It’s been another busy week with so many interesting articles I’m struggling to fit things in.

Auckland Transport to buy only electric buses from now on

Some great news yesterday with Todd Niall reporting that new buses are likely to only be electric from now on.

New buses added to Auckland’s commuter fleet are likely to be electric from now on.

Auckland Transport hoped up to 30 electric buses each year will join the city’s fleet to soak up rising patronage and replace diesels that reach their 19-year limit.

The council-owned agency said the electrification of the current fleet of 1360 buses can be paid for out existing budget for the next few years. However, the ramp-up from 2023, when contracts with bus companies are due for renewal, might need additional funding.

The pace of the roll-out means additional electric buses will not reduce the carbon emissions of Auckland’s fleet, but will stop them rising.

“The priority for us will be focussing on how to improve air quality in the city centre,” said Darek Koper, Auckland Transport’s manager of bus services.

Making roads in Mangere Bridge safer

Some more good news from AT yesterday that they’ve started construction to make roads safer in Mangere Bridge

Walking to school in Māngere Bridge will now be safer for children, thanks to Auckland Transport’s Safer Communities programme.

The Māngere- Ōtāhuhu Local Board area has a high rate of road death and serious injury. 80% of all road deaths and serious injuries occur on 50km/h roads like in Māngere Bridge.

Nearly half of those deaths and serious injuries involve elderly or children walking or scootering to school.

Māngere Bridge is the second community to benefit under the programme after Mt Roskill.

Safety improvements will see wider footpaths – with clearer boundaries between them and surrounding properties.

There will also be raised pedestrian crossings and raised speed tables to encourage safer speeds.

Drury Town Centre

Last week in the Herald’s Project Auckland series that also contained my Light Rail piece, was also something from the government about the investments announced for the NZ Upgrade Programme and how three of them combined were also helping in the development of Drury. That was then followed up with a press release about it.

NZ Upgrade transport investments in South Auckland will lay the foundations for a future town at Drury and represent a new way to help our biggest city grow, Minister of Transport and Urban Development Phil Twyford says.

“Our Government is investing $2.4 billion in roads and rail to unlock growth in South Auckland and support a new town at Drury, as well as further development at Paerata, Pukekohe and Karaka,” Phil Twyford said.

“This includes $1.35 billion to build Mill Road, $371 million to extend the electrified rail network to Pukekohe, $247 million for new railway stations, a park and ride facility, and a bus and rail interchange at Drury, and $423 million to improve State Highway 1 between Papakura and Drury South.

“This is a break from the ad hoc way we have previously planned our towns and suburbs. Instead of transport infrastructure having the catch up with housing development, we are investing in the roads and rail from the outset. For the first time, we’re putting the horse before the cart.

“Drury will be a well-planned community with all the jobs, facilities, retail and public spaces people want. Families who want to move there will be able to do so without needing to have a car as there will already be two train stations, and connecting walkways and cycleways.

The press release also included this image of the design for the Drury development. There does appear to be some good density in the development but it also raises many questions, such as:

  • Why does it appear the station is basically half in a park and not have much immediately around it?
  • Why is the ‘town heart’ not focused on the train station?
  • Why does the main access road from the motorway pass between the station and town centre? That feels like it will create significant severance at peak times from steams of cars.
  • Are all those green buildings part of the medical precinct, if so why so many.
  • Why are we still building big box (Homemaker Precinct) where the focus is on having the shops hidden behind parking which just encourages people to drive, not just to the area but even between each shop. Why can’t we at least put the shops in the middle (focused around that intersection) and have the parking hidden behind them.
  • I still don’t get how this station and the one about 1.5km down the tracks are costing $247 million given rebuilding Puhinui into a likely much more significant station is $60 million. Is that extra cost for all the park & ride they seem to be planning to build?

Hamilton to Auckland Train

The trial of the train that will run between Hamilton and Auckland finally has a start date, 3rd August.

The Te Huia service will consist of two morning trains from Hamilton, with two return evening trains each week day and a single return train on Saturday.

“As the Waikato and Auckland grow closer together, this new passenger train will become a crucial connection between these two major centres.

“It will allow up to 300 people to get to and from Auckland each day, helping reduce congestion on our highways and transport emissions.

“Not only will it take the stress out of driving, the carriages will be comfortable and equipped with Wi-Fi, which will allow passengers to use the two-hour, twenty-minute travel time productively.”

I’m fully supportive of running trains between Auckland and Hamilton but with only two services to Auckland in the morning and only two back again in the evening it makes it hard to be excited about this as it will be next to useless for most people who might consider it an option for use. At the very least surely it should have a few services from Auckland to Hamilton in the morning.

The service will run between Hamilton and Papakura using some of the old locomotive hauled SA/SD trains that used to operate in Auckland prior to electrification and which are being refurbished.

At the same time we’ve also had the Waikato Regional Council suggesting boring another tunnel through the Kaimai’s for passenger rail to be extended to Tauranga with this quote

“There is an existing freight tunnel but it is too toxic to use, the drivers have to wear masks through that tunnel.”

How about we just electrify the tunnel and line which would also benefit freight.

Huntly Bypass Opens

The Huntly bypass was officially opened in the middle of February but this week it finally opened to drivers.

The $384 million Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway opened to traffic this morning.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency contractors removed cones and barriers from the country’s newest road just before noon and traffic switched from the old State Highway 1 route via Huntly.

The 15km four-lane highway takes State Highway 1 east of Huntly town, across lowlands and streams and over Taupiri Range, which is sacred to Waikato-Tainui Māori.

Waka Kotahi Waikato Portfolio Manager Darryl Coalter says the Transport Agency is thrilled to see traffic flowing on the new highway, and thanks motorists for their patience while the finishing touches were applied to the new road.

Passing lane to Cycleway

The NZTA also announced this week what seems like a great little project, turning a passing lane into a cycleway in the Hawkes Bay.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will begin construction this month on making access to Hohepa and Waitangi Regional Park safer, and providing a new direct cycle path on State Highway 51 between Ngaruroro and Clive rivers.

The northbound passing lane on this section of State Highway 51 has become increasingly unsafe and will be removed.

“Safety is a top priority for the Transport Agency, and we know from our monitoring of the area and our engagement with the community that this passing lane has become increasingly unsafe,” Transport Agency Regional Transport Systems Manager Oliver Postings says.

“With the new Whakatu Arterial Route taking a lot of the heavy vehicles towards the Hawke’s Bay Expressway, the passing lane no longer serves its original purpose.

“By removing the entire passing lane, access to Hohepa can be made safer and improvements can be made to the cycleway connection between Clive and Napier. This is great news for the Clive community and local cyclists.”

State Highway 51 used to be SH2 but was changed last year with the Hawkes Bay Expressway getting the SH2 designation.

