All about National’s infatuation with helicopter rides

First we had the Tolleychopper. Yep, that’s right!  Education Minister Anne Tolley’s idea of getting a “helicopter view” of tertiary education providers in Auckland (before she was relieved by PM John Key of her Tertiary Education portfolio) was to go up in a chopper and have a look from the air at them.

But last Saturday, John Key himself got in on the act, commandeering an Air Force Iriquois chopper to fly him to a photo opportunity at the V8s in Hamilton, and then back in time for a cocktail party at the Royal Auckland Golf Club.

As Green Co-Leader Metiria says:

Mr Key could have solved his traffic problems by taking the train. Unfortunately his Government refuses to fund a Hamilton to Auckland line.

Thanks to National (and Labour before them), there are no commuter trains between Hamilton and Auckland, hence the traffic problems Key anticipated.

Apparently, John Key had a couple of months’ notice of the potential traffic problem.  For the cost of the helicopter, Key could probably have given Kiwirail a ring and arranged a charter deal to transport not only him, but a couple of hundred Auckland petrol heads who, thanks to National’s  social and economic policies couldn’t otherwise afford the trip, to Hamilton for the V8s and back.  He could have been their idol.

But that is not the way National Party politicians’ brains work.

Hat Tip: The Standard, for the graphic.

32 thoughts on “All about National’s infatuation with helicopter rides

  1. I read alot of comments here and on other forums about Key and general comments about people being rich, I sense alot of jealously.

    From the age of 15 when I got my first job at $4.32 an hour I learnt that if you want to make it in the world then you need to help yourself get ahead and that may take 10 years working crappy jobs to work your way up.

    I didnt come from a rich family nor did I get any handouts, but since turning 34 have nearly freeholded a very nice house filled with awesome things and I earn a decent wage in a good job.

    I dont class myself as rich, but some might say I am, either way sitting round pointing fingers at rich people and expecting something for nothing will never get you in the position Im in, and certainly not where John Key is.

    Hard work should be rewarded, not inaction.

  2. Saying the PM ‘had’ to attend the V8’s is of course nonsense.

    As is the notion of paying for Yachts – if those sailors haven’t got the money, it’s because they’re too lazy to find sponsors.

    More than a few people in Christchurch were upset by the Messiah whirly-gigging in for a few hours – offering nothing – and then choppering out again, leaving them in their ruin and misery.

    A friend from Burnham suggested he should have visited the morgue out there – get a real feel for things.

    It all smacks of stage-managed PR, Acting, insincerity and a gross ignorance of the very real poverty that so many Kiwi’s face today.

  3. Buses are the fastest growing mode of inter city travel in the US.
    Go to:
    http://www.newgeography.com/content/002195-here’s-comes-bus-america’s-fastest-growing-form-intercity-travel
    Opens:

    Travel by intercity bus is growing at an extraordinary pace: reflecting a rise in travel demand, escalating fuel prices, and investments in new routes. This confluence of factors has propelled scheduled bus service between cities to its highest level in years and has made the intercity bus the country’s fastest growing mode of transportation for the third year in the row. “Curbside operators,” including BoltBus, DC2NY Bus, and Megabus.com, which eschew traditional stations in favor of curbside pickup and provide customers access to WiFi and other amenities, have enjoyed particular success.

  4. The Nats made a big song and dance about Labor wasteing money.

    But I bet John Key spends far more money on the prime ministers dept promoting himself than Helen ever did.

    He spends more money and has more personal staff.

    And its all spin about greedy john being a common man.

    If ya havn’t got 5 million your a light weight and wont get to mix with the Keys …….

    I cant see John Key bringing in a property tax ……… not when he owns 9 houses.

    John Key reminds me of the rich making laws and rules which help them keep more of their money and take more of a countrys wealth

  5. Wellington is a far more concentrated affair than Auckland, unless you regard the Hutt Valley, and you have to switch trains to get to the Hutt. People on the Capital Connection are coming into the CBD because it is the CAPITAL connection, not the greater Wellington connection.

