Tomorrow submissions close on the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee’s inquiry into Inter-regional passenger rail.
The aim of the inquiry is to find out what the future could hold for inter-regional passenger rail in New Zealand. The terms of reference below will guide what the committee investigates.
Terms of reference:
- Investigating possibilities and viability of passenger rail in underserved communities, those with prior rail links that have been disestablished, and those currently advocating for improved rail links;
- Gaining insights into viability of passenger rail sitting alongside KiwiRail’s freight network;
- Evaluating existing inter-regional passenger rail, such as the Capital Connection, and how these services work between local and regional councils and central government;
- Gaining insights into the integration of regional rail into existing local public transport networks;
- Investigating the climate and emissions reductions possibilities of passenger rail, and how this links to VKT (vehicle kilometres travelled) reduction targets in the Emissions Reduction
- Plan, and including electrification between regions; and
- Investigating potential rail expansions and investments in specific areas, such as Tauranga (following a recent report on the re-introduction of passenger rail) and the Lower North Island (following a business case funded at Budget 2021).
We’re still finalising our submission but I thought I’d share with you some of the key points we’re making – also let us know if we’ve missed anything major.
Greater Auckland believes the rail network has an important role to play in the providing real transport choice in how New Zealanders and visitors get around our beautiful country. This extends beyond just providing for specific commuter or tourist markets, instead helping to improve access, safety and lowering emissions for a wide variety of potential users.
Regional Rapid Rail
We’re no strangers to thinking about how inter-regional rail might work with many posts over the years. Most notably for this inquiry is our Regional Rapid Rail proposal from 2017 that looked at how we could, staged over a period of time, deliver a high-quality inter-regional rail network linking the Waikato and Bay of Plenty to Auckland.
The report for this can be found on our website.
The proposal would place half the population and economy of New Zealand on one low-emission transit system .
An opportunity for a Unified Fleet
Greater Wellington Regional Council are looking to purchase a fleet of new tri-mode trains for use on the Capital Connection and Wairarapa Line services.
We believe the government should look to buy national fleet that can also be used for Te Huia on the Auckland electrified network as well servies such as Kiwirail’s Northern Explorer between Auckland and Wellington, as other potential future routes.
A single, larger and unified fleet would have advantages such as:
- A larger order would be more attractive to international train builders, which may help fetch a better price.
- A single nation-wide regional train architecture could enable better efficiency, for example, having just a single facility for heavy maintenance, a common stock of spare parts and potentially even the ability to move trains between services if needed.
- It sets up a clear design should other regions want to consider services and depending on how many are ordered could even allow for some to be trialled.
- Battery Technology is evolving rapidly
Wellington’s preferred train architecture calls for tri-mode trains – trains that can source power from overhead wires where they exist but also contains both batteries and a combustion ignition engine for when the train is not under wires.
The inclusion of a combustion ignition engine is due to battery range limitations and takes up valuable space that could be used for other equipment, such as transformers to allow operation under the 25 kV AC networks in the Central North Island and Auckland.
However, it is important to note that battery technology is advancing rapidly with some trains now able to achieve over 200km of operation on batteries. This could enable the dropping of the combustion ignition engine and allow space for the equipment needed under all three sections of electrified networks in the North Island.
As battery range continues increase it will make additional routes viable to be served with zero emission rail travel.
Integrate inter-regional services with the Metro networks
We believe that inter-regional trains should be thought of and planned as part of our existing metro networks rather than as standalone services. This can help in making better use of track capacity and provide additional choice and therefore greater benefits to the public.
As an example, Te Huia only stops at a few stations within the Auckland urban area but regardless of how full it is, Aucklanders are unable to board it and take advantage of a potentially faster travel time to their destination.
The opportunity to integrate inter-regional and metro services is likely to increase in the future following the completion of the City Rail Link and third main in Auckland. It is likely that will see some limited stop services reintroduced on the Southern Line. Integrating these services could mean, for example, faster trips to Puhinui to connect with the AirportLink bus service.
