NZTA, Kiwi Rail and Auckland Transport close ranks
The Auckland Transport Alignment Accord had placed the construction of the Third Main from Westfield to Pukekohe staged over 30 years with the first section between Westfield and Wiri to be done by 2018.
The purpose of the Third Main for the Southern Line is to untangle the increasing amount of freight trains (a good thing) with the increasing amount of passenger trains (also a good thing). Remembering one 3-car passenger train fully loaded takes 288 cars off the Southern Motorway while a 50-wagon Metro Port (Auckland to Tauranga) container freight train can take between 50-100 trucks also off the Southern Motorway.
While talk of the Third Main has been ongoing for a while it seems a resolution might be closer than we expect.
KiwiRail investigates splitting freight and commuter services as congestion grows
KiwiRail are investigating how to split Auckland’s freight and commuter services as they deal with huge growth on the network.
Currently all trains share the same tracks in to and out of New Zealand’s biggest city.
Congestion is especially bad in south Auckland, with trains fighting for space on the tracks.
Regarding south Auckland, KiwiRail was working with transport agencies to investigate the benefits of a third track between Westfield and Wiri.
This had an estimated cost of between $55 million to $65m.
“The rail corridor has an ability to grow to meet future demands and constructing the right infrastructure for allowing passenger and freight to move simultaneously will be key to supporting that demand.”
Auckland Transport also refused to be interviewed, with media relations manager Mark Hannan referring detailed comment to KiwiRail.
In a statement, Hannan said work with KiwiRail had been ongoing for two years on how to manage additional capacity, with the focus on the southern line.
Transportblog.co.nz editor Matt Lowrie said the work was vital to Auckland’s growth and the improvement of the rail network.
The introduction of new trains had improved problems with the commuter service but congestion would only get worse once the rail loop was complete.
It was not hugely costly for the benefit it would bring and just needed a funding sign off.
“Everyone agrees it’s needed and it needs to happen as soon as possible, it’s just a matter of who pays for it.”
With Auckland Transport, NZTA and Kiwi Rail all closing ranks (don’t usually get all three doing that all at once on a subject) I wonder if we are waiting for the Ministers of Finance and Transport to sign off of the first part of the Third Main once negotiations on cost sharing and any land acquisitions with land owners are complete (if not already done so).
It seems something is in the wind because we need the first part of the Third Main (Westfield to Wiri) as well as Pukekohe electrification within the next THREE YEARS not the next ten given the growth the South is facing.
Suppose we will know soon enough.