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What happened to rail frequency increases?

Over the last few years we have been concerned the rail network failed to meet its patronage targets. A key reason for this would be the failure of Auckland Transport to implement rail frequency improvements over the past few years. With the start of EMU services this week it is surely time to start increasing frequencies. First though a quick look back at what happened to the planned improvements.

In 2006  ARTA promised the frequency of the western line would increase to a train every 10 minutes in the peak.

She says when the double-tracking of the Western Line is finished in 2009, train frequency will increase to a service every 10 minutes during peak times.

I also remember this being said a few years later not long before double tracking was completed.

 

Back in December 2011 Auckland Transport highlighted a number of proposed rail frequency increases that could be achieved with the diesel rolling stock:

 -Introduction of train services to Manukau, following the completion of track and signalling works by KiwiRail in the second half of 2011. Initial service offering will be 3 trains an hour during the peak and two trains an hour at all other times.

-Introduction of 6 trains an hour from Henderson during the peak Monday to Friday on the Western Line. The infrastructure works to allow this level of service were completed in August 2010 and patronage has now grown to a level that warrants this service capacity.

-Western Line services will operate a half-hourly service between Swanson and Britomart during the core of the day on both Saturdays and Sundays.

-Onehunga Line services will be increased to half-hourly throughout the day and at a weekend, to accommodate further growth.

-Increased frequency of services from Pukekohe to every 60 minutes during the day midweek in response to customer demand.

Some of these frequency increases have been achieved such as 30 minute weekend services on the Western Line and services every 60 minutes during weekdays to Pukekohe. However 2.5 years on we still have hourly off-peak services to Manukau, 15 minute peak frequency on the Western line and hourly Onehunga services.

It is difficult to figure out what happened to these service improvements. Auckland Transport Board papers suggested they were to be discussed at a March 2012 meeting, but this was is a closed sessions and the documents have not been made public.

Again in August 2013, in one of my first posts on Transportblog I highlighted an Auckland Council report that suggested a number of frequency increases that could help meet patronage targets. It included this handy summary of the aforementioned issues:

 The completion of the interim train fleet took place in 2010. Since then, some limited improvements have been able to be made to rail services, such as running key peak western line trains with 6-car sets; commissioning the Manukau Branch Line and improving interpeak services to Pukekohe, through the reallocation of existing rolling stock to best match supply and demand. However, no new capacity will be able to be added until the start of the commissioning of the electric train fleet in April 2014. This means that since 2010, patronage growth has been constrained by the inability to add peak capacity.

This report made a number of suggestions for how Auckland Transport could increase rail services and thus increase rail patronage.

Improved interpeak and weekend rail services. As noted above, until electric trains start entering service from April 2014, there will be no increase in peak train capacity. International research shows that the improvement of non-peak train services can lead to stronger increases in patronage than peak capacity improvements. Substantial improvements to non-peak service levels form part of the roll out of electric trains. There may be opportunities to advance non-peak service improvements in advance of electrification such as extending Sunday train services west of Henderson (which currently has no Sunday train service) and improving weekend frequencies to half-hourly.

Since this report we have had half hourly frequencies and Sunday trains to Swanson added, however none of the other earlier suggestions have been actioned.

Some people may be thinking, what is the problem, electric trains will solve all of the issues. This is true in some sense. If AT sticks to the Regional Public Transport Plan they produced then by the end of the rollout in 2015 we should have 10 minute peak services and 15 minute off peak and weekend services on all lines except Onehunga. This is import because improved frequency is considered one of t he biggest drivers of patronage. However the EMU rollout will not be complete until ‘Mid/Late 2015’ which is anywhere from 12 to 18 months away. It is essential that we keep making moves in the short term to increase patronage, especially with the pressure from the government over patronage targets for the City Rail Link.

EMU's launched on Monday, pity about the timetable

EMU at Onehunga on Monday

While the EMU’s have now been launched on the Onehunga line , they are still operating on their old hourly off-peak timetable. This seems very strange considering the advertising and public relations effort that is surrounding the launch of the trains. It will not send a very good message if people new to rail in Auckland turn up to the ride the EMU but have to wait 55 minutes. Hopefully soon from Auckland Transport we will see a new, faster timetable with 30 minute frequencies all day, 7 days a week. Next up for EMU addition is the Manukau Line, probably in September. It would be great to see frequency increases at the same time, certainly moving to a 30 minute service from Manukau during the day, which will give a service every 15 minutes all day along the main Eastern Line, rather than the current stupid 30-10-20 arrangement. There has also been some suggestions from Auckland Transport that we would see full EMU service on the weekends, which would be very exciting. This would benefit from improved timetabling as well, dependent of course on if we had enough EMU’s in the country.

While the the Western line will be the last to be electrified, I would hope that the diesel rolling stock deemed surplus from EMU operations was used to increase capacity on the services that remained dieselised. This would be a great time to increase Western Line frequency to every 10 minutes at peak, and every 15 minutes all day. Another good area for improvement is evening services which currently finish ridiculously early. Currently the last Western Line train leaves Britomart at 9.53pm, Onehunga at 9.30pm, Southern Line at 10.10pm and Eastern Line at 10.40pm though this only runs to Otahuhu. The latest train should be pushed back at least past 11pm.  This can be done with diesel operation on the Western and Southern Line, and in tandem with EMU timetable improvements on the Eastern and Onehunga lines.

136 comments to What happened to rail frequency increases?

  • George D

    Strange. What’s the hold-up?

  • Myles

    Sooner have a bus on a bus lane every 10 minutes than a miss a train and wait an hour.

  • simon

    I may be wrong, but is this even more important considering the new 3 car EMUs have a smaller capacity than the DMUs, with 280 ish pax. Certainly yesterday evening, at 4:30 the EMU from Britomart-Newmarket was standing room only.

  • simon

    OK cool. Certainly on the western line it may be a problem. 7-8 car DMUs packed on peak.

    • Nick R

      I thought the most they ran was 4 car DMUs and 6 car carriage sets? Anyway, a pair of EMUs will have six extra long cars and will fill the length of the platforms, more capacity than the diesels can deliver.

      • But also higher frequency lifts capacity too. 15min/30min change to 10/15, lifts capacity in the peak by 50% and off by100%. Then double the length of peak trains when required and there’s the luxury of ‘turn up and go’ frequencies and lavish service provision.

        3-car EMU = 375 or up to 500 at crush loading
        6-car EMU = 750 or up to 1000

        So up to 6000 pax per hour along the line peak and 2000 off peak, and people don’t all head to Britomart, especially on the Western Line, passengers swap in and out and therefore the actual numbers of individuals that will be able to be served with this pattern is huge.

    • We don’t run 7-8 car trains. The biggest of the diesel trains are 6 car loco hauled services. A 6 car EMU will have equivalent capacity to about a 7 car diesel train and they will run more frequently than present. Again it’s covered here http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/07/04/electric-trains-will-significantly-boost-capacity

      • They will supposedly run more frequently. After reading this post, one is not encouraged to believe that it will happen.