Note, with the changes mentioned earlier, we are seeing this happen with the Wellington network but this should apply to Te Huia and any other future services too.
Services need time to grow and target the right markets
With public transport it takes time for people to ‘give it a go’ and start using it on a regular basis. However the media tend to proclaim success or failure based on the first few days or weeks of a service.
As such, it is important that any consideration of new inter-regional service is that we give them enough time to grow.
Te Huia’s ridership, as with all public transport, has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. However, ridership data shows that restrictions were eased in mid-April, weekday usage has continued to grow and currently averages around 260 boardings per weekday.
We can also see there is higher use in weekends and significantly more usage during public holidays. While the service is focused on commuters, this suggests there is stronger demand for a wider variety of trips and that more services throughout the day and across the week could help in generating more demand.
A single agency for planning and funding inter-regional travel
Currently each region is responsible for the planning and contracting of public transport within their region and they get funding assistance from Waka Kotahi via the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) to do that. There are a few exceptions to that but in general there is no agency trying to plan or deliver improvements to inter-regional travel. There should be.
A national public transport agency should be established with the same remit that regional councils have with the responsibility to plan, procure and fund inter-regional public transport, including buses. It should also assume responsibility for the existing inter-regional tourist trains run by Kiwirail, such as the Northern Explorer.
We also believe this inquiry should include the use of inter-regional buses as improvements to them, via such a national agency, could help improve access around the country and yield strong mode-shift results, thereby helping reduce emissions as required in the government’s Emission Reduction Plan. Making improvements to inter-regional buses can also form a useful first step before or while rail services are established.
Such a national agency should also be able to access NLTF funding just like any other public transport service.
Clear separation from Kiwirail as a freight company
Kiwirail is tasked with running our rail network but its primary business is moving freight. It appears that in Auckland, and elsewhere, this has in the past created a conflict in the operation of the network due to concerns new or additional passenger services will make it harder to run freight services at some point in the future.
We believe it would be useful that a transparent process exists for understanding network capacity, allocating that capacity for services, and opportunities for addressing constraints.
Across the world, we are seeing a resurgence in the use of overnight sleeper trains as a way to provide cheaper and lower emission travel options over long distances.
By international standards Auckland to Wellington is a good candidate for a sleeper trains, with the right sort of route length, travel times and demand drivers to be a success.
An overnight service in each direction would have the potential to replace up to 150,000 long distance car trips or flights per year, and in the order of 75 million vehicle-kilometres-travelled.
In order to make inter-regional rail services viable, there is almost certainly going to be a need investment in infrastructure. This is may include some of the following interventions:
- New/upgraded stations
- Improved track condition to support passenger services and higher speeds
- New passing loops or double tracking
- Deviations to improve the network alignment
Funding for these kinds of investments will need to come from the government and an assessment should be undertaken to understand what is needed to provide initial services and what can be delivered as improvements over time.
A rolling programme of electrification
In New Zealand, electrification of rail lines has been an adhoc process. Research from overseas shows that this is the most expensive way of delivering rail electrification. Countries that are able to deliver electrification most efficiently achieve this by having a rolling programme of electrification projects allowing for stable, and therefore cheaper supply chain sourcing, retention of skilled staff, knowledge and processes.
We believe a rolling programme of electrification could have benefits for New Zealand which would have the benefit of helping to make inter-regional rail travel easier.
seems like we need to re look at trains and networks
I used the sleeper trains from Auckland to Christchurch in the early eighties & am still dumbfounded why they discontinued it!
When I was at university in Auckland and carless in the mid 90’s, I used to take the train back to my parents home in Tauranga. At the time it was similar to (possibly even better than) bus on both price and duration, but MUCH more comfortable (for example it is so much easier to read on a train than on a bus).
Interesting to read on Wikipedia: “Whilst the Kaimai Express service had the potential to compete with car and bus services, a lack of marketing and advertising resulted in insufficient patronage for the service to be profitable, and in 2001 it was announced that the service was too uneconomic to continue. No subsidies came forth from the government and no private companies wished to invest in it. It operated for the final time on 7 October 2001.”