    However, don’t forget that most of Auckland’s main white collar jobs are concentrated in the CBD. Most of the spread out employment is either industrial (Albany, Mount Wellington, East Tamaki and Wiri), retail (a lot more retail in Auckland than Wellington) or suburban based businesses. There is no reason why a Capital Connection like concept could not work in Auckland.

    I don’t mind station consolidation.

    And that makes you a rarity – everyone seems to have this attitude that because a train station has been around since the year x that we should keep it. In my honest opinion, a train station should only be kept if it services a transport hub or a major residential or commercial destination. Places like Westfield in Auckland which is in the middle of nowhere should not have a railway station.

    Local trams would resolve a lot of problems.

    Or indeed buses. Why would someone take the train from Remuera through to Auckland when a mere hundred metres down is Great South Road with buses once every five or ten minutes throughout the day. You end up with a little used station which dozens of services have to stop at each day, often to service no-one.

    At this point, it can’t be done because nobody in their right mind would believe that if it WERE done that it could be relied on to still exist 3 months later.

    If Kiwi Rail are given the commercial argument, then they would do it – their job is to make money. The problem is that the emphasis on getting this service up and running has been wrong; the target has been the councils as opposed to Kiwi Rail itself.

    I don’t know how to think about it really, the only train service between Hamilton and Auckland that I know of is the Overlander. Two trips a day if that, and the price is in nosebleed territory.

    You are correct about the Overlander, although it wasn’t all that long ago that there were ten trips a day between Auckland and Hamilton in both directions. There is no reason why such a service could not succeed commercially (and it probably would have – it is just that West Coast Rail didn’t have the money to purchase all the passenger services from Tranz Rail).

    It also wants a separate line that handles freight. Which may well terminate in truck yards at both ends, but which makes the trip between the two cities a bit cheaper in terms of fuel costs. There should be 4 tracks between Hamilton and Auckland. Are there even 3?

    There are sections which are not duplicated, and even places such as Huntly pose a problem as one of the platforms is on a low speed loop. I agree that allowance should be made for eventual quadruplication of Auckland to Hamilton, although I don’t think it is necessary at the moment. More urgent would be amplifying the lines in the Auckland suburban area.

    What needs to be done to make it happen? Just figure that I will DO that, don’t tell me I don’t want to do it. Consolidate stations? We CAN make that happen. A proper Southern loop for the rail? We can make that happen. 4 electrified tracks from Papakura to Hamilton? Why NOT? Trucks on railcars? Why NOT? Late night service for events? Why NOT? A $40 round-trip ticket? Why NOT?

    Agreed on most points. We need station consolidation. We might eventually need four electrified tracks from Papakura to Hamilton. Trucks on trains might be difficult given the loading gauge, although that can be fixed in the short to medium term (and it helps that there are no tunnels between Otahuhu and Frankton). Late night services are justifiable, and the ticket prices should be at the right level to allow the service to break even and provide an even spread of services.

    If you set out to NOT do something, there is never any shortage of objections you can come up with for avoiding the difficulty of actually accomplishing it. This seems to be a favored method of “doing” things in New Zealand. Australia has similar “issues”, slightly different flavor.

    The quarter of a century (or so) of discussion about Transmission Gully comes rather forcibly to mind. It HAS to be built, the coastal road will not exist with a couple of meters of warming (neither will a lot of Wellington but that’s another issue).

    The problem is that there is rarely a willingness to do anything, and when there is a willingness, it is always the cheapest option without allowing any room for the future.

  6. Wellington is a far more concentrated affair than Auckland, unless you regard the Hutt Valley, and you have to switch trains to get to the Hutt. People on the Capital Connection are coming into the CBD because it is the CAPITAL connection, not the greater Wellington connection.

    I don’t mind station consolidation. Local trams would resolve a lot of problems. The thing with trains is that as you noted, they need to go long. Nor would I expect the inter-urban lines to stop at any stations in between and so I would expect a considerably higher speed service from them, while the slower commuter rail link to all of Auckland would eat some of that. Of course, it gets a lot closer to being “door to door” service when it is done that way.

