Auck­land train use full steam ahead

Central Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - ADAM JA­COB­SON

Train pa­tron­age is on the rise across Auck­land, and de­mand is ex­pected to swell over the com­ing decades.

Auck­land’s train net­work hit 20 mil­lion trips taken in one year on Thurs­day, a fig­ure which wasn’t ex­pected to be reached for an­other three years.

Pas­sen­ger num­bers have steadily in­creased by about 20 per cent each year, with im­proved rail in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment and road con­ges­tion fu­elling us­age.

Growth came at such an un­ex­pect­edly high rate that Auck­land Coun­cil needed to grant $207 mil­lion to­wards pur­chas­ing 17 new trains in or­der to meet de­mand.

Fore­casts from a joint Auck­land Trans­port (AT) and Ki­wirail plan are pre­dict­ing rail pa­tron­age to dras­ti­cally in­crease over the com­ing 30 years, with an ex­pected 30 mil­lion board­ings by 2025 and hit­ting 60 mil­lion by 2045.

The Auck­land Rail Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme ( ARDP) out­lined the in­fra­struc­ture re­quired to man­age this high level of de­mand.

ARDP’s key ini­tia­tives in­cluded a com­pleted CRL, new park and ride fa­cil­i­ties and sta­tion en­hance­ments at New­mar­ket, elec­tri­fy­ing the Pukekohe to Pa­pakura line and adding ad­di­tional ser­vices from west to east.

Ex­clud­ing the CRL, the com­pleted ARDP was es­ti­mated to cost $3.5 bil­lion. The CRL is ex­pected to cost about the same.

Auck­land mayor Phil Goff said while 2045 was a while off, the city needed plans such as the ARDP to pre­pare for a time when Auck­land’s pop­u­la­tion would reach about 2 mil­lion peo­ple.

‘‘What we need is the CRL done as quickly as pos­si­ble, we need light rail par­tic­u­larly from the city cen­tre to the air­port, and right around the city,’’ Goff said.

He also em­pha­sised the need for im­proved bus routes as a mea­sure to cope with in­creas­ing train de­mand. Goff wel­comed many of the mea­sures which had been promised by po­lit­i­cal par­ties dur­ing cam­paign­ing, aimed to ad­dress the trans­port in­fra­struc­ture needs of Auck­land.

AT spokesman James Ire­land said given the cur­rent year on year pa­tron­age growth a re­view on cur­rent pro­jec­tions would be un­der­taken.

‘‘Once the re­view is com­pleted, de­ci­sions will be made as to whether cer­tain in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments need to be brought for­ward.’’

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