It probably didn’t help that the Auckland rail system was so crap at the time as well. Imagine electric inter-city trains cruising underneath the Auckland CBD through the new city rail link… that will be the good stuff.
Intercity trains will never run through the CRL, it’s capacity is designed for being used up by urban services. They will either terminate at Britomart or a specific terminal with connections to the urban network.
Like the desolate The Strand station that is still planned for long distance and inter-regional passenger trains due to capacity issues in and out of Britomart.
The Strand station is a great way to welcome visitors to Auckland.
No, The Strand is what you do when there is no money and no other options.
If I were to guess it would be in the vicinity of The Strand though with platforms to allow connections onto Eastern line services, similar to what Sydney has with Central Station but at a smaller scale.
@Kris – The Strand is pretty dire, but could be made a _lot_ better if they simply put a pedestrian bride across the lines to the old station.
Britomart will be ready for intercity trains once CRL is complete from what I understand, why mess with The Strand (it’s a good backup station for when needed). The CRL completion won’t be that far away now, certainly before any regional train with bi or try mode ability gets off the ground.
Jeeza and Jon K – I was joking about The Stand. Auckland really make itself not welcoming if a person is traveling by plane, regional/inter-regional/long distance coach or train.
At least the InterCity coach terminal in Skycity complex and the NZ’s longest ongoing construction site – Auckland Airport is a better than The Stand.
Grant – I have been informed that regional/inter-regional passenger trains will not be accessing Britomart Station once the CRL is operating due to capacity issues entering and leaving Britomart due to one track in and one track configuration. Britomart should have been future proofed for a 3 or 4 track configuration in/out of the station.
Like most things in this country we see the future through ‘here and now’ lens.
I hope Britomart can be used for some regional services. Surely with twin tracks in and four platforms this can be done. Metro services will surely pass through if they have to lay over due to coming off peak times or the service pattern is to terminate some services there at the Strand stabling area.
If not better signalling may be required or an upgrade of the west entrance into Britomart (that was an option instead of CRL to allow more services).
Grant , Britomart will go from 5 to 4 platforms as the one that was used for Intercity will be used only for Suburban use only .
The strand is useful for diesels to just have the one single cab loco. It can come via Glen innes through the strand and then carry on back past Newmarket south again or vice versa. Otherwise you may need 2 locos, one on each end.
Realistically we won’t be waiting for everything to be electrified to TGA to run these intercity services so the strand works.
In terms of loco allocation best to target when new south island locos arrive in 2024 as the older ones may not be as required then
I also used it while at uni and used to be able to board the train from the station under the center place mall in Hamilton. From memory this was closed not long after due to the costs of maintaining it. Was probably the only city in NZ at the time to have a station right in the middle of the city
Apart from getting rid of the management board what is the new mayor’s policy.
No good using tube-style route layouts on top of an accurate map. Just plain confusing for visitors especially.
Tube map has schematic style background so obvious that stations and routes are also schematic
I would have thought the fact that these services don’t operate would be the bigger issue for any visitors looking at this map.
However, the critique of that image design remains valid.
It doesn’t take away any credit of the considered and detailed analysis and proposal.
It might technically be valid but it’s completely pointless criticism as it’s for a network that is a distant proposal.
If I were to hazard a guess when this network is actually in place in 50 years it won’t be overlaid over a North Island map.
It also implies the blue line has to back-track at Hamilton. It really doesn’t need a wire diagram at all.
The blue line does have to backtrack at Hamilton. Hamilton Central is on the East Coast Main Trunk.
Oh I see. Hamilton West is Hamilton Central rather than using the Hamilton Station. How does that work? Get a diesel to Hamilton Central, back it out to Hamilton station and connect an electric unit and carry on?
@miffy What on earth are you going on about?
There’s a new underground Hamilton Central station in the works – done in conjunction with the shopping ctr on top of it.
