Hamilton-Auck Rail Not There Yet
Will the proposed two-year trial of a Hamilton to Auckland Silver Fern train service actually happen?
This site has been strongly in support of it but the more discussion about it , the more fishhooks seem to emerge.
Getting Auckland City and or Transport to help fund is one of those minefields.
With NZTA not throwing any funding to it, it will up to ratepayers of Waikato Councils to subsidy it but a contribution from Auckland has always been expected. Originally it was proposed Auckland would fund 40% of it but no specific percentage has now been placed on it other than an expectation that Auckland would help.
Nice for Hamilton. What’s in it for us?
The problem for Auckland Councillors selling the idea is that the proposed service is not structured to show great benefit to Auckland.
The preferred option of the working party set up to investigate it is for a two-year trial of a Hamilton to Auckland service via the Eastern Line through Sylvia Park/Glen Innes to the Strand Station and carrying on to Newmarket as the termination service for the peak service.
There will be only 6 peak metro services per hour on the Eastern Line compared to 8 an hour between Penrose and Newmarket and 14 an hour between Newmarket and the Strand.
It can’t go further than the Strand because of the absence of spare peak train slots at Britomart and February’s new timetable which includes 10-minute peak services on the Western Line and the opening of the new Manukau Line.
The Strand as the destination? Really?
The Strand is not a proper station, but an emergency stop pushed through for the RWC in case needed. It is isolated from the CBD, has little shelter and means walking or finding means to get from the Strand to the city. A bus service would be provided to take people to and from the Strand and Britomart but again no one has worked out who will pay for that and provide it.
Earlier thinking had a single stop at Papatoetoe to enable passengers to transfer to Auckland metro services and the route 380 bus to the airport.
How about Tuakau in the mix?
But another option Auckland Transport has been discussing independently is the extension of the existing Pukekohe terminating / originating train services to and from Tuakau – an additional distance of 7.5kms. This would provide a direct Tuakau to Britomart service using existing Britomart slots and rolling stock but would require the existing platform at Tuakau to be reconstructed at a cost to the Waikato District Council.
Pedestrian access could be provided at-grade at Tuakau avoiding the significant cost of overbridges with ramps or lifts to meet Building Code requirements disability access. This would require an additional rail crossover and signalling at Tuakau to allow trains to change lines as the nearest crossing loop is at Mercer requiring an additional 24kms of running distance and operating cost so trains can change direction. The crossover is needed to run the service extension to Tuakau with the constraint of the pre-electrification Auckland metro rail fleet. Again the crossover would need to be funded by the Waikato councils.
How about Pukekohe?
A report to Auckland Council’s transport committee reveals that while Auckland Transport has been supportive of the proposal it considers it of critical significance that the anticipated 15% annual growth in Auckland rail patronage is “managed well” and any Hamilton service doesn’t compromise the operation of the Auckland network including the completion and commissioning of electrification.
It says one way to extract more capacity from the current system could be to use any spare capacity on Hamilton trains to carry Pukekohe passengers to Auckland, allowing some metro rail capacity to be redeployed elsewhere where most needed on the network to cope with increasing passenger demand.
“If Auckland were to pay for passengers carried within Auckland, then Auckland Council would be paying for an outcome (actual passengers moved) rather than an output (train movements). This would have the additional effect of improving the economics of the Waikato service. The benefits Auckland Council would be paying for would be directly tied to the number of passengers carried on the service within Auckland. “
Is anyone going to use it?
If funding from Waikato and Auckland Councils does appear, the service would begin in the 2012/3 financial year. The working party guesses likely peak patronage per direction to be in the range of between 65 and 142 per trip with the central forecast at 109 passengers a trip. Based on a middle point between the low and central forecasts, it’s considered a subsidy of $1.23m would be needed in the first year.
The suggested timetable is:
Hamilton 6am, the Strand 8.20am, Newmarket 8.27am
Hamilton 2.30pm, the Strand 4.45pm
The Strand 9.30am, Hamilton 11.45am
The Strand 5.30pm, Hamilton 7.45pm
Unknown is whether on top of the long travel time from Hamilton, the train encounters delays caused by the need to follow all-stop metro trains in their Auckland leg.