Helensville - Auckland train service canned



The Helensville to Auckland rail service, which began as a trial on July 14 2008, is being canned through lack of support.

It will end next month, just before the three week rail shutdown for all lines. There’s a possibility of a Waimauku- Auckland service instead but this has not yet been discussed. If that was agreed, it too would run as a trial.

On the Helensville service, ARTA says an average of 43 passengers per day have travelled in total on the three daily services. The subsidy paid by the ratepayer and taxpayer per person per journey for this service is $45.72. This compares with a regional average of $5.02 per passenger per journey.

So ARTA says it can’t be justified.

ARTA’s General Manager, Customer Services, Mark Lambert says : “A great deal of time, effort, promotion and research was put in by ARTA towards making this service successful within constraints such as limited rolling stock and taking into consideration the provision of services to other parts of the region. The local community rail promotion group also put much time and work into promoting the service as did the ARC’s Rodney representative, Councillor Christine Rose (who travelled on it).”

ARC Chairman, Mike Lee said that he is very disappointed that for a number of reasons the trial service to Helensville didn’t work out, but “given the current state of the rail system,” he’s not surprised.

He said the ARC is working with ARTA on formulating a more economic replacement service.

“The ARC Chair of the Transport and Urban Development Committee, Cr Christine Rose and myself have asked ARTA to assess the feasibility of another trail service to Waimauku with more services to serve a wider catchment of travellers including students and shoppers and with the option of integrating the bus service from Helensville with the rail timetable to act as a feeder to Huapai”.

This comes at a time a campaign is being stepped up by the Campaign for Better Transport for the proposed Waikato-Auckland rail service so today’s news is not good timing.




  1. Jon R says:

    Unlike the Helensville service, the Hamilton service figures stack up perfectly well.

    The various business case studies to date all show the cost benefit ratio, and passenger usage figures are very high for Hamilton - Auckland rail. This can not be said about the Helensville service!

    However, it is a shame that the poor quality of the rail network west of Waitakere, to John Key’s electorate, was never upgraded to a minimum 90km/ph running speed.

    Fortunately, the Hamilton - Auckland rail line can handle the Silver Fern railcars at 110km/ph along most of it!

  2. Jeremy Harris says:

    One service each way a day doomed this project from the outset, you have to have a pretty specific job to be able to use such as service confidently…

  3. Andrew says:

    That high subsidy is hard to argue with.

    I may be subject to correction, but I don’t think that CBT really supported the Helensville service?

  4. Steve W says:

    I believe that a number of things have been stacked against this service, these are such things as tight time slots, all the extra signal, etc problems.

    I’ve never been sure that Helensville in it’s own right could have supported the service due to the size of the catchment. Having said that I think there’s plenty of Auckland growing out towards Kumeu and beyond, so perhaps an abbreviated service is the answer.

    I also believe that if a Silver Fern Railcar had been used on the service between now and it’s demise, that this might build up patronage. The railcars might be a bit long in the tooth but are very fleet of foot, often capable of making up lost time.

    I agree with Jon R that this should make no difference to the Waikato service proposed.

    In hindsight this trial probably should have been left until electrification was up and running. Whether the political will, to give it another go will be there then, is another matter I suspect!


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