Lee: Long Hauler Would Work


ARC Chair Mike Lee has detailed more about his plan for a “Long Hauler” Auckland rail experiment, in a report to the full council.

The council’s transport committee has asked that the proposal be favourably considered by the incoming Auckland Council and Auckland Transport .

Mike Lee now reports that initial cost indications and experience in Wellington shows that the proposed services would be quite economical.

The proposal would see two-way peak hour diesel service to and from Huapai in the north west of the region to Tuakau in the south. Trains would leave Huapai and Tuakau at the same time.

They would bypass Britomart and anyone heading into the city would simply need to switch trains at the well appointed Newmarket station for the quick run down the hill to Britomart.

Wellington-savvy experts have told him:

  • There is likely to be a high number of long distance tickets (at higher prices)
  • a stable patronage base (regular clients on monthly passes)
  • ability to cherry- pick the best stops reducing stops and acceleration/de-acceleration cycles, and therefore lower maintenance costs.

When demand grows, the Long Hauler could extend to Waimauku in the north and Pokeno and Drury in the south, and into the Waikato.

The chairman said that as well as public pressure to extend services to Huapai, the council is aware of the growing popularity of extending rail services to Hamilton.  In the Waikato, public pressure for passenger rail has become a major election issue thanks to Campaign for Better Transport raising awareness.

“However, I am also aware that people voting in hall meetings or signing petitions may not necessarily guarantee success of the actual service.

“Therefore, (mindful of the Helensville experience) it seems to me that a careful, incremental extension of services at both ends of the network over time might be the best way to go.  On the other hand we are very mindful of the capacity constraints at Britomart - which is now approaching its limit at peak times.

Tuakau residents come out to support rail

“Recently my interest was drawn to an idea raised on the CBT website by an unknown rail supporter.  The idea was to run a train service from Huapai to Pukekohe.  It occurred to me that by adopting this approach we could not only help satisfy Huapai and Waikato public demands in one go but, by arranging transfers to Britomart at Newmarket we could increase rail services without being restricted by the Britomart constraints.

“Why not run a train all the way from Huapai to Tuakau – and vice versa? I was pleased that the concept which I have coined the ‘Long Hauler’ won unanimous acceptance by he ccommitee.

The Newmarket step circumvents both Britomart capacity issues and the need to reverse western trains at Newmarket (“and obviates the unfortunate demolition of Kingdon Street mistake”) – the ‘Long Hauler’ would just keep on going.

He said that the Long Hauler proposal would also extend the range of commuter services available - at marginal cost.

Well, let’s see that the new boys in town do with it after the local government changeover on November 1.




  1. Andy says:

    I really hope this takes off as I think it would provide a vital link for PT between West and South Auckland.

    I used public transport (And no, not the overly priced “Air Bus”) to get from Glen Eden to the Airport several years ago. 4 buses and 2 hours later I finally made it.

  2. Matt says:

    If it stopped at Pukekohe, Middlemore, Otahuhu, Newmarket, Mt Eden, New Lynn, Henderson, that’d give a lot of passenger flexibility without unduly slowing the service down with multitudes of stops. I think they’re also the stops that would have the highest passenger density, encompassing two major hospitals.

  3. karl says:

    Would this long hauler “express” overtake commuter trains?

  4. Andrew says:

    I’d suggest stopping at Pukekohe, Papatoetoe, NewMarket, Mt Eden, New Lynn, Henderson.

    @Matt I don’t know why you’d stop at Middlemore just because of the hospital, or Otahuhu which is a nowhere stop, as Papatoetoe is a much busier station and they are about to open an expansion of the carparking there.
    @karl as there is currently no third track for overtaking it would be hard for this train to overtake communter trains, this is why they’ve removed the express trains in the morning and evening from the timetable even though there are plenty of points where a third track could be laid at small expense eg between Homai & Puhinui, and between Westfield & Otahuhu.

  5. Nick R says:

    You don’t need a third track to overtake, just points and bidi sigalling in places and some decent timetabling and timekeeping.

  6. DanC says:

    Perfect. This means I could get from Newmarket to West faster.

  7. karl says:

    “karl as there is currently no third track for overtaking it would be hard for this train to overtake communter trains”

    I thought some stations had or were getting a third track? Newmarket obviously has one, Morningside…

  8. Geoff says:

    “Unknown rail supporter”? Looks like I need to work on my identity a bit more!


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