        • Luke C

          There is no question that frequency will increase substantially by the end of next year. However the issue really is how quickly that is done. Need to push Auckland Transport to make every attempt the push up the frequency, as this is great way to up patronage. And given the issues around CRL really need to show very strong growth next year or 2 to prove help their case to the govt, and embarrass them into changing their mind.

  • bbc

    How many trains have been freed up after Onehunga went EMU, and what is the planned retirement schedule? The DMUs that used to run on Onehunga didn’t really seem like they had much life left in them.

    • My understanding is that we won’t get any real redeployment until later in the year when the Manukau Line goes to EMUs, then there will be surplus machines for increased frequencies elsewhere.

      Frustrating, but the O-Line wasn’t using a lot rolling stock to maintain those low frequencies. A couple of little 2-cars sets.

      • Luke C

        Yeh the 2 DMU’s on Onehunga have been used to retire the unique SX set, which had 2 locomotives but only 4-5 cars.
        We have spare units in off-peak, and for another train or two at night as well. Also if ARTA were planning on going to 10 minutes on Western Line must have been done with diesel stock. Guess was moving away from 6 cars sets and having 4 cars sets every 15 minutes instead.

  • Rainbow’s End should be promoting the Manukau line as “the rainbow connection”. Don’t know why there is no advertising at Britomart either. Presumably not interested in tourists without cars.

    • Wrong direction -_-
      Rainbows End is interested in passengers arriving by train and bus as they know their car park can’t take the load on busy days. Catch is those particular passengers come in from the south and guess what is missing:
      1) Manukau South Link to allow direct services
      2) Manukau Station Road being a bit more pedestrian friendly
      3) The 33A and 33B Great South Road buses are not on stream yet

      Have the above three all up and running and we are onto a winner

      • Nah, heaps of tourists in the central city would go if they knew how to get there by train I reckon.

      • Nick R

        How can you claim that is the wrong direction for our one and only theme park? A lot more people live north of Manukau than south of it.

        • Luke C

          Yeh Manukau station road is horrible. Need to work a lot on legibility and streetscape if want rail to be option for Rainbows End. Also of course rubbish hourly frequency, hope this is upped very soon after EMU’s introduced.

          • Bryce P

            Just checked the AADT for Manukau Station Rd (admittedly only from Wiri Station Rd to Lambie Drive as there is no data at hand for East of Lambie Drive). 5 day avge – 8286 VPD. Why is this still a 4/5 lane highway? FFS. It would be dead easy to make the walk from Manukau Station to Rainbows End a lot nicer.

          • Bryce P

            I foresee a major road diet, cycle tracks and wide footpaths in Manukau Station Rd’s future.

        • When Manukau line frequencies improve, Rainbows End should sell a combined return train+gate entry ticket, available from the Britomart ticket office. Similar to, say, Taronga Zoo in Sydney with its combined ferry+zoo ticket.

          Electrification of the Manukau line would be the perfect time to launch such a ticket.

          • Sailor Boy

            I live in town now, and my sister lives on the shore, she p[reviously has caught the train down, and I will be this weekend, a lot of people would go this way but most don’t even know that Manukau has a station…..

    • exaucklanderinsydney

      I agree, not one thing on the Rainbows End website talks about how to get there from the city by rail (or any public transport for that matter). I just couldnt imagine a similar attraction here in OZ not having info getting to and from there on public transport. Crazy.

  • Ross Clark

    Do they have enough drivers to go round? (Seriously, training drivers can be both expensive and time-consuming).

    • Not sure what the latest is on that, certainly is a potential constraint, but did hear the union has been involved in EMUs from the start and been constructive. Looks like this issue has been managed well. And it is good that the EMU drivers are not KR staff unlike the loco drivers, cutting out a middleman….

      Driving looks like a growing opportunity in NZ, despite the gov’s race to shut down as much of the nation’s network as fast as possible before it gets too strong: http://www.careers.govt.nz/jobs/transport-logistics/train-driver/

      • A problem for some years now has been that drivers are leaving as fast as they arrive, due to the pay being much higher in Australia and elsewhere. Making headway to get ahead on the numbers is painstakingly slow.

        Another issue with frequencies is Wiri junction, which is a source of delays now, with Manukau’s low frequency. KiwiRail have repeatedly warned AT that taking Manukau to ten minute frequencies in 2015 without first completing the third main, is going to cause congestion issues, with frequent delays. It is KiwiRail’s opinion that AT’s proposed timetable is actually unworkable, but the warnings have fallen on deaf ears. AT seem to believe that it’s easy to get 24tph through Wiri junction, but the reality, especially when you add in freights, is that it just won’t work without trains having to stop and wait for clearance by other trains.

        Meanwhile, beginning tomorrow (1st May), KiwiRail are rerouting a few waterfront freights through Newmarket. Keep an eye out for them around 0900 and 1530 on weekdays.

    • From memory they said about 40 drivers trained so far.

    • Roger W

      HA HA Ha ha.
      Sorry. We wrote the “Exam” software for Tranzrail to train drivers on track segments.
      I remember pointing out that the software allowed you to view the HTML source and see the answers to every questions.
      I was told “that’s OK, we just want them to be able to pass it. and they’re not exactly rocket scientists”

      • James

        So much for rail being safer than driving then :(

        • Roger W

          It’s not that bad.
          Indeed the objective is to get them to learn the track.
          and it does the job.

          I just don’t think it means it’s that hard to learn.
          Of course, that could be unconscious incompetence talking :)

          And of course, such things are all in how you measure.
          Air travel by miles vs. hours for example gives significantly results.
          And at least when something falls off a train onto the tracks they have to report it. Unlike trucks on the motorway

  • JimboJones

    It was a huge mistake doing all of that advertising about the new electric trains and then only running them every hour on the Onehunga line. They should have either delayed the advertising until a better line was done, or made the service every half hour at least from the day of the launch. People that have never used PT are seeing the ad, checking out the timetable to see when they can catch one, and finding out that Auckland train network is even worse than they ever imagined with an hourly frequency. It almost sounds like sabotage – maybe Gerry did the advertising?

    • Agree- but not sabotage just not trying that hard and thinking it through from the customer’s perspective. Especially from the perspective of the potential new customer; trying to grow ridership. Remember from an operational perspective higher ridership is a hassle!

    • jonno1

      Funny you should say that Jimbo, as a non-user of PT I thought about taking an EMU out to Onehunga for lunch so had a look at the timetable and thought – nah!

  • Fully agree with you on frequency but I think you will find that Onehunga is hourly between 10am and 1pm but every 30mins (-ish) from 1pm . I took one yesterday afternoon from Britomart to Remuera just to try them and there were trains on the timetable leaving from Britomart roughly every 30mins, certainly two every hour. They were well patronised.

    Personally, those trains are just such a step up and I was thrilled to have that experience in NZ. It felt like I was back in a real city whizzing along on electric power. Such a huge step up and it was great to see how excited people were by it. A couple of peole realised they were on the wrong train but stayed to Newmarket for the experience.

    As Matt L often says we need to make taking PT sexy, fun and modern feeling. These trains tick all those boxes.

    I could kind of hear the AC, but come on NZ Herald, if that is all you can come up with then I say that is a massive tick for the trains. Onwards and upwards.