    At this point, it can’t be done because nobody in their right mind would believe that if it WERE done that it could be relied on to still exist 3 months later.

    I don’t know how to think about it really, the only train service between Hamilton and Auckland that I know of is the Overlander. Two trips a day if that, and the price is in nosebleed territory.

    If we want it to WORK we can’t pretend it is just a matter of making this a cheap ticket for people to take day trips from one center to the other. It has to cater to events (think late night carriages for the concert goers and sports).

    It also wants a separate line that handles freight. Which may well terminate in truck yards at both ends, but which makes the trip between the two cities a bit cheaper in terms of fuel costs. There should be 4 tracks between Hamilton and Auckland. Are there even 3?

    What I hear John-ston, are excuses. If someone actually took this on and decided to do it, instead of playing the “it can’t be done here” game that New Zealanders ALWAYS play (and then they play the “design by committee game”) when it comes time to decide to actually build ANYTHING. This is where I get cross.

    What needs to be done to make it happen? Just figure that I will DO that, don’t tell me I don’t want to do it. Consolidate stations? We CAN make that happen. A proper Southern loop for the rail? We can make that happen. 4 electrified tracks from Papakura to Hamilton? Why NOT? Trucks on railcars? Why NOT? Late night service for events? Why NOT? A $40 round-trip ticket? Why NOT?

    If you set out to NOT do something, there is never any shortage of objections you can come up with for avoiding the difficulty of actually accomplishing it. This seems to be a favored method of “doing” things in New Zealand. Australia has similar “issues”, slightly different flavor.

    The quarter of a century (or so) of discussion about Transmission Gully comes rather forcibly to mind. It HAS to be built, the coastal road will not exist with a couple of meters of warming (neither will a lot of Wellington but that’s another issue).

    BJ

  7. Interesting detail you give us John-ston, that the timetable was 5 hours between Auckland and Hamilton. That’s just bizarre.

    Not really when you consider all the stops. Of course, there were faster services available, including the Limited Express, but that gives you an idea of how New Zealand Railways operated passenger services as late as the 1960s (by which time most of those services were being replaced with buses).

    Also, the five hours was for a local service. Mixed and With Car Goods services were even slower. #107, which was a Mixed train, would leave Auckland at 6:50am and arrive at Palmerston North at 10:07 the next morning.

    So it is pretty clear that things were stuffed up earlier than I had realized. Not surprising, I have only begun to learn the historical details here. The system has been neglected rather comprehensively by so many governments for so long, that it is hardly surprising that nobody seems to know how it can be fixed.

    Really, the rot set in very early on. What happened back in the 19th Century was each little community would lobby the Minister for a halt, the Minister would usually oblige, and then each service would stop there. This had the effect of slowing the services down, and that was something that had an impact on passenger services once the roads started getting sealed.

    One Minister noted in the mid 1880s that railways in New Zealand ran more like a tram system with all the stops, and he used the distance between Kingsland and Morningside in Auckland and Wallacetown and Upper Hutt in Wellington to illustrate his point. I believe at one point, there had been so many stops added to the Christchurch to Invercargill Express that the timetable had been lengthened by something like three hours.

    It wasn’t until the 1980s that we really saw station consolidations, but by that time, it didn’t have an impact on passenger services because they were long replaced by buses. We unfortunately still see that attitude with suburban passenger rail – there are a lot of stations in Auckland and Wellington that serve relatively few people but the powers that be insist on keeping them. Places such as Linden in Wellington and Westfield in Auckland.

    However… 20 minutes to Britomart from Manukau… IF a loop structure is created to make it happen, is not actually that great a challenge with modern electrics. It is 20 km and with regen braking and a decent 120 KPH capability a loop WOULD be able to give about that timing.

    Assuming that it is 20km from Manukau to Auckland, then to have a 20 minute trip time, you need an average speed of 60km/h. In order to achieve such an average speed, you are going to need decent station spacing – at least three or four kilometres between each station. You are just short of three kilometres between each station via Glen Innes and via Newmarket, your station spacing is about one every two kilometres. Thus, your 60km/h average speed needs fewer stations to stop at.

