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

12 Mar

COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR KUMEU RAIL GROWS

Western Connector Kumeu proposed timeline

Auckland Transport staff were overwhelmed with support for commuter rail services to the greenfields growth area of Huapai and Kumeu at a public ‘drop-in’ session on Thursday night.
Hundreds of disgruntled locals expressed strong frustration that the railway line runs through their town but transport officials canned planned services to the area. Auckland Council and the Government identified the area on the western outskirts of Auckland for accelerated growth as part of Special Housing Area (SHA) development. This adds to existing pressure as thousands of houses replace rural farmland along the rail corridor. The liberalisation of subdivision controls in the area is seeing another 3000 or so houses being built now, and another 3500 estimated through the SHAs.

The Public Transport Users Association have been leading a campaign to have rail reinstated and say despite more than a hundredfold increase in population, there’s been no Council investment in transport infrastructure for years. Local resident and former Auckland Regional Transport Committee chair, Christine Rose, who is also the chair of the Public Transport Users Association, says support for rail passenger services to the area overwhelmed all other transport options under consideration to serve urban development in the area.

‘At the public meeting run by Auckland Transport, there was almost unanimous support from the community for renewed rail services to the area given the infrastructure is already in place, and congestion is strangling traffic on State Highway 16.” “People logically see the uncongested rail corridor which sits in the heart of the community as an efficient use of existing resource”. “They don’t see the need to wait until 2030 for a busway to Westgate or road based solutions to transport constraints. The railway line should be offering connectivity and access to key communities of interest and work, education and recreation destinations in the rest of the Auckland network now.” “Locals know like no-one else, that growth has already outstripped the capacity of existing roading networks and a cost-effective solution exists in rail.”

The Public Transport Users Association proposes a ‘Western Connector’ rail service for the area extending services from the rest of the Auckland rail network at Swanson using spare rolling stock and timetable capacity to meet the high growth area’s transport needs now.

Jon Reeves, PTUA Coordinator says, “Auckland Transport promised a review of the 2012 report which was severely flawed in terms of costings, demand and did not take into consideration the growth caused by the Special Housing Areas in Huapai-Kumeu. So far we have not heard a peep out of Auckland Transport over the review so it looks like we need to reapply public-backed pressure on AT for immediate action. The spare diesel railcars are sitting idle and the station platforms are ready to be used in Waitakere and Huapai now.”
“Auckland Transport promised large savings from operating the new electric trains and they have recently increased fares so we are confident they can find the budget required to operate a Swanson-Huapai “Western Connector” rail shuttle. Auckland Transport are rapidly running out of excuses not to deliver the rail shuttle to the people of Huapai-Kumeu. They already operate diesel railcar shuttles to Pukekohe” Reeves added.
Western Connector details can be found at: http://ptua.org.nz/1/2015/03/western-connector/

Western Connector Timeline Proposal:

Western Connector proposed timeline

Please take the time to fill out our petition for north western rail today:

10 Mar

Rail – Essential Option For High Growth Huapai-Kumeu

Now Auckland Transport and the Rodney Local Board are currently consulting local communities on transport options for dealing with future growth. But the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is encouraging people to support passenger rail options to Kumeu-Huapai, even in the short term, given the massive growth happening now.

Kumeu-Huapai and nearby Riverhead, were established on the railway line, which continues to traverse its centre. ‘The existing rail line offers good connectivity to key communities of interest in the west and central city’ says PTUA Chair, local resident and former regional transport chair, Christine Rose. ‘But Auckland Transport recently scuttled long-held plans for resumption of rail services to the fast growing area, despite a surplus of rolling stock and timetable capacity to run a service’.

The area is undergoing the current development of several thousand new houses, and over 3500 additional houses have been fast tracked under the Government and Council’s Special Housing Area scheme. State Highway 16 which also bisects the area and runs parallel to the railway line, is already heavily congested for most of the day, and traffic volumes double in the weekend. Locals say congestion paralyses the local economy and their ability to efficiently get to work and educational facilities across the region.

‘The development already occurring in the area has created significant transport pressure,
thwarting the State Highway transport function’ says Mrs Rose. ‘We can’t road build our way out of this congestion given the existing constraints in Kumeu, but rail offers the community a congestion free corridor, available now’. ‘This is a location where rail offers clear advantages over alternatives, both for the present and the future’.