Hamilton Central is a pretty obvious station name. But, if you are struggling to understand, you could read the report that is prominently linked above the image. Then you don’t have to make yourself look silly by insisting that the maps are wrong.
Really a new station? In addition to the old Hamilton West Station that sits under the old P&M plaza site on Victoria St? As for reading a whole report on flights of fancy, I would rather glue my hand to a road.
miffy – the station you are referring to hasn’t been called Hamilton West since 1899.
But it is a bit confusing to call it Hamilton especially since Frankton Junction became Hamilton station.
You used to be able to look down into it from the P&M Plaza carpark. The railway was in a trench and you could see into where the platform was. I think it is a single track.
So seriously is that the plan? Drive a train in there and stop on the single track. Then backtrack to Frankton Junction (because I guess it wont be called Hamilton) and if that is still the end of electrification then stop there while they change engines? The automotive industry has nothing to worry about.
It’s called Hamilton Central not just Hamilton in the map to avoid that confusion. Frankton is the existing station.
Single track could be an issue when traffic increases, but not much frequency on there at the moment?
Sailor Boy – Hamilton Central is a through station on the East Coast Main Trunk line to Tauranga, Cambridge, Rotorua.
The blue King Country line would have go via Frankton Station on the North Island Main Trunk line not Hamilton Central station, as there is not south bound connection between the two lines.
Latest news I could find on this, the video explains the development.
agh forgot the link:
Miffy, that plan in the map includes a new Hamilton Central station, trenched at Boyes Park, and combined with a new two track tunnel under Bryce st and a new bridge across the river …which is essential if you’re going to run four high frequency lines through it.
I see. Thank you John D and Grant. The plan above shows Hamilton Central north of Cambridge, Cambridge at Tirau, Huntly at Rangiriri and Ngaruawahia at Ohinewai.
Boyes Park and a new bridge could work.
Kris, you will notice that there is no tunnel under the Bombays as shown in that map either. The map is a proposed future network and would require construction of the southbound connection.
Better things are possible.
RE: Rolling programme of electrification. Until the world converts all steel making to green processes there continues to be a market for South Island coal exported from Lyttelton. So while that business exists use it to green up at least the line from Arthurs Pass to Lyttelton. Electric locos would generate electricity holding back the full wagons on the downhill run to the Port and then use the South Island’s green electricity to haul the empty wagons back up the hill. In that way we get a green legacy from a dirty trade. Electrifying the other side is much more complex due to the Otira tunnel.
How is the electrification with the Otira tunnel complex? It is the only section of this line that has ever been electrified.
Otira tunnel electrification was retained for along time because of the piston like effects of diesel locos in the tunnel dragging air along with them resulting in a recirculation of exhaust air.
This problem has been resolved by putting an air stop door at one end of the tunnel along with an exhaust fan system.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that line used for exactly three things? Coal, Dairy Products, and the TranzAlpine? Even worse, the lines south to Hokitika and north to Ngakawau (via Westport) have exactly one user each – dairy for the former, coal for the latter.
In a world where we’ve managed to get rid of coal, will the TranzAlpine and Westland Milk Products alone manage to cover the maintenance costs for all that track?
I suspect when that dirty trade vanishes so will the railway line. The legacy will probably end up being New Zealands newest long-distance cycle trail.
Though if there were any future for that line beyond coal it would be worthwhile electrifying it. For health and safety reasons alone electrification should never have been removed from Otira Tunnel.
This why the national rail infrastructure including signalling and train control, needs to be separated from Kiwirail – the train operator and operate as a ‘not for profit’ state entity under the NZ Railway Corporation, as an ‘open access’ sustainable environmentally friendly national ‘steel’ highway network to allow any freight and/or freight/passenger train operator whether it is heritage, domestic and/or international to have access to the national rail network.
Kiwirail would still operate as a SOE with the government holding 51% shareholding in Kiwirail Holdings Ltd, allowing Kiwirail to continues a freight only or freight/passenger train operator.
Currently. Kiwirail is a rail infrastructure, a train operator and the gatekeeper of a ‘closed access’ predominantly freight national rail network, which is a conflict of interest.
