Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Pukekohe to Huapai rail line suggested

An artist's impression of the new train station being built at Pukekohe. Image / Supplied
An artist's impression of the new train station being built at Pukekohe. Image / Supplied

As Auckland heads into March madness, a proposal has come forward for a new train service between Pukekohe and Huapai.

March Madness - the perfect storm of public transport users and motorists creating chaos on the city's transport arteries, and a new rail timetable on March 12 - will place more pressure on the city's new electric train fleet, says the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

It is proposing a new service between Pukekohe and Huapai using some of the city's old diesel locomotive train fleet owned by Auckland Transport and currently in storage in Taumarunui.

The PTUA said it would serve a rapidly growing region suffering chronic congestion on State Highway 16 and require only one slot on the western and southern line in each direction per hour for hourly trains from Huapai - about 15km west of Swanson where the western line currently finishes.

PTUA chair Christine Rose said the service would address current capacity problems - rail patronage soared to 18 million journeys in the year to December 2016 - and provide a seamless journey from one end of Auckland to the other without having to change trains.

Existing commuters have to change trains at Newmarket when travelling from south to west, and at Papakura when travelling to and from Pukekohe.

However, an Auckland Transport spokesman said the diesel trains did not meet fire safety standards to use the Waitakere tunnel and it would cost millions of dollars to bring the tunnel and trains up to scratch.

He said Auckland Transport, New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Council were working through the best transport options for the Whenuapai, Red Hills, Riverhead, Kumeu and Huapai areas.

"We have considered improvements to the rail network and tying into the proposed busway along SH16 from Westgate to the CBD and SH18 from Westgate to Albany.

"The extension of the busway along SH16 and SH18 would provide public transport to the employment centres on the North Shore and to the CBD within about 45 to 55 minutes.

"The rail network is a single line to Swanson so it would also take significantly longer to get to the CBD and would probably only be able to provide an hourly service from Huapai to Swanson," the spokesman said.

- NZ Herald

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