The Rodney Local Board is holding a series of future transport consultation meetings, as it grapples with rapid greenfields growth and an existing infrastructure deficit. PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves says ‘Given rates pressures facing the region, it makes sense to use existing resources and infrastructure, such as the North Auckland line and the existing railway stations, to serve high growth communities’. Mrs Rose, who was councillor for the area for 15 years, says ‘the area was chosen for growth because of its proximity to the railway line which was seen as an ideal transport solution for decades’. ‘All that changed in 2012 when AT received a report which condemned rail asan option, based on inaccurate growth projections, costings and timetable scenarios’.

PTUA says there’s considerable community support for passenger rail services to the area, now and in the future, and frustration it’s not already being actively pursued. ‘We encourage residents to have their say, and submit to both the Local Board, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, at every opportunity, in the interests of transport and rates efficiency both now and in the future’.
Auckland Transport invites feedback on its plans by March 17.

https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/transport-for-future-urban-growth/transport-for-growth-in-north-west-auckland/
Submissions can be made to the Auckland Council Draft Annual Plan until March 24.

03 Jun

FUNERAL TRAIN UPDATE

ptua funeral train for waitakereThe Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) will hold a special “Funeral Cortege Train” complete with mourners, the grim reaper and a coffin this coming Thursday morning (4th June). The train will depart from Waitakere Railway Station at 6:58am and arrive at Britomart Station approximately 8am.

The coffin will symbolise the pending death of Waitakere and Huapai-Kumeu railway stations as Auckland Transport (AT) refuses to listen ratepayers, residents, business associations and public transport users who want commuter trains retained to Waitakere while the case for having trains extended to the Nor-West growth centres of Huapai-Kumeu is reviewed.

AT CEO David Warburton has been invited to address the cortege when it arrives at the entrance of the AT Headquarters, lower Queen Street.

FULL SCHEDULE FOR 4th JUNE:

Waitakere Railway Station, Waitakere Township, West Auckland.

    • 6:40am Costumed mourners and grim reaper meet at station with coffin
    • 6:50am short speech about the reasons for this action by PTUA
    • 6:55am Cortege and coffin join train
    • 6:58am Scheduled train departs, stopping at all stations en route to Britomart. Commuters will be handed information about planned cuts to Waitakere trains as they join the train.
    • 8:00am Approximately train arrives at Britomart Transport Centre. Coffin carried out of train, through Britomart Transport Centre, across lower Queen St to the Auckland Transport Headquarters entrance (HSBC building, 1 Queen St)
    • 8:15am Auckland Transport representative invited to address the PTUA and supporters cortege. Then speech by PTUA Chair Christine Rose and Coordinator Jon Reeves. Questions and answers.
    • 8:30am service ends.

To ensure everything runs to time media are requested to be in place well in advance of the schedule above.

26 Mar

The Western Connector

A frequent railcar service providing hourly services Huapai – Waitakere – Swanson

14 services per day, each direction, 6am – 8pm utilising Huapai station which is unused, built in 2009. Connecting with the new electric train network at Swanson.

A Reliable Congestion Free route. An independent service. Not impacted by any potential rail service delays or cancellations from Britomart. Connects with buses from Helensville / Waimauku and Riverhead.

Image courtesy of M Kilgour
Significantly faster transit times (see Graphic) to employment/shopping/leisure destinations of Henderson, New Lynn, Kingsland, Mt. Eden, Grafton, Newmarket than buses and faster than private cars at peak times. City Rail Link will further reduce transport times to CBD by approximately another 15 minutes.

Why has it not yet happened? Why did AT remove Huapai-Kumeu from the long held development plan?

A 2013 report commissioned and adopted by Auckland Transport over inflated capex of Huapai – Swanson rail by approximately $13 million by offering a gold plated proposal which included proven flawed advantages of using buses instead of rail.

Existing railway stations at Swanson, Waitakere and Huapai do not require $9 million in upgrades. Signals, track work upgrades and new rolling stock would not be required.

Reports stated operating costs of $3 million per annum. Our “Western Connector” solution will cost approximately half that amount before fare income.

Railcars already available, becoming redundant with electrification, Auckland Transport is planning to retain them and refurbish them.