    I would also point out that even with modern electrics, a 60km/h average speed is still a challenge. Few suburban lines in Australia manage an average speed of 60km/h or higher – the ones that immediately spring to mind that manage it are the Joondalup and Mandurah Lines in Perth, and I think there are a couple of others. Most Australian suburban lines average an average speed of between 35km/h and 50km/h.

    First, the commuter loop should not be “very slow”. That’s what it is NOW, not what it needs to be, or would be if we were to build it properly.

    bjchip, that is how it is going to remain unless attitudes toward the closure of little used stations remain. In Brisbane, modern electrics take a minute longer than steam trains did to get from Roma Street through to Eagle Junction. In that same city, a 2000 class Railmotor only took three minutes longer to get from South Brisbane to Manly than a modern electric train does – and that is after there were two stations closed in the 1980s. In Sydney, when it was revealed that a 1948 timetable showed faster services than achieved by modern electrics (and these faster services were mostly steam hauled), it horrified a large number of people.

    Also, an ideal suburban service is going to be slower than an ideal interurban service. I would be expecting my suburban services to be running at an average speed of 60km/h to allow for collecting all the passengers, while I would be expecting my interurban services to be running at an average speed of 90km/h to allow for passengers to be deposited at their destination quickly – a person heading from Hamilton probably doesn’t need their service to stop at Otahuhu.

    Remember that even with an average speed of 90km/h, it would still take an hour and a half from Frankton through to Auckland. If the train stopped at Papakura and the passengers switched services, then you could easily add fifteen or twenty minutes to that time – and that is a problem when you are competing with someone who could drive from Hamilton to Auckland in ninety minutes.

    Second, most people coming to Auckland have destinations in greater Auckland, not just the CBD. They need to get transport to their actual destinations within the city, not just to the CBD. I have seen the model I describe working in other countries and I do not think, provided the commuter service is actually functional (as opposed to the current design), that putting people into the commuter system directly, would or should cause a problem.

    The person coming from Hamilton who is most inclined to take public transport will be the person heading to the Auckland CBD. We already see examples of that with the Capital Connection (almost all passengers are heading toward the Wellington CBD), and some of the Australian interurban services. I believe that a similar situation exists with interurban services in other places as well. Of course, there is no reason why an interurban service could not have a stop at the edge of the suburban network and allow those who wish to transfer the choice – but you don’t want to force the people onto a lesser quality service.

    THERE IS NO EXCUSE for it to be slower to take the train to Hamilton than to take the car. There are no appreciable mountain ranges or bodies of water between the two, it is 110-140 km depending on where one starts from. The fact that rail is SLOW is a problem here that has (apparently) even deeper roots than I would have imagined, but it does not need to be.

    Actually, there is a valid excuse and that is the fact that public transport services generally have to stop to collect and drop off passengers. Someone driving in their car is generally going to go non-stop from their house to their ultimate destination. Each time a train stops, you add anywhere from a minute to a few minutes to the journey time, as the service has to decelerate, then collect and drop off passengers and then finally accelerate back to mainline speed. Even the Mandurah Line in Perth still has an average speed of 84km/h – and that is with few stations, rolling stock that can do 130km/h and an excellent alignment.

    Queensland has “tilt-trains” – there’s no excuse for NZ to do so poorly.

    Those tilt-trains have a speed limit of 160km/h – where the track allows them to do such a speed. I would suggest that narrow gauge cannot operate services going faster than around 180km/h.

    I will happily pay more taxes to live in a country like that.

    I know you would, but as I said in that other thread, a lot of rich people would simply flee to the Caymans or somewhere where their tax bill will be a lot lower. Given that the top earners pay a huge proportion of our income tax, I would be careful that you don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

  8. As for the trains, where do you propose this money comes from ? because I gaurantee no matter where it comes from you will all complain.

    From taxes, of course.

    Imagine New Zealand where we had a decent and free health system, a decent and free education system, decent and extensive social housing and an extensive public transport system that worked.

    Means the rich will have to start paying tax again.