Even if that was done, the money to maintain the track has to come from somewhere. Track access charges likely wouldn’t cover the maintenance costs because barely any services would be accessing the track and there is an awful lot of it to maintain. Better strategy to secure its future is probably to find more uses for the track so its funding isn’t reliant on coal traffic. What exactly those could be I’ve no idea though.
As for other operators turning up, is there anything actually preventing that right now? KiwiRail doesn’t operate the metro services in Auckland or Wellington and it doesn’t own the rolling stock either. KiwiRail *is* subcontracted to operate the Wairarapa Connection but that’s probably just because they’re the only one with the locomotives required to haul it besides the heritage operators. And from the outside at least the Heritage operators seem to run their trains on the national railway network OK.
If Glenbrook Vintage Railway tried using one of their diesel locomotives to shift freight, would KiwiRail actually step in and say no? Or is the lack of any other freight operators down to the fact rail transport in NZ is not profitable enough to cover the costs of buying a fleet of bespoke rolling stock?
David – GVR have been used by AT to move their DMU’s around the Auckland network , and KR have leased some of their old stock from GVR after they relealised they needed again when doing repairs to the NAL .
Will everyone use their own yards? Own CT sites? What happens if a train from one competitor is late into the yard to be broken up and your train has to wait? Are u going to move a 750m long train out of the way somewhere?
When a slow rubbish operator with old equipment derails/ breaks down in front of a fantastic operator with brand new equipment then both will be equally late because 90%of the country is single track. If you had massive space in yards and CT sites with double/triple tracking over the whole country like some European countries then maybe you could think about competition but there is no way to compete on a single track in nz. It would be a bloody mess.
Thanks for post – I put mine in last night – My recommendations are
– Plan for grade separation of Grey St and Peachgrove Rd rail crossings in Hamilton https://www.hamiltonurbanblog.co.nz/2020/04/claudelands-rd-heaphy-tce-rail-grade-separation/
– Plan for third rail line through Hamilton central https://www.hamiltonurbanblog.co.nz/2020/04/hamilton-central-%e2%80%93-three-rail-routes/
Did you also highlight Ngaruawahia missing from Te Huia, a significant oversight?
Matt you have failed to address the maintainence shutdowns Kiwirail loves to have at Christmas and long weekends. These are the very time when rail patronage would be at there greatest. I am coming to the opinion that extra capacity would be needed at these times. So a standardised fleet of low emission trains for everyday use with locomotive hauled passenger stock being brought out for busy periods. I am not so certain that we need to bring in another level of management we already have the transport agency and Kiwirail involved. Kiwirail seem to be making a good job with Te Huia and Waka Kotahi could be tasked with financial oversite. Kiwirails scenic trains should be brought into the mix and prices should be controlled through subsidy. We should be aiming for an efficient public transport network which links regional and long distance trains with local and city bus services. And somehow Intercity buses should be brought into the mix they will still be required.
It is really important we don’t do any of this. Those pricks gluing their hands to roads will think they have won.
You are very tiresome
It’s interesting that the traffic chaos ensued by the groundswell movement with the tractors rebelling at (long overdue) taking responsibility for their environmental impact is accepted, but traffic inconvenienced by people demanding mode choice is vilified.
I don’t accept it from Head Swell farmers any more than I accept it from Destiny Church. In my view anyone who tries to unilaterally deny people freedom of movement is an arsehole. Regardless of what they beleive.
Ironic that the guy happy for roads to continue to prevent safe movement by walking or cycling claims to believe that.
People are forced to drive due to lack of passenger rail options.
Not everyone can drive / should drive or wants to drive – lack of passenger rail options in effect restricts peoples movement and freedom of choice.
Great idea, but I don’t see it happening during my lifetime (I’m mid-30s).
Te Huia struggles to get in and out of Auckland, a situation likely to continue for years. There’s no room on the Auckland network for more trains. A new, even slower timetable for Te Huia starts next week.
