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:

16 Jul

Western Passengers Face Rail Cuts

waitakere-ripped-offWestern Passengers Face Rail Cuts. Commuters, communities and ratepayers are angry at Auckland Transport’s axing of all Waitakere trains from tomorrow.

After 133 years service the last commuter train will roll out of Waitakere station all because of an outdated, over-inflated report commissioned and signed off by the Board of Auckland Transport in early 2013.

The Public Transport Users Association has highlighted to the Board the many errors which worked against retaining Waitakere Station and extending commuter services to the growing North West Auckland communities of Huapai and Kumeu.

Auckland Transport’s Board decision rejecting rail services to the North West had nothing to do with benefiting passengers, nor the communities in the Nor West. In fact it will potentially turn many rail passengers off public transport all together. Since that report we’ve also had a Special Housing Area confirmed and more in the process for Huapai and surrounds. All these developments plus the flaws highlighted by the Public Transport Users Association defy logic for cutting back Auckland’s rail network at Waitakere, the first cut back of rail services in over 30 years, affecting one of the fastest growing areas in the region.

The PTUA has surveyed hundreds of passengers over the past 6 months who use Waitakere and Swanson stations. The fundamental reason why passengers have ceased using Waitakere station is the clear mismanagement by design on the part of Auckland Transport. “AT’s own data reveals the huge scale of train cancellations designed to make catching trains at Waitakere a gamble”.
“Passengers never know if they’ll get to work or school on time, or be able to get home in the evening. The bus replacement option is a joke, slow, inconvenient and unable to carry bikes, pushchairs or wheelchairs for disabled passengers” says Christine Rose, Chair of the PTUA.

DMU Auckland courtesy of M KilgourThe PTUA has proposed the “Western Connector”, a regular diesel rail shuttle, between Huapai and Swanson connecting with the electric rail network. This is exactly the same concept as now operates at the southern end of the line between Papakura and Pukekohe and a good interim service until one day when electrification can be extended further west. “Trains are significantly faster than buses from Huapai to every single Western Line destination, including Newmarket, especially with recently announced added delays to the North Western bus service.

Jon Reeves said, “Auckland Transport should be a champion of the public transport user! AT’s continuing disservice to the rail passengers of Waitakere and further West is anything other than putting customers first.”

Due to a continuing campaign by the PTUA, Auckland Transport recently has decided to take another look at developments in Huapai-Kumeu and public transport needs. “PTUA has asked AT to advise us of the scope of the review. We want to make sure they do not use the outdated, flawed report as reference again and that they include a review of our common sense Western Connector proposal” says Mr Reeves.

“Every Local Board approached and the Auckland Council Infrastructure Committee agrees with us and our concerns. It is now time for Auckland Transport to prove they listen to the community it is supposed to serve.” said Reeves.

Click Here to sign our petition. 

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.

25 May

Funeral Service Mourns Demise of Nor-West Rail

waitakere-ripped-offThe Public Transport Users Association is holding a funeral service to mark the demise of Nor-West rail options, with the closure of Waitakere station as currently planned by Auckland Transport. Mourners will travel by train from Waitakere Station to Britomart, and the Auckland Transport offices in QE2 Square.

Waitakere train station was opened in 1881, but will be closed in July this year. This decision is also the death knell for passenger services at the next stop on the line, at Huapai-Kumeu, a significant greenfields and Special Housing growth area on Auckland’s fringe.

Waitakere rail station was upgraded with a new sealed carpark and other improvements in 2013, and a new station was built in Huapai in 2008, “meaning good infrastructure currently exists to support the continued and expanded Nor-West service” says PTUA chair, Christine Rose. She says “We’ve got the railway line, the stations, the rolling stock, and the population growth”. “To close the line and options for expansion, is dead thinking”.

waitakere invite funeral

PTUA co-ordinator Jon Reeves says the organisation hopes Auckland Transport will review their decision to pull the plug on the area’s public transport life support system, given that decision was based on outdated and overinflated information – information that the AT Board have committed to review. “At the time the report damning NorWest rail was written, the current growth boom in Kumeu-Huapai had not begun. The SHAs had never been imagined.” “But the report also gold-plated the infrastructure requirements. We’re looking at a low cost public transport solution using existing resources, that require virtually no infrastructure upgrades”.

