Greens commit to Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland passenger rail service

Written By: - Date published: 6:15 am, August 18th, 2017 - 54 comments
Categories: election 2017, greens, public transport - Tags: , ,

Green Party press release:

Greens commit to Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland passenger rail service

 Julie-Anne Genter MP on Thursday, August 17, 2017 – 07:48

The Green Party today announced that it will trial a passenger rail service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga starting in 2019, when it is in government.

The passenger rail service will be based on the concept released today by Greater Auckland. It would run five times a day between Hamilton and Auckland, with one return service to Tauranga daily.

“National has let regional rail services rust away but the Greens in government will restore rail as the backbone of New Zealand’s transport system, for freight and for people,” said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“I expect a lot of people from Hamilton and Tauranga will be attracted by the idea of being able to work and rest while on the train, and avoid Auckland traffic once in the city.

“There’s been a lot of talk about passenger rail to Hamilton. We now have a plan to make this happen in our first term in government.

“The trial will cost $20 million over five years, with the money reprioritised from National’s spending on low value motorways.

“We expect it would take approximately two hours and 15 minutes to travel between Hamilton and Auckland, and three hours and 30 minutes from Tauranga to Auckland.

“If this trial is successful, we’ll look at creating a premium, fast service that would be about an hour quicker. This is estimated to cost around $400 million and could start in 2025,” said Ms Genter.

_______________________________________________________________

Greater Auckland’s Regional Rapid Rail proposal,

Regional Rapid Rail will revitalise the existing rail network using modern technology tilting trains travelling up to 160km/h on upgraded tracks. This will allow for much faster trains, providing quick and reliable journeys that are faster than driving and skip the traffic completely. This revitalised network will stitch together the economy of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, and extend the benefits of growth and development of the main centres to their nearby towns and villages. This will provide fast and reliable travel options to regular commuters, business travellers, shoppers, students, local visitors and international tourists alike.

However, Regional Rapid Rail isn’t just a scheme for commuter trains on the trunk line. It is an integrated regional economic development plan for the Upper North Island, based on fast and regular intercity train connections between the cities and towns of Auckland, the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.

The proposal has four pillars for success:

  • Using the right technology to achieve speed and performance affordably
  • Leveraging existing infrastructure
  • Providing a frequent, reliable and regular service for all trip types
  • Integration with land use and development plans

54 comments on “Greens commit to Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland passenger rail service”

  1. BM 1

    Does anybody actually have any numbers on how many people are currently commuting between Hamilton and Auckland or Tauranga and Auckland?

    • dukeofurl 1.1

      They have been looking at cities in the Netherlands in the GA blog and their regional trains

      The central region containing the biggest cities is twice the size of the Auckland region and contains 7 mill people. Lots of fast regional trains there.

      Another city they looked at Nijmegen, that region had 3/4 mill people in the size of the central Waikato( 1000km2)

      • BM 1.1.1

        That doesn’t really answer my question.

        Before the taxpayer forks out 20 million wouldn’t it make sense to see if there is actually a demand for this service?

        • dukeofurl 1.1.1.1

          The short answer is no demand for these services. One GA story featured the bicycle park at the Delft railway station, it had room for 5k bicycles and was packed.
          Delft distance from Rotterdam is equivalent to Henderson- Auckland CBD

          The Greens want us to use bicycles and trains, thats the only way the proposed fast train system will work.
          I would doubt that even 1% of their support would be for that. But who knows what the future holds.

          With those bike paths expanding Im thinking of a second hand bike for the summer time. Even new bikes of a decent standard for maybe occasional use or more often start from $120+ ( self assembly required)

          • BM 1.1.1.1.1

            Right, so after a 2.5hr trip you get off at Onehunga and then cycle to where ever your job is.

            Fantastic, I don’t think three trains are going enough, demands going to be off the charts.

            • weka 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Why wouldn’t they take buses or whatever other public transport is available?

              • DH

                They are a bit kneejerk aren’t they. The UK has fast commuter trains bringing people into London from all over the place. They then walk, ride the tube or bus to their final destination. It’s very practical and heavily used. I was often using it when I was working in London, beat the hell out of driving or taking the bus.

                The key is time. A 2hr 15min train ride is really about a three hour trip and that’s just too long for commuting. Cut that in half, which is very achievable, and it would fly.

                • KJT

                  A lot of people now commute by car from Whangaporoa, Wellsford and One tree point. Both over three hours by car in the rush hour. I am sure they would prefer two hours on a train.

