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Ask Phoebe: Train excursions nothing for other rail users to get steamed up about

By Phoebe Falconer

Now we're getting great-looking rail stations, particularly Newmarket and the soon-to-be-finished underground one in New Lynn, what will happen when steam train excursions with their soot, wet steam and pollution go through these stations? Or do we all hold our breath?

Will steam trains be allowed through these stations? I wouldn't think anyone - passengers or ARTA - would welcome this. David Hallett, Henderson.

I took this question to ARTA (Auckland Regional Transport Authority), which passed it on to KiwiRail, as the track provider for organisations such as Mainline Steam, which runs those excellent excursions.

It seems that neither Newmarket nor New Lynn is an underground station, in the sense that we would think of tube stations in London as underground.

New Lynn will be in a trench below ground level, with only a small section covered, and Newmarket is sufficiently ventilated so a passing steam train won't present any problems.

The excursion trains generally leave via the waterfront and return via Newmarket.

By doing this, the locomotives are drifting as they pass through Newmarket, and frequently put out fewer emissions than a diesel engine.

As well, the Mainline Steam Heritage Trust encourages its locomotive crews to manage smoke emissions and keep them to the lowest possible level.

As a rule excursion trains leave early in the morning and get back late in the evening on weekends, so there are fewer commuter passengers at any of the stations.

Are there any plans to widen Church St between Captain Springs Rd and Galway St?

Church St is a busy arterial route through Onehunga with many large trucks and buses using it. There is little room for vehicles in both directions, particularly when cars are parked on both sides of the road.

This, together with the speed at which many of the vehicles travel along here, make it dangerous for residents turning into or reversing out of driveways. Kathryn Arnold, Onehunga.

Auckland City Council knows Church St is narrow through here, but it considers its primary role at this stage is as a commuter route.

The good news - sort of - is that the council has a concept plan for Onehunga town centre, which includes this section of Church St. The plan includes a wider carriageway, with two traffic lanes, cycle lanes and indented parking on both sides.

The not-so-good news is that the transit from concept to reality is not on the plan for the next financial year, as Neilson St improvements take priority.

When travelling in a right (or left) turning-only lane, it seems superfluous to use your turning indicators. But is it a requirement to do so? Maurie Jeffrey, Milford.

Yes, it is. The Road Code states clearly that you must signal for at least three seconds before you turn left or right, as you cannot always assume other drivers know the lane you are in is for one particular manouevre.

And it's not a big ask. Your indicators won't wear out, you know.

I am concerned about the nice white flowers that have appeared on many of the large shrubs and trees along the motorway border between Takanini and Greenlane. The flowers belong to Araujia sericifera, aka the kapok or moth plant. The flowers turn into pods which burst and spread millions of seeds. Who is responsible for motorway verges and the removal of noxious plants? Marian Smith, Takanini.

The Auckland Motorway Alliance is. The AMA is an association of groups including the Transport Agency, Fulton Hogan, Opus International Consultants, Beca, Resolve Group and Armitage Systems.

Its primary objective is to provide a clean and pleasant motorway network by maintaining road surfaces, bridges, lighting, retaining walls, signs, rogue vegetation and the like - everything, in fact, but major capital projects.

As the AMA is in the throes of a pest plant removal scheme, in conjunction with the ARC, it'll be dealing to the pesky moth plant soon. For similar issues, phone the AMA on (09) 539-9100.

- NZ Herald

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