Onehunga: Keeping It Real
Inspired by the debate here this morning as to whether Onehunga’s train service is going as hoped – or worse, I decided to check it out for myself by travelling up and down the line today.
Talk about Groundhog Day. I now know every piece of track by heart.
Without boring everyone with an Excel spreadsheet analysis, the good news is the service is meeting expectations and is growing each day.
The numbers are not earth shattering – they were never expected to be at this stage but I chatted to passengers and they are loving it -and for most, this is their first experience on Auckland trains.
Many said they couldn’t get over how fast it was -and a smooth ride- to Britomart.
Several chuckled loudly when they saw a four car prang this afternoon near Ellerslie out the window as they passed alongside the southern motorway and it reminded them the joys of not driving.
Staff say they notice more new people each day.
My prediction remains that the numbers will exceed expectations and these folk will join the clamour for airport rail now they have discovered train travel.
Here’s what I found:
- An average boarding at Onehunga and Britomart was around 20 – sometimes up to 30, sometimes less
- Te Papapa saw three or four get on and off each trip which is encouraging in the daytime for a destination in the middle of a light industrial area, an area that didn’t have a stop
- It would be fair to say the numbers cannabilise the normal Southern traffic. About half a dozen Onehunga-bound got off at Newmarket, and the train usually half emptied by the time it got to Penrose 3.
- Newmarket, Ellerslie and Penrose 3 were popular get off points for Onehunga-bound trains
- There was plenty of room in the Onehunga park and ride – maybe 12 cars
- The speed of the service was variable. KiwiRail staff were studying cabinets around the Te Papapa station area and there were KiwiRail staff between Te Papapa and Penrose amid unconfirmed reports of level crossing or signal glitches.
- Many passengers were newbies. An announcement was made on boarding asking people to buy tickets or have them ready but it would have been helpful for other onboard announcements as people were still finding their way about where the train was – even though there was a GPS operating.
- There are so many crossings around the area and motorists are still getting used to trains coming through which is probably why the trains are crawling through the approach to Onehunga
- Weekends are going to be busy with people going to Dress Smart which, in light of the present St Lukes mall expansion debate, proves a shopping destination is a great drawcard for train travel.
- If we generously say 20 a trip are using the service during the day in the first week, that’s encouraging enough and we should continue to be very positive about its future.