                  • Carolyn_nth

                    Went up to Wellsford yesterday by car. Easy trip up after peak time – 50-55 minutes from Takapuna. Took over an hour getting back – was easy until just before Greville Road around 5pm – then hit traffic entering the motorway, and a big, slow moving tailback from people exiting to the Upper Harbour Highway.

                    People I’ve talked to up in the northern areas, including Dargaville, etc, are not happy with the increase in big trucks on their roads in recent years. They are damaging the roads. Rail freight only goes up north about once or twice a day now.

                    • KJT

                      Used to commute to work Whangarei, Auckland by car once a month.

                      If you hit the wrong time easily three hours from Warkworth to the city.

                      Now go by air. Company requirement. But still can be over an hour airport to city.

                      And the amount of trucks on the road is ridiculous.

                      Timber that was railed ten years ago, to port Whangarei, is now being trucked to Marsden point. At least a threefold increase in trucks.

                    • Carolyn_nth

                      Well, KJT, my trip was to and from Takapuna so missed the extra traffic into the city. The traffic from the north to the city on the motorway is very slow and heavy by the time it reaches the North Shore section of the motorway in morning peak time.

                      I took some photos of the station at Wellsford yesterday – piles of freshly cut logs sitting beside the railway line.

                    • DH

                      “Rail freight only goes up north about once or twice a day now.”

                      I get up North quite often and I’ve yet to see a train in the last two years. I know it’s just timing but it is a bit depressing seeing those rusty tracks with nothing on them.

                  • DH

                    There’s a need to be practical about it. Trains aren’t for every commuter, they need to have stations reasonably close to the start & end points or at least good secondary transport. Auckland is currently a bit deficient in that.

                    A Hamilton train could link up with the existing Auckland suburban train network, it would service a fairly substantial portion of existing commuters but by no means most of them.

                    It’s really a long term thing that would evolve by itself. The upgraded suburban rail system has already resulted in higher density housing, and more jobs around the train stations. A fast rail link to Hamilton would likely slow down Auckland’s urban sprawl and see the likes of Mercer & Huntly grow.

                    • Whispering Kate

                      Well BM I think New Zealanders better get used to using two methods of public transport to get to their destination.

                      I lived and worked in London in the late 1960’s and every single flat I had was a decent bus ride to the tube station to the city and then a hike up the street to my jobs in inner London. The return journey was done the same way. No complaints, no whinges it was just done. This was coming from little ol’ NZ which had bugger all cars on the road back then – people get used to doing things and its going to happen here sooner rather than later. Get over it.

                      We have become a national of spoiled brats wanting to drive themselves everywhere. Well the times are a changin’ and park and rides will become a thing of the past as people commute by public transport to their destinations.

    • I would say at the moment it would be very low. However, I would suggest that this would be because the idea of commuting these distances with the current options (drive) is very undesirable. Having a train option will increase the desire, especially with stops in Huntly, Pokeno, etc.. It will also provide an incentive for people to buy outside of Auckland, as there is a long term plan to make it worthwhile, alongside the short-term plan to make it bearable.

      So this is really a case, if you build it they will come.

      What would you prefer? Pay $1mill+ for a shoebox, and have to sit in traffic for 3 hrs minimum, or have a full sized section and house for 1/2 the cost, and travel by train for a bit longer, also knowing that in the not too distant future the train trip will be cut in half at least, if not slightly more.

      • BM 1.2.1

        I agree with what you’re saying Auckland’s running out of affordable space and the only way to get more of that space is to rail link to other areas such as Pokeno and Te Kauwhata.

        Personally, I’d flag the idea for Hamilton at the moment until there’s better secondary public transport in place, 2.5 hours on the train followed by at least another hour by bus to get to your work, no one’s going to be particularly excited about that.

        Thing is any one who lives in Hamilton and commutes to Auckland has got a very well paying job they’re not going to be taking the train and bus, they’ll be in their comfortable late model car.

        Can you get a train that’s more like a large bus? and just run a service from as far as
        Te Kauwhata with one stop at Pokeno, that I reckon would be very popular and really open these areas for growth.

        • RedLogix 1.2.1.1

          One of the few regional rail services that has survived in NZ is the Wairarapa train. No quicker than car, but hugely popular and demand has often exceeded supply for many years now.

          Ditto similar regional rail services here in Victoria.

