The Issue with Auckland Rail

Advancing a Good System to a First Class System


Note: It has been brought to my attention that BR:AKL focuses heavy on rail in public transport commentary. That would be true having worked in the industry (passenger metro rail). However the lines are “open” for a bus “person” to contribute to the blog, contact me at


After watching some proverbial spankings being handed out (mainly one way) after WO’s Rail Patronage post, I sifted through the comments and plucked out a common trend that came from the comments. Now I conveyed these comments to an academic and he told me we do (which I know) have an anomaly in our public transport system that gives rise to the common trend. Now how this ties in with Good System and First Class System is a good question. The answer is it “does” because while we have a “good” basic passenger metro rail system in position, this anomaly which is caused by ideology (and nothing else) causes people to lose confidence in the rail system – thus further investment into turning a good system into a first class system.

Now with Auckland Council and Auckland Transport releasing the notification for the City Rail Link; this is where confidence building in the existing good system needs to happen if we wish to advance to a first class system.


So where is this confidence loss happening with our Good System (and also the reason why someone got a proverbial spanking that night). Well I summed up that loss with the current situation:

In short thanks to a recent ticketing change this is the situation if you want to take your family to say Santa Parade

2 Adults, 3 kids from Papakura to Britomart and back again

Cost by rail (if you did not get the inaccessible Family Pass before you travel): $53.30

Cost by car (including gas, parking and everything else) around $25 (parking sucked up most of that cost)…

So those here arguing on cost grounds – yep can understand your reasoning.

And for an example I have a meeting in Henderson today. So from Papakura to Henderson these are my costs:

Rail: Time to Henderson (and taking into account a transfer at Newmarket): Departs Papakura at 11:25am, arrives at Henderson (after transfer at Newmarket) at 1:07pm (I have to wait at Newmarket for the transfer is 23 mins) – so total travel time is 1:44 hours. Cost one way is $12.40 + $1 in gas as I would drive the Papakura Station park and ride.

To do this back to Papakura: Cost is the same so $12.40 + $1. As for travel time: Leaves Henderson at 3:45pm and will arrive in Papakura at 5:14pm (this includes a 9 minute wait at Newmarket while transferring trains) – so total travel time of 1:31 hours

Total cost for rail is $26.80. Travel time total: Varies each way but total time is 3:15hours

Car: Using State Highway 20 – 80km there and back. Parking: Free. Fuel at 14km/l =5.71l. 5.71/l at $1.959/l for 91 = $13 (take into account some low-speed and idling). Travel Time: 42 minutes each way. Maintenance and other car costs (WoF, Rego) $2.

Total for car is $15 (for all travel) at a travel time of 42mins one way (1:26 total)

So on crude terms it costs and takes me double to go by train to where I need get to (and out of luck I live near a station and my place of meeting is AT HQ right on Henderson station) compared to by car. So yeah I can see major issues here folks


Double time by train, around 1.75x the cost; and this I have not even included the time to drive to and from the Papakura Station Park and Ride and waiting time I might face at both Papakura and Henderson stations for the train.

And this was the trend that kept coming up and up again constantly (there were others but one step at a time) when the mention of rail patronage slippage happened. Usually it would be the other way around with a well-greased mass-transit system in time and cost however, ideology which has set the current policy leading to the current situation we have here in Auckland is currently in the way and not doing confidence building any favours right now.


Now in fairness to the rail system as a stand-alone (the infrastructure and operations currently in place (not I did not say fares or customer service) is basic but good. It has for the most part since 2003 when Britomart opened and with the current Project DART work happening carried out its basic purpose and function despite all sorts of problems. This is apparent with the back to back patronage growth month upon month, year upon year until the July 2012 peak to which afterwards we have now started seeing this prolonged slip. The current system is good because it has the three basic foundation backbones (The Southern, Eastern and Western Lines) with two spur lines (Onehunga and Manukau Lines) that allow for straight forward investment and expansion of the network into new areas of Auckland (The City Rail Link, The Airport Line, The North Shore Line, The Botany Line and The South West Line) without much difficulty (as you would get starting an entirely new system from scratch).


So we have a good system, and it can and will be a first class system. That will require investment as we know and are seeing coming through the pipeline and as I have noted which on the infrastructure side will bring our good basic system into a First Class Comprehensive System.

However “The Issue With Rail” still is apparent and is knocking confidence around with the current good system and getting investment for the First Class System.


Now that issue I mentioned above can basically be only dealt with by Central Government changing its mindset and ideological hell-bent. Once that bent is removed then confidence (through P/T being actually cheaper and relatively more easy to move around than the car) can be restored along with enabling our good system to become First Class System


For more on BR:AKL and the push for a fully integrated and comprehensive transport system that includes private and public transport – search this blog or ask me a question in the comments below.


One thought on “The Issue with Auckland Rail

  1. It is of note that I am presenting to the Auckland Transport Regional Public Transport Plan hearings on February 7 (as mentioned in a previous post).

    The focus on the presentation is continual advancing of the system we have got effectively pre-CRL in order to strengthen the good basic system in place already

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