The Hawkes Bay are doing some good things with (generally tourism focused) cycleways and this will add to that – I was riding some of them just a few weeks ago and they seemed popular.

A sign from one of the cycleways

Use PT or traffic will get worse

Last week Newshub ran a typical bike vs car commute race at peak times with predictably the bike winning by quite some margin. It also included this which ties in nicely with yesterday’s post.

On the motorway, most of the cars were only carrying one person.

Use of the city’s public transport is only growing by about five percent year on year, which isn’t fast enough according to Auckland Transport.

“We’ve got to at least double that to keep congestion levels the same,” executive general manager of integrated networks Mark Lambert says.

“We have to build more bus lanes, more cycle lanes, and increase the quality and usability of public transport so more people feel good about using public transport.”

And if we don’t, all signs point to congestion “getting a lot worse”.

High St changes a success

The team behind it may stupidly be getting the chop but the second stage of the High St changes are proving to be a fantastic success. I’m not sure you get much better than this from a retailer.

Trainers Manager Beau Jeffries says while he was initially apprehensive about the changes, he was proven wrong.

“I was sure lots of our customers parked near our store, so I was dubious about the impact of having fewer car parks outside,” he says.

“Then immediately, the first day of having wider footpaths, we had people come into the store who had walked past every day without noticing us. Suddenly people had more room to look at what was around them; they could stop without somebody bumping into them.

“I was happy to be proven wrong.”

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  1. This is unfortunately what we hear so much in this business: “I was skeptical, I fought against the proposal because I expected it would impact me or my business despite what they said. But now that it has happened I love it and wish they had done it sooner”.

    To be honest I walk up Hight St almost every day, and I don’t know where ‘Trainers’ is either. Let’s see if that changes.

    1. +1

      The widened footpaths provide space for people to pause and look at their surroundings. A fully car-free street would make the street a pleasant place to linger, which would lead to even more business for local retailers.

    2. I think the best part of high st is improvements is now people instead of focusing to evade the other people, they now feel calm and encouraged to look inside the store fronts.

      So retail sales will benefit a lot.

  2. Is it just me or has this week also been a bad one for train delays/cancellations? I experienced a cancelled service one morning and two evenings this week. I mainly use the Eastern line but I know yesterday Southern line services were also impacted. With March Madness in full swing the trains that did turn up ended up being full to overflowing. These disruptions aren’t good for increasing patronage.

  3. Do we know who the designers of the new Drury are? Why don’t we ask them directly? All valid questions that you ask – it seems like a halfway good plan – with some really weird decisions. Let’s ask them to post some replies.

    1. +1

      It seems the proposed design needs a lot of rework and improvements.

      Looking at the plan it reminds about the west-gate development, which IMO is a total failure.

      The density around the train station seems too low for a successful TOD.

    2. If these clowns that have designed Dury had a look at the way Glen Innes and Glen Eden are designed and set it up like that . They both have industry on one side of the track and small retail stores at the front and those stupid big box stores further out or is that they think a rail line is a blot on their beautifully ? designed precinct .

      1. Exactly, high density close to the station, with density slowly dropping further away. Ensure that the station is the focal point of the village, with clear, green walking paths to it from the entire village. Everything should be within comfortable (ideally sheltered) walking distance.

        The designers should look into how Asian cities work, there is a “centre of gravity” where the tallest buildings (be they residential, commercial, or mixed) are around stations because land around stations is the most expensive, justifying taller buildings. This land use also means that so that no one who doesn’t want to drive isn’t forced to. Anything needing a car like big box retail is pushed further out by economic reality, not by artificial zoning practices.

        Surely this layout is common sense to anyone who has traveled to a major world city? What are the designers actually thinking?

        1. I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of the people still think cities like glorified villages.

          They mostly likely hasn’t experiences world class Transit Oriented Development cities like Tokyo or Hong Kong.

  4. There’s certainly a lot in this week’s roundup.

    If Auckland Transport are going to move to an all-electric bus fleet; I can’t help but think that they should long-term plan for conversion to trolleybuses on the busier core routes. Because as much as manufacturers of the batteries that supply the motors in electric buses tout their lastest advancements; they’re still inherently batteries with all their inherent disadvantages.

    I don’t know why they’re going to develop Drury the way they’re going to with this hideous & closed-off grid-layout (more dullsville for NZ) and don’t instead just use the site of the original station and town centre and develop out from it radially along traditional lines.

    I’ve always supported re-introducing commuter rail between Auckland and Hamilton in principle. But I’m aware that its chances of success are compromised by some unfortunate realities of NZ railways. Contrary to Matt Lowrie; I think that an initial 2 x peak service is a good starting point, especially given that if this proves insufficient; converting more old SA/SD carriages shouldn’t be very expensive.
    What’s more concerning to me is this terminating at Papakura! Honestly; I feel that this is far more of a concern about its prospects of success than the fact it’s only 2 peak services. For it to be attractive; I strongly feel that it needs to terminate as close to the Auckland CBD as possible and stop at the major interchanges. The other issue is that there needs to be a focus on lowering its transit time as much as possible. This service needs to become a daily commuting service like the Wairarapa service Wellington has and thus needs to be as much an attractive prospect for commuting and as an alternative to commuting by automobile as possible.

    Not sure why the Kaimai tunnel’s suddenly too toxic for passenger services to use given that it’s been used for that purpose previously with no issues. And given that it’s one of the newest rail tunnels in NZ, much newer than the Rimutaka tunnel or the newer tunnel on the Tawa flat deviation, both of which see diesel-hauled passenger services every day. I’d like to hear from a Kiwirail employee that drivers are required to wear any description of masks before I believe that.
    As for Matthew Lowrie’s question “How about we just electrify the tunnel and line which would also benefit freight.”: Because it actually would make no difference to freight and because it would have an appallingly low BCR. And we all know that money is tight in New Zealand.

    As for the cycleways; yes it’s good news and I hope that this is the first of many more urban authorities in NZ taking similar measures. But I do have to question why the focus is more for leisure cycling & tourism and not primarily for everyday commuting to work/school.

    As for the success of further pedestrianising High Street in Auckland; I think we all knew this would happen. There’s plenty more across urban NZ that could undergo this kind of transformation.

    1. Daniel all they would have to do with the SA/SD’s is to remove 2 sets of inward facing seats and fit 1 toilet in 1 spot and a vending machine in the other for those that want a snack or drink and then leave the existing seats as they are now and just fix an airline style table to the back of them . And on the outside of the carriage paint 2nd to the side of them ,and for those that want Wfi they can use some of their monthly bundle .

      But KR may have to purchase the carriages off a mob called Octaganial Holdings who seem to have bought a number of them .