Surely the third main will help in a couple of years? But I agree it’s a significant problem.
> Surely the third main will help in a couple of years?
What is this, a comment from 2012?
The extra time appears to be between Frankton and Papakura, which is out to an eye-watering 109 – 113 minutes. Is this related to electrification works, or are they just struggling to maintain time on this section?
Pukekohe-Papakura works, I think they are removing the Pukekohe station this weekend. But it’s painfully slow between Papakura and the Strand due to congestion. Forty years ago (50 years as well) the Silver Fern was doing the same trip in 30 minutes or less, now it has doubled.
Thanks. Hopefully the third main can at least shave 5 – 10 mins off by allowing Te Huia to get past a couple of suburban services.
Jezza – Te Huia is early majority of time and has to wait 8-10 minutes at Papakura to wait for the 7.56 am AT Metro train service Papakura to Britomart to depart, AT metro trains have priority over Te Huia.
Yes, I saw the new timetable yesterday. We can still enjoy a trip to Hamilton, just a slightly longer one. It’s only $9 with a Bee Card.
The fare might go back to $18 after 31 January and the service won’t survive a change of government later next year so we should use it while we can.
If a Hamilton – Auckland service can’t survive there is no hope for any other regional service in the upper North Island.
I doubt it will be culled. It’s patronage is growing and the Hamilton City Council and WK have put a significant investment into the Rotokauri Transport Hub.
Luxon has gone quiet on Te Huia probably because there is a lot more fertile ground for him than picking on a train with growing patronage.
Te Huia is funded up to 2025.
That’s good to know! I’ve only taken it once but plan to use it again this summer. The timetable means you really have to take a bus one way unless you stay in Hamilton overnight.
It has operational funding approved to 30 June 2024.
An excellent submission indeed!
A good place to start, and I appreciate the mention of buses.
Recently my wife and I have been travelling around New Zealand. Some thoughts, which I think are relevant:
*The lack of service frequency has been the major bugbear, and sometimes service timings as well.
*On occasion flying would have been a much easier option for getting around, even with a train service in place. Booking ahead, it was not much more expensive than even bus services.
* Station facilities really matter. Christchurch and Manukau are excellent, Wellington’s is miserable (tho’ at least it is part of the railway station), and mercifully we didn’t use Sky City!
* You can use the train & bus to get from the central city to Auckland Airport, but only if you don’t have more than one suitcase each. Also, allow an hour and a quarter door-to-door for the journey.
A lot of the purpose built long distance bus stations have been sold off by local councils and ‘replaced’ by an open bus stop on the side of the road. Taupo, Bulls, Palmerston North. Dunedin had a grand art deco bus station, now it’s an open stop. You can imagine how appealing that is on a winter night. Manukau is one of the few that have gone in the opposite direction, thanks to that much maligned organisation, AT.
” You can use the train & bus to get from the central city to Auckland Airport,”
Les than 4% of passenger trips to the airport start or finish at Britomart.
OK, I mentioned this because a lot is made of the need to provide a connection between the central city and the airport (Jon Reeves is a case in point). But tnx for pointing this out.
The way I look at it is you walk out your front door with your wheelie suitcase and a small back pack and walk to your local bus stop and catch a bus and train or trains to Puhinui and then the shuttle to the airport. The alternative is to drive to the airport and pay for parking. I know what I choose but then I am a cheapskate with a super gold card and live close to the airport. I also catch the local bus to Manukau bus station when I travel on Intercity buses. And choose your flights so they fit in getting to and from the airport at both ends of your journey for example no flights which arrive after about 6 pm if you have to get across London on the tube.
I don’t think any off-the-shelf battery option exists today which fits our loading gauge. Advocating things which cannot start being put into service in the near future means advocating delay. Would be be more likely to see results advocating purchase of conventional 25kV rolling stock and of diesel-powered trains that could enter service soon?
Is there such a thing as an off-the-shelf train? With the variety of track gauges, loading gauges, platform heights, door requirements etc, it would appear to my untrained eye every network on the world needs something a bit different.
