First Look At Waterfront Trams


Trams are back in Auckland.

Trams last graced the streets of Auckland in 1956.

Auckland Council Transport Committee Chair -then ARC Chair - Mike Lee championed their return and writes about it on his blog.

Auckland’s heritage waterfront trams were unloaded at Jellicoe Wharf this morning.

They came on board the Hoegh Beijing from Melbourne yesterday.
Background on the waterfront tramway is here

Waterfront Auckland has leased two 1920’s trams – a W2 Class Tram and X-1 Class Tram - to run on the tracks now being installed in a 1.5km loop within the Wynyard Quarter.

The 17 tonne, 48 feet long W2 tram has a seating capacity of 52 and a 2-person tram (driver and conductor). The 9 tonne, 31 feet long X-1 tram has a seating capacity of 32 and requires one person – the driver.

Waterfront Auckland Chief Executive John Dalzell says both trams have been restored at the Bendigo Tramway Museum in Victoria, Australia.

“The trams look great,” he said. “They have both been painted in the original 1950’s ‘carnation red’, and will soon be emblazoned with “Waterfront Auckland Trams” livery.”

The trams will remain securely within the Ports of Auckland custom controlled area until their purpose built home – tramcar housing currently under construction within Wynyard Quarter – is completed. From early August, following an operational testing period, the trams will run in a 15-minute clockwise circuit along Jellicoe, Halsey, Gaunt and Daldy Streets.

The 2 trams were removed from the vessel using mafi trailers, a roller trailer that is designed for transporting loose cargo. The trams are chained down to the trailers and driven off with tractor units. Once off the vessel the trams were being craned off the mafi tailers on to the ground, in readiness for the move to their end destination of Wynyard Quay.

Trams in Queen St

Waterfront Auckland says a unique installation technique is being used in in the track installation. It involves a specific type of polyurethane which gets poured into the trench which the tracks sit in. This grout acts as a shock absorber and provides significant reduction in the sound and vibration that occurs.

Curbside car parking is being lost

This is the first time the installation method has been used in the southern hemisphere and whilst it is great for the ambience of the surrounding area, it has proven to provide real headaches for the installers!  The reason being the polyurethane grout has a consistency of water when it’s poured into the track trenches it goes solid in less than 10 minutes. Not exactly easy considering the tracks need to be set to exact specifications down to the millimetre.

Meanwhile Wynyard Crossing, the opening bridge providing pedestrian and cycle access from the Auckland Viaduct to Wynyard Quarter, is almost complete.  Wynyard Crossing provides a direct link from the end of Te Wero Island in the east, to Gateway Plaza in the west.

New bridge | Auckland Waterfront

Waterfront Auckland says that over the next week contractors will continue to test the operation of Wynyard Crossing. The bridge will remain in an ‘open’ position until early August while construction works continue in either side of it.

Wynyard Crossing is an opening ‘bascule’ bridge made up of four bridge spans supported by steel piles. The middle two 22 metre spans open to an almost vertical position to allow boats to beneath the bridge without the need for it to open.

The bridge movement will be managed by an onsite operator positioned at the western end of the crossing. The operator will ‘lift’ the bridge to open when requested by radio from vessels entering or leaving the Viaduct Basin. Pedestrians and cyclists will be given ample warning that the bridge is about to open with signals at either end.

Key Facts

•    Bridge length 100m

•    Bridge width 5m

•    Bridge weight

•    Bridge construction cost $2.8m

•    Bridge time to build 6 months

•    Bridge materials mainly structural steel

•    24 hour Bridge Operation: Time to open 1.5 minutes and 1 minute to shut




  1. Carl says:

    id like to know how they are going to keep it to 15 minutes apart? man the track must really really small?

    if its not going to be ready for use till august, then carry on building the damn thing to britomart?

    and another questions, does anyone know, if its going to britomart, does mean we will have a double loop system? only running in one direction?

    bit of a fail really isn’t it?

  2. Kiran says:

    Can this bridge support the trams if the britomart link is approved or will we have to wait for the new bridge in 2016?

  3. DanC says:

    Great to see. A catalyst for further development.

  4. Rtc says:

    The foundations support trams the bridge itself is of course much too small for trams and people

  5. Carl says:

    @ Rtc are you for real? (not having a crack by the way)

    can we blame first poor design, or (by the looks of things) the trams were an after thought?

    Really shame if the bridge designers knew about the trams before it was made.

    I understand moving structures are not cheap, but is there any reason why it was limited to just bikes and walking traffic only?

    if this bridge can not be used, is there another way of getting to britomart?

    or is the little circle looped doomed?

    btw - cheers for the picures Jon (if you took them) always good to see what is going on.