    I will happily pay more taxes to live in a country like that.

    Redistribute some of those profits by putting up wages, put up taxes and pay for the above and all my friends and family who have gone to live in Australia may consider coming back!

    It is so simple. Tax and spend. It is good for you, good for me, good for all of us!

    peace
    W

  9. “…satisfy some strange need for our PM to live in the gutter”

    Not flying by helicopter and not having a new BMW = living in the gutter.

    What a strange little world you live in nzmr2guy!

  10. God are we going to drag the BMWs into this now.

    So is Mr Key expected to walk everywhere, wear potato sacks, stand in line at soup kitchen for lunch and work from a portacom in order to satisfy some strange need for our PM to live in the gutter ?

    As for the trains, where do you propose this money comes from ? because I gaurantee no matter where it comes from you will all complain.

    Labour had years and years to make a difference, the time has come to stop nit picking and get on with things and give National a fair run to make some difference, its not like they inherited the running of the country during the best of times.

  11. Was Key picked up in his ministerial BMW after the chopper flight ? sounds like we are all tightening our belts.. except those who are telling us we have to ??

    I support bringing Aotearoa/NZ into the 21st century.. by investing in Trains !
    Kia-ora

  12. Far be it from me to rubbish Key for taking this chopper this time. My concern is that the arrangements for rail remain bogus.

    Interesting detail you give us John-ston, that the timetable was 5 hours between Auckland and Hamilton. That’s just bizarre.

    So it is pretty clear that things were stuffed up earlier than I had realized. Not surprising, I have only begun to learn the historical details here. The system has been neglected rather comprehensively by so many governments for so long, that it is hardly surprising that nobody seems to know how it can be fixed.

    However… 20 minutes to Britomart from Manukau… IF a loop structure is created to make it happen, is not actually that great a challenge with modern electrics. It is 20 km and with regen braking and a decent 120 KPH capability a loop WOULD be able to give about that timing.

    for a service from Hamilton to Auckland to succeed, it will have to go into the CBD – people will not put up with being dumped at Papakura and being expected to use very slow all stops

    I don’t think that this is true… two counts.

    First, the commuter loop should not be “very slow”. That’s what it is NOW, not what it needs to be, or would be if we were to build it properly.

    Second, most people coming to Auckland have destinations in greater Auckland, not just the CBD. They need to get transport to their actual destinations within the city, not just to the CBD. I have seen the model I describe working in other countries and I do not think, provided the commuter service is actually functional (as opposed to the current design), that putting people into the commuter system directly, would or should cause a problem.

    THERE IS NO EXCUSE for it to be slower to take the train to Hamilton than to take the car. There are no appreciable mountain ranges or bodies of water between the two, it is 110-140 km depending on where one starts from. The fact that rail is SLOW is a problem here that has (apparently) even deeper roots than I would have imagined, but it does not need to be.

    The right-of-way for building high-speed quality track between the two cities would be lot easier to acquire than inner city right-of-way would be… if it were impossible to upgrade the existing track.

    Again, there is no excuse. Hamilton is close enough to be a daily commute from Auckland or vice-versa (not something I’d recommend but it is, as my experience in the US indicates, quite possible).

    Queensland has “tilt-trains” – there’s no excuse for NZ to do so poorly.

    BJ

  13. Dang! I am late for my appointment in Waitati because I have been at the Wingatui races and the last race was delayed by half an hour. It is so anti protocol to keep my host waiting…. What can I do? Agh! Yes! Where is the phone, I hear the Air Force has a new passenger service! Thank christ for that! And thank John Key! What a guy!

  14. “Helicopters are routine for many functions.”

    Yes, but not for jaunts to car races (not for most of us anyhow). Nor are Iroquois (big, expensive to operate military helicopters) normal for passenger flights.

    “John was able to go along and support it for a few hours and show people hes a regular guy.”

    ‘Regular guys’ don’t fly in Iroquois.

  15. Toad, you are looking at from an opposing party view, im just a regular joe citizen, to be honest prior to the last election I had never voted in my life.

    So here is my non biased view.

