Now for electrification…

Two small good news stories for the Auckland rail network today. Firstly the Onehunga branch line is to be reopened by 2009 for passengers and freight. This is coming out of money approved in Dec 2005. It will cost $10m to get it out of mothballs.

Secondly, the Auckland Regional Council Transport Committee voted to support ONTRACK’s proposal to improve the Newmarket station, so there is agreement between the regional and national rail planners.

Now we just need central government support for electrification of the Auckland rail network….

Congrats to everyone involved, especially the Onehunga citizens who organised the petition to stop the rail track being ripped up, Mike Lee and Joel Cayford from the ARC, ARTA, the Auckland public transport campaigners, and the Greens who have been pushing public transport against a road obsessed Labour, National, NZFirst, United Future, and Act dominated parliament.

Re Newmarket he ARC press release says:

Committee chairman Joel Cayford said the proposed dual-island Newmarket solution gave the rail network greater capacity to carry both passengers and freight.

“This solution makes running trains every 10-minutes possible once the double-tracking of the Western line is complete. It also gives future flexibility to run services directly between the west and south.

“Altering the track layout at the northern end of Newmarket removes the need for Western line services to undertake a ‘three-point-turn’. There will also be a bypass track for express and special event services.”

9 Comments Posted

  1. I’d guess one advantage of a tram/light-rail system is that it should be possible to engineer it to use the existing rail corridor where it exists (e.g. Auckland-Wiri) and use (extended) road space where that exists (Wiri-Airport).

    Which should work out cheaper than building a greenfield rail link to the airport – and would be faster and more attractive than a system based on changing vehicle.

  2. A crucial difference between trams and trolley buses is perception. A tram is a pleasant, serene environment. A trolleybus is still a bus. Less noise and vibration than a diesel, but you’re still part of the traffic, without the freedom of a car…

    All the studies in France (where all the big and middle-sized cities now have trams) show that you get much better patronage on a tram, there are lots of people who are willing to leave their car at home but would never take a bus… it’s a funny old world.

    But they cost more for an equivalent service, sure.

    Another positive advantage for trams : they take up dedicated roadspace, making the city environment a lot more pleasant. I sometimes eat my lunch on a bench near the tram line.

  3. Ta BJ
    Yep I agree – also the land component purchase might be an issue with having a separate rail system – but at least it would not have competition from other vehicles regarding timelines.

    Luggage transfer for passengers is always an issue when moving from one form to another – however there is seems to be less and less one can take on board aicraft so for all those on the airport run – we all may be travelling more lightly – and if flying air NZ we will be losing even more weight – no bickies!

  4. Generally? Depending on the bus construction it would likely carry a diesel engine capable of driving off the loop as needed, It would use rubber wheels and cause substantial added wear on the roads where it runs. Maintenance advantages accrue depending on whether you work in the cost of things like tires and road wear. Tires take a bit of petroleum in their own production but give an advantage on a grade or in a sudden stop. I’ve no knowledge of accident stats and I expect that there are others who can chime in here with additional considerations.

    Basically they both consume the same amount of diesel/petrol whilst on their loop, that is none. One can deviate from the loop (at a cost) the other cannot. One has rubber tires/wheels and the associated wear and traction considerations that go with that, the other has steel wheels and tires and requires additional infrastructure ( the rails themselves ) to be put in.

    Not a lot to choose between them. Flat cities could do better with the rails and cities with lots of hills could do better with the electric buses.

    That’s just the list though… a swag. Quantitative and specific evaluation for specific cities is a horse of another shade entirely.


  5. Richard P

    re: wiri- AKL I have been thinking that is the obvious choice to service the airport, + It will avoid any undergrounding problems that could arise with any 2nd runway, and also the need for extra strong piles for rail on the 2nd(3rd) Mangere bridge,

    From wiri nipping over/under rosscommon rd to puhinui rd and following it to the airport via the back enterance seems the best route,
    It’s mainly rural/light industrial so should have less problems that trying to fight for space through Managere Bridge which seems the current favoured route,

  6. Some interesting ideas re light rail – can anybody tell me the advantages of small light rail/tram over articulated electric bus loops. I suppose the density of other traffic would be one – knowing Auckland snarl-ups.

  7. Does this mean that they will be able to run trains through from the western line to Britomart without the turning at Newmarket?

    I wonder how much it would cost to:
    1. Build a rail spur from Wiri to the airport.
    2. Run a light-rail/tram service along the motorway shoulder from Onehunga to the airport.
    3. Run a light-rail/tram service up Puhinui Rd.

    Do they make trams that can run over our narrow gauge rail lines?

  8. They are still going to have to rip up the track! Old 70lb rails not suited to traffic anymore. Requires at least 91lb rail. Was one of the reasons they closed the branch.

  9. The idea that they nearly ripped up the track! What a shocker!
    Next step is to zone the land around the stations for high-density housing.

    .. I’ve just been Google-earthing the isthmus. A couple of days work, I reckon I could come up with a rapid-transit scheme… Mangere Bridge, Onehunga, Otahuhu, Newmarket, check… New rail line along the NW motorway to Te Atatu, then linking back to the old line in Henderson… check. Tram lines everywhere to feed the stations. This is fun!

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