Jeeza -Alstom, Siemens, Stadler, CAF, etc have ‘off the shelve’ train designs for regional passenger rail products that can be modified suit a country operating conditions.
Yes, many train manufacturers have standard designs which use “modularity” to meet differing requirements. A fleet of Civity DMUs would revolutionise regional train services in NZ. One of our biggest issues is no rolling stock apart from ancient BR castoffs.
I agree. That is going to be the stumbling block for the re-introduction of regional and inter-regional passenger across the country the 13 regions in the country that currently have rail connectivity excluding Auckland and Wellington.
It is funny, excluding the passenger carriage stock being used on KR’s three ‘scenic’ passenger trains, the remaining passenger carriage is rebuilt and rehashed vintage (1971-1975 built BR M2 carriage) pulled by 40 year old locomotives.
And here are the new Capital connection arriages made from the MKII carriages ex SA ;-
Note that all the file links in the first paragraph of GA’s Regional Rapid Rail page are broken.
They go to private files etc.
I think the idea of the government buying a unified national fleet is a good idea. Combined with a nationwide regional rail/bus entity a better outcome is sure to follow.
I dream of the day I can just hop on the train with my bike in Auckland, arrive in Rotorua, go mountain biking then chill on an evening train back to Auckland.
To go anywhere interesting in this country currently means driving on hideous roads with dangerous drivers. That honestly kills the fun of local tourism in NZ.
We now have a Mayor in AKL and possibly other Mayors who are anti-choice by virtue of their preference for single answer solutions dictated by the aspirations of the majority of their definition so much as I’d love to join you on that journey it’s going to have to be fought for every inch of the way.
Maybe some low hanging fruit for passenger services,
1)capital connection (PNTH to wgtn) to run on weekends. Currently only runs mon to Fri.
2) Mast passenger trains extended through the gorge to PNTH or at least pahiatua. These are run by transdev but with kiwirail drivers and locos.
3) use capital connection consist to run specials on weekends between NPR and WGTN.
No extra carriages or locos required for these. Just the agreement and investment from local council
Further electrification needs to be planned. 1- Pukekohe to Hamilton; 2-Hamilton through Kaimai tunnel (north side) followed by Kaimai to Tauranga.
That leaves one gap- Waikanae to PNorth. These contracts can be funded under the climate change planning budgets. Also daily Northern Explorer trains running both ways each day during the summer (tourist) season.
And we need an equivalent of the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
Even running the CC counter (back up to Palmy, back down to Wellie for the PM) would be a good experiment. And a weekend schedule skewed an hour or two later.
But in normal places, this would be an hourly electric service – fully integrated with other Wellington rail.
And be about 30 mins quicker, at least.
“A single agency for planning and funding inter-regional travel”
The Agency should also responsible for operation, maintenance, delivery, profitability.
If the Delivery and Operation are done by other entity (kiwi rail + some cost cutting operator), we may just repeated the whole mess similar to Auckland.
This is a big Red flag
Tauranga needs a second main more than electrification if you want passenger rail there. Electrify after both mains or third are built between Tauranga and the kaimai tunnel.
A link from Auckland city to Te Kuiti but still no rail to Aucklands North Shore.
The Busway is better and more efficient than any rail line in New Zealand, probably the best value public transport line in Australasia
It’s so strange how much people undervalue the busway. Particularly among people on the shore who don’t use rail that much or at all. “but the rest of auckland has rail!! :((( and we have a silly busway”
The busway runs on weekends, it doesn’t shut for 9 months at a time, services come at far higher frequencies than anywhere on the rail network ever will, services run later into the night. It just had a big extension, multiple capacity improving projects. The city center destinations are much better and more varied than rail ever will. Going down the list, the views are much better (the rail corridors look like crap).
The only way that rail is better is that the ride quality, the future capacity of rail, and the suburban stations are in better locations, being much older.
Its a fantastic service. They should be looking at a second one up that way.
We should be building similar busways elsewhere.