      And slightly off key after watching a number of youtube videos the thing that I have noticed is the way GWC have to turn around their loco’s for their long distance passenger services when there are enough SD’s that they could/should have purchased to save time and fuel on the Cpital Connection and the Waiarapa service . And that wouuld ave alo all the mucking around when they arrive in Wellington .

  5. I do appreciate that AT is trying to make streets safer for kids, but at the same time those pinch points created by ‘side islands’ make it dangerous for cyclists by forcing them into general traffic.

    1. Why are those stupid design elements still even allowed to progress to this stage? Who is signing them off?

  6. That’s pretty stupid we can’t go down to Hamilton for the day with this new train service. Some colleagues of mine have to drive down there for meetings frequently.

    But even more stupid that the stations near Hamilton don’t have a morning service to go into Hamilton and an evening service to go home.

    Are they running the train back between services empty, or are they using two trains? Surely not two trains? Or are they then going to do other services around Auckland during the day to make use of them? [I’ve asked this before but I didn’t want to believe the answer.]

    1. After passengers alight at Papakura the trains run empty up to Westfield where they park up until needed for the evening run to Hamilton. They run empty from Westfield to Papakura.
      When Puhinui station rebuild is completed it could become the last stop for the morning trains.

      1. I think it would be better to have the last alighting point at Newmarket (given that bureaucrats have decided that diesel trains can no longer terminate at Britomart).
        If Ngati Whatua’s plans to develop Eastern line platforms at the Strand ever come to fruition; The Strand could be the terminus for the service.

        1. Could the Hamilton trains actually keep up with the EMUs in terms of acceleration and speed? The time slots are already pretty tight on the southern line.

        2. Pshem – they will be running express so shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up. The bigger issue will be getting stuck behind all-stops services.

        3. Jezza – That is why the Hamilton/Auckland train service will be terminating at Papakura as AT doesn’t want any disruptions to their Metro train services.

        4. Kris – yes that’s right initially, however once the 3rd main is up and running that will change.

        5. jezza – With regards to your comment – ” yes that’s right initially, however once the 3rd main is up and running that will change”, the service might not be around by the time the 3rd main track is completed if it doesn’t get and/or maintain the passenger numbers to keep the services viable with its current timetable and operating model.

      2. Paul Rees – What about the Train Manager/s and other 1 or 2 train crew members considering the service originating and terminating in Hamilton, as they would be Hamilton based crew. The locomotive driver/s can take a freight train back to Hamilton.

      3. It’s a shame they can’t bring the H2A full or partially full to Otahuhu for those that are wanting to use the Eastern line Routes as now they have put the 3rd track in at Otahuhu . And until early 2021 there are only to all stop Stations between Wiri and Otahuhu which shouldn’t effect any hold ups with that new 3rd service .

    2. I don’t think it’s “stupid” at all. You’re forgetting that this is the initial service and that it will need a period to become established.

      The fact is that the current demand & market is for people going from Hamilton to Auckland for the day, mostly occupational commuters. The demand for the other direction just isn’t near enough (yet).
      Yeah, there are people in Auckland who need to travel to Hamilton for business meetings but are they in enough quantity to justify even a reverse peak service (which would still mean that many of them would have to spend their entire day in Hamilton)?

      Would you really rather that money was sunk into a frequent Auckland-Hamilton commuter service that would run mostly empty for a long period of years, instead of that money being invested into projects that would generate real, more immediate results (like a north-western busway).

    3. I agree. The only thing I can hope for is that the initial service will be a success and pave the way for more services in the future, including reverse services and extensions to Tauranga.

      Hamilton East MP David Bennett has been consistently on the attack on this passenger service, I hope this proves to be a success so he can shut up for once.

    4. Intercity offers a number of services across the day that are quicker and cheaper and go somewhere more useful in Hamilton.

      Many start up services focus on peak commuters to begin with and expand to cover more counter peak and off-peak services. It’s not optimal but on-balance I think they have got this right within the rail network constraints we currently have.

      1. It’s a start. Initially they need to concentrate on getting the patronage up otherwise it will be easy to ditch when a less rail friendly government comes along. I think a station in North Waikato should be a priority after the start up. Out of Tuakau, Pokeno and Te Kauwhata, I think Pokeno is the best choice because the other two are not so far from existing rail stations and it is rapidly growing. Then fix the Whangamarino swamp section. Don’t run counter peak trips until the train is securely established/in no danger of being scrapped. Nothing would be gained by running near empty trains for colleagues with occasional meetings in Hamilton.

        1. The only problem with the week day times departing Hamilton (Frankton) 5.55am and 6.37am may not get passengers as planned. The station after Frankton is Rotokuari which will be the major bus/train interchange and a 116 car park n ride. Most Busit bus services currently don’t operate from the city centre (Transport Centre) that would connect with the the train services. Its worst at the weekends. The Waikato Regional Council have said there will be some modifications to bus timetables on the Orbitor and some key suburban services that will terminate/depart from Rotokauri interchange once completed.

          It is going to be interesting to see what is going to happen.

      2. If it was up to me I would subsidise Intercity to run express buses between Papakura Huntly and the Base.
        These would be turn up with your HOP or Busit cards and go. I am sure they would be nimble enough to conjurer up bigger buses or extra buses if services were getting to full. Off peak and Papakura Hamilton in the morning and Hamilton Papakura in the evening. Also there are service starting soon for passengers linking Te Kauwhata, Mercer, Tuakua and Pukekohe so they have got those towns covered. Transfer at Huntly to local buses to Ngaruawahia etc. I can’t find the link for the new service but I did read it a month or so back.

        1. Intercity buses are appallingly cramped and uncomfortable, terrible lack of ventilation, cause motion sickness to a lot of people especially trying to read/look at screens, don’t have toilets/don’t have onboard cafes/don’t take bicycles etc etc. Buses don’t work, they are the do nothing cheapskate option.

        2. I doubt they have spare coaches and drivers sitting around waiting in-case of a sudden spike in demand. Trains are much better for dealing with peak loading.

          In addition the success of this service initially is going to be very dependent on people doing some of their work onboard. This is much more viable on a train than a bus.

        3. I was thinking of having a day out in Hamilton without the hassle of booking on line for Intercity buses. Agree train is better for commuters but trying to get around running uneconomic off peak and counter peak services..

        4. Royce – I think your off-peak idea is a good one in the interim, the route lacks services where you can just hop on without a booking.

        5. I’m hoping some off-peak, counter peak, extra services and coverage plus new stations will follow pretty quick once the success of this initial service is proven. Some stations won’t be too much work to bring up to standard, Pokeno maybe a bit harder to position.