    BTW if you are looking for a really good Android app for Auckland PT, try one called “Auckland Transport” (not the official AT app). It has a symbol of a white bus on a blue background. Unlike the AT app it allows saving of favourites and renaming of those favourites. You can also locate stops on a map and pull up the real time board. I have found it a massive step up from the AT app nd the real time information very accurate. (I also have no association with the company that makes the app)

    • TheBigWheel

      +1 that Auckland PT App (not the AT one) is great

      (I also have no association with the company that makes it, nor for that matter an Android phone)

  • harminder

    Could it be a budget issue, i.e. increasing rail frequency could be quite expensive, and that’s what holding AT back? I admit I have no idea about the costs, but maybe someone here can estimate the additional costs that AT will incur for different types of changes on the various lines.

  • Jon Reeves

    “If AT sticks to the Regional Public Transport Plan they produced then….” trains will be rolling to Kumeu ( not being cut back to Swanson which goes back against the plan.

    I am still disgusted with AT not having proper public consultation about the rail cut backs out west.

    • The RPTP did not have trains running to Kumeu or Waitakere. It was agreed to last year after consultation

    • I’m sorry but that is totally incorrect. The Regional Public Transport Plan does not have any proposed train services to Kumeu. Passenger rail to Swanson is 100% consistent with the plan, passenger rail to Kumeu would go against the plan.

      What do you mean no proper consultation? The first round of consultation for the plan lasted for five months and they received hundreds of submissions and conducted hours and hours of hearings. The second stage of consultation has occurred in the south and will be conducted across the rest of the region over the next two years. Consultation is still ongoing and you complain it’s not proper?

      I think it is frankly pathetic when people complain about “insufficient consultation” just because an organisation doesn’t immediately drop all their plans and change everything to suit some indignant individual with an axe to grind.

      • That’s a lie and you know it. The public were told nothing of the plan to cease operating trains beyond Swanson. There was NO public notification, and NO public consultation. AT never once said “we are considering doing this, what do you think?”

        There WAS a bus network review, making no mention of train services (because that’s not in the scope of a bus network review), that showed a map of the frequent service network that excluded rail to Waitakere and Onehunga, but that was because the rail service to Waitakere and Onehunga are not proposed to be at the ten minute frequency. The map was incidental to the actual review, which was of the bus service and not the rail service.

        I’ve already put this to Lester Levy, and he was unable to demonstrate that a rail service review was ever taken to public consult.

        • There’s your problem. You thought it was only a bus network review but it was a review of the entire PT network including buses and ferries. In the detailed information it described where rail services would go and made no mention of Waitakere.

        • Nick R

          Please Geoff, no need for emotional outbursts. The RPTP contained the results of a comprehensive review of every bus, rail and ferry route in the Auckland region, there was no ‘bus network review’, but a full network redesign. It has resulted in all sorts of network changes, like no Waitakere shuttle train, and no manukau trains via Newmarket like we currently have, and no browns bay ferry like in the Auckland plan, and a proposed doubling of frequency on the Devonport ferry, and terminating the pukekohe bus at Papakura, and not running the express bus I catch to work right down the busway, etc, etc.

          They are all listed in the tables of services, and covered in the full set of maps that show all rail services at every level. Why are you referring to only one of about a dozen maps in the document? Quietly ignoring the the other map specifically dealing with the proposed transit services for the outer west area?

          Perhaps you should read the document before deciding what it says? You are right a ‘rail service review’ hasn’t been taken to public consultation, that’s because it was the entire PT network that was consulted on, the consultation is happening right now, and in fact they haven’t even started on the second round for west Auckland yet!

        • Sailor Boy

          You are completely incorrect regarding this Geoff. The RPTP cover all PT in Auckland and was consulted upon for a long time.

      • “Auckland Transport’s current planning is to provide a shuttle rail service from Swanson to Huapai following the implementation of electric trains on the Auckland rail network from 2014.”

        – Auckland Transport, April 2012 (as reported on the CBT forum by a member who put the question of Waitakere rail to Auckland Transport).

        Of course it was planned Nick, it was one of the key components of the Rail Development Plan. In fact it still is, as the plan remains current.

        • Nick R

          Geoff, you keep referring to an obsolete, eight year old, non statutory, non consulted plan from an organisation that doesn’t even exist anymore. What makes you think that is at all relevant? I might point out that same plan had no provision for Onehunga branch services, had only a single track to the manukau branch, and proposed old carriages being hauled by electric locomotives together with a small fleet of two car EMUs.

          Are you really so sure that plan is the be all and end all? If so you need to start advocating to close the Onehunga branch, pull out some tracks at Manukau and cancel half the order of new trains from CAF. Oh, and we’d need to move Grafton back to Boston Rd too!

          • The Rail Development Plan 2006-2016 is a current Auckland Transport Plan. That’s why it’s on their website, as it has not been superceded. The details of how projects are delivered have been modified of course, but the projects themselves have proceeded as planned in their overall intent. That is, nine out of ten of them have.

            The MRCagney justification for canning rail beyond Swanson is seriously flawed in that it excludes roading costs. I would describe it as a joke, and the claimed cost saving as a lie.

          • Sailor Boy

            What roading cost? Running a single bus every (half?) hour on an empty road has no roading costs.

          • Geoff, MRCagney didn’t justify canning rail anywhere. They calculated the cost to Auckland Transport of operating a bus shuttle, to compare to operating a rail shuttle. If AT used the substantial opex differences to inform their decision making then so be it. You can’t gripe at a company for stating the very real fact that buses are cheaper to run than trains in low demand, low patronage situations. How is that a lie? Trying to cook the books to make the train option look cheaper just because you like taking photographs of trains, that would be a lie.

          • “They calculated the cost to Auckland Transport of operating a bus shuttle, to compare to operating a rail shuttle.”

            No, they didn’t, as there was no mention of roading costs.

            – No mention of the cost to AT of road maintainence associated with additional road use resulting from not providing trains, both in relation to the number of cars on the roads, and the additional buses.
            – No mention of the cost to society and the economy of higher crash rates resulting from the additional road use that would otherwise be reduced if trains were provided.
            – No mention of the cost to the environment of greater C02 emmissions resulting from greater car use resulting from the failure to provide a rail service.

            So roading costs were ignored, but funnily enough, every single possible rail cost was included, AND overstated.

            As you wrote elsewhere, we should have a robust business case developed (something we agree on). Unlike the MRCagney report, it would include roading costs.

      • Jon Reeves

        A phrase that caught my attention from another blog posting about transport, and in direct relation to AT’s poor decision about Waitakere (and Huapai) rail) – “Yeah but they do understand that experts often deal with incomplete inputs. One input often missing is: What do people actually want? Good work AT.”

        And this is what HAS NOT HAPPENED as there was no public consultation over either Waitakere or lack of extension to Huapai.

    • mfwic

      Didnt the Kumeu thing get pushed through a few years back as an election bribe? Then cancelled as it takes too long to get anywhere?

  • Jon Reeves

    “I think it is frankly pathetic when people complain about “insufficient consultation” just because an organisation doesn’t immediately drop all their plans and change everything to suit some indignant individual with an axe to grind.”