        • You_Fool 1.2.1.2

          Auckland to Te Kauwhata doesn’t have the same ring, and I doubt it costs that much more to go to Hamilton in stage 1, so why not? To Tauranga is mostly marketing I would think, and also for people wanting to go for a visit (depending on how many people commute between Hamilton and Tauranga).

          This is something that will be big (bigger than the Airport trains) and having something that can start now is a good option.

          Also it is another 15mins by train from Onehunga.

      • popexplosion 1.2.2

        A service to Huntly means NW suburbs have a bus service that connects to Huntly… …this would immediately build patronage. Then a stop at the base would connect to Hamilton orbital buses. Then a feeder service/s first from uni, stopping, e. Hamilton, central, Nawton, to the base. second a train from the Hamilton airport, main station, nawton, base. All grow house prices and take cars off the roads. But Huntly should be the first service, a fast service, few stops into Auckland central, then the slower services that stop along the way. It’s about hitting the major bus and pop. hubs to link up the services first. Then onto Cambridge… …this idea of Tiranga completely misses the whole point if network, sew up the main population points closest to Auckland.

    • 2000+

      The number of Hamilton commuters increased by 1164 and the number of Pukekohe commuters increased by 1503 – totaling 1995 Hamilton travellers and 6909 Pukekohe travellers.

      • You_Fool 1.3.1

        Draco’s link had a guy talking about 3hr round trip commute, at approx $40 per day, and the article was from a year ago, imagine the congestion from the south nowadays!.

        Stage 1 Train will be similar time and cheaper, and will become quicker, whilst the car commute will only become worse.

  2. Nick 2

    What an excellent forward thinking idea. Nice to see parties with vision, instead of the idiots currently in charge.

  3. Carolyn_nth 3

    Great policy. We need a renewed railway system. Great to inlcude Tauranga not just Hamilton-Auckland.

    We also need to return to passenger rail and improved freight rail system from Auckland to the north – at least as far as Whangarei.

    • The full plan includes most of Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, including a service to Rotorua. Potential for taking the train for tourists/holidays from Auckland (airport) to Rotorua or the snow fields in only a few hours.

    • Ed1 3.2

      The Auckland / Hamilton / Tauranga triangle is important for freight as well – it gives options for port development, but also enables more efficient distribution and transport to markets from a larger region. That suggests high speed lines may be justified by both passenger and freight for the three sides of the triangle. From memory there was publicity about a project led by Labout pre-2008 that covered this. With propoerty prices as they are, using cheaper land (and hopefully not prime agricultural land or affecting tourism) in the regions for businesses will also develop those regions and give a more flexible workforce with greater job opportunities for youth, and also contribute to energy efficiency and global warming targets. As is covered elsewhere the business cases are not simple. Freight requires good transfer arrangements at transfer hubs – and use of more flexible container options for fast transfer from rail to trucks – they also need to be planned at the same time.

      After the closed minds and entrist control of National, it is good to see that discussions are starting on desirable options for medium to long term development.

  4. Andre 4

    I can’t shake the nagging feeling that the results of the trial of extending the Auckland commuter rail service to Helensville in the late noughties will repeat for this proposal.

    Hopefully things have changed enough since then that I’m wrong.

    • Carolyn_nth 4.1

      The Hellensville rail service closed because it wasn’t considered cost effective. The population of Helensville was not considered big enough. That was short sighted, and shows how little consideration is given to the northern regions.

      I don’t think they trial it long enough. It also should have been extended north of Helensville, at least to Wellsford, but, in the long term to Whangarei.

      Apparently the Labour Party has included light rail to Kumeu in its latest policy according to The Spin-off. So that is an acknowledgement that the population to the north-west is growing and in need of further public transport.

      But, I think light rail to Kumeu is also short sighted. Long term, it’s Kiwirail to Whangarei for passengers, and more freight, that needs re-developing, and lighttrail to Kumeu could maybe slow that down.

      • You_Fool 4.1.1

        GA looked at northern rail as well, but to be effective it needs a heavy train line through the north shore, as well as severe upgrading of the track. Also, there isn’t the same population centres north as i the waikato and Western bay of plenty.

        I think there is a thought to looking to have a tourist train to the Bay of Islands

        • dukeofurl 4.1.1.1

          The bus way is proposed to go to light rail at some stage and still share with buses
          . No heavy rail for North Shore

  5. DH 5

    I like the idea but wonder at their strategy. There’s a recognition that people want fast trains but the trial will be with slow trains. A conclusion is that patronage on slow trains, aka the trial, will be low. If the trial shows there’s little or no demand they’ll find it hard to get the ok for fast trains.

