Hamilton Rail Needs CBD Loop


The possibility of a Hamilton-Auckland commuter rail service may fall foul of another transport issue - it needs the CBD rail loop.

Auckland Transport has warned today that it may not be able to fit another peak hour service into Britomart.

Greens transport spokesman Gareth Hughes says this highlights the urgent need to fast-track the CBD rail loop.

And he asks an important question on a day the Holiday Highway gets the tick: “It’s hard to see why the CBD Rail Loop isn’t a project of national significance for this Government, when it is so urgently needed and will move more people for less money than many of the billion dollar motorways they are planning.”

It seems services can at least get to Newmarket and catch a city train from there and the Eastern Sylvia Park stop has also been mentioned.

Mike Lee is reported today in the Waikato Times saying there’s plenty of opportunity for a service to Newmarket, and if it was attractive to the Waikato commuter to get to Newmarket, that’s half the problem solved.

In June 2009, a consultants’ report for Environment Waikato on the Waikato service confirmed ARC and ARTA’s worries about berthing issues and congestion on Auckland’s rail lines at peak times.

It said the service needed to stop at Newmarket as its survey indicated about 30% of those from the Waikato wanting to use the service said it had to go near Newmarket.

The 33-page report from Murray King & Francis Small Consultancy Ltd and Richard Paling Consultancy Ltd has this passange about the issues:

ARTA’s requirements were discussed at a meeting. Although they are in general terms sympathetic to a Hamilton service, they say there is no room for an additional train at peak times, at least not after their planned timetable changes this year and next. These changes will increase the numbers of train services run and ARTA says they could fill up further slots than those made available to them. Implicit in this is the not unreasonable view that their trains come first.
Their suggested alternative included a train arriving after the morning peak and returning before the evening peak. This would serve a different market from the one proposed and a market that is likely to offer less patronage.
Another suggestion was to extend one of their Pukekohe locomotive – hauled trains. Up to 2 additional carriages could be made available within the constraints of platform length at Britomart. These would have to be built to higher standards (e.g. with toilets). The train’s maximum speed would be lower than the Silver Fern’s and it would stop at all stations from Pukekohe to Britomart to serve ARTA’s passengers. This journey would thus be slower than 2 hours and from public feedback would be unlikely to appeal. It would also be some time before carriages could be built.
There is likely, at least for the first year, to be difficulty in using the Newmarket line and calling at Newmarket. The alternative line via Sylvia Park and Glen Innes is flatter and has fewer trains on it but would be less attractive to passengers.The option of terminating a Silver Fern train at Newmarket was not acceptable to ARTA.’

In the report, KiwiRail thought it was manageable once signalling and track improvements (presently being done)  at Quay park provided capacity and flexibility in the way Britomart can be operated.

The waterfront is an option

The report said Britomart could cope with 12 trains in and 12 out.

But Kiwirail has no negotiated slots into Britomart apart from those for the Overlander. Its waterfront route slots go only to the station entrance. If the Britomart option failed, using the lines using the waterfront option remained.
Britomart is owned by the Auckland City Council and was at that time operated by the Auckland Regional Transport Network Ltd . They charged for use of Britomart – $5 a minute of dwell time. If the Hamilton train uses the station for 10 minutes a day that’s $25,000 a year.

Only one South Auckland station could be served according to the report. Kiwirail proposes Pukekohe but the report said preferred was Papatoetoe which has good links on the suburban network and a bus connection to Auckland airport.

It’s not ideal if the trains only get to Newmarket but at least it rules out any excuse why there should not be a Waikato-Auckland service.

But it again highlights why over Christmas, the government needs to put its urgent approval stamp on the business report which should recommend that a $2b loop is needed not just to boost CBD business but to finish off the through tunnel job that was not done in the first place.

Related Posts

  1. CBD Rail Loop Route Finalised
  2. ARC Likes CBD Rail Loop Option
  3. Fast-track CBD Loop Campaign
  4. CBD Rail Loop: “Just Get On With It”
  5. Latest ARTA Thinking On CBD Rail Loop




  1. BD says:

    The main reason why nothing gets down, because the useless National Government has its in far to deep in the sand, that it continues to ignore what the public want even its own government advice. Take “Holiday Highway” for example the NZTA gave this project a low cost benefit ratio due to the amount of money it would cost to build, the lenght time, petrol prices rises, etc. But yet the government still throws its support behind it, and us the people have to suffer, because we’re powerless to stop it.

    Its clear the CBD needs to be built before any of these roading projects as the fact of the matter is according to an article i read the other day, we cannot keep building motorways forever. The UK has made this mistake before when it built its motorways, nowadays the government is investing billions of dollars into High speed rail as they believe that motorways no longer solve congestion, just attract more cars, then are basically back to square one again.

    What’s going to happen when Aucklands population keeps on growing we need to cater for this, and the best way to get people into the CBD is by public transport thats why the council needs to get off its ass and stand up to the government, not let them dictate how our country should be run just so they can get their pet projects built.

    I am appalled that even St Lukes has be given the go-ahead, I have nothing against big malls being built in Auckland, just where the location of the mall is thats the problem. The increase in traffic problems that this will create, which is struggling now and the limited public transport option should be a strong reason why the residence should fight this all the way to the Environment Court, we should aslo have a facebook campaign like they did with New Chums beach to stop this. the same goes for the roading projects.

  2. Paul in Sydney says:

    What about the old Auckland station they are in the process of removing. The backup platform for the RWC?

  3. Sam says:

    why cant the service replace one of the morning expresses from Pukekohe (with a few less Stations)?:

    south from Hamilton and others- Pukekohe- Papakura -Manurewa- Papatoetoe-Middlemore-Otahuhu-Ellerslie- Newmarket-Britomart.

    It could probably do 40 mins from Papakura…. which means a 12-13 minute gap on the southern line at Papakura before it, and a train strait after it. It would cause one 15 min gap in the 10 min frequencies for other stations, but that is a small price to pay I believe.

  4. antz says:

    The Strand might be a bit too far away from the main centre for some people if this service was to become a commuter type.

    Unless maybe if they put a proper bus system in place but i don’t think some people would bother with the transfer between train and bus.

  5. Geoff B says:

    @Sam, because this will be a KiwiRail service, and Veolia/AT are not willing to cancel one of their services to make way for it.

  6. Ian M says:

    Maybe they could make these the trains which do the Western Line-Southern Line (via Nmarket) that Mike Lee has previously mentioned. Could kill two birds with one stone

  7. karl says:

    Ian M - good idea. Not as good as a CBD to CBD service, but very useful as such.

  8. Matt L says:

    If the Waikato trains need the CBD tunnel could the Waikato region also help pay for it ;-)

  9. karl says:

    Matt L - lol, don’t hand ammunition to the anti-rail folks down there!


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