    Nick, not sure if you noticed, AT is owned by Auckland City. The ratepayers were told the trains were to be cancelled, they were not consulted. Yet, as Geoff Blackmore has presented in previous threads, rail to Kumeu was planned.

    Can you remind me who wrote the report advising removing Waitakere trains and not extending, as planned, to Kumeu?

    • Nick R

      Jon, not familiar with any report on not extending trains to Kumeu. In fact not familiar with any report on extending them to Kumeu either. Could you kindly provide a link to the document that shows that starting a service to Kumeu is a wise use of public resources, perhaps one that outlines how they would be funded too, and how many people would use it?

      In particular I’d appreciate some details on the public consultation that was undertaken, I understand you are very big on consultation so there must have been a lot of it done for your favoured extension plan? Must be my mistake, but I could have sworn it was never consulted on.

      Anyway, the report that proposed not operating a Waitakere shuttle train was the Regional Public Transport Plan, written by Auckland Transport and subject to five months of public consultation and a full statutory hearings process.

      • The RPTP said nothing of an intention to cease Waitakere rail. Omission of mentioning Waitakere rail (either retention or removal) does not constitute public consultation. You cannot expect the public to be aware of an intention to do something, when you don’t say anything about it.

        Kumeu Rail is one of the ten key projects of the Rail Development Plan. The other nine have been done, this is the only one that hasn’t.

        • Rail to Kumeu was done as part of Helensville. You can argue all you want about the quality of that service but it was tried.

          • Jon Reeves

            Matt L, strange that you are comparing apples with bananas on this subject. Yes Matt, we would all like the busway (before you start on that), however the rail infrastructure already fully exists and could even start tomorrow.

            What we want is both rail AND the busway. Rail now, busway to join in when the massive amount of money it requires is provided by NZTA.

            As mentioned by Geoff Kumeu was in the Rail Development Plan. Waitakere services are planned to be ditched UNILATERALLY WITHOUT PUBLIC CONSULTATION. Why no public consultation?

          • Nope, the Helensville trial was independent of the Rail Development Plan. ARTA were against the trial as they felt Kumeu should be done properly a few years later, timed with the commencement of electrification. The Helensville trial was more political, and was not done in a manner that worked very well, as we all know.

        • Sailor Boy

          False, the RPTP clearly states that no rail services go to Waitakere.

          • Please quote the relevant text.

          • Geoff page 114 (in final version) which is part of the section describing every service that will exist in the new PT network

            The image is from the draft that was consulted on for 5 months. It hasn’t changed in the final version

            The Rail Development Plan was a high level wish list of projects. It calls for electrification but doesn’t say it will actually happen. We change plans all the time e.g. if we didn’t we woud still be building a Dominion Rd Motorway and an Eastern Motorway. The RPTP is a statutory document required by law which also requires it to list every service that will be run in the region.

          • Matt, the RPTP is in effect right now, therefore the existing Waitakere trains are not in the RPTP. I don’t think it really matters, the fact is there was no specific public consultation over the decision to close Waitakere. The first the residents knew about the plan was when closure was announced. That’s not good enough, especially when Waitakere is the oldest rail service in New Zealand, dating back 133 years. There should have been a round of public meetings held first, specific to the proposal.

          • Sailor Boy

            Nope, the RPTP is a full network review and restructure with time scales involved, the existing trains are in the rptp just being removed upon final electrification.

            If you think we should drop tens of million over 10 years to operate trains to a station that only has ~130 passenger boardings a day then you are selfish. This station would have 0.2% of boardings and constitute an enormous cost for a service that would be far easier by bus.

          • Yes the RPTP is in effect but it is something that is implemented over time as can’t all be done straight away. It shows what AT plan to do in coming years to the PT network. Also who cares about the age of the rail service, this is about getting the best overall outcomes rather than some nostalgia trip. My understanding is Waitakere was planned to be cut in the 80’s/90’s but the only thing that stopped it happening was that they couldn’t get the money to move the turntable (before the DMUs came here).

          • “My understanding is Waitakere was planned to be cut in the 80′s/90′s”

            They tried to can it around 1986, and again around 1993, and on both occassions were met with a public outcry. This time however, there was no announcement of the third attempt, so nobody protested. The first anybody heard was that the decision had been made.

            And no, the wider framework of a 100+ page regional document in which nowhere does it say “Waitakere trains will be cut” does not constitute public consultation. Had AT come out and publicly stated they were planning to cut the trains to Waitakere, there would have been protest.

            Remember, the Waitakere people have asked repeatedly in recent years what is to happen after electrification, and they were repeatedly told there would be a diesel train service. AT were still telling people that in 2012.

        • Nick R

          The RPTP lists every single route they intend to operate, it has to, that’s the statutory function of the document. If you care to read it it specifically notes they plan the western rail line to terminate at Swanson, and a bus route to serve Waitakere. There are also details of the kumeu bus routes, along with a hundred or so other entirely new routes.

          Like every other route they propose to run It is all there in black and white, given exactly as much detail as literally hundreds of other existing PT services that will no longer be run, and instead replaced by new routes.

      • Jon Reeves

        Nick R. Remind me who was involved as a consultant writing the report to remove Waitakere off the rail network and not extend services to Kumeu?

        I hope that person who was a consultant to AT was not also the crazy one who came up with cost savings (buses over rail) over a 20 year period AT raved on about as justification to ditch rail over buses? Does anyone know what will happen in 20 years? 20 years ago Britomart station was not even planned. 20 years ago Sylvia Park shopping centre was not even on the drawing boards or even contemplated.

        • Nick R

          Sorry Jon still not familiar with any report that looked at an option of new services to Kumeu? As for Waitakere, I’m sure you don’t need a consultant to work out that running a bus shuttle to Swanson would be far cheaper than a train shuttle to Swanson.

          • Start by looking at page 9 of the Rail Development Plan, as listed on the Auckland Transport website on April 30th 2014:

            https://at.govt.nz/media/imported/4827/AT_ARTA_Policy_RailDevelopmentPlanSeptember2006.pdf

            6tph to Swanson and 2tph to Kumeu in 2016.

            And as I wrote above Nick, Auckland Transport stated in April 2012 that it was their intention to operate trains to Kumeu post-electrification. Sure it didn’t get to final planning, but it was consistently their intention right up until 2013. There’s plenty of evidence of that.

          • Nick R

            And their public transport plan released for consultation after April 2012 and adopted in 2013 stated that was not their intention. What is your point exactly?

          • Where does it state that? Quote the text please.

            We have a current Rail Development Plan that specifically states Kumeu Rail by 2016, and a current RPTP that makes no mention of it either way.

            The point is that AT never went to the communities affected and said “we are planning to end your rail service, please provide feedback” as they do with any other bus or train service changes. As I say, omission of information does not constitute putting something out to public consultation.

          • Jon Reeves

            Nick R wrote…”I’m sure you don’t need a consultant to work out that running a bus shuttle to Swanson would be far cheaper than a train shuttle to Swanson.”

            Based on the unlevel playing field of road vs rail you should also be promoting halting the entire rail network as in your line of (narrowly focused) thinking, buses are cheaper than trains.

