised that international best practice is to provide one toilet for approximately every 50 passengers.

      These three carriage designs have subsequently been classified by KiwiRail as classes SR (seating), SRC (seating plus severy) and SRV (seating, genset and driving cab).”

      And here are the 2 links ;-

      1. Thanks for the links to updates. Aircraft style seats with power and USB connections, servery and 100 seats most with tables, can’t wait to travel on this train. I just wish there was a morning AKL to Ham and later return as part of startup but that would likely need AC/AT involved.
        Also can’t see any reason why RR can’t be terminated at Puhinui slice empty RR has to, anyway, run through to Westfield for storage.
        Interesting to note that Pukekohe OLE may get done to Pokeno. 8M to sort out three DF locos, seems an awful lot so they must at least be getting new RR livery to match coaches.

        1. Not a fan of that name, it’s a nickname for one of the cities it connects to, doesn’t lend a lot of credibility to the service. In addition the train could hardly be called an express.

          It would be better to give it a name that would still be applicable once the service is extended to Tauranga. I’m thinking Regional Connect, I would have said Intercity but that name is already taken.

        2. ‘This was the reason why :-

          “The ‘Tron Express/Tuhono Waikato’ (Connecting Waikato) – is the proposed name for our new daily train between Hamilton & Auckland (starting April 2020).
          Some who’ve seen this have wondered about the name, but on reflection many have thought its a great, slightly quirky way of catching attention and the public imagination. Our nickname ‘The Tron’ is something to be proud of (and it’s better than ‘Jafa Express’!).
          These carriages are being stripped, renovated and upgraded as we speak (down in the KiwiRail workshops in the Hutt Valley).”

          Someone in the comments section suggested Waikato Express which dosen’t sound to bad and it’s better than the Jaffa Express . And with Tron that’s what people call that area where they live/come from and it could be slang for getting the tron instead of getting the train ?

        3. It’s a silly name for the simple reason you can’t catch the train to The Tron! The service runs from The Tron to Auckland, but not the other way.

        4. Good point. Perhaps when enough confused people realise it’s not a to-Tron train someone will look at contra train services

        5. From this item that was on the AM Show this morning there was these :-

          “Other names on the shortlist for the Hamilton-Auckland service include H2A, Waikato Link and Tuhono Waikato (Connecting Waikato).

          The ‘Tron Express’ refers to a nickname for Hamilton, ‘Hamiltron – city of the future’ – frequently shortened to ‘The Tron’ – which was coined by two student radio DJs in the late 1990s.”

          And this is the link which is I found a good read as it also compares the Capital Connection to this new service . Here is the link :-

        6. And for those of you that want to vote on the name of the service their is a voting section on this item from Stuff about the name and there is a choice of 5 different names :-

          So check the link and VOTE……For one of the 5 names.

          And the people that stuff spoke to look like the sort that never will catch this service and they all seem to be newbies to New Zealand where are the local locals that are older ??

        7. I’m impressed that you can tell that someone is a newbie to New Zealand from a single picture.

        8. Sailor Boy I also watched the video at the top of the age where they did interviews and it looks as if they spoke to students at the university

        1. I assume they will use the same ramp system that was used when the carriages were on the Auckland network.

    1. This is an item from a Tauranga paper called SunLive dated Saturday 06 Apr, 2019 with which Simon Bridges looks he is starting to slowly change hi mind over rail v’s road 1st paragraph states ;-

      “Tauranga MP and Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges has called a proposed passenger train route linking the Bay of Plenty to Auckland and Hamilton as “a great idea, but incredibly hard, if not impossible, to achieve anytime soon”.

      and here is the link for the full item ;-

      which came from the TRON fb page ;-

  114. Here is 4 links to photo’s of the old SA carriages undergoing conversion at the KR Hutt workshops Woburn :-

    And these are from the TRON fb page :-

  115. Budget 2019
    $300m for Regional rail as part of the $1b for Kiwirail. That should get RR well underway but do we know how this will be allocated to RR?
    Also money for new locomotives and wagons, although one reporter said carriages not wagons. Please no more of those awful chinese DL diesels, some dual mode diesel/electric locos perhaps.

    1. Bogle , going by this paragraph from Scoop news :-

      ” * $375m towards replacing 900 aging container wagons and start replacing the fleet of 48 South Island locomotives and some shunt engines, which are up to 50 years old; and improving the layout and efficiency of the major maintenance depots at Hutt and Waltham.”

      it seems they are for the South Island only , and here is the full item’s link ;-

      And thanks to the coalition government for some of what is needed , shame there is nothing about electrification of the Hamilton- Auckland section .
      And 1news showed a ferry that wasn’t a rail ferry but a Fullers Waiheke ferry ! . So does that mean they are ggoing to convert them to carry small wagons across the Cook Strait ?

      1. The 48 South Island locomotives must be referring to the DX locos. I thought the plans to get replacement for these was no longer considered necessary as 15 are being substantially upgraded to become DXE.
        Or is this $300m earmarked for Chinese DL locos and wagons as some trade balance for the many $bn milk products exports to China?
        So potentially 48 new DL plus the 15 DXE? Is the coal export volumes expected to grow significantly to need this many heavy locos?