        6. Royce – InterCity Coachlines do not own their buses/coaches. The buses/coaches used for mail line inter-regional and long distance services in the North Island are own by Ritchies and Tranzit operating under the InterCity branding so any ‘express’ bus services between Auckland and Hamilton will not have AT Hop and/or Beecard (Busit) tap on/tap off readers.

        7. David – I think they are spares as for this service to work reliably they will need some back-ups.

        8. Kris the buses/coaches do not need to have the Busit or Hop readers they can be placed at the three stops and a security person or driver can check they are being used. Another idea, there is already a regular service between Hamilton and Huntly so maybe the Papakura express bus only needs to run to Huntly where you can transfer. The reason I suggested Intercity to do the job is that subsidised public transport would be competing against their commercial Auckland Hamilton service and they should get the first opportunity. In my opinion they are a good operator and they should be encouraged. Of course any bus company could run the service if it went out to a normal tender.

        1. Read the articles it says it will take 80mins from Hamilton to Papakura and possibly upwards of 10mins for the transfer to the Auckland Metro system and whatever the time will be to where you won’t to go in Auckland .

          This from Stuff ;-

          “The running time from The Base to Papakura will be 80 minutes, but is estimated to be two hours 20 minutes if passengers want to transfer to Auckland CBD from Papakura.

          Two trains made up of four carriages will be used, each with capacity for 150 passengers.

          Carriages will be equipped with wifi, air conditioning, heating, USB points, a cafe bar and toilets.

          “The service to Papakura is set to cost $12.20 one way for passengers from Hamilton.”

          And here is the full Article ;-

      1. This is one thing Twyford has got off the starting gate maybe 5 months late , but they lattnest can be put down to KR for wanting new Boggies for this service . So stop blaming him , if was his opposite number in National [i.e loose/flabby jaw Bishop ] people would still be trying to hitch their way to Auckland .

  7. A better use of taxpayer money is electrifying the existing Hamilton-Tauranga rail corridor – it will likely have a better BCR than putting in a second Kaimai Tunnel and it may well cost less to do.

    1. If the Kaimai tunnel would still be a single-track bottleneck; how would electrifying it make any difference?

      1. No tunnel downtime while the diesel combustion products dissipate. Net result would be a significant increase in tunnel capacity.

        1. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong; but I’ve long understood that the tunnel sees ~20 movements a day. And I know that meny was invested in providing the tunnel with ventilation a couiple of years ago.
          So I find it hard to believe these claims about diesel fumes being any limiting factor, if a factor at all.

          And while 20 movements is impressive traffic for any single track rail tunnel anywhere; it would need to be even more still to justify either duplication or electrification.

        2. “I find it hard to believe these claims about diesel fumes being any limiting factor, if a factor at all.”

          Your belief or lack thereof, Daniel, has no bearing on Kiwirail’s operating rules for the tunnel. The directors and managers of that organisation have a legal obligation to take “all practicable steps” to ensure the safety of their employees and the public. Post Pike River the public wanted more stringent penalties for violations of this general directive, up to and including jail sentences and that is what the public got.
          Depending on operational and maintenance factors diesel engine exhaust can contain NOx, CO, SO2, aldehydes, particulates and other substances known to be harmful to health and/or leading to severe impairment of function. “Safe” concentrations of these substances have been established by national and international health authorities and objective measures of these substances can be and are made in tunnels.
          A delay between diesel-hauled trains is one of Kiwirail’s mitigations of known, quantifiable and potentially fatal hazards.

    2. Indeed Rob, you’re on the money as always.

      People forget what a tough job the Kaimai Tunnel was to dig – multiple different strata to work through (caused the fatal cave-in for example) for a start. (As an aside, anyone who mindlessly proposes a Kaimai road tunnel needs to read their history first). A second tunnel would be enormously expensive and surely a low priority.

      Electrifying from Frankton to Mount Maunganui and double-tracking every bit but the tunnel would deliver an enormous capacity and pax rail amenity increase (not to mention emissions reduction) – that’s what we should focus on first before thinking about a duplicate tunnel.

      1. Agree that tunnel duplication should be the last stage of doubling the line. An initial stage could be much longer loops that would allow a rolling cross. Probably avoid duplicating any of the larger/longer bridges initially ($$$).
        A second tunnel would have the benefit of everything learned from the first tunnel. Particularly rock properties & structure. And not to use traditional mining techniques through unconsolidated saturated gravel/sand/silt…

        1. Good point about bridges GK. Double tracking is probably better to start from Ruakura and work east to avoid having to build a new Waikato River bridge and the inevitable moaning about doubling the line through Hamilton East. Rural land should be cheaper to buy for long passing loops and line straightening too.

          Ideally the new formation would be designed so that pax trains could sit on 120+ km/h. We live in hope…

    3. Intercity rail in Hokkaido has many sections of line in single track and running through topography very similar to that of the Waikato-BoP regions. Across those lines (same track gauge as NZ), they run mixed freight and passenger services with some sections of lines electrified and much larger sections, not. City and town sizes in Hokkaido are often similar to those in the North Island and similar to NZ, Hokkaido has sizeable tracts of land between towns and cities, in farm land and in plantation or indigenous forest cover.

      In upgrading the level of freight/passenger service, NZ ought to consider the pragmatic approach to infra build and service delivery that Hokkaido has taken – working with the infrastructure they’ve got to make even high-speed tilt train passenger trains (diesel-powered mainly) run frequently and run well on single track, work within ongoing funding constraints and manage the parts of the network that are loss-making, so that overall, a balance of service patronage and service coverage, is maintained.

      1. The story about having to wear masks through the Kaimai Tunnel is rubbish, I’ve been through there several times on passenger trains.

        1. It’s a recent change as a result of tighter H & S and also increased freight traffic.

        2. Drivers have to carry masks and gas-monitoring equipment, and have to be prepared and trained in their use in case they require to stop in the tunnel or if fumes build up in the cab.

          A period of time must elapse after the previous train has been through before the next train can enter, in order for diesel fumes to disperse. This would apply particularly to passenger trains, of which there are none at the moment. The environment in the tunnel is pretty unhealthy immediately after a freight train has gone through.

      2. Yes Rob. Hokkaido is a very good example. I took the nice comfortable Super Hokuto Express Intercity tilt train between Hakodate and Sapporo. There is no reason we couldn’t have the same or similar train here. And as you say the topography, population and density is not unlike NZ.

        I will say the non-main lines are really struggling due to the population loss of the small towns, and JR Hokkaido is heavily in the red so that when I took the Soya line to the top of Hokkaido at this time of year in 2017 there were strong rumours the line would be closed within a few years, and I was for almost the whole way on the last local one carriage train the only passenger on the train right to Wakkanai.

        1. Cheers Simon. Warts and all, Hokkaido has many similarities with NZ on a number of levels, which is why I recommend the NZ govt open a dialogue with JR Hokkaido.

