Onehunga Defended


ARTA and KiwiRail today defended their decision not to make the Onehunga platform long enough for 3-car electric trains.

They claim there will not be enough passengers on the Onehunga line to justify it.

ARTA and KiwiRail insist that the new station was developed in accordance with passenger growth estimates to 2016.

ARTA’s spokesperson, Sharon Hunter said:  “Passenger travel shows patronage on the line from September 2010 for the two hours at morning peak, from 7am to 9am, is estimated to be approximately 100 people boarding at Onehunga.  This compares with 3,600 people alighting at Britomart during the morning peak period.

“The trains departing from Onehunga will be able to take 530 people seated with capacity of 1,000 including standing. This ensures capacity is future-proofed for growth.

“By 2016 patronage is estimated to increase to almost 300 people boarding and, following electrification in 2013/14 the number of trains departing Onehunga will provide 940 seats with a total capacity of 1,840.

Can't they add on another 15 metres?

ARTA’s solution to the Onehunga platform being at least 15 metres short for a 3-car train is for there to be the ability for passengers to only board the first two carriages.

Ms Hunter said, “At this stage it would not be prudent to put a four car train on the line with two cars potentially empty when carriages can be better used elsewhere on the network at busier stations.

“However, should patronage grow beyond the future-proofing we have put in place, there is room for the platform at Onehunga to be extended, potentially as part of a loop to the airport.

ARTA insist that the Auckland City consents restricting how close the track could be built to the Prince St apartments are the problem.

ARTA says the nearby apartments posed a consent issue

“Consents and constraints took into account the requirements of the local community in Onehunga, with conditions of the consent from the Auckland City Council, requiring railway lines to be at least 14m away from apartment blocks off Princess Street to meet noise and vibration limits. ” said Ms Hunter.

“The local community including the Community Board, the local Member of Parliament and the Onehunga Business Association have been consulted by ARTA, KiwiRail and the ARC as we have developed the line. Noise and vibration from the new line were key concerns for residents these were taken into account by Auckland City in its consent conditions and by ARTA and KiwiRail in their planning of the project.

“We look forward to bringing the reopened line to Onehunga.”

Interviewed late this afternoon on Radio LIVE, Sharon Hunter said the platform wasn’t just adequate but more than adequate.

She insisted it was as long as was needed for patronage expectations but them also said she expected “the line will be very successful for patronage.”

She first of all said it was to do with the consenting process and getting the line in and open in time and that the length of the line “was determined by those living nearby.”

Later she also said it was about funding as well.

Asked when the platform would be extended, she said when that would be done , it would be as a component for an Auckland airport line.

Asked why ARC Chair Mike Lee wasn’t aware of the situation, she said that Mr Lee “is very busy with lots of things on his plate and added that  the site on which the station is being built belongs to the ARC and “we work hand in hand with them.”




  1. joust says:

    Wait a minute, on one hand there’s a consent issue so there’s not enough room for the full length platform after compromising with the NIMBY apartments (which were consented built in the middle of what is basically an industrial area themselves I might add) But on the other it can be extended if need be. Lets not dodge the real issue by blaming someone else, this is cost cutting at the crucial stage when its being built anyway so why not add a few extra metres to save millions in the future! Kingsland anybody?

  2. Matt L says:

    Sorry ARTA but that excuse doesn’t wash, especially seeing as patrongage is growing faster than expectations which is one of the reason I believe the BCR for electrification was increased. It also seems like a very negative and defeatist attitude, surely we should be thinking about how we can get more people to use it which will actually fill up the trains.

  3. Stephen L says:

    It is a shame ARTA couldn’t get the budget to extend the rail across the Manukau to the airport in time for the Rugby World Cup. The cost of doing so in conjunction with the new road bridge would likely have been significantly less than doing it as a second project. With an airport link, Onehunga station would become a destination for visitors to our country, and the rail platform would definitely need to be full length. As for the excuse re the apartments, get real!

  4. Carl says:

    FAIL, people will assume there is no space on the trains (even though most of know there will be) get worried and go back to driving there cars.

    as said above train should have been pushed all the way to airport.

    once again another 1/2 pie effort.

    its not about getting things ticked off, its about building a system that is going to work for a long time.

  5. Nick R says:

    Great, so their highly dubious modelling claims that only 25 people will board each train on the Onehunga line during the peak… so they go and design a station and timetable that ensures that will be the case.

  6. Andrew says:

    “They claim there will not be enough passengers on the Onehunga line to justify it”

    That was said about Britomart too - too big, white elephant, not enough people will use it. And what happened, hm?

    Auckland shortsightedness. It’s pretty much a tradition now.

  7. Steve W says:

    The similar Melling Line in Wellington attracts a good peak hour commuter crowd, the entire setup of Onehunga Station including parking etc will be interesting when up and running. Let’s see what happens, I suspect that perhaps those responsible haven’t considered that the Onehunga Line might be a good alternative for those south of the Manakau to commute to town. Or is it still “Change Trains at Newmarket”, surely a receipe for failure anyway?