            Forget about superior ride quality of rail over buses. Forget about the health and safety of more vehicles on congested roads. Forget that rail, in the case of Kumeu – Britomart ( via CRL or Newmarket) services different catchments and offers broader PT coverage.

            And most of all, you forget all the infrastructure HAS BEEN BUILT AND READY TO GO to Kumeu/Huapai.

            You can keep your buses on the Kumeu – Auckland routes. But add in Kumeu rail services by simply extending the existing Waitakere services. And this is why Auckland Transport should reverse their unconsulted plan to cut Waitakere services.

            Matt L. Remember, before you pull out your ugly fruit to throw, the Helensville trial had a different focus and I remember you yourself criticising its poor timing, lack of frequency and critising ARTA for not making changes to the trial over coffees and Swanson station back in 2009. But, as sensible adults, we all know Helensville is a different subject and it is foolish to raise it over the Kumeu extension.

          • “running a bus shuttle to Swanson would be far cheaper than a train shuttle to Swanson”

            So would running buses from Pukekohe, Manukau and Onehunga. Do you advocate that too? The patronage from those locations could easily be handled by buses.

            Pukekohe averages about 20 people per train. A bus holds 40. So why keep DMU’s for a shuttle? Why not can the rail service and run buses instead? Even if patronaged doubled to average 40, the bus will still handle it. If it doubles again, then just double the buses. Will always be cheaper than rail.

            We justify rail by taking into account external factors. That’s why the MRCagney report into Waitakere/Kumeu rail made sure those external factors were not counted, as by excluding them (and also overstating the rail costs), canning could be justified.

            It was a fluffed report of the same type the National government issues when justifying its transport policy decisions.

          • Jon yes Helensville was a bad trial due to how it was organised but just pointing out that under a technicality it could be argued that Kumeu did get a service and the patronage wasn’t enough to justify it carrying on.

            How many people from Kumeu (or surrounds) go to work, go to school or do other activities near the rail in from Swanson to New Lynn vs how many stay in and around Kumeu, go to Westgate, the North Shore or the city centre? Vast majority will go to the latter four and very few to Henderson or New Lynn. Remember there is also a transfer at Swanson to take into account. When you actually work it out the number who would use a train from Kumeu is tiny.

            For anything past New Lynn it will be faster on a bus along a busway with transfer another frequent route.

            You go on about the ride quality and vehicles on congested roads but that doesn’t affect buses on a busway or in high quality bus lanes. A NW busway also has benefits for a wider section of the community as it also serves Westgate, Massey, Te Atatu, Pt Chev etc. Also a busway doesn’t seem to have put people on the shore off using buses, quite the opposite and more people use the busway (more than just the NEX which is reported) than use the Western Line.

            In my opinion its arguments like this that we need to retain rail regardless of cost that will prevent us from getting the CRL or other important extensions. It’s so easy for opponents of PT to argue that huge amounts of money are being wasted on a handful of people. We need to be using the money we have to invest in services that will deliver the most benefit/patronage. Yes we should be spending more money spent on PT but any extra should go to locations that give the best value which is almost certainly going to be on boosting services in existing and intensifying suburbs i.e. better to boost more bus services up to frequent status.

          • Nick R

            Geoff, Jon, the level playing field is ‘how much will it cost AT to subsidise a Waitakere shuttle train’ (according to kiwi rail as it were) vs. ‘how much will it cost AT to subsidise a Waitakere shuttle bus’. External factors aren’t a line item on ATs opex budget, it is that simple.

            I don’t advocate anything actually, it’s not a consultants job to advocate and I don’t make decisions on whether things are funded or not. If only I had that power! :) My
            Job is to provide an accurate unbiased answer to the question asked. Sometime reality isn’t what you’d like in you heart, unfortunately. If you don’t like the question then take that up with those that asked it.

            You’ve got it the wrong way. You are advocating a new unfunded rail service to Kumeu, it’s all well and food to talk about advantages but if you can’t show how it can be funded and operated, and what the cost recovery would be, then you’re just blowing hot air.

            Show me a robust business plan that extra rail in the rural northwest is a better use of capital and operations budgets than all the other priorities for Auckland and I will support it 100%.

          • Nick R

            ““running a bus shuttle to Swanson would be far cheaper than a train shuttle to Swanson”So would running buses from Pukekohe, Manukau and Onehunga. Do you advocate that too? The patronage from those locations could easily be handled by buses.”

            Incorrect on all three.
            Onehunga is the terminus of southern line short runners, trains that formerly went to otahuhu. There is no additional cost to rail operations to terminate them at Onehunga instead, but you gain better occupancy and move more people. If you replaced Onehunga trains with buses your train network would cost same, you still need short runners, but you would have to buy two new buses (for a simple shuttle) and employ an extra five or so drivers. A bus shuttle would cost more to operate.

            Likewise with Manukau, they are short terminating services. If you stopped running them it would actually cost you more to run them further to the next reasonable terminus at Papakura (although admittedly you could save money by cutting service back to Otahuhu). Plus you would again have to fund more buses and more drivers to extend those bus services to a new transfer point on the southern line. Replacing manukau trains with buses would cost more.

            At Pukekohe the average might be about twenty, but the peak load is a lot higher. One bus will not do it by a long shot, unlike at Waitakere. If you wanted to carry the same peak load on a bus shuttle you’d need about six new buses in circulation given the distance involved and the loadings, and about eight or ten drivers extra on the payroll to deliver peak service and maintain hourly buses across the rest of the week. Currently the marginal cost of Pukekohe trains is, I guesstimate, about the break even point with regard to a bus alternative. If patronage continues to grow then the train will be firmly the cheapest option.

            That changes with electrification however, then the marginal cost of a shuttle train is a lot worse, relatively. I think they need to double down and electrify to pukekohe to shift the economics, particularly given the huge growth plans between puke and Papakura.

            Pukekohe may *average* about 20 per train (actually it’s up to 24 now from what I can gather), but Waitakere averages 4, which equates to two bus loads across all 27 return trains a day. Two peak bus runs could do the entire job. More importantly, Pukekohe patronage has grown over 1000% in the last decade, while Waitakere has grown 16% in the same time (or about a dozen people, inside the margin of error). There are big expansion plans around pukekohe to Papakura, and none at Waitakere. All Waitakere passengers, now, in the last ten years, or any time in the foreseeable future, can easily be accommodated with a bus, even at peak times.

            Some rail services make sense, others don’t.

          • Bryce P

            Of course Waitakere averages 4. No one lives there.

          • Also if we’re going to talk about Kumeu rail in the ARTA 2006 plan, shouldn’t we be questioning why the waterfront elevated, Dominion Rd and Henderson motorways in the 1960s De Leuw Cather MTP weren’t built too? Plans are not a hard-and-fast commitment to build.

          • “Onehunga is the terminus of southern line short runners, trains that formerly went to otahuhu. There is no additional cost to rail operations to terminate them at Onehunga instead”

            The trains don’t operate for free Nick. There is an operational cost for every service between Penrose and Onehunga. Not to mention $30m was spent rebuilding the line and then electrifying and resignalling it. A bus service would have saved all $30m, and would operate today at a lower cost than the trains. A bus on a road with one staffer is cheap, but paying staff and running costs for the trains and paying for the track and overhead maintenance, is considerably more. These costs are offset by factoring in environmental and social cost savings.