        2. Tomakomai Station to Noboribetsu Station is straight, flat and about 40km by rail
          It is timetabled for 24 mins in the middle of the day
          This is an average speed of 100km/h.
          The Queensland tilt train has a top service speed of 160km/h.
          Assuming 125km Hamilton-Auckland, these would represent potential no stops times of 75mins and 47mins. I think the latter is the minimum target if the service is to be successful. It needs to be much quicker than car/bus.
          Yes a 3rd/4th main is required through Auckland but its needed for express services and freight anyway.

    4. A significant number of trains using the tunnel will be going to or from the KInlieth Branch, Huntly Power station and the Glenbrook steel mill. So are you proposing to electrify these branches as well. As much as I would like to see more electrification I just dont know where you stop. At the Moment the Metro trains run straight into Sulphur Point at Tauranga are you going to electrify the main yard at Mount Maunganui. Electrification just makes everything more complicated. We have talked about having last mile batteries for electric locomotives but the are hardly going to run the length of the Kinlieth or Glenbrook branches.

        1. GIS files for KiwiRail tracks, bridges & tunnels are freely available in KML format that works with Google Earth. (Other formats also available for more serious geospatial geeks.) Search for “kiwirail”.

      1. Surely just the main heaviest used sections you need as a starting point (with future passenger services in mind) and expand from there.

      2. Royce, maybe electro diesels similar to the British class 88. I understand that the builders do a narrow gauge version (although that maybe too heavy for current NZ axle loadings)

  8. “ Use of the city’s public transport is only growing by about five percent year on year, which isn’t fast enough according to Auckland Transport.”

    That is a direct consequence of fare rises. Fight them fight them harder. Public transport is ridiculously expensive in Auckland compared to other cities.

    1. Oops comment below was meant to be a reply to Bill Bennett

      Yep not only fare reductions. But we also need to make driving more expensive so as to push for mode neutrality and ensure that subsidies are removed (i.e cheap/free parking, not paying for contributing to congestion, carbon emissions, DSI , cost of roads). This is really not lefty socialist claptrap… Should be an ACT Policy.

      Are you reading David Seymour?

      This shouldn’t be seen as a witch hunt against drivers (as essentially everyone is, has or will be a driver* – but a way of leveling the playing field for all who use transport (essentially everyone). #Movementovermode.

      *Potentially kids born today won’t ever drive

      1. It’s not quite as comprehensive as you think. Almost all people aged 40 to 65 have a license, however 20% of people aged 15-40 and 24% of people aged over 65 don’t.

        So already 1 in 5 young people, and 1 in 4 elderly can’t drive legally, which is a pretty good indicator that the can’t or don’t. And that’s the ones that don’t have a license, probably a few that might have one but don’t drive or don’t want to.

        1. Yes. And there’s those that have a license but have been told they can’t drive due to medication or a condition. Or can’t afford a car or to maintain it properly.

        2. Look, I wasn’t trying to apply actuarial science to my comments.
          What i’m getting at is that ‘everyone’* if not driving themselves still rides in cars.
          *I don’t actually mean everyone…

          Can we focus on the actual point of my comment . i.e that currently cars enjoy a subsidy and don’t pay for their negative externalities to the same degree other modes do. And that we shouldn’t demonise car users as essentially car users and other mode users are one in the same.

          Sometimes the degree of ‘boffinry’**, persnicketiness*** in here means the big picture is lost.

          ** Apologies – this may not be an actual word.
          *** – See above.

      2. push for mode neutrality and ensure that subsidies are removed (i.e cheap/free parking, not paying for contributing to congestion, carbon emissions, DSI , cost of roads)

        Well if we’re gonna do that we’ll need to remove the subsidy for public transport too. Ooo boy that’s gonna cost ya.

    1. That’s good. The only thing they didn’t cover was how much they spend on the ticketing system and policing to stop fare evasion, and whether – with only 10% farebox recovery there – this ends up being a good proportion of the fares.

  9. Seems a bit odd to suggest the Kaimai Tunnel is not suitable for passenger trains because it is “too toxic to use”. Unless I am mistaken, the ruling grade is 1 in 300 and it is less than 100 m longer than the Rimutaka Tunnel, which has a ruling grade of 1 in 70 and has several passenger trains a day running through it (not to mention that passenger trains – diesel hauled – previously operated through it for several years without incident. Maybe it lacks some H&S aspect for modern passenger operation, but surely that would be a matter of making a suitable investment?

    1. It’s the number of trains: Kaimai > Remutaka by a fare bit.
      Often not enough time for fumes to clear between trains. Also Remutaka Tunnel has ventilation shaft, Kaimai dosen’t.

    2. If I remember right there was some interaction between the exhaust gases from diesel locomotives, the moisture levels and the chemistry of the rock it passes through that created a toxic compound.

      Would be interesting to confirm that electrification replacing the emissions would fix the problem. Electrifying the ECMT (and Hamilton to Pukekohe) will definitely be cheaper and more effective as a next step than a second kaimai tunnel for diesels.

    3. I believe it is partially an asbestos issue (as welll as CO)……Kiwirail had a project 3 to 4 years ago to monitor levels of PM10, asbestos, CO and maybe PAHs. Anyway they came back with some very high numbers.
      My brother in law worked on the Java tunnelling machine which bored the original hole through Kaimai….until it hit the volcanic rocks and it just couldn’t cut through them. They ended up have to blast instead. TBM work best of the geology is uniform and not too hard.

      1. Hadn’t heard about asbestos issue. Do you know if that’s old stuff being stirred up, or is KR still running stuff riddled with it?
        I’ve read a bit on the engineering geology of the Kaimai Tunnel, apparently it was the joint spacing and orientation in the hard volcanics that led to the rock breakers knocking off ~50cm blocks that would get stuck & damaged the TBM cutter face rather than being crushed/broken as designed. Did well in the ignimbrite from the other side.

    4. The biggest problem with the Kaimai Tunnel i from what I have read/seen is KR can only run a train through there every 30mins that way all the exhaust fumes will clear for the next to go through , and with the case of the gas masks they are carried only for an emergency i.e if the loco breaks down and the operators have to get out of there and the y all have to go through a course on how to use them .

    5. JSH, there are a lot more belching heavy freight trains through the Kaimai Tunnel than the Rimutaka. These are what fill it with fumes. The Kaimai Tunnel is at a constant gradient of 1in324 rising to the east. The Rimutaka Tunnel rises at 1in400 from the west and 1in180 from the east, to a high-point in the middle where I believe there is a ventilation shaft, which more-effectively gets rid of fumes compared to the Kaimai Tunnel

      1. The ventilation shaft is closer to the western end, top is next to the old route in the Pakuratahi Valley. It wasn’t part of the original design (which assumed electrics) and wasn’t committed to until after hole through when tests showed natural ventilation insufficient for the then preferred diesels.