    As a regular joe citizen I expect the leader of my country to attend the odd public event \ function, it shows he is a real person willing to get out there and meet the people in normal everyday activities. Im sure alot of people can see past the BS and realise this.

    To me this is part of being PM so hence its function of his job, it may not be in his job description, but how many of us do things outside out description, not everything has to be black and white.

  16. An Auckland loop should be able to get people from Manukau to the central city in 20-30 minutes, without any extended delay waiting for the next train.

    Except that it will not, unless someone suggested closing the lesser used stations and creating massive hub stations. Of course, closing lesser used stations does not seem to curry favour with the Greens given the press release that Hughes had against the closure of Muri Station in Wellington (even though it is little used, and even though its existence results in an extra minute being added to journey times).

    Where one wants to get off in Auckland is a question, but the point I made elsewhere, that the express line does not have to go all the way into the city, is real. It simply has to connect to the commuter rail in a convenient way.

    bjchip, for a service from Hamilton to Auckland to succeed, it will have to go into the CBD – people will not put up with being dumped at Papakura and being expected to use very slow all stops trains to get into the CBD.

    112 Km or so. Figure a train moving at 100-150 Kph between the two. An hour’s trip. It CAN be done and done well.

    More like 138km. Also, while a train might have a top speed of 100 to 150km/h, it is the average speed that is important. For instance, the Wairarapa Connection trains can run at a top speed of between 80 and 100km/h – but the services run at an average speed of 50km/h, in part because the locomotives used are weak. To have an average speed of 90km/h, you would need rolling stock with a top speed of between 120km/h and 140km/h once you account for the station stops, curves and so on. An average speed of 110km/h or 120km/h will require rolling stock with a top speed of between 160km/h and 180km/h. With Cape Gauge, 160km/h is about as fast as you can go.

    Key COULD have taken the train,if his (and the National government that privatized the rail earlier) government had not de-emphasized, de-regulated and de-structed rail services.

    bjchip, what killed passenger rail in New Zealand was the fact that the services were incredibly slow. In the 1950s, local services were timetabled to take as long as five hours to get from Auckland to Hamilton. Once the State Highway was sealed, it was pretty clear that people would abandon the slow locals and start driving. Rail was screwed long before the Fourth National Government entered office.

    The reason that public transit languishes in pure capitalistic societies is that rich people don’t take the train.

    And it is because politicians do not know how to run a public transport service. Why in a place like London or New York should the Underground or Subway require a subsidy? Surely, with everyone using it, it would make sense to have a fare that would allow the service to break even?

  17. @Owen McShane 11:36 AM

    But, Owen, did he have to be at the V8s at all, or was that a “nice to have” in order to get a bit of free (apart from the cost of the chopper) publicity?

  18. The train travel time has to include waiting time.

    Helicopters are routine for many functions. And when most of the costs are sunk the cost of any trip is low and the cost effectiveness is high. They are a vital part of the rural economy and we are used to them flying round.

    This is typical “silly beat up” journalism. Key had to be at the function where the GG was in attendance and had to arrive at a specific time because of protocol. That’s what helicopters are for. Door to door reliability – which is why my last ride was from one hospital pad to another.

    We live in the modern world.

  19. God why are we even discussing this ? listen to yourselves.

    The V8s was an important national event, and it was great John was able to go along and support it for a few hours and show people hes a regular guy.

    Im pretty sure he would rather be at home with his wife and kids on a weekend given the choice but here you are all bagging him for making an effort to get out and amongst the people.

    Personally I want a PM that relates and mingles with the people, not sit behind closed doors and push paper and policies for 50 hours a week. You just lose touch with the people you are elected to serve.

    Or in the Greens case waste tax payer money by nit picking and finger pointing at trivial things like this.

  20. Problems with the trains have to do with the way the trains are set up. Not with the idea of using trains.

    An Auckland loop should be able to get people from Manukau to the central city in 20-30 minutes, without any extended delay waiting for the next train. A Hamilton express service, should go from Manukau. Where one wants to get off in Auckland is a question, but the point I made elsewhere, that the express line does not have to go all the way into the city, is real. It simply has to connect to the commuter rail in a convenient way.