            The simple fact is, patronage south of Papakura, on the Manukau Branch, and on the Onehunga Branch, is within the capacity of a bus. On a purely economic basis, buses would be cheaper.

          • Nick R

            Correct Geoff, running trains is not free. However running them from Penrose to otahuhu instead of Penrose to Onehunga so you can run a bus will not save any money. Yes they spent $30 million on the branch, however not running trains on it would not give you thirty million back.

            Patronage everywhere is within the capacity of a bus line, we could rip out the southern line and run a busway instead. But no, it wouldn’t be cheaper. Buses are cheapest when you have low patronage and low demands, but become expensive when you have high patronage and high demands.

            Trains are a bad idea when you have few passengers, and a good idea when you have a lot.

          • The $30m wouldn’t have been spent in the first place if buses had been chosen.

            “Trains are a bad idea when you have few passengers”

            Right then, replace the Onehunga, Manukau and Pukekohe trains with buses. They all have few passengers. They only have lots of passengers further up the line…..

          • Nick R

            Absolutely, opening the Onehunga branch was a political decision that came with a $30m price tag. Same with Manukau. That doesn’t change the operating cost now years after the fact.

            But to close it now in favour of buses would cost more to run Geoff. That doesn’t mean it is a good idea to spend $6m in Waitakere. Even if you spent $30 million there it would still cost more to run the trains to move 100 people a day.

            Why is it so hard for you to comprehend that not every situation is always identical?

          • Sailor Boy

            Onehunga and Te Papapa both have higher patronage than Waitakere and most importantly are on the obvious route to the airport.

        • The “cost savings” were only arrived at by ignoring the additional costs to the roading network and to society. In other words, skewed to favour a roading option. MRCganey would make Gerry Brownlee very pleased.

          • Luke C

            while the rail shuttle may be useful for a year or 2 what is the longer term plan. NW busway need to be built anyway, which would give 30-40 minute journey time from Kumeu, much better that 1 hour plus change of services for rail.
            Then of course for local trips the booming centre is Westgate, not served by rail but directly on the bus route from Kumeu to CBD.
            While I’m one that normally supports rail, I can’t see the benefits over improved buses. In the short term I suggest would get much better patronage by building a bus station or 2 in the Kumeu area and running 30 minute express services to CBD all day.

          • It’s not about Britomart Luke, the railway and the busway are completely different catchments with different destinations. But for the record, post-CRL, Kumeu to Aotea by rail, even with a 5 minute transfer at Swanson, will offer attractive timing in comparison to driving, and trains will always attract more people out of their cars than buses will.

            Kumeu-Henderson and Kumeu-New Lynn are already faster by rail than by bus, and will continue to be under the new bus network as well.

          • Well Geoff THAT will be the time to lobby for services further north, via extended electrification to the increased population up there, the time savings will be real and there’ll be a case.

          • Much easier to start a service with the diesel trains you already own, at a fraction of the cost, probably 1% of the cost in fact, of electrifying. All lines in Auckland have started from a basic diesel operation and been built up from there, so why you expect Kumeu to be treated as a special case worthy of greater investment than any other line in Auckland, by going straight to a full electrified and rebuilt railway from day 1 is beyond me. As Jon has said, putting a service in place right now is very easy to do.

  • Luke C

    Also Te Mahia and Westfield station closures were consulted on as part of southern network consultation, so Waitakere closure could be done then too.
    Of course region wide RPTP was also open for consultation and extensive submissions, so there were several chances.

    • Jon Reeves

      Um Luke C, you forgot the CRL will open and wipe 20 minutes, maybe more, off the rail trip to Britomart. But that is only if,unwisely, you discount the fact that not everyone wants to travel to Britomart. Perhaps they want to travel to work, shops, schools, visit friends in Henderson, Glen Eden, New Lynn(growing at a fast pace), Avondale, Morningside, Kingsland? Or maybe they just want a reliable, comfortable traffic free ride to their particular destinations?

      • CRL doesn’t save 20 minutes to Britomart, more like 5-10 minutes.

        Also yes they may want to go to Henderson or New Lynn but how many will be doing that? Remember there’s a major metropolitan centre meant to be going in at Westgate which will have far pull for people in Kumeu than Henderson or New Lynn will.

        • tuktuk

          Hi Matt L.
          It would be interesting to source and quote official AT figures for the time-savings between New Lynn (and points further west) and Britomart, and between New Lynn and Aotea station. This is what I found from a quick web search which pointed toward the CBT site:

          http://www.bettertransport.org.nz/2013/05/city-rail-link-facts/

          ‘Western line commuters will enjoy considerable travel time savings on journeys to Britomart and beyond due to the CRL. For instance the trip from Henderson to Britomart currently takes about 45 minutes because of the dog-leg via Newmarket; via the CRL this trip is expected to take around 35 minutes – a saving of 10 minutes. Travel time savings of this magnitude will no doubt attract even more rail passengers from the west than there are currently. (From Auckland Transport’s most recent survey, some 5,000 people a day board the train at stations within Paula Bennett’s Waitakere electorate.) In addition, three new stations will be built on the new CRL: Newton, K’ Rd and Aotea. These stations will greatly increase the accessibility of the CBD region to all commuters on the rail network. For instance a trip from New Lynn to Aotea Station (near the Sky Tower) will take just 23 minutes at peak time – faster than a car journey and much faster than the current journey via public transport, which takes 45 minutes.’

          To summarise:
          – 10 minutes time saving to Britomart
          – 22 minutes time saving to Aotea.

          My take on a service to Kumeu has always been that currently it won’t be a big success, but post CRL, it could certainly be time competitive and attractive to commuters. Especially, if the track-bed north of Swanson can be rebuilt to a standard that would allow consistent 100 to 110 km/ph operation summer and winter. Such a Kumeu operation would depend on electrification, and would be even further enhanced by such things as the Airport rail link and Mt Roskill branch. All this depends on large scale local residential growth which does appear to be happening despite the very low figures forecast in the Auckland Plan.

          As with operations south of Papakura, future success depends on a a demonstrable commitment to fund a rail link for the long term. I suspect at present, the lower hanging fruit are to be had in the south because of better quality track and a more direct journey…….but there is everything to gain from talking to the communities of the North-west about the role commuter rail could play in their region post CRL.

  • Jon Reeves

    In reply to Matt L. All we are talking about is something so small, so simple to do (and it was in the Rail Development Plan). Take the existing train, run it 10 minutes up the line further than it currently does. The trial can start now simply by extending every 3rd or 4th west service to Huapai. Simple as that. No transfer station required at all for another one and a half years when the EMU’s start to Swanson.

    I just cannot believe this has not been trialed yet. However, all the infrastructure is in place, built, ready to go.

    Why not do a trial? 6 trains in the morning, 6 in the afternoon for the next 18 months? That’s a decent trial, ok frequency for a trial, and long enough to build up patronage.

