Auckland train use full steam ahead
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.’’