Onehunga Monthly Update: Dream On


Every month, I take photos of the site of the new Onehunga railway station, the old ITM building.

I wasn’t going to publish this week’s ones because the news concerning the new line is all too depressing, but as my last month’s photo has resurfaced elsewhere this weekend (BTW, my friend, that’s cool but don’t forget the required Creative Commons site attribution), I will reluctantly show you the latest in the sorry saga.

One Saturday, back in late November, there was a sign of action, with workers dumping stuff on the site and looking as if they were celebrating the start of work there.

Workers arrive in November to start work. Well, maybe

This was a great improvement on how things were in August, last year, when it was desolate:

Onehunga August 2009

After the busy Christmas extended holiday rail development, one hoped there would be signs of life again. On January 29, the workers had vanishes but are there tracks lying there? That’s a start.

A month ago, things looked rather familiar:

And this week you could conclude, I was just recycling the same photo over and over again:

March 2010 - all locked up

The new maps in the trains say the Brown Line is coming mid-year:

But we can suspect:

  • If there was united political will to meet that deadline, there would have been more action
  • We know this is the black - or should that be the brown sheep in the Auckland rail family
  • On November 10, ARTA held a meeting with residents concerned about the proposal and concerned residents from the nearby apartment blocks also spoke that month to the Maungakiekie Community Board
  • There has been very slow action sorting out resource consent issues
  • Some business people remain unhappy with the siting of the new station
  • There have been demands for not just a platform, but a shopping complex of sorts to liven that part of the street
  • Work began on Te Papapa and Penrose  platforms  (corrected)
  • There is no sign of a Mt Smart stop being included in the plan, despite the use that could be made from mid-year as a stop for Warriors game patrons
  • The plan to move the historic Onehunga station from where it is used by the Railway Enthusiasts Society in Alfred Station to be a feature of the site, came to nought, at least for now, because of the society’s concerns about ownership of the heritage building,  physical access and security, funding of relocation and ongoing costs
  • To put it bluntly, the Western line performance alone has fallen apart  this year, with ongoing breakdowns, signal faults, operational issues leading to cancellations and delays. Sadly, but realistically, any more pressure on the rail network while it’s still under development and awaiting rolling stock is too scary to imagine. If there’s any announcement that Onehunga may be delayed further,  weary commuters may decide that’s a good thing, rather than jump and down and protest.
  • Expect public noises soon that it’s moving forward,  but, right now, it’s probably safe to conclude that the matter will continue to drift,  and be left for the new Auckland Transport body to address, even though some of those members of that could well be the same Arta people who have some responsibility now.




  1. Geoff says:

    Are you sure about shelters going up at Penrose and Te Papapa? Last I looked both station work sites had been abandoned since November 2009. The pedestrian crossing upgrades on the line have also been abandoned, since about August 2009. AFAICT the “mid 2010″ goal has been put back about a year, with the line likely to open in mid 2011.

  2. Geoff says:

    Forgot to add - the construction staff being at Onehunga is due to the fact that Ontrack have made the old ITM building a project DART depot. Various staff around Auckland are currently based there, and they also assemble turnouts and diamonds there.

  3. Patricia says:

    What is the problem? No funding? Or is the contractor just out to rip the gov’t or owner? Seems like no one is moving their feet out there!

  4. jarbury says:

    Maybe ARTA staff are spending all their time debating with the Auckland Transition Agency how Auckland Transport will be structured. Meaning they have no time to do their actual job?

    That is certainly what I have heard is happening at various councils around Auckland.

  5. bob says:

    Jarbury has (partly) nailed it. The prospect of losing their jobs has sharpened the vigor of ARTA staff, if not their minds ;( But the problem is older - ARTA & Veolia have still not worked out how to fit extra Onehunga trains in to Britomart (which is where the sign shows them going).

    And to be fair, all the track & signals staff were tasked onto the Khyber Pass & Newmarket & Parnell tunnel works over Christmas, and they struggled to finish that on time. I wouldn’t have wanted them on Onehunga then, though they could start now ;)

    I do hope they resite Onehunga station along Princes St, which is straight(!!!!) and level and the closest to Dressmart mall (the biggest shopping drawcard in Onehunga). There is actually little foot traffic at the ITM end of Onehunga Mall - it’s mostly industrial warehouses. That should also cut out most concerns of the apartment dwellers.