    NZ has long had this catch-22 with passenger rail and the road & trucking lobby has fed off it for decades. IMO there’s a need to acknowledge up front that the demand is for fast passenger rail and to always separate it from ‘rail’.

    • The “trial” is not really that, or at least as part of the GA proposal. It is more a way to get things started now whilst working on the real deal. You use it as a trial, so that if you get say 25% capacity with 2 trains at 80km/hr, you could expect at least 50% capacity at 160 km/hr, probably more if the relationship was exponential; and then pop growth x2 demand from there.

      • DH 5.1.1

        You say it’s not a trial and then you say it is a trial

        I’d hate to see them make the same mistake as those who’ve tried before. It’s not an exponential thing. A train that’s substantially slower, no cheaper and no more convenient, than other forms of commuting won’t get any commuters on it. Why would anyone use it, you’d need to be a masochist.

        Those who’d use the ‘trial’ are, with not many exceptions, different users to those who’d use a commuter train.

        • You_Fool 5.1.1.1

          I am pretty sure GA has thought about this a lot (there is a full report to go read if you want) and are aware of past failures. That is why this is and is not a trail.

          It is a trial, as it can be used to show some interest, even if it is low that can be increased by increasing the speed of the train (stage 2 &3).

          it is not a trial as stage 2 is not really dependent on the success of stage 1, i.e. Stage 1 (the ‘trial’) is really just a chance to run the service whilst they get ready for stage 2.

          • DH 5.1.1.1.1

            I hope they have it covered, rail has some powerful enemies and any plan for rail needs to include a strategy to prempt them. They will attack it.

    • Yep. Would be better to bite the bullet and go for fast rail straight out. That’s going to be some major work though so as to bring the tracks up to standard to handle 150km/h speeds or better.

      Still, it’s going to have to be double tracked eventually so maybe not too much more work involved did both at the same time.

      • dukeofurl 5.2.1

        Double tracked now from Auckland to Hamilton , except for a small section in the swamp just north Te Kauwhata

  6. Ad 6

    A bad case of ego-driven overreach from the Greater Auckland authors after having their light rail plans adopted last Saturday.

    In much of the country rail is close to death. Passenger rail only survives in two cities, plus a few tourist trains.

    Greater Auckland need to inhale and hold it for a bit.

    • KJT 6.1

      Another idealogical Ad burp, from the dark ages

    • Rail is near death because it has been left to die. With investment so we have a modern rail system it could be revived.

      Just think about an approx. 1hr commute from Hamilton, or about 2hrs from Tauranga. Do you really think that some people might not take that option up? Or the service might not be used by tourists/holiday makers wanting to see the Bay of Plenty, Rotorua or the central mountains?

      • s y d 6.2.1

        I’m in agreement with Ad – it’s both futuristically fanciful and nostalgic at the same time.

        The notion that it is somehow OK to live hundreds of kilometres from where you work, that we can move at will, at high speed is an idea that will become obsolete.

        We’ve got to stop thinking like cargo cultists.
        We can’t afford to keep throwing large resources at projects that match our prejudices, be it planes, trains or automobiles

        • Ad 6.2.1.1

          Labour has already racked about $4b on its current transport promises.

          The country is already shelling $3.5b on just 3.5kms of heavy rail with Ak CRL.

          Inhaling is useful.
          Even in a campaign.

          • You_Fool 6.2.1.1.1

            Note that GA are not a political party, they are just coming up with actual workable plans that provide benefits. The Greens have jumped on it because it is a good idea, and has a better cost-benefit than say he E-W link in Auckland. It is also forward thinking, saying this is something that we need to have in place in 10 years time; so why wait 10 years then take a further 10 years to develop. Start now and have it fully ready once it is needed.

            • Ad 6.2.1.1.1.1

              It would be more useful for Hamilton and Tauranga to grow their own economies and obviate this transport need.

              Has any Council or mayor commented favourably on this?

              • In the future there’s unlikely to be air travel between cities and yet that travel, especially between Auckland and Wellington, is still going to be needed. Hamilton is a logical stop between them.

                Basically, we need to build up this network now and it needs to be high speed. And we know that the high speed trains work as they’re great in Europe.

        • You_Fool 6.2.1.2

          No matter what, in the near future people will still need to move around, trains do this better than cars. We will also need to move large volumes of stuff, which trains also do well. The area this covers is an important area for doing both these things, and will continue to be so for the mid-term.