  8. Jon C says:

    @joust Well said. Not just cost cutting but some people involved obviously don’t have their heart in it and enough belief it’s needed.
    @Matt L Exactly. Rail patronage has taken off since the improvements and so would Onehunga.
    @Andrew. good point. Some did say that about Britomart. And National’s Maurice Williamson said Auckland rail would never take off.
    @Nick Dubious indeed. how do people get those jobs and keep them?
    @Stephen L Yes, an excuse that doesn’t stack up with the evidence
    @Carl It should indeed be a long term solution
    @Steve W Melling is a good comparison

  9. max says:

    I agree this looks short-sighted, if for consistency over the network reasons, if nothing else.

    But let’s look at one of those statements:

    “530 people seated with capacity of 1,000 including standing.”

    Despite myself thinking that indeed there will be more than 25 people each boarding (assuming 30 minute frequencies), I wonder how long it will take until Onehunga has more than 375 people (1,530 times 0.25) waiting for each train. In a few years, maybe. Soon? No.

  10. Robin Coleman says:

    Trains will pass within two or three metres of those apartments,yet the platform has to be 14 metres away, go figure.
    Plus the railway line was already there when the apartments were built.We’ve got clowns running the show.

  11. Nick R says:

    Max, the capacity of 1,000 refers to a crush load including seating, so it’s not quite as much as 275 per train.

    Anyway the main issue here isn’t the capacity, it’s the fact that the platform won’t be able to take a standard 3-car EMU… even though the line is to be electrified. So we’ll have an electric line and new electric trains but won’t be able to run them for want of 15m because some dimwit thinks traffic models are the word of God.

  12. Geoff says:

    “Now it has been set up to fail because you can’t encourage people to use a service when they will get turned away or can’t be guaranteed a place.

    All over 15 extra metres.”

    Why would people be turned away? The 3-car EMU’s will likely have through access between cars, so where’s the problem?

    In the meantime only 2-car trains will be used, so the platform will be long enough, and considering the pressure put on them (including by this blog) to not delay the line any further, this is the result.

    Other parts of project DART have been sacrificed to get this line opened at all, so I think everyone should be thankful that it’s happening.

  13. Carl says:

    @ Robin, totally correct, Living in London I had a train right outside my house I didn’t complain. these cheap BS apartment blocks that shoot up all over the place are like a diesease. Its like the idiots who build down the near the Ports of Auckland then protest about ships horns.

    the City needs PT to function, there are only so many places it can go (clearly underground lines outside of the CBD will never be considered as its not london sized population).

    same ole story though, 50 years to late on building train stations platforms and upgrades, and now they are getting screwed up by a stupid little apartment building that as written above, was probably built well after the original lines existed.

    such a shame…

    love to know what the running total of stupid things like this is, id say it would be quite high.

    oh and for the record, how many car parks are their Jon? I bet they don’t do that part wrong….

  14. Craig says:

    Why would people be turned away? The 3-car EMU’s will likely have through access between cars, so where’s the problem?

    You hit the nail on the head there geoff……. we all board aircraft thru a single door and walk thru the plane to our designated seat, whether we fly first class or coach, whether we have seat 1A or 55K,
    the same princilpe will apply with a 3 car EMU at a 2 car platform.

    end of story.


  15. Andu says:

    I am still staggered by this. The incompetence of Auckland Transport officials never ceases to amaze me. Continuing on from Robin and Carl’s point, you can go through some of the wealthiest districts in London and they have railway stations and railway lines right through them, with trains going past every 5 minutes. You don’t here them whinging about vibrations or train noise, its just a fact of life here. I suspect its the same in most other big European cities too.
    Auckland needs to realise, big cities can be noisy sometimes! You can’t short change infrastructure because there might be a bit of noise.
    Having said all that, I want to believe that the public will ultimately make this a success, even though ARTA and Kiwirail have done their best to screw it up. It’s just such a shame that our Infrastructure is being shortchanged AGAIN! Can’t we learn anything from our past failures???

  16. Andrew Miller says:

    The most interesting thing here is that the apartments were built over what was the original Onehunga Station site. The platform backed onto Prince’s Street and ended on Queen St. So the reason for not wanting to spend extra on 15 metres of platform is? And why not double tracked with an extention to the airport? and a further loop to the Southern Line at Middlemore or Puhinui? And who forgot to place a line along Te Irirrangi Dr from Manukau to Botany before continuing thru Pakuranga to Sylvia Park thereby creating a loop rather than dead ends? The plus is it’s actually going to open…or is it to become a Shed 10?