  6. Geoff says:

    “ARTA & Veolia have still not worked out how to fit extra Onehunga trains in to Britomart”

    I seriously doubt that is true, as even with 2tph from Onehunga, Britomart is still within capacity. Such a reason would also not result in construction work halting. The reasons are simply that the council has waited far too long to start on the stations, and Ontrack have never allocated dedicated time to the project, choosing instead to do it in small bits and pieces over a three year period.

  7. Andrew says:

    Let’s hope Onehunga construction springs to life the day after Grafton is finished. Hopefully the Grafton crew will be assigned to Onehunga.

  8. Kurt says:

    On the positive side Te Papa was being worked on this weekend with a path being laid and concreted from Mays Road to the station. Penrose looked fairly much deserted though.

    Come on ARC sort it out!!

  9. bob says:

    Geoff, ask ARTA - if you get an answer, which I doubt you will, they should tell you they are still trying to work out how to fit Onehunga trains into Britomart on top of West, South and East trains.

    “I seriously doubt that is true, as even with 2tph from Onehunga, Britomart is still within capacity.”

    Ummm, no. Veolia currently run 30 trains per hour (tph) into Britomart, and once the West line doubling is done, that should rise to 36tph (6tph each way, on each of the 3 current routes - West, South and East). That is Britomart’s maximum capacity under it’s present configuration. They are investigating other options to raise it, but nothing definite.

    So 2tph from Onehunga will cause a traffic jam at Britomart’s entry tunnel, but only in peak times. Alternatives are to shorten the Onehunga service to Newmarket, or even Penrose, which would ease congestion and cut operating costs. However, it may reduce demand if people have to transfer (oh, the horror! ;) )

    Ideally it would be an Onehunga-Penrose shuttle, but this reveals the low patronage a short branch line will likely attract (until it’s extended to the Airport ;) ). Running Onehunga-Britomart masks the small number of passengers getting on/off at Te Papapa or Onehunga by adding on the passengers picked up between Penrose and Britomart - all counted as part of ‘Onehunga service’ patronage.

    Same thing applies for the Manukau City branch line, built for ex-mayor Barry Curtis’ ego. Shows the desperate need for better overall planning, so branch lines are part of a clear plan to rapidly expand to a viable length. Even extending Onehunga line over the water to Mangere Bridge would tap into 10,000 more people, and offer a park’n'ride option that doesn’t involve crossing the peak congested Manukau harbour bridge. Especially as all Mangere-Onehunga buses already have bus stops right by where the Rimu Rd-Mahunga Dr rail station would go…

  10. Joshua says:

    Bob, yes but what does sorting out train flows have anything to do with constructing the statios? They can sort it out after the stations are built if need be.

  11. Nick R says:

    Bob, to be fair that is 15 tph at Britomart, not 30, 15 trains in and the same 15 trains out again.

    Apparently the proposed signalling upgrades around Quay Park will up the limit to 20 tph, which is right on the limit with six trains and hour on the three main lines plus two and hour to Onehunga.

  12. Geoff says:

    “Veolia currently run 30 trains per hour (tph) into Britomart…”

    Nope, they run up to 14tph into Britomart currently, but it has capacity for 18tph presently, and up to 24tph with the new signals and points coming into use.

    The addition of 2tph from Onehunga only puts the total at 16tph.

  13. bob says:

    Joshua - yes, Ontrack & Veolia/ARTA can build platforms and sort new timetables at the same time, but they actually build platforms faster than timetables ;( (Veolia claimed a while back that it took them 5 months to prep a new timetable). So the bottleneck on Onehunga rail right now is sorting where the trains will run to, and the format of Onehunga platforms.

    Nick R - correct, though I prefer to use the less ambiguous terminology of 30tph meaning 30 trains moving in or out. I’ve heard both 15tph and 30tph used, but saying 15tph is vague and less intuitive, as whoever hears that must know that it refers to 15 trains moving in AND out of Britomart. It is also inconsistent when used on through stations, as you can have an uneven number of train movements in each track direction - would you call it 3.5tph if you had 3 trains going West through Mt Eden and 4 trains going East? Better to label it 7tph meaning just 7 train movements in any direction - there should be no assumption of return train movement.

    But all that aside, we now have 3 claimed maximum train movements for Britomart, with (in Nick R’s terminology) my 18tph, Nick R’s 20tph and Geoff’s 24tph. It would help if ARTA and/or Veolia could give accurate information on what they think the current (and short-term future) maximums are… as there is a problem with Onehunga going into Britomart for the lower figure, and no problem for the higher figures.


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