  116. Going by an item on Stuff the start date of this service could be put back by 1-2 months because of Bogie problems with spring failure , so which bogies are having this problem are they new ones they bought when the carriages were re-gauged or the ones that came off the old 56′ carriages ?
    Why can’t they buy new springs like you do with a car instead of the complete bogie . When they were running these carriages on the Auckland network they had 2 different style bogies and which were the faulty ones ?

    Two SA cars, showing re-used (left) and new (right) bogies

    Were they the ones on the left or the ones on the right ?

    1. hmmm Hope the lifts are not too small like say the Sylvia Park ones, given you want to quite likely take cycles or suitcases, those lifts are pretty crammed.

  117. And here are 2 images of what the Park and Ride at Rotokauri will look like and “The Hub will include a park and ride facility for rail and bus passengers, including mobility spaces, electric vehicle charging spaces, drop off and pick up zones and taxi stands. ”×547.jpg

    And these are from the HCC “Our Hamilton” web page . here is the link :-

    1. And these 2 links from HCC show a bit more on what they are doing on the $12m upgrade at The Hub [Rotokauri] . the 1st gives an overview ;-

      And the 2nd is a 6 page PDF file with 4 enlarge pictures of the works happening there ;-

  118. Thanks, interesting. Not it should be so park & ride-“ish”, but quite different location and issues compared to an Auckland suburban station.

  119. Will they ever learn from the disaster that is the park and ride on the North Shore?? If your going to do it then make it multistory. The amount of new affordable houses, immigration and people leaving the city means more cars than ever. You can build it somewhere other than the station and have shuttle buses. Either way if they want people to swap cars for public transport they have to look a lot harder at the logistics and actual numbers now and in the future

    1. No I’m not replying to myself (this Grant is a different one, note link in my name).

      Main thing I should of mentioned is that they should charge for the P&R’s at both the places you mention (or any P&R). If you don’t then they just fill up with local drivers that could more easily take a feeder bus, walk or cycle etc.
      They are there for those that need to drive to it or are from more rural or non bus serviced locations. These people will value it more.

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  121. After listening to this podcast the person from KR has said the consist are NOT going to operate as a push pull train as they had on the Auckland Network . So every time they arrive at their arrival point the engine will be turned around so they can use it facing the right/correct way for the return trip . So why did they rebuild the SD’s if they are not going to use them for the purpose that they were original used for ? ;–

  122. this is absolutely amazing i am so grateful for this i have been wanting this for a while now! also when will phase 1 be completed.

  123. Bringing the Concorde to the trains and more and its so advanced special trains no cancelled because it will keep running and I don’t smoke so there when they come and run find out when travel

    1. Blair, it’s hard to understand what you’re trying to say.

      Just because heavy rail trains may be “fast” and “advanced” doesn’t mean they won’t be cancelled. There are cancelled services on European and Asian high speed rail, when mechanical issues or other problems come up.

  124. I don’t think the South Island link Christchurch to Dunedin would be viable due to low patronage. They have been discussions for years about local services from Rolleston and Rangiora to Christchurch but wher would you put the Christchurch station as the one they have at Tower junction if to far away and the old station was demolished and the land rebuilt upon.

  125. I don’t think the South Island link Christchurch to Dunedin would be viable due to low patronage. They have been discussions for years about local services from Rolleston and Rangiora to Christchurch but wher would you put the Christchurch station as the one they have at Tower junction if to far away and the old station was demolished and the land rebuilt upon.

      1. Matt Bear that person if I right the Moderators removed him a few years back and I think he was using another name , but his postings were written in the same way .

  126. Haven’t seen it posted here but the ministerial scenarios for upgrading the corridor AKL-HAM have been published.
    A) Electrification only 1h53m $2.157B
    B) above with track upgrades 1h28m $5B
    C) New NG corridor 1h19m $12.157B
    D) New SG HS corridor 1h9m $13.627B

    Knowing NZ, option B sounds most likely and it could probably be done in stages keeping the capital outlay down initially.
    Even just option A would bring huge benefits to the environment, speed, comfort and reliability of the service while also improving freight rail.
    I guess option C is probably referring to tunnelling under the Bombay Hills to shorten the route significantly (and avoiding a few other slow sections).

    1. B sounds reasonable. A consistent 160km/hr with the odd non-stop train is plenty of speed for what is quite a short trip. Other implementation details like station locations, each citys internal PT / bike networks, frequency, would all have more impact on ridership than an extra 90km/hr of top speed.

      1. It sounds like A->B->C is all pretty easy to do as an incremental or staged development. This should allow us to keep costs down by essentially employing a single track crew for 10-20 years rather than dropping $5b and having to import a heap of skilled labour. I think this assessment also shows that top speed just isn’t important on journeys this short compared to removing all of the really low speed points.

  127. Hello,

    Could you please provide more details or insights into the transport demand that will justify this project? I tried to access the full report but the link is not working.


  128. It should allowed to come to Tauranga and the puke and other routes and it’s not ok or allowed to not having it then it goes to Tauranga to Auckland via Hamilton and Tauranga to Wellington via Hamilton

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