DMU Auckland courtesy of M KilgourChristine Rose, a long-time local resident and public transport user, and a former District and Regional Councillor for the Kumeu area, says “the Council and the Government are looking for solutions to transport issues related with SHAs in the Kumeu district. PTUA provides the answer with the ‘Western Connector’, our low-cost, resource efficient proposal for passenger rail.” “The answer is obvious. No new tracks, stations or trains are needed on this dedicated, congestion-free line.”

Funeral trains are nothing new for the North Auckland line. In the early 20th century, coffins were carried from Auckland to Waikumete (Waikumiti), in both general services and special funeral trains.

The PTUA Nor-West Rail funeral service and cortege will leave Waitakere Station on the 6.58 train service on 4 June, arriving Britomart at 8am, proceeding to the Auckland Transport offices for a short service.

 PTUA say they will be hoping for a resurrection of the service when AT review the issue sometime this year. “We’d be happy to bring this service back from the dead, and breathe some life back into public transport rail services to the Nor-West.”

Click Here to sign our Petition!

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!

22 Mar

Petition to Retain and Improve West Auckland Rail

Image courtesy of M Kilgour

Petition
Copyright M KilgourI, the undersigned, would like the board of Auckland Transport to undertake to continue the regular commuter rail services to Waitakere railway station, and as rail services to key western destinations are faster than any bus service, to extend passenger rail services to the existing Huapai railway station site.

I would also like Auckland Transport to undertake a study for the design and construction of a mini bus/rail interchange at Huapai station enabling passengers who live in Riverhead, Waimauku, Helensville and surrounding areas to transfer to either mode.

Fields marked with an * are required
14 Dec

WestRail Campaign Attracts Support Amid Claims of Dereliction of Duty

WestRail

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is reporting a groundswell of support for its campaign for rail to serve the growing town of Huapai-Kumeu on Auckland’s western edge.

This is amidst claims from both the community and PTUA that Auckland Transport is failing to take the area’s public transport needs seriously.

The area is the site of two of the Council and Government’s fast-tracked Special Housing Areas, (SHAs) which will bring an estimated 2250 new houses to the area, in addition to existing residences and another thousand currently under construction.

Local resident, PTUA Chair and former Auckland Regional Council Transport Committee head, Christine Rose, says the significant growth in the area offers an opportunity for public transport to support good urban design, walking and cycling, and resulting economic benefits. “Using the existing rail line that runs through town, and the existing station and rolling stock to support all this growth will add resilience and improved accessibility to residents”. “It’s an efficient use of existing infrastructure and offers much more capacity than local congested roading network”.

“The campaign to retain and extend rail services to Waitakere and Huapai-Kumeu is attracting great local support, as well as the buy-in of Auckland Councillors and Local Board members”, says Mrs Rose.

Jon Reeves, PTUA co-ordinator, says the results from the organisation’s surveys of local public transport users, indicates strong support for retention of rail services to Waitakere and their extension to Huapai-Kumeu as was indicated in Auckland Transport’s Passenger Transport Plan for decades, but strangely cancelled last year. He says AT cost estimates of passenger rail services to Huapai-Kumeu are wildly overstated and therefore set up a false comparision between bus and rail. “Meanwhile, Auckland Transport has failed to take seriously, the need for bus priority, to make it a realistically viable option from the area, with abysmal amenities and tortuous routes. Yet they suggest this is a better option than rail”.

Waitakere respondents to PTUA surveys report years of delayed and cancelled services, with passengers dumped at Henderson and Swanson stations to make up time in the network. But Mrs Rose says poor services should be improved, not cancelled altogether. “In fact, providing diesel shuttles to run between Huapai-Kumeu and Swanson will solve that problem because they can run independently of the wider network.”

PTUA reports that people are appalled the Waitakere service is to be cut, rather than extended to Huapai given the growth in the area. “People are hearing from us, rather than AT, about the planned cancellation of services next year” says Mr Reeves. “Auckland Transport are derelict in their duty to consult on the future of rail services to the area, as well as in their failure to provide decent services and infrastructure to this significant population”.
ENDS

Contact
Jon Reeves
Christine Rose 021 056 3784, 4125668

NOTES
The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is a politically independent, voluntary incorporated society and is run by a committee.
The PTUA represents current and future public transport users. It promotes public transport use to ensure councils, transport agencies and central Government listen to bus, train and ferry users.