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Ask Phoebe: Diesel saves time on train

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Switch to electric engines on Northern Explorer route would eat into timetable too much.

The Northern Explorer crosses the Hapuawhenua Viaduct.
The Northern Explorer crosses the Hapuawhenua Viaduct.

Last year we had an enjoyable trip on the Northern Explorer train from Auckland to Wellington. As there are electrical overhead power wires above the line from Hamilton to Wellington, why was the train hauled by two diesel locomotives? We asked the carriage staff and they said that the overhead power was unsuitable for the carriages. Surely when we are trying to reduce our usage of diesel fuel, the train should be hauled by electric locomotives? Has KiwiRail got the correct answer and are they planning to use electric locomotives in the future?

Barbara & Mike Austin, Northland.

The information your carriage attendant had was incorrect. A spokesman for KiwiRail says that the drivers/engineers switch from diesel to electric locomotives at Te Rapa, just north of Hamilton, and back again to diesel at Palmerston North.

The completion of Auckland's electrification leaves a gap of 87km between Papakura and the central North Island Main Trunk line electrification at Te Rapa.

An investigation into electrifying the line south from Papakura to Pukekohe is in Auckland Transport's 10-year programme. However, KiwiRail runs the Northern Explorer all the way through from Auckland to Wellington (681km) on a diesel locomotive. The journey is quite a long one and by not changing locomotives it minimises the amount of time needed for the stops at these two centres.

I've noticed a lovely newly-completed stretch of what looks like a cycle/walkway running from Lincoln Rd motorway interchange in towards Te Atatu. As a keen commuter cyclist, who travels from Westgate to the city, I wondered when it's likely to be opened. Are there plans to have a dedicated cycleway going right through to the Te Atatu interchange in the future?

Stephanie Dixon, West Auckland.

The Transport Agency says this is a new section of the Northwestern cycleway on the new Henderson Creek Bridge that has just been opened. The agency says it is part of a much larger programme under way or about to begin to improve other sections of the cycleway on the motorway causeway and at the interchanges at Lincoln Rd, Te Atatu and St Lukes. As well, work to extend the cycleway down Grafton Gully into the CBD is well under way.

I was wondering why there don't seem to be any rubbish bins on College Hill in St Mary's Bay. I have noticed at bus stops here people often make neat little piles of rubbish as there is nowhere else to put it.

Julia Newall, Herne Bay.

Auckland Council is responsible for servicing public rubbish bins at bus stops, which deal with rubbish from foot traffic.

The council does take recommendations on providing bins, and any suggestions will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

The council's parks department has, in contrast, taken a behaviour-change approach in removing some litter bins in parks, with patrons being encouraged to "pack in and pack out".

- NZ Herald

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