Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Auckland Rail System

In the 1980s, New Zealand embarked in a zealous plan to deregulate anything and everything. New Zealand's rail network became a victim of privatization in 1993. The rail system entered a 10 year period of "deferred maintenance" with the private corporation running the system into the ground. See the lack of investment in rail, New Zealand's central government bought back the rail network infrastructure in 2004 and in 2008 basically re-nationalized rail under the name KiwiRail. This is important to note because Auckland's public transit rail network infrastructure is owned and maintained by KiwiRail.

Current Rapid Transit Network: Solid Red
Proposed Rapid Transit Network: Hashed Black
Future Rapid Transit Network: Hashed Red
Seeing the sorry state of public transit usage in Auckland, the regional and central government embarked on a 1.6 billion dollar upgrade of the rail network in the region. The upgrades includes $500m to electrify the network, $500m for new electric trains (EMUs), and $600m for Project DART which include:

-The redevelopment of Newmarket Station and Junction completed in January 2010
-The double-tracking of Western line from Newmarket to Swanson completed in June 2010
-The re-opening of the Onehunga branch line in September 2010
-The new Manukau rail link which will be completed in 2011

The suite of projects will be completed by 2013. The next major rail project is a 3 kilometre double tracked rail tunnel in Auckland's Central Business District which is estimated to cost between $1.99b and $2.38b and proposed to open in 2021. Auckland has certainly embraced rail as an essential part of growing transit usage in the region and it is already starting to pay off.
Almost five million extra journeys were made on public transport during the last calendar year, with big increases in passengers pushing numbers to the highs of the 1950s.

Auckland Transport released a patronage report today that shows total passenger numbers reached 64.07 million in the 12 months to the end of February, an increase of 8.3 per cent on last year.

Highlights include:

Northern Express bus passenger numbers for February increased 20.7 per cent on February 2010. Total Northern Express for the past 12 months reached 1.97 million passengers

Total bus patronage exceeded 50 million. An increase of 3.36 million boardings or 7.5 per cent growth

Rail patronage reached 9.2 million for the past 12 months with passenger numbers for the month of February up 17.9 per cent on February 2010. For the first time one million journeys were reached on rail in one month.

Rail patronage on the Western Line for the month of February increased 25.6 per cent on February 2010 to reach 305,208.

Ferry patronage totalled 4.6 million for the 12 months to February, with passenger numbers for the month up 12.6 per cent on February 2010

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