Hamilton Train To Go To Strand


The working party group examining a Waikato-Auckland rail service has decided on a  Silver Fern railcar service from Hamilton to Auckland’s inner city Strand station (the old main station)for getting Hamilton-Auckland commuter rail up and running.

“The Silver Fern option to the Strand may be best for now, as the railcars are available, there is space available at the station, and it would not involve the major costs associated with platform extensions needed for other options,” said Rail Working Group chairman Norm Barker of Waikato Regional Council.

“It may allow us to start a limited service initially and if it was successful we could improve it over time.”

The multi-agency working group,which looked at options last week, has instructed officials to do a more detailed investigation into the Silver Fern option, with a view to getting a service going subject to funding arrangements being in place.

While the Silver Fern option into the Strand would not put commuters into Auckland’s preferred central Britomart Station, the Strand station is only a very short distance from the CBD and the possibility of a link bus was discussed.

The Strand is due to be re-furbished for the rugby world cup in case needed as an emergency stop in place of Britomart..

The Strand is being turned into a RWC emergency backup stop

Cr Barker said the working group also asked officials to keep looking at an alternative service involving extending one of Auckland’s commuter services to Hamilton to create a Hamilton-Britomart service.

“It seems sensible not to put all our eggs in one basket in case there are glitches in using the Silver Fern or the Strand,” said Cr Barker.

He said he was very pleased the working group had been able to settle on a preferred option.

“It’s a sign we’re making real progress on getting together a package that could potentially be formally signed off by the Rail Working Group.”

The next step in the process will be for officials to develop a report for the working group to consider. If a proposal is agreed to, the working group could then make recommendations to councils about including funding for a service long term..




  1. Anthony says:

    Your kidding me right?


  2. Carl says:

    can we see anymore info on this?

    has anyone got an decent pics of what the strand looks like inside these days?

    Jon? is it still used for student housing? last time i was there was 2002, mate use to rent a small room there.

    always good times at the strand!

  3. Brad H says:

    So as I understand it. Long distance commuters are going to be dumped at a station that is completely exposed to the elements and is in the middle of nowhere. Then for the return journey they are all going to have to make their way to the station which has little lighting, safety, security or comfort. Surely it would be more sensible to unload passengers at Newmaket and have them run on another train to Britomart and stable the Silver Fern at the Stand. This current plan seems doomed to fail.

  4. greenwelly says:

    “a very short distance from the CBD”-

    Well I guess that is one way to describe a 1km walk to the bottom of Queen street.

  5. BD says:

    Come on guys at least this is progress, the reality is there isn’t any berthing space at Britomart, after the Auckland Rail Tunnel is built, which I can’t see being built any time soon. I see this option as being better than nothing and if succesful it will increase the need of having Maxx services that terminate at Hamilton instead of Pukokehe. They can still have Hamilton to Auckland services terminate at Britomart, at least with this option it will encourage them to have more services that go to Auckland, thus bring Auckland and Hamilton closer together. Without the Strand Station, it would be impossible to have lots of services go to Hamilton.

  6. Doloras says:

    “Surely it would be more sensible to unload passengers at Newmaket and have them run on another train to Britomart and stable the Silver Fern at the Stand. This current plan seems doomed to fail.”

    What is the difference between your plan and the current plan, assuming that Hamilton passengers will be free to get off at Newmarket if they so desire?

  7. Bevan says:

    @doloras, at least at Newmarket there are connections to the western, southern and Onehunga lines, as well as bus services including the link. it is also within a developed area of town.
    The Strand has no local rail services and the area is a bit desolate.

  8. max says:

    Bevan, did you read Doloras comment? As she correctly said, if the train ALSO stops at Newmarket, where is the problem?

    And building some shelters at the Strand, if the existing arrangements aren’t fit anymore, surely is not magic, and small beer in the total costs.

  9. Patrick R says:

    Crazy, designed to fail, the Strand didn’t work when it was connected to an actual building, now sadly violated as low rent accommodation. And Newmarket may well not be an option if the Eastern Line is used. Is there no space at Newmarket? Frankly because of its connections Newmarket is functionally closer to Britomart than the Strand.

    The danger in doing it half-cocked is that it could set back intercity services years by setting a failing example…..

