18 Apr

Diesel Train Service Now, Pragmatic Solution To Area’s Growth, Public Say

DMU Auckland courtesy of M KilgourAuckland Transport (AT) continues its consultation on transport options to serve the region’s massive future growth, and locals favour passenger rail transport, but AT’s plans show unsustainable bias toward road based solutions for Huapai-Kumeu, say the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

“The high growth greenfields development happening now in Huapai-Kumeu on the North West outskirts of Auckland, is crippling State Highway 16” says local resident and PTUA chair, Christine Rose. “SH16 is a strategic, freight and service industry transport alternative to SH1, but is at a standstill now because of residential sprawl unmatched with decent public transport infrastructure. Auckland Transport are consulting on plans for transport improvements sometime, including new roads and a busway from Westgate into the city, none of which have real timeframes or funding, nor deliver the transport solutions people say they want”.

In the last consultation round, passenger rail solutions were preferred by the public more than any other option. Auckland Transport, to their credit have moved slightly in suggesting an investigation into benefits and costs of electric rail to the area. ”But in effect, we’re no further ahead, with the plans showing bias toward a road-based solutions which have no timeframe, no budget, fail to address SH16 congestion and won’t serve the current growth of Kumeu” Rose added.

“Meanwhile, we’ve got an existing railway line, railway station, and diesel rolling stock that can be used tomorrow on an uncongested, dedicated route. With smart timetabling to meet the rest of the regional rail network, this service could start tomorrow, with marginal additional cost” says Mrs Rose. “Surely that’s a better deal for ratepayers and residents than living with crippling congestion for decades until ‘if and when’ budgets and plans are developed?”.

Both Mrs Rose as previous chair of the Auckland Regional Council’s Transport Committee and PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves, have been involved with successful rail campaigns such as that which brought rail back to Onehunga. Mr Reeves says “that campaign showed that there will always be opponents of rail development. But in using existing railway lines, diesel rolling stock, and platforms, we save ratepayers money and increase capacity on roading networks for important freight and service vehicles, and we can provide a decent, truly congestion free public transport service now, not in 20 years when it will be too late”.

PTUA propose a ‘Western Connector’ rail service initially offering hourly rail services between Huapai and Swanson from 6am to 8pm daily. This shuttle will connect with the wider Auckland rail network in the exact same fashion as the successful Pukekohe – Papakura rail shuttle service. “The beauty of our solution is it can start immediately as everything is in place and ready to go. Only the will of Auckland Transport is blocking Huapai, Kumeu and Waitakere residents and ratepayers having a rail service.”

The rail service will also encourage visitors to Huapai and Kumeu villages and the cycling community will benefit as they can transport bikes right out west, which is impossible with buses.

“We know the community overwhelmingly see rail as a pragmatic solution to their existing transport needs” says Mrs Rose. “Now we just need to convince the authorities that the public are right”.

As a side note, voices further north are pushing for a total upgrade of the rail line from Swanson to Whangarei to enable tourist passenger trains to operate at faster speeds. While the concept is slightly different to the “Western Connector” commuter service for Huapai, it shows that there is a growing desire by the public for an upgraded rail service, after 40 years of government initiated decline of the passenger rail system.

The Public Transport Users Association are planning a public meeting at the end of May as part of their campaign for rail services to Kumeu. Discussions are underway with Auckland Transport Chairman Lester Levy in the hope he can attend.

Please take the time tofill out or PETITION at the end of the article?

ENDS

Helpful Links

Western Connector proposal details : http://ptua.org.nz/1/2015/03/western-connector

Western Connector Kumeu proposed timeline

20 Jul

Pukekohe Electrification Needed

Image courtesy of M Kilgour

Today hails a massive step forward for Auckland rail passengers with electric trains rolled out on all lines. However, Franklin passengers have yet to share the joy of full electrification as it stops short in Papakura.

The Public Transport Users Association would like the Government to come to the party and put up its share of funding to have electrification extended to Pukekohe, or even Tuakau/Pokeno.

PTUA-Jon-Reeves-PukekoheJon Reeves, PTUA Coordinator, says “the only reason why Pukekohe passengers have to change trains at Papakura is because the Government has not funded the logical extension of electric rail services to Franklin. Compared to building the Takanini motorway interchange around $200 million, the estimated $110 million to extend electrification 18 kms from Papakura to Pukekohe is extremely affordable for the Government and will benefit the huge growth in population and passengers.”

The PTUA would like to see the new Hunua MP, Andrew Bayly, actively lobby the Government for immediate funding approval. Auckland Transport has already undertaken in-depth studies and the Benefit to Cost Ratio stacks up. Passengers are now encouraged to actively start contacting their local MP to let him know that Franklin deserves electrified rail services now. “The time for fobbing off Pukekohe rail passengers with excuses is now over. Action and leadership from the local MP is now needed seen and heard” Reeves said.

new-auckland-transport-at-electric-train-no-good-for-pukekoheThe PTUA is also concerned that the diesel rail shuttles operating to Papakura require extremely high quality performance on the part of Auckland Transport (AT). With Pukekohe passengers now having to change trains at Papakura the onus is now very much on AT to deliver perfect train time keeping. AT need to ensure all rail shuttles connect seamlessly into the network. “The last thing we want to see is Pukekohe passengers arriving at Papakura just as the electric train to Britomart departs or vice-versa” Mr Reeves said.

The PTUA will be at Pukekohe station surveying passengers at various dates and times over the next few months to collect feedback about the rail shuttle experiences. Passengers are also encouraged to fill out our online General Passenger Survey. This can be found at www.PTUA.org.nz

Today hails a massive step forward for Auckland rail passengers with electric trains rolled out on all lines. However, Franklin passengers have yet to share the joy of full electrification as it stops short in Papakura.

The Public Transport Users Association would like the Government to come to the party and put up its share of funding to have electrification extended to Pukekohe, or even Tuakau/Pokeno.

Jon Reeves, PTUA Coordinator, says “the only reason why Pukekohe passengers have to change trains at Papakura is because the Government has not funded the logical extension of electric rail services to Franklin. Compared to building the Takanini motorway interchange around $200 million, the estimated $110 million to extend electrification 18 kms from Papakura to Pukekohe is extremely affordable for the Government and will benefit the huge growth in population and passengers.”
The PTUA will be at Pukekohe station surveying passengers at various dates and times over the next few months to collect feedback about the rail shuttle experiences. Passengers are also encouraged to fill out our online General Passenger Survey. This can be found by clicking HERE.

 

20 Jun

Meet the PTUA team at The Green Living Show

ptua funeral train for waitakereMeet the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) team at The Green Living Show, ASB showgrounds June 27th and 28th from 10am – 5pm.

At stand 431 you can find out about the PTUA, current campaigns, sign our petition to have trains extended to Huapai-Kumeu and fill in our 2015 Auckland PT Users Survey. We would be glad to talk with you.

04 May

AUCKLAND PTUA SURVEY 2015

DMU Auckland courtesy of M Kilgour

AUCKLAND PUBLIC TRANSPORT USERS SURVEY

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