    1. Yes, we are designing another west-gate city, which IMO is a total failure. It is just another bunch of strip malls pretending to be a ‘town center’.

  10. Yep not only fare reductions. But we also need to make driving more expensive so as to push for mode neutrality and ensure that subsidies are removed (i.e cheap/free parking, not paying for contributing to congestion, carbon emissions, DSI , cost of roads). This is really not lefty socialist claptrap… Should be an ACT Policy.

    Are you reading David Seymour?

    This shouldn’t be seen as a witch hunt against drivers (as essentially everyone is, has or will be a driver* – but a way of leveling the playing field for all who use transport (essentially everyone). #Movementovermode.

    *Potentially kids born today won’t ever drive

  11. The Auckland-Hamilton service is useless. It takes 2 hours 20 minutes to get from Hamilton to Papakura, so if you live in central auckland/north shore, you’re looking at realistically a 3 hour 15 minute journey. Absolutely useless.
    Once it can do the trip faster than driving will people use it.

    1. Incorrect:
      “Travel time
      The start-up service will have an estimated running time of:

      88 minutes from Frankton to Papakura
      80 minutes from Rotokauri (The Base) to Papakura
      57 minutes from Huntly to Papakura.
      The total journey from Rotokauri to Britomart in Auckland will take an estimated 2 hours 12 – 2 hours 22 minutes (subject to the transfer time at Papakura).

      The times the service will operate are still to be confirmed. Indicative times at this stage are below.”

        1. Certainly a less than ideal design, be interesting to see what patronage there is from Huntly.

        2. People in Huntly will feel hard done by. But I really think that getting trains to stop at the horribly-sited replacement station will slow the service down far too much.

          I strongly feel that it’s likely to be people in the most northern parts of the Northern Waikato that might get the service off of the ground and viable initially. Yes, I think that it should run all the way to Hamilton and stop at Ngaruawahia. But I think that initially; the focus should be on Mercer, Pokeno, Tuakau, Buckland & Pukekohe. I believe that it’s from these places that daily commuters to Auckland who’d take a train are most likely to be found at first. So if the service survives its trial: The first investment should be in a station at Pokeno, then reestablish the station at Tuakau, then at Buckland.

          Once that’s established; they can look at re-establishing a station at Te Kauwhata and then at Huntly.
          A proper station at Huntly again would probably be expensive given the fact that it will need to be situated next to a road with considerable traffic (even with the effects of the expressway).

    2. Sure, but for the moment at peak times at least it’s competitive. Remember that the Southern Motorway often crawls from Pokeno north from 6AM onwards.

      And don’t forget that time on a train can be spent being productive, or just relaxing… unlike time driving in a traffic jam.

      1. Of course this new service is inadequate, we should be aiming much higher, for a proper interurban service (perhaps like the S-Bahn) stopping at more places, where people can walk or cycle to the station.
        Upgrading and electrification of the line right through to Tauranga should also be a priority.
        But we have to start somewhere, if nothing else, to show the boo-birds who won’t spend a cent on modes other than roads that there is in fact a natural market for HAM-AKL train services…

        1. German/Austrian S-Bahn’s aren’t “interurban”. S-Bahn’s are suburban services that use mainline infrastructure. It’s the IC & ICE services that are interurban in Germany.

          I think it’s perfectly adequate as a starting point.

          As for extending to Tauranga; you need to take baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’d worry about electrifying all the way to Te Rapa and giving Hamilton & the Waikato their own rail before worrying about that, and even that’s in the distant goals box!

        2. S-Bahn is not an interurban service but rather an suburban/metro operation like Auckland’s trains.

    3. When describing things as “useless” and “absolutely useless” you need to ensure you have basic facts correct otherwise your comments are absolutely useless.

      1. We will find out in August. I expect and the powers agree it will take time to build that’s why they funded it for 5 years.

      2. I agree; “useless” is hyperbole.
        It’s usually quicker to drive from Palmerston North to Wellington (or vice-versa) than to take the Capital Connection train service. Yet many people still find taking the train a more convenient fit for many reasons.

    4. New Zealand’s history is littered with big bold transit schemes that never get off the ground.

      Our only success has be small steady steps of improvement, starting from a low base and continuing to improve.

      Compare Auckland’s rail network in 2004 (completely useless infrequent diesels going to Beach Road) to what it will be in 2024 (fully electrified high frequency network running through a city tunnel).

      We’d never get to the point of having the CRL if we didn’t start with a first step of clapped out second hand trains running a crappy service.

      1. The Northern Busway is the same story. Started in 2005 as 2 bus stops in paddocks running slower than driving even in peak hour, now carries over 20,000 people a day.

        Incremental steps n the Ham-Akl service include:
        Extension to Puhinui
        Extension to Britomart
        Hamilton Central Station
        Pokeno Station
        Ruakura (University) Station
        Bi-directional service
        All day service
        Improved frequency
        Whangamarino realignment
        Tilt Trains
        Bombay tunnel

        These can all be done over the next 30 years, one at a time and we’ll end up with a 1hr-1hr20 trip time running frequently all day.

        1. I was convinced by people on here that diesel traction won’t be allowed in Britomart (despite the ventilation fan infrastructure) because of recent WHS legislation. And that would be the same with Hamilton central.

          I agree with the first three on your list, although it looks like the Strand would have to substitute for Britomart. But before going beyond Frankton junction to Hamilton Central; I would first re-establish stops at Pokeno, Tuakau & Buckland. Then I would rebuild a station for Huntly. Before or after I would extend southwards to terminate at a re-established Te Awamutu station and maybe even Otorohanga.

        2. Damian – we used to have 2 million trips a year on the Auckland rail network. The response wasn’t to shut it down, it was to invest incrementally, with some significant investments to improve it. Now we have 2 million trips per month some months.

          Of course there is a risk of this being shut down, there is also a risk of waiting until the future when there is better infrastructure only to find it doesn’t get built.

          I can’t see this being canned by another government, it’s such a tiny expense in the bigger picture, and a future National government is likely to require NZ First’s support anyway. They are not into getting rid of rail services.

        3. @Jezza
          “The response wasn’t to shut it”
          Came pretty close.
          If it wasn’t for Perth electrifying & flogging their DMUs…

        4. GK – I was thinking of the period after the Perth DMUs were introduced. There was growth but the overall numbers were tiny compared with today.

          I expect the same with the Hamilton services. The numbers may well be small but I would expect there will be growth and by percentage it will probably be quite impressive.