  10. Carl says:

    if we are all talking about walking about 1km to britomart, then we all need to take a look at ourselves? serially only a 1km and we can’t do it, this isn’t fast food fed america we are talking about, this is NZ!

    The shuttle buses will arrive and it will work, because it will be timed with the train, also have a think about it. If intergrated ticket is working on this service, they will no exactly how many people are on board when it arrives, after a week or so, should be able to work out how many buses it may need for people to lazy to walk.

    the advantage of technology maybe?

    clearly there will be some sort of planning.

    Maybe make it like the ICE train theory in Europe only stopping at certain stations.


    Hamilton - Ngaruawahia - Huntly - Te Kauwhata - Tuakau - Puke - (somewhere central on the eastern line with bus connections for other auckland stops) - Strand.

    Really have a think about it, People that far out of Auckland aren’t going to be going to many places other than the City Centre are they? really?

    Not every train may need to stop at all those stations above either, I can bet after the morning rush, if there is a mid day morning or mid afternoon trip (as in returning a train ready for Peak service, which will need to be in both directions, because how do we know that people in the “Auckland area” may want to go to Hamilton to), its not going to be full, nor does it need to stop at many stations in the Auckland section or maybe it can, as a back up service for commuters.

    on the return make it a semi commuter train once it goes past Puke for the “hamilton section” of the journey.

    do a survey of people that board the train in Puke, if they are only going to City, are they happy with their service terminating at the Strand?

    where are people South of Puke actually wanting to go if they are prepared to catch the train?

    if surveys aren’t done and people who use it aren’t asked how are they going to know?

    if they do this, it may free up another service that doesn’t need to start its journey in Puke and can start its journey from Papakura.

    clearly people who are going to travel from Hamilton to Auckland for work are going to understand its not a quick trip, otherwise they’d live closer to the city wouldn’t they!

    If it was quicker by only 30 - 45 mins to drive, id take a train over a car anyday.

    As long as it has some sort of toilet facilities and maybe some powered seat sections for laptops and stuff.If its the silver fern, wont it have some sort of cafe service car to it?

    I know thats probably pushing, it but if people know they have a chance to buy maybe a coffee and something bite sized and have no issues with a wash room on board… it will work.

    convert some seating arrangements to tables with 4 seats. It works in the UK, it works here in Perth when need to go out the Hills on a 2 hour trip.

    I’m sure people will use it.

    It will work! have faith! and in the mean while, hopefully the strand might be fixed up.

    what a bonus having two decent transport station in the centre of the city would be.

  11. Geoff says:

    It’s just a reinstatement of the earlier Waikato Connection, which failed. What’s that saying? The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result!

    Although to be fair, one thing is being changed. Instead of the 1h 56m schedule of the original train, the new one will be about 2h 10m……

  12. Phil Hanson says:

    What’s going on here? April 1 has long passed.

  13. Carl says:

    @ Jon C thanks for that.

    the strand for me always has good memories, can’t remember catching the train there, but can remember staying there a lot with friends.

    I hope they spend some money on it.

    in terms of my comments on another thread many weeks ago

    also what would be amazing is, if they want to run the tram down to Mission Bay (which I have always thought about) surely this could be a destination station on that route?

    therefor, people could use the tram to get to britomart or close to it, run it along the waterfront, up to and around the front of the strand, around the back and off down to mission bay, past (and stopping) at the parnell bars.

    long shot, but could be interesting, the space is already there!

    this is the type of “grand” (but old) stations I’m talking about.

    def worth sprucing up!

  14. Andrew says:

    Geoff, inside word wad the Waikato Connection was just starting to be profitable when a whole bunch of long distance services got cancelled all at once.

  15. DanC says:

    As long as it stops at Newmarket before the Strand it’s a great start.

  16. Scott says:

    I thought New-market was at capacity during peak hours, hence peak services could only run via the eastern line? I assume off peak services could go via newmarket.

