If it involves trains and history, Alex Burgess wants to be part of it. Today, he will be.
The 21-year-old and thousands of other train enthusiasts will ride into Auckland transport history when passenger-carrying electric trains roll along the city's rail network for the first time.
Auckland Transport gave away 5,000 tickets for rides on the train today, a day before normal paying services begin on the Onehunga line. Two of the fast, quiet trains will run 20-minute return trips between Britomart and Newmarket.
Burgess will be on the second train to cruise out of the station. The University of Auckland computer science student is well known to city trainspotters through his website nzrailphotos.co.nz and Facebook page. He will have his camera packed to capture snaps of the trains' first official outing.
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"I'm definitely excited. This is a very historic moment for Auckland and it will be a good thing for Auckland."
The $1.14 billion electrification project received the green light in 2007. Fifty-seven electric trains, each carrying up to 375 passengers, will eventually serve the network. The Eastern line will get trains next, later this year. The Southern and Western lines will follow next year.
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said electrification will cut about 10 minutes from the journey between Papakura and Britomart.
The planned city rail loop linking Britomart and Mt Eden would allow trains to move through Britomart, rather than having to backtrack, allowing more train services, Hannan said.
"People will notice a small decrease in their journeys, but it's more likely they'll simply notice, in time, more trains."
• For train schedules, click here.