  12. I saw an Inner Link EV bus yesterday, heading up College Hill road. So quiet! And then an EV rubbish truck drove past too. We are getting there… slowly…

  13. Also this morning:

    Govt revives implausible EV target

    The Government has pulled a u-turn on a u-turn, reviving a promise to make its light vehicle fleet emissions-free by the middle of the decade after quietly scrapping it last year. The original goal was set out in the Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement, but little action was taken on it until the beginning of 2019. By August, the Government had altered the target to having all vehicles entering the fleet after June 2025 be emissions-free, as highlighted in its Climate Action Plan.

    Now, however, the Government is insisting that the target was never changed. “Nothing has changed, it’s just different wording,” a spokesperson for Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford told Newsroom. The spokesperson also linked Newsroom to two cabinet papers containing the original target, but these predated the switch in policy in mid-2019.

    That different wording belies a substantive difference between the two targets. To meet the weaker target, the Government could theoretically purchase zero electric vehicles between today and June 2025, so long as all vehicles it purchased after that date were electric – or otherwise emissions-free, perhaps through biofuel or hydrogen. Meanwhile, to meet the original – and, apparently, current – target, the Government needs to cycle 15,000 vehicles out of the fleet and replace them with emissions-free alternatives over the next five years. That’s a rate of about 230 electric vehicles a month.

      1. It wont happen. It would be cheaper to upgrade and electrify for higher speed and frequencies the existing track than building a whole new track for ‘high speed’ train services between Hamilton and Auckland.

        1. A tunnel under the Bombay hills removing the Pukekohe diversion must become attractive in the future.

        2. Exactly my thoughts.
          I mean to maintain 160km running on the corridor that would be shared by freights would be expensive.
          Really: the service would be quick enough if it could manage to maintain ~120km/h for enough of the journey.

        3. Don Robertson – There is still another 3720kms of track on the national rail network that needs upgrading for increase speed and frequencies for freight and regional and inter-regional passenger train services than building a expensive gold plated high speed track between Auckland and Hamilton.

        4. Kris
          When rail traffic south of Drury rises beyond the capacity of the current two tracks, it may well be advantageous to put the required extra tracks in a tunnel to Mercer direct shortening the through route. Much like the slow fast tracks on the West Coast mainline diverge north of Milton Keynes, the fast lines direct to Rugby and the slow line a diversion through Northampton and then to Rugby.
          Plenty to do though first. Full duplication, sorting the swamps out and electrification.
          Having to electrify the branch lines too is a total red herring and unnecessary, diesel haulage can be maintained for this.

        5. Kris, half of the national population, and half the national freight movements lie between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

          It makes a hell of a lot of sense to upgrade the 250km serving half the country, before upgrading the remaining 3,470km serving the other half.

        6. @Riccardo:
          “Upgrade the line” is not the same thing as spending billions on making the lines higher speed and/or ploughing rail through the Bombay’s.

        1. I would much prefer he concentrated on restricting himself to implimenting the things that he has already campaigned on, and then deliver. Only once he had delivered on most, only then promise more things, and only those that are realistically deliverable up to the end of the next term of government. He needs to get a few promises delivered before selling more dreams, otherwise he is just a handicap to the current government’s credibility. A minister who promised much but delivered little. Not a great epitaph.

  14. I’m impressed that the Auckland to Hamilton service can carry the same number of passengers as the Capital Connection using twice the number of trains and still somehow charge a third of the amount for tickets. If fares were at that level down this end of the country the Capital Connection could easily expand two or three times over.

    1. The Waikato service is massively subsidized, the CapCon is minimaly subsidized…
      Need to see what happens with combined GW & Manawatu-Whanganui pitch to government for new electro-diesel units for Wairarapa and Palmy services. Maybe that’ll come with proper funding for increased service level

    2. Might want to recheck your maths there. $18.60 is a lot more than 1/3 of $35. I’m also intersted to see why you think numbers will be the same?

      1. Sailor, you’re comparing cash fare with smartcard fare. AFAIK the Waikato cash fares haven’t been published. Using the CapCon per trip fare for a 10-trip ($27.65) & Waikato+Auckland smartcard fares ($18.60), result is 0.673 (approximately 2/3).

        1. That fare is from Hamilton to Papakura, you need to add the HOP card fare for Papakura to Britomart to get a true comparison.

        2. You have to remember the Capital Connection is a Wellington train so they have never heard of “smart cards”, little bits of paper and cardboard are the standard. Although I see the CC has advanced to the point where EFTPOS is available on board!

        3. @Zippo
          At least the CapCon has one fare, ticket & train all the way into town. Compared with two trains with incompatible smartcards & no fare integration.

        4. The city centre isn’t always the final destination. Sometimes when I take the Capital Connection I then walk to a work meeting. Sometimes I jump on a bus and take my kids to the zoo.

          I’m sure the bulk of people on the new Hamilton service will probably want an onward train to the city centre, but some will have other destinations anyway and, who knows, one or two might even be aiming for Papakura in the first place 😀

        5. @MrRA
          True about city centre, was thinking about majority (particularly for Wellington, Auckland’s a bit less city centre focused). For Auckland-Waikato service I suspect most will be going onward from Papakura & will thus experience the joy of two incompatible smartcards.

    3. The Auckland-Hamilton trains each have twice the opex of the Capital Connection. This is because KiwiRail will be double-dipping in their contract to operate it. KR Freight will charge KR Passenger like a wounded bull to hire the locos and drivers at commercial rates, totalling around $9,000 per day. Then you have KR Passenger wanting to make a profit from the councils on top of paying that $9,000 daily charge to KR Freight.

      It’s a dogs breakfast because nobody has challeneged the rorting of the system by KR. The trains will be cancelled at the end of the trial.

      1. Yes this is a very true point Geoff. This was the same issue with the SA trains when they were in service in Auckland with KiwiRail charging out horrendous hourly rates for Driver hire – and making it as difficult as possible for Veolia to train up their DMU Drivers to drive the locomotive hauled SA trains.

        It is also one of the reasons AT are so keen to be rid of the ADLs because of the horrific charging for maintenance by KiwiRail. The horrific charge for storage at Westfield was the reason the two decommissioned DMUs at Westfield, were shifted to the AT depot at Henderson.

        However this sort of business practice is not just confined to KiwiRail, CAF also do this to AT if any changes want to be made from the original spec of the first EMUs, eg Drivers and the RMTU have long complained about the very poor headlights on the new EMUs. A proposal was put forward to retro-fit brighter LED headlights, which would be quite straightforward and easy to do, but CAF were going to charge a rediculously horrific amount to do the work, which AT refused to pay for. So the problem still remains with Drivers not being able to see where they are going at night.

        The whole structure of rail in NZ needs to be changed to make the costs associated with rail services more transparent and to ensure that public money invested in rail actually goes into improving rail services to the benefit of users and taxpayers, rather than into profits, particularly to private foreign companies.