  17. Giel says:

    The Waikato Connection wasn’t a total failure in terms of service. It was a victim of a much bigger game going on back in 2001. When Tranz Scenic was sold in 2001 to West Coast Railways of Australia Tranz Rail decided to close the Geyserland and Kaimai express. The Waikato Connection was a victim of that as West Coast Railways didn’t want to buy those other services as they were poorly patronised. Tranz Rails proposed track access fees for those routes to West Coast Railways made them even less viable without additional financial support or subsidy. The timetable, rolling stock and the crew of those services and the Waikato Connection were mostly Hamilton based and interconnected in terms of utilisation and timetables. These trains were operated by the Silver Ferns. West Coast Railways did buy those vehicles and eventually leased them back to ARTA for a tidy sum for the continuation of the Pukekohe services – a much more lucrative contract for Tranz Scenic than a zero subsidy from the Waikato. Essentially it was case of the vehicles going to the highest bidder which was Auckland (ARTA etc) in due course. So the Waikato Connections fate was sealed due to Waikato rail apathy relative to Auckland’s go ahead stance on urban rail.

    As I said Environment Waikato were approached at the time to see if they wanted to keep it via a small subsidy - they said no. Funny thing is it was done on a shoe string budget back then and the required subsidy was quite small but there was no political or for that matter general public support to keep it so it closed. In the meantime rail consciousness in NZ as a viable means of transport has grown substantially so it will probably succeed a lot more this time whether it terminates at the Strand or not. I agree it is not ideal but we are talking about a whole different network – Britomart is not the sole reason for rail success in Auckland but it was very important catalyst for change.

    Personally I find the excuse that they can’t get one long distance commuter train into and out of Britomart slightly perplexing. We all know Britomart is congested but a valid question is that is AT being a little precious about “its Network”? Can’t they take one general commuter service out if they have to? BUT since AT have put most rail funding growth in with central Government and the Waikato have shown no commitment to passenger rail, up until now anyway, it is Auckland first in Auckland - not Waikato so guess you can’t blame AT for that - looking after their ratepayers first. The case of the little red hen and no one wanting to help bake the bread but everyone, once the bread is baked, wanting to eat it perhaps. Good on AT (and their predecssors and affiliates) for getting the rail traction in the first place. So bottom line is Environment Waikato will need to stump up some money to compensate Auckland if this train is to go into Britomart, otherwise be happy with the Strand for now – good compromise I think.

    This is what happens when rail is regionalised but this in turn was necessary in order for rail to get traction in Auckland. A bit of a paradox really but certainly as lot better than what we had before.

  18. Geoff says:

    @Andrew, the Waikato Connection was indeed getting better in its final days, but the growth was from Pukekohe, which is why it was truncated to there rather than cancelled completely. From Hamilton it was generally carrying around 20-30 people per trip.

  19. Donald Neal says:

    Now the next trick would be to get an express service between Newmarket and, say, Henderson (not paid for by Environment Waikato) worked by the same train. And hey presto, the return of express service inside Auckland.

  20. Simon says:

    Well, it`s far from perfect and I don`t know what waikato people will say as their expectations when talking to them were it would be nice to go straight into the new station (ie Britomart).

    If they could have the off-peak services arriving and departing from Britomart at least that would be good. Otherwise, a shuttle bus as part of the ticket is essential. We might not be the US, but both Aucklanders and Hamiltonians never liked walking that extra km, particulalrly in winter! Personally if it was me, I would get off at Newmarket if I was going to an upper Queen Street/CBD destination. However it looks as if it`s going to be difficult to get trains to even go through Newmarket, let alone into Britomart.

    Talking to people in the Waikato, they wanted trains to stop at Papatoetoe (to go to the Airport), Middlemore Hospital, and Newmarket. But apart from those, everyone wanted to get straight in to the CBD.

  21. Carl says:

    I would have thought the Manukau station would have been closer to the airport?

    please correct me if I’m wrong, but would that work at some point?

    I really still don’t get how the Manukau station (line) connects to anything.

    surely then, if its a airport connection they also want, wouldn’t it be best to go there…


    Jon - would be really interesting to get some exact numbers on distances between Hamilton and these places we are talking about and maybe a list of stops they are they are thinking about opening up and what state they maybe in, or what they plan on doing with them?

    I’m talking in the Hamilton / Waikato region, I understand what Puke / Tuakau has already.

  22. Giel says:

    Carl - The Airporter 380 bus which connects with Rail goes through Papatoetoe (stops at the rail station) on its way from Manukau to the Airport and so Papatoetoe station is closer generally. Physically I suspect that the nearest station to the airport is Puhinui but road rail interface better at Papatoetoe station.