  7. Enough is Enough 7

    Rapid rail is fantastic idea.

    This interim measure is just silly though and will result in the whole thing being canned.

    The service must be something that is quicker and easier than driving. Many Hamilton workers commute to Auckland for meetings, presentations, seminars etc. The Waikato express way is rammed. The trip ordinarily take 1.5 hours, and 2.5 hours during peak times.

    If the train takes more than 2 hours, then the car will remain the more attractive transport option. Especially as you get to where you need to be rather than Britomart.

    The trial will fail for that reason.

    We need to be bolder and invest in rapid rail. A train that leaves at least every hour from 6am and gets you between the cities in 1.5 hours. That would be a winner and clear the expressway

    • Rapid rail is fantastic idea.

      This interim measure is just silly though and will result in the whole thing being canned.

      Pretty much. They need to go high speed and dual tracked from the get go.

  8. Craig H 8

    You can’t trial these things – people need certainty because commuting from Hamilton to Auckland requires some commitment in housing and employment. It needs to run for at least 10 years to make those sorts of decisions viable.

    That said, I’m in favour of the concept, so they should just say they are going to do the fast rail as soon as possible.

  9. Fred H 9

    My god there is a massive disconnect between some of the commenters/concern trolls and reality in this blog. Firstly, people commute from Hamilton to Auckland because THEY CAN’T AFFORD A BLOODY HOUSE OR THE RENT THERE, and there are more jobs there too. Secondly, people drive from Hamilton to Auckland to catch international flights, they can’t afford parking, and the intention would be to catch a dedicated airport bus from Otahuhu. Thirdly, I know of four people in my social circle who make this commute and don’t have high paying jobs or late model cars as Mike Hosking claimed above, most leave around 5am in the morning or earlier. Fourthly, 2:15hrs is reliable because it’s not on the road, traffic jams in peak are not. Fifthly, people can read, work, sleep in the train, this happens presently in cars but it unfortunately causes a spike in the road toll. I guess the regions must be hard to see from some ivory towers…

    • Ad 9.1

      And yet Waikato Regional Council and Hamilton and Tauranga Councils consistently complain but offer no money to do it.

      There’s almost zero political pressure on them for this.

  10. Fred H 10

    Political pressure is only effective if it’s going to cost votes for the incumbents, for example National dragging its heels over the CRL in Auckland. There has been constant demand for this service from the Waikato, including Labour, NZ First, and Green MPs/candidates, and councilors at the last two elections. But it has been ignored by the current govt due to the promotion of their $2.5 billion expressway project, and the fact that they’re ideologically opposed to investing in rail even though it would complement the expressway rather than compete with it while costing a fraction by comparison.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/3526540/Train-petition-off-to-capital
    https://tron.org.nz/

  11. greywarshark 12

    For people with an interest in planning from your armchairs.

    I hope this includes in the first stage, the rail to the airport. And there seem to be offshoots to this line going across South Auckland.
    https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/airport-and-mangere-rail/
    this is diagram of auckland rail:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Auckland_railway_stations#/media/File:AucklandRailMap.png
    https://thespinoff.co.nz/auckland/10-04-2017/this-vision-of-aucklands-transport-future-is-a-thing-of-beauty/

    Oldnews – hold your breath for 30 years?
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11824942

    Rail to airport would take important steps in aiding Auckland’s business and tourism. Also the airport in Auckland seems to be getting increasing amounts of fog. Perhaps the rail to Tauranga could also take some of the strain off the airlines and travelling public by being shunted off to Tauranga. Being on the other coast it may have a better climate with less days of fog.

    And for Tauranga airport situation:
    2003:https://www.smartgrowthbop.org.nz/media/1372/z13-bay-of-plenty-regional-airport-requirements-2002.pdf
    Other facts about Tauranga also Whangarei – both regional airports:
    http://www.wdc.govt.nz/TrafficandTransport/PublicTransport/Airport/Documents/Whangarei-Airport-Onerahi-Assessment-Part-2.pdf
    (from Google summary – .. Tauranga ….. termed Category 3, can enable jets to landing in fog in visibilities down to 100m.)

    For planes in fog this is a good link from the pilots eyrie.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-truths/watch-what-its-like-landing-a-plane-in-thick-fog/
    http://nats.aero/blog/2013/09/why-is-my-flight-delayed-in-the-fog/

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