Train vs bus timetable west auckland

Click on the above image to view the considerably faster travel times

Pukekohe – Papakura already has a similar rail shuttle service with railcars and is an example where rail patronage has grown by 1300% since 2003. Why not West Auckland?

Help your community get a decent commuter rail service:

Sign our online petition. Tell your Councillor and MP’s you want the Western Connector rail service. To get involved Contact Us Here!

23 Mar

Communities Unite for “Western Connector” Trains

Over 120 people attended a lively public transport meeting in Kumeu last night calling for improved public transport to this rapidly growing area on Auckland’s fringe.Image courtesy of M Kilgour

About 2,500 additional houses are being planned under the Special Housing Area deal implementing the Housing Accord of the Council and Government, in addition to about 2,500 new houses already being built in the area.

The meeting was unanimous in support for PTUA’s ‘Western Connector’ proposal, to utilise the current railway line going through the heart of the area, as well as existing stations and diesel rolling stock.

Those attending last night’s meeting, arranged by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), and the North-West Districts Business Association were concerned at the lack of viable public transport options despite the rapid growth happening in the area.

Christine Rose, chairwoman of the PTUA says “doing nothing is not an option, but that’s what Auckland Transkumeu-public-meeting005port propose, with no investment in improved public transport services, park and rides or other facilities planned”. “We have the equivalent of a small Auckland town moving into our area but no improvement in public services to meet this growth. The people of this wider area clearly reject that ‘lack of planning’. It’s unsustainable, inefficient, and uneconomic to fast track all this growth without decent services – and yet all the infrastructure prerequisites are in place”.

PTUA co-ordinator, Jon Reeves says “Rail services to Kumeu were seen as a necessary investment by transport authorities, right up until 2013 when these plans were surreptitiously removed from plans”. “In an absolutely retrograde move, Auckland Transport has wiped planned services to Kumeu, and will scrub existing services to Waitakere from mid 2015”.

Waitakere residents are especially concerned, given many invested in the area because of the rail service, though they admit the way it has been run down, with services cancelled and passengers ejected elsewhere on the line have eroded confidence in AT’s commitment to the line.kumeu-public-meeting006
The Public Transport Users Association proposes the ‘Western Connector’ as a public transport solution for the area. This would entail regular, reliable, hourly shuttle services between Swanson and Kumeu, stopping at Waitakere, using existing rail rolling stock, lines and platforms, thereby providing a sustainable service at marginal cost.

Reeves said, “We have reviewed the costs Auckland Transport used as a decision to cut Kumeu out of the rail development plans and have quickly found $14 million in over inflated and inappropriately allocated costs to kill off the sensible rail option. We are calling upon AT to immediately review the costs and benefits based on our findings and the fact the report undertaken in 2012 was made before the Special Housing Areas were planned and approved for Huapai.

Even if a couple of bus lanes are built, trains are still 15 to 25 minutes faster to key Western employment, shopping and leisure points such as Henderson, New Lynn, Kingsland, Grafton and Newmarket. You cannot beat the congestion free option rail can deliver to the people of North West Auckland.”

Mrs Rose, a public transport user, says ‘Bus service improvements are also an important part of meeting the area’s sustainable transport needs. But at the moment buses are caught in general congestion which sometimes stretches from Kumeu right into the city 35km away”. “AT and NZTA have no real concrete plans for bus ways to improve running times and to provide a congestion free route”. “Services to the western employment areas require long journeys by bus with multiple stops and swopping buses to get to your destination” “We already have a direct congestion free route– the railway line, and we should be making better use of that. This also has the advantage of providing a good transport option for the many major events held in Kumeu throughout the year, such as the Kumeu Show, the Folk Festival, hot rod shows, and more”.

PTUA are presenting to Auckland Council’s Infrastructure meeting on the results of their meeting and the ‘Western Connector’ proposal on Wednesday morning.

ENDS

27 Feb

Public Meeting Kumeu Community Hall March 23rd

Waitakere and Huapai Kumeu trains

Important Public Meeting, should AT offer rail services to Kumeu-Huapai and save Waitakere station from the axe?

TONIGHT, Monday, 23rd March, 7:30pm, Kumeu Community Hall, 35 Access Rd, Kumeu.