  23. Simon says:

    Thanks Giel I was going to explain about the airporter 380 bus. Anyway, I just hope this works rather than ends up like Helensville, which wasn`t done properly either and therefore failed to catch on. If this fails, we can forget about attempt #3 for a very long time. Having already failed once, the onus was this time to get it right from the beginning. You couldn`t really say that`s the case though could you?

    Rather than inspiring confidence, this is like sighing and taking a deep breath in hope. I just think taking Britomart and probably Newmarket out of the equation makes it look much less attractive to customers and how this service is perceived and how much patience people of the Waikato have so that it can build up into a genuine option for commuters and others between the two cities will be interesting to see.

    The best thing is that unlike Helensville, I think it`s supposed to be a 3 year trial so there is time for it to grow. I certainly think compared to attempt #1 there is far more public appetite for a service and awareness that there could be a service. So marketing wouldn`t have to be preaching to a populace who has no idea.

  24. Carl says:

    I’m really surprised this still isn’t looked in the other direction also of People from Auckland trying to get to Hamilton.

    Jon - any news on what they have to offer as stations or stops?

    that bit sounds more interesting. We all know where its going, but hows about “where is it coming from, and stoping at before Auckland.

    anyone in the waikato area got any good info on stations, stops what they look like ect?

    Giel - thanks!

  25. Georgecom says:

    There are 2 factors not really mentioned in the information outlined above.

    The first is that the Strand needs to be acceptable to the working party as a venue. Kiwirail have suggested they could arrange a Silverfern rail car to do the trip with RWP members on board and stop at the Strand so Auckland Council could show people what the stop involves.

    The second matter is a strong push to get a connecting shuttle (should be on a cost recovery basis only in my opinion) that will drop passengers at key points around central Auckland, or better still at their actual destination. That actually might work out even better for some than Britomart as a destination if they know they can be dropped very close to their final destination or further public transport.

  26. Luke says:

    if the train is not going to make it to Britomart, people are going to have to change anyway. Therefore should just run it to Pukekohe or Papakura and conenct to an existing train. The with 1 silver fern will be able to make multiple trips shuttling between Hamilton and south of Auckland.

  27. Geoff says:

    The other point is that the railcar will be crammed in between all stop services, so it won’t be an “express” north of Papakura anyway. That explains the extra 15 minutes or so added to the original 2001 schedule.

  28. Patrick R says:

    I agree fully with Luke, people will have different destinations from just Britomart any. Because of the stunted nature of the network we can all get trapped into too much Britomart focus.

    But it is vital to have a connecting train ready for each Hamilton arrival. So a reliable service to and from Ham. would be important too.
    Papakura I guess is that where the EMUs will start from?

  29. Jon R says:

    Only the peak services will go to the Strand, via Newmarket is a must however. There must be connecting buses at Hamilton and the Strand for this to work. Ideally a station closer to Hamilton Central is needed.

    I still see some issues to be worked through. Don`t count on any help from the National Party MPs in Hamilton though. They are totally anti commuter rail.

  30. Simon says:

    Yeah, I think it`s important to give Hamiltonians the option to go from the Central City or from Franklin and for Aucklanders who also want to go directly into the CBD in Hamilton. In the longer term if this is a success and builds good patronage they need to add a station at the big shopping centre in North Hamilton which is a considerable distance from Franklin and home to an area of quite a bit of new housing and development. I know there is room at the back of the mall for a station and apparently the line passes right at the back of it.

  31. Gary says:

    Ease congestion on the roads

    If the trains left Hamilton and Auckland on the hour a time table would not be required as people would only need to look at their watches to know when the next train was leaving.
    It is quite simply to make the service pay, cart courier freight as well as passengers and pick up and drop off along the way depot to depot.Local couriers and people can pick up or deliver to the depot.

    Lease out the railway stations along the way to private operators to run as courier depots, coffe bars etc.
    Use push on push off containers like aircraft to quickly load and unload the freight.

    If the business community in Hamilton was to produce booklets with vouchers to give rewards to customers from Auckland and other places along the way etc they would potentially have a huge market that could come and go during the day, spend money in their shops and potentially earn enough points for future free trips between Hamilton and Auckland.

    If run properly this would pay its way and subsidies may not be required.

    Lease out the tracks on a mileage/weight basis and allow entrepreneurs to run their own operations, signaled by the rail company.


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