Trial benefits few, set up for failure
I was umming and ooo-ing on whether to comment on the Hamilton to Papakura passenger rail service trial that was announced today. Given comments seen I decided that yes a counter-comment was needed.
What NZTA and Transport Minister Phil Twyford have basically announced that for five years starting 2020 a twice-morning and twice-evening (so peaks only) Hamilton to Papakura passenger rail service would be trialled.
Radio New Zealand had more here: Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail business case approved
It should be known that there will be NO MORNING SERVICES from Papakura to Hamilton so if I wanted to go down to Hamilton in the morning I would need to drive and I believe weekend services are limited if any (one Saturday service only). The train also stops at Papakura meaning if you need the Eastern Line you are up for a double transfer while the trip time is around is around 2:20 hours (to Britomart).
Hardly competitive in its proposed form and Minister Twyford would have been better to wait an extra year to get the following for the Hamilton to PUHINUI passenger service:
- An hourly all day service including weekends from Hamilton to Puhinui Station and vice versa
- Puhinui is used as the service would connect with both Southern and Eastern Line trains as well as the then newly opened Airport to Botany Rapid Transit line allowing connections to Manukau and the Airport
- Instead of 2:20 hours as is currently being proposed new rolling stock could have been brought in to get the trip to just under 90 minutes
- Better station upgrades and all Waikato stations open rather than a select few
- New nationwide public transport ticketing system to be rolled out from 2021
Basically the foundations of a reliable starter service until urban development and patronage warrant expansion of services.
Minister Twyford has always said Do It Right First Time – every time OR Build it Right First Time! That rallying cry forms a key foundation in making sure Airport to Botany is Light Rail from get go. The rallying cry should also be the foundation plank for inter city rail – except it has been ignored for expediency from the Waikato.
Poor use of resources and poor understanding of basic urban and transport geographies in establishing inter city rail does not help a scheme at all. Not when with a bit of patience (an extra year to allow Airport to Botany to open) and a bit of extra OPEX for hourly services was not a lot to ask for.
Come on Phil, follow your rally cry please.