    112 Km or so. Figure a train moving at 100-150 Kph between the two. An hour’s trip. It CAN be done and done well.

    As for Metiria’s comment, it was IMHO clearly pointing out how the train is being neglected and mismanaged by this government. That it may well be intentional, by this government.

    Key COULD have taken the train,if his (and the National government that privatized the rail earlier) government had not de-emphasized, de-regulated and de-structed rail services. That he could not, instead needing to take the most expensive possible transport option, is a crushing indictment of the “market driven” approach to public transport.

    The reason that public transit languishes in pure capitalistic societies is that rich people don’t take the train.

    Didn’t used to be the case.

    BJ

  21. Toad: When you’re the PM pretty much everything in your life is official business.

    Heck it even applies to MPs too; if public and personal lives were really separate then Darren Hughes would still have a job.

    Sam: :)

  22. “rather than looking to the example set by the leader of the free world who travels in choppers a lot?”

    Eh? Sub-commandante Marcos has a helicopter now??!!?

  23. I t hought they were planning to put them onto an express service at Pukekohe Johnston? Rather than taking them all the way through…

    No more real Express services from Pukekohe – the two limited stop services in the morning only skip a few stops. The 7:03am ex Pukekohe for instance stops at all but six stations on the way into the City.

    Really, it would have made more sense to have attached it to the Express service of old that only stopped at Pukekohe, Papakura and Newmarket, but that service had lack of capacity issues (for that matter, so does the 7:03am ex Pukekohe – that should have been upgraded to a six-car set back in September, but we all know that Auckland Transport’s priorities aren’t down south).

    It doesn’t always have to be that way.

    Agreed – a non-stop operating pattern within the Auckland suburban network and use of the Silver Fern railcars should result in a sub two hour journey time from Frankton through to Auckland. Problem is that no-one is thinking that way.

    In saying that, anything less than ninety minutes is going to be difficult. The only way you are going to achieve an average speed of 90km/h is if you have very few stops, high speed rolling stock (looking at 130 or 140km/h at a minimum), an extra track or two in Auckland and track to suit. It would potentially take a couple of decades and be quite costly.

  24. @dbuckley 9:13 AM

    Metiria made the point in her release that she had no problem with the PM using the Air Force for legitimate Government business. But this use of the Air Force was so Key could get a photo op at the V8s – an exercise in blatant political self-promotion rather than anything to do with legitimate Government business.

  25. The cost of this helicopter flight is pretty low.

    We have the helicopter (paid for), we have the pilot and crew, and ground staff (already paid for whether they sit around and twiddle their thumbs or do work). So the cost is basically fuel and maintenance materials.

    Then Metiria (right after yesterdays spot-on post) makes an arse of herself by suggesting that “Mr Key could have solved his traffic problems by taking the train”, which rather than coming across as sarcastic, comes across as dumb.

    Why do the Greens want our leader to languish in the gutter of the third world approach to transport, rather than looking to the example set by the leader of the free world who travels in choppers a lot? As I’ve noted, its not a matter of money, the cost is trivial. Is it tall poppy or green eyed monster syndromes? And yes, it would be more environmentally friendly of him to have walked, but that isn’t really the issue, is it…

    Just another case of attacking the player rather than the ball.

  26. I t hought they were planning to put them onto an express service at Pukekohe Johnston? Rather than taking them all the way through…

  27. @MacDoctor, john-ston

    Yes, but as john-ston says, that is assuming stopping at every station rather than an express service, assuming the continued use of the old dunger rolling stock, and assuming no track upgrades.

    It doesn’t always have to be that way.

  28. It would have been quicker by far to go by car, even with the extra traffic.

    Exactly – the current train proposals would result in a two hour fifteen minute to two hour thirty minute journey time because the proposed services would stop at every station in the Auckland region, whilst one can drive from Hamilton to Auckland in ninety minutes, perhaps two hours during peak hour.

  29. Is this guy the most tax subsidised socialite in the countries history and why is he posing as our PM?

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