    Yes to the busway, but that won’t be completeted in the next 5 years or longer if National wins this years election.

  • Luke C

    Seem to be forgetting about electrification Jon, thats the big issue. Would probably support a trial otherwise, and would have 5 years ago.
    NW busway should cut times down by 30 minutes. A post electrification shuttle would take 45mins plus 5 mins plus 20mins, giving 1hr 10 to Huapai. Bus is timed at 1hour from Waimamauku without any busway improvements.
    Of course if we are talking about post CRL, the costs will balloon. Need to buy a handful of new diesel trains as the old DMU’s won’t last much longer and will keep getting more expensive and more unreliable. Or of course electrification and major costs for works in the small Waitakere tunnel.

    • tuktuk

      I wouldn’t over exaggerate the costs to put electrification through the Waitakere tunnel. There have been a variety of means used by KiwiRail over many years to lower or “daylight” tunnels, it’s not a big deal. If there is say, the equivalent of a Kapiti Coast size community (est. 20,000) in the Kumeu area in the next 10 to 20 years, the potential catchment will easily justify the investment to do a proper EMU service extension.

      In the meantime, I am happy to support the NW Busway.

    • Bryce P

      I just did a quick check of peak time bus from Kumeu to Britomart. 1hr 41. Currently there are no busway plans available to view and no money has been allocated to it so construction is some way off. Also, with the SHA area going into Huapai with 2,000 dwellings, things on SH16 (already very busy now) are only going to worsen.

    • Bryce P

      And the ADL’s are fine right? After all, we’ve just been discussing using them for southern shuttles or handing them over to Christchurch.

    • My view is that there will come the time to electrify the line north of Swanson when the development starts to ramp up out there. Now ideally a good Rapid Transit service would coincide with that, or even better precede it, but as Luke says above because of the electrification it is not as simple as running existing services a bit further but maintaining a whole separate system.

      And Jon there’s been a trial for years, and one that didn’t terminate at Swanson and require a transfer, and very very few people used it.

      • Bryce P

        Waitakere is not Kumeu. If you’re going to hop into your car to drive to Waitakere then you’re just as likely to join the NW car park.

      • My view on this hasn’t really changed since last time. If you electrify to Pukekohe (which is pretty much inevitable), then your Waitakere/Kumeu rail shuttle becomes the only diesel service in the whole city, and on the wrong end of the city from the diesel depot. Costs will be astronomical versus a bus based at one of the bus company depots already near Swanson.

        Given the likely electrification of Pukekohe and the age and unreliability of the diesel fleet, a diesel shuttle servicing just this minority route will be unsustainable in the long term. That leaves electric rail service or bus shuttle.

        An electric rail service may have its day in 15+ years when the CRL is operational and Huapai has developed more.

        But in the meantime if you want to get a shuttle running between Swanson-Kumeu, I think it should be a bus shuttle – leveraging the bus advantage by making it hail-and-ride for the lifestyle blocks along the bus route between Waitakere and Kumeu (saves building bus stops and footpaths to access those bus stops, people along the rural part of the route wait at their driveways).

        • (continued) then as part of the trial, see whether more passengers prefer the buses that link with rail, or the buses that use the NW motorway bus lanes.

        • Bryce P

          You wouldn’t catch me on a bus along that route. Windy and uncomfortable. And I’m an advocate.

          • I must admit I’ve not ever driven Waitakere Rd from Waitakere Station to Kumeu, I was looking at it on Google and it seemed to look reasonably ok, curvy in places but not windy…

        • Bryce P

          I’m not sure there is a long term future for passenger rail to Kumeu but in the near term, until we actually get a NW Bus way, there is. http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/ratesbuildingproperty/housingsupply/Documents/specialhousingareamaphuapaitriangle.pdf

        • “If you electrify to Pukekohe (which is pretty much inevitable), then your Waitakere/Kumeu rail shuttle becomes the only diesel service in the whole city, and on the wrong end of the city from the diesel depot. Costs will be astronomical versus a bus based at one of the bus company depots already near Swanson”

          As this blog mentioned a couple of weeks back, spending $120 million to electrify to Pukekohe should be reviewed to consider spending that much on a new diesel operation from Papakura to further south than Pukekohe. You’ll get much greater coverage and more new services if you invest in diesel outer urban services than spending the whole lot on one short section just to change the type of train used.

          What Auckland needs is an outer urban rail service, north to Kumeu and Helensville and south to Mercer, and perhaps to Waiuku if a way can be found to make that work. And what better time to put such an operation in place, than when you already own a large fleet of diesel trains that could be quite easily modified for such use?

      • Come on Patrick, you don’t seriously consider the one-train-a-day with morning and evening services 11 hours apart as a trial of any kind do you? People were being dropped off in Henderson and New Lynn at 0730 and not picked up until 1830. Not very convenient, and then there were all the frequent delays and cancellations. The Helensville train was not a trial of Kumeu patronage by any means. But there were plenty of people out that way wanting to use trains if a more convenient service was provided, and of course ARC passed a motion in 2010 to proceed with a Kumeu service post-electrification, and that decision was made after the doomed trial ended. It is the National government-appointed AT board that has pulled the plug, and gone to roading lobby member MRCagney for a fluff report to justify it, in which the scope required all roading costs to be ignored and the rail costs to be overstated. The report may as well have been signed off by Joyce or Brownlee, it was arrived at using their transport thinking.

        • I don’t consider single issue obsessive conspiracy theorising of much value at all, to anyone.

          • doloras

            I suppose I’m curious as to why, in the worldview of the Reeves/Blackmore conspiracy crew, Kumeu diesel services were targeted for sabotage. It’s as silly as Jodi J’s old idea that the Western Line was privileged because Christine Rose lived there.

          • What conspiracy? It’s quite open and obvious – they decided they didn’t want to run trains beyond Swanson, so produced a report to justify that decision. The decision always comes first, and reports are then manufactured to back up the decision. If you look at the Pukekohe electrification proposal, they factor in roading and environmental costs. The complete opposite of the Kumeu report. It’s normal practice to come up with the numbers you need to justify what it is you want to do.

            Same with the Gisborne line proposal. Those against come up numbers that look bad. Those for reopening come up with numbers that look good. It’s how things are done.

            Why else would you get the bus network planners to do a review of a rail service, exclude all the roading costs, and not seek public consultation from the communities affected?

          • Trev

            Can’t imagine much roading cost associated with running an infrequent bus between Kumeu & Waitakere.

            I don’t know why Geoff/Jon are so obsessed with running trains in low density rural areas – it’s just so inefficient and extremely poor value for money. You should run trains where demand is highest and where the train route is the fastest route for where the bulk of people want to go.

          • Sailor Boy

            “Why else would you get the bus network planners to do a review of a rail service, exclude all the roading costs, and not seek public consultation from the communities affected?”

            Bus planners didn’t, PT planners did.
            Rail costs are excluded because hey are trivial.
            Public consultation was sought when the RPTP was produced, and when the West consultation for the network is completed you will have another chance.