  17. Carl says:

    brings it back to the point of the idiot designer or builder that was on here a few weeks back wanking on about all the visual clutter around the place.

    its a big city, deal with it and secondly, sometimes (and maybe only sometimes as in geezz do people really travel, wow) when people from outer town come by or overseas for that matter, they need to know where to go, how to park, where to catch a bus.

    again its dreamers like this, who should be doing great things with all their skills, that continue to screw it up.

    excuse my words, but fuck the apartments, build the station to what every other station is, if you don’t like it move. because in theory the actual train line (or the rail yard I guess) was there first and probably for a long time.

    its gotten even worse now with the nz herald piece that now refers to the line to the airport as “maybe in the future”.

    that is very sad to hear, I thought It was “actually” in the pipeline not a “maybe”

    again FAIL

  18. Mike F says:

    There is no incompetence ! - ARTA has to comply with the Auckland City Council rules. If they were to put in a non complying consent for a longer platform it is highly likely that the consent process would have taken significantly longer to obtain consent plus all the conditions imposed for example sound abatement measures etc.(all of which they have no budget for at the moment).ie no platform now.
    So by going down the track of a conforming consent they have been able to build a smaller platform now. They can still apply to obtain the consent to add an additional 15m when it is actually needed.

    In terms of the rail noise - there is a huge difference between a rail line and a rail station.
    A rail station has additional issues such as train acceleration noise,platform loudspeaker,train horn when departing, drunk people at night etc

  19. Carl says:

    Mike -

    I use to live next to a station, none of what you have suggested above ever bothered, me, In fact where I live now in Perth, I live 120 meters away from a train station, and a freeway off ramp.

    its called double glazed windows. I have no trouble sleeping at night, and in the morning, the traffic is actually a great alarm clock.

    I moved here well after it started, i have no problem with it. I can walk to the train & Bus Station.

    why does a train no blow its horn when its leaving? I’ve only ever heard a train blow its horn when its skipping a station, which the one close to me is and I still can’t hear it.

    I’m sorry but all of that can not be talked about without a reply…

  20. Andu says:

    ”its called double glazed windows”
    EXACTLY, I live very close to a station and a busy intersection in Zone 2 London, and I hardly hear a thing because the windows keeps most of the noise out.
    I agree with Carl, build the station to the correct specifications for the trains, if the aprtment residents don’t like it, tough, they can either pay for double glazed windows or they can move.

  21. bob says:

    Several points:
    - the 14m distance between platform and apartments is not the problem - there is room to expand the platform to the south-west (to left of photo 2), to the corner of Onehunga Mall and Neilson St.
    - the 14m gap will make little difference to noise and vibration of trains passing, as they will still be accelerating when passing the apartments. It will make a small difference to loudspeaker annoucements, the ‘doors closing’ bleeps, and passenger chatter.
    - there is little space for carparks, just a few streetside kiss’n'rides and busstops.
    - the platform is NOT aligned for an extension to Auckland Airport, which is on the tighter curve that passes under the Neilson St overbridge to Ports of Onehunga.
    - the contracting companies and ARTA never liked Onehunga line, as (for ARTA) it wasn’t their idea, and it eats into the companies profits margins from the other Project DART work. That is why ARTA have dragged the chain, with Ontrack finishing track work almost a year back, then no work….
    - ARTA show similar reluctance for Airport rail - only ‘planning’ for it in the next decade. Given the timeline overruns on Onehunga, that means ‘next 50 years’…

    - WHY IS THE ‘TEMPORARY’ CRANE BRIDGE OVER THE HARBOUR (used for building 2nd SH20 Mangere Bridge) NOT BEING INVESTIGATED AS A RAIL BRIDGE? Sorry for shouting, but $30m piggybacking on this SH20 construction and we have rail to Mangere Bridge. That will make Onehunga rail far more viable, as Mangere people can get rail without crossing the motorway bridge (jammed at peak times). Can anyone spell ‘missed opportunity’?

  22. Mike F says:


    “why does a train no blow its horn when its leaving? I’ve only ever heard a train blow its horn when its skipping a station”

    I don’t know why - you need to ask Veolia

    I live next to a station. Most (not all) trains use the horn when departing the station. 5.30am to 12.30am 7 days a week.

    Hope this explains the situation here in Auckland

  23. Diego says:

    Absolutely amazing…I hope the station fills up as from day one and ARTA/ARC and Ms. Hunter swallow their words and ideas. Knowing the potential of the Onehunga Branch line, I bet more than expected patronage will attend to the service.

  24. jarbury says:

    The problem seems fairly easy to fix, but it does beg the question why not just add the extra 15 metres now?

  25. ingolfson says:

    “its gotten even worse now with the nz herald piece that now refers to the line to the airport as “maybe in the future”.

    that is very sad to hear, I thought It was “actually” in the pipeline not a “maybe””

    Sorry, but what world are you in? Airport rail was always a “maybe” written in disappearing ink. I don’t see the Herald calling it that was as in any way surprising or wrong. This has so many hurdles to pass first.

    Yes, the station should have been built 15 m longer. So what, it can still be, as we have seen from site photos, the space is there, and the extra length will not be needed for some years.

    I say concentrate on important issues. This is like arguing over a dripping faucet while the house is in the middle of getting its foundations replaced.

  26. jarbury says:

    I must say I’m going to laugh if the two-car trains are packed out on day one. Remember that they will be serving all stations between Onehunga and Britomart.

  27. Jon C says:

    @Carl A park n ride next to the station is still being worked out

  28. Nick R says:

    There’s space for a park-n-ride of at least 120 spaces at the site, but they’d better limit that to about 50 spaces at maximum, otherwise the trains will be too full, ha ha!


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