        The rail infrastructure should be split away from KiwiRail and merged into the not for profit rail land holding NZ Railways Corporation, which should become a Govt agency for rail, like NZTA is for roads. The NZTA rail regulator functions should also be transferred to the NZRC.

        The Govt should also have NZRC take ownership and responsibility for commuter passenger rail in Auckland and Wellington, as well as the planned new Waikato service and the Capital Connection service, and light rail in Auckland and Wellington, as well as rail stations, in a new not for profit passenger division, which could be called Cityline.

        KiwiRail should remain as a commercial SOE rail operator, paying track user charges, along with other operators, with the rail network opened up and set up on a level playing field with road transport, with road and rail infrastructure funded the same from the Land Transport Fund and Crown grants for specific projects – similar to how the NZTA currently functions.

        1. I quite liked the Cityline name. It would work well for both passenger rail and light too.

          There definitely needs to be changes to the way passenger rail and light is being planned and managed, especially with light rail. The NZTA and Twyford have made a right mess of it. GM’s solutions make good sense.

        2. @ Brian
          I like the ‘CityLine’ name too, and liked the old late ’80s branding. Although it did seem a bit odd given that the rail system in Wellington barely serves the actual city of Wellington and is more for travelling from satellite cities.
          It would be a great name for the Auckland network though as it actually serves Auckland proper.

          Furthermore on the topic: I have never been a fan of the “Metlink” name and branding Wellington’s had since ~2000 with it’s dopey logo and eyesore livery colours. I think whoever commissioned it all those years ago must be someone either partially blind or with super bad taste in… …everything. The “Kiwirail” name and stylized fern logo with crappy name font also sucks in my opinion, although the NZR-style liveries are good. Ironically: I think the old pre-privatisation NZR logo & livery looked and still looks really good. And don’t get me started on that ‘MAXX’ branding that Auckland used to have…

  15. what are the odds all of the street trees shown in that picture of Drury are ever actually planted?

  16. That Drury development could trench that motorway access main road. In fact looking at that small graphic it almost looks as if it is. Yes agree though it should built to a higher density.

    1. I don’t understand why they’ve gone for this always-fail cookie-cutter big block like that.
      Why not just expand on the original town’s layout?!

      What is the malfunction in NZ’s local governments?

  17. I am very concerned the new Waikato service is going to end up a failure like the Helensville trial service and the previous Waikato Connection service, if it is to run as currently proposed.

    The first issue is it is supposed to be a commuter service, yet the biggest potential market for the service are the north Waikato towns of Tuakau, Pokeno and Te Kauwhata, where lots of the new residents commute to work, but no stations have been built there! Crazy. The Government should be providing funding for new stations at these towns like they have with Drury as part of the ‘NZ Upgrade’ infrastructure spending.

    The second issue is why can’t the trains run express with passengers from Papakura to Otahuhu to the new third platform there? They will be out of the way of the AT Metro EMU services. The trains could then run empty into Westfield yard from there.

    The third issue is the lack of service to get from Auckland to Hamilton, which would serve these same Waikato towns going in the other direction. The first train coming through from Hamilton, should go back in the other direction after reaching Papakura / Otahuhu, which would get the train back to Hamilton around 9am. It could then leave Hamilton again in the late afternoon, say around 4.30pm, to run a service back to Papakura / Otahuhu, before running the last evening commuter service back to Hamilton. This would enable people to commute or have a day out in Hamilton using the train, rather than having the trains sitting empty unused in Westfield yard for most of the day.

    1. With this new H2A service it’s funded for at least 5years to start with so hopefully it will get the numbers to support it .

      As for the old Waikato service Transrail/Toll were unable to get funding to keep it up and running from central Govt. and all they had as 1 each way service with the Silver Fern railcar .

      As for the Helensvile service it seems it waas created to fail with not having enough Passenger trains running as such , and they could have used the DMU’s instead of they SA/SD’s ith a full change at Henderson , which they should do/try now as this LRT seems to be a nonstarter .

  18. A rail passenger service through to Tauranga and Mount Maunganui is needed too.

    Instead of spending up to $20b on a driverless metro light rail line between the Auckland CBD and the airport, which will be of little use to most people, investing this sort of money into improving and expanding the heavy rail network would benefit far far more people, eg a loop line to the airport from Onehunga to Puhinui / Manukau, which would link together the Eastern Line and Onehunga Lines into a big central teardrop loop via the CRL and Manukau station. Building new high speed (160km/hr) express tracks along the NIMT between Auckland and Hamilton, and fully electrifying Auckland to Tauranga, would make rail a lot more attractive option for far more people – and not just in Auckland. Add to this building a rail only tunnel under the Waitemata Harbour and converting the Northern Busway into a heavy rail line linking with the CRL tunnel.

    Doing this you would have one system which is far more user friendly, serving far more of Auckland with potential one seat journey routes running from one side of Auckland to the other and fast express services.

    Investment in heavy rail also has the added bonus that it can also be used for carrying freight too.

  19. “Building new high speed (160km/hr) express tracks along the NIMT between Auckland and Hamilton”
    So would this be a 3rd and 4th parallel main? That would be as big a project as the Waikato expressway.

    “and fully electrifying Auckland to Tauranga, would make rail a lot more attractive option for far more people”
    How would electrification make the service more attractive?

    1. Yes express tracks would be a big project, but it would be worth it when looking at the big picture with the amount of growth planned between Auckland and Hamilton, as well as the massive amount of growth already occuring in Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

      Trains can move more people (and freight) per hour than an expressway, and with express tracks, could do so more quickly as well.

      Electrification of the line between Auckland and Tauranga, will enable a passenger service to be established running through the Kaimai tunnel (as well as enabling more freight trains to operate through the tunnel), which would address the current issue with diesel exhaust fumes in the tunnel.

      A fully electrified route between Auckland and Tauranga together with express tracks between Auckland and Hamilton will also enable a much faster service to be provided, which will make rail travel very attractive.

      Express tracks could also be used to provide new express services within Auckland between Britomart and Pukekohe.

      1. This would all require a massive multi-billion capital investment up-front. When the outcomes you desire could be achieved by not even investing half of what that would need.

  20. 170 bus New Lynn to Titirangi tonight, arrived early at New Lynn then after driver shut down engine all the internal neon tube lights changed to an eerie dark blue. Difficult to look at and I suspect they were UBV tubes, could this be a Coronavirus control measure since UV kills virii? After bus moved off the white lights changed again to the blue, if they are UV then not sure this is best practice to light passengers with. Ritchies bus RT1518.

    1. Ha ha no, most buses have blue cabin lights for night driving. The driver uses them if they get too much glare from the regular cabin lights, usually when there aren’t many streetlights outside.

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