          • If we had bus network planners, we’d end up with … well, what we have had up til now with the bus and rail networks competing with each other rather than feeding each other. MRCagney have designed the New Network to end the very problem you’re describing here Geoff.

            By the way, that whole “start with a conclusion and then come up with the numbers to support” it thing you’re on about, isn’t that what you’re doing?

          • “Bus planners didn’t, PT planners did.”

            The outfit that looked into it is the same outfit designing the new bus network. Of course they chose buses.

            “Rail costs are excluded because hey are trivial.”

            Presume you mean road costs? They are not trivial by any means. The two fatal crashes that happened near Kumeu in recent weeks have cost in excess of $16 million. Every car you get off the road is a valuable gain, and that’s just the safety aspect. If rail can get 300 cars either off the road, or to make much shorter journeys (to the station instead of all the way to the commuters destination), then those 180,000 fewer vehicle movements per year in a high crash area will likely save many millions in accident and injury cost reductions.

            “Public consultation was sought when the RPTP was produced, and when the West consultation for the network is completed you will have another chance.”

            Given that the Waitakere community knew nothing about it until closure was announced, it obviously wasn’t very effective was it? When AT plan to ditch a bus service they inform the community with specifics ahead of time and seek consultation. With Waitakere there was no such process.

          • Sailor Boy

            Are you actually stupid or are you deliberately misconstruing statements. The company that did ‘the new bus network’ is the company that wrote the RPTP, because the new bus network is part of the RPTP. The RPTP reviewed all PT operations in Auckland; ferry train and bus. The entire network is being completely redesigned around high frequency bus roues dlivering people to the rail network. Bus fetishists like to claim that it is heavily rail biased (Wood’s supporters in particular claim this).

            I did mean road costs. However you have falsely assumed that buses will take fewer cars off of the road than trains. You could probably run 20 buses an hour to Waitakere for the same cost as 1 train given the works that need doing, you can have a far better service with rubber wheels for the same cost, or an equivalent service for a far lower cost if your goal isn’t simply to get a train to the station closest to you.

            “When AT plan to ditch a bus service they inform the community with specifics ahead of time and seek consultation.”
            Well they didn’t do this for the 400+ bus routes that have been removed in the RPTP, when they initially put it up for consultation. Plus there is still a second round of consultation for area specific routes, I hear that the South consultation (only one done so far) was very successful in getting feedback. When that comes around for the West you could submit, but you haven’t a leg to stand on in reality, PT funding is too short to waste on one station in rural West Auckland getting a steel wheel service.

            Though I have to agree with you that double tracking and electification to Huapai should be the goal there are higher priorities right now, and that train needs to run at least Huapai to Henderson to be worthwhile.

          • Geoff you have the conclusion in your head that there must be a rail service because there are tracks there and are now arguing to meet that conclusion, just what you accuse AT and others of doing.

            The RPTP is not just a bus network review, it was an entire PT network review. Consultation on the overall PT network happened as part of the RPTP and now AT are consulting on the more specific aspects. West Auckland is planned for later this year and Waitakere residents will get another say then.

          • “Though I have to agree with you that double tracking and electification to Huapai should be the goal”

            SB, I haven’t said that (and neither has Jon). All we need is to use the infrastructure that is there now, with some minor tweaking such as extension of basic signalling to Kumeu.

            “However you have falsely assumed that buses will take fewer cars off of the road than trains”

            It’s not a false assumption, it’s well known that trains attract more people than buses, especially so in the northwest where buses are very unpopular. Most of the people who used the Helensville trial came from cars, and went back to cars when the train stopped.

            “West Auckland is planned for later this year and Waitakere residents will get another say then.”

            There’s a good chance of a public campaign for northwest rail getting underway this year, so I expect any further rounds of RPTP consultations will make an issue of it, along with requests for specific meetings in the area concerned.

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    Not sure if anyone considered the possibility of diesel-hauling CAF EMU’s beyond Swanson, like they used to diesel-haul English Electric EMU’s beyond Paekakariki before the electrification was extended to Paraparaumu. Simply required having a locomotive on hand to perform this task and attaching/detaching at Paekakariki. I’m not sure if it was run around the unit at Paraparaumu or whether it propelled it from the rear on the way back. Far better than maintaining a separate DMU set and did not require passengers to transfer. It worked fine.

    Another example of this was the diesel-hauling of Ganz Mavag EMU’s to Featherston on Martinborough Festival days. This used to be done regularly on these occasions (maybe still is – I’m not sure). It was an interesting experience to ride a Ganz Mavag through the Rimutaka Tunnel. All goes to show what can be achieved with a “can-do” mentality, too often lacking nowadays.

    So maybe such an approach could sustain the Waitakere service or an extension to Kumeu, if the will to do it was there. However whether the CAF units are as easily able to be diesel-hauled as the Wellington units, I don’t know.

  • Jon Reeves

    Effectively Geoff and I are saying (I am not speaking for Geoff), get the current service and run it 10 minutes longer up to Huapai. That is all. Roll an existing train ten minutes up to Huapai to the existing station. Comprendre bien mes amis? It may well take off with people from further a field using some frequent services. NONE OF YOU KNOW ANY BETTER.

    Many here are going on about hundred million dollar busways and the like. I like massive PT projects like that too, but they won’t happen in the next 6 years or more.

    I believe there have been NO public meetings involving residents or Waitakere train users for their opinions. Do we not live in a democracy? Or is democracy only when it suits you or your agenda?

    • How many times does everyone else (other than Geoff) have to say that the public were consulted on with the RPTP on the overall network structure. The more detailed consultation on what future routes will look like (including what they plan to do to serve Waitakere) will happen later this year.

      It’s also not just as simply as rolling a few trains an extra 10 minutes. Completely different signalling system and operating rules than what exists for the suburban network so a lot more training required which means more cost. Also means more trains are needed to maintain frequencies which also means more costs. Even if you found the extra money to do all that what happens when the EMU’s start next year – and possibly later this year on weekends? The costs of operating a diesel shuttle are much higher again due to the even more specialist knowledge that will be required for the handful of passengers who would use it. Anyway the money isn’t there, my understanding is AT are struggling to get enough funding just to run the EMUs to the frequencies they’ve promised let alone on low value services like to Kumeu.

      You talk about democracy but if you apply that concept to PT spending then the amount of money needed to run such a service is disproportionate to the amount of people served.

  • jjay

    Have to say it was one of my concerns with the disestablishment of Gt South Rd and Express bus services in the South Auckland Restructure of PT services ……loss of bus capacity with no clear statements in the information provided for consultation regarding train frequency increases (timing details etc) …From a personal level when you take up more room than most on your commute its a very important issue for ability to fit but its an issue for all users as you want to know the train has capacity for you each day esp when your other PT options have been removed ………will be interesting to see what happens now we are plugged into the grid so to speak ..
    I suspect the frequency of rail and capacity issue was one reason we got a small stay of execution on a skeleton set of express buses so at least not all bus services to town (just most -all Gt South and many express) stop prior to the trains rolling out to their full potential …….much thanks to Toa Greening and Colleen Browns help with that

    hope other areas with trains get implementation of the increased freq prior to removal of other options …makes sense really to have some overlap for capacity predictions etc

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