    I wonder if many people were shocked to see them being older trams.

    I knew they were being used, but honestly thought maybe they were a bit newer than that!

    hopefully up keep isn’t going to be a problem?

  6. Matt L says:

    Carl - the bridge is meant to just be temporary until they put something more permanent in but they have designed the foundations to be strong enough to carry trams in the future.

  7. Carl says:

    2.5 mill or close to it for a temp bridge? hrm…

  8. Ian says:

    I hope the trams retain their red livery. Looks nice.

  9. Feijoa says:

    @Carl, I guess the $2.8M includes the permanent foundations. But, the unfortunate thing is this means we’re always going to have a pretty sad looking bridge as the piles are about as attractive as an oil rig.

  10. Nick R says:

    Carl, originally the bridge proposal was developed specifically to take the tram link between britomart and wynyard. However John Banks decided the bridge was too expensive and cut the funding, so now we have a small but still expensive ‘temporary’ bridge and a tram loop that goes nowhere.
    If It weren’t for Banks’ misguided penny pinching we would be celebrating not only an iconic waterfront bridge but also a quality transit link between the central transport interchange and the city’s major employment growth zone.

  11. Carl says:

    well john banks then equal’s a four lettered word starting with C.

    that wil be all =)

    thanks for the updates though, good to know.

    although if the train goes to britomart as they tell us they want it to, how is going to get there?

  12. karl says:

    Guys, I normally don’t defend Banks too much, but let’s not turn this board into knee-jerk politican-bashing. The full bridge was supposed to cost something like 50 million, and the financial crisis had just hit. Also, it wasn’t Banks in some secret evil hideout cancelling the bridge to screw light rail, the Council made the decision to not (directly) go forward with it.

    Whether or not you agree with a politician’s opinion on a particular project, 50 million is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it comes out of rates money.

    Also, who cares about the bridge piles, have you looked at the wharves nearby - this fits right in. It’s the “above ground” parts that are important, and I think the temp bridge looks quite okay.

  13. James B says:

    When the permanent bridge is put in place the temporary bridge will be sold to recover some of the cost.

  14. George D says:

    Wow. So that’s what a tram looks like!

  15. Mark says:

    it wasn’t so much penny pinching, as an alternative proposal was put forward and supported by many to use the old heritage bridge.

    Not many supported the grandious $50M design, and heritage seemed to fit better - so it got too hard for Banks to push through his proposal, and a temp fix was settled on. I think Rudman and a few others supported tyhe heritage option

  16. Carl says:

    Sold to whom though?

    much like the cloud/slug idea?

    sold to whom, used by whom?

    there is nothing green about this type of building that is taking place.

    its consume consume consume.

    its pretty fair to say, the bridge wont get replaced, and the tram wont make it to britomart and in 10 years time they’ll just cover in the tram tracks.

    I really hope they don’t, but when it requires another big spend for a bridge section, it feels that way.

    surely there is another way it can get to britomart?

  17. Karl says:

    Yes, there is another option, via the back streets of the Viaduct. However, that route was pretty circuitous, both literally, and in terms of the length of the route, so I understand that it was ditched - no good marketing it as the main PT route from Britomart to Wynyard Quarter, and then have it take longer than a walk…

    At least that’s my perception of what happened, not sure if I read it right.

  18. Nick R says:

    @Mark, the existing heritage bridge was to be retained in all cases in addition to a new bridge. However it’s not large enough to be the only bridge. So it was just a case of whether to spend $50 million on a flash new bridge, or mothball the idea and put in a temporary footbridge.

  19. Nick R says:

    Oh and Mark the big fancy bridge was a project from the Hubbard council, not from Banks. Banks was looking for any excuse to cancel it because it didn’t fit with his low expenditure low rates rise policy. A little dissention from Rudman and others was enough for them to put it on indefinite hold.

    Carl, there were two other routes looked at to get to Britomart, either via Fanshawe St or through the viaduct harbour back streets. The first impacted to much on bus operations from the busway (where space is already at a premium) and the latte was considered to slow and indirect due to the track needing to negotiate a zillion right angle turns.

  20. Carl says:

    @ Nick R, make it underground like Budapest!

  21. Nick R says:

    Well if underground is the way to go they might as well just build the first branch of the North Shore line :)

  22. damian says:

    where is the over head gantry to power these Trams?
    Liqudated damages anyone?

  23. Robincole says:

    If they left the original viaduct and lifting bridge intact there wouldnt be this debate now, shortsighted as usual.

  24. [...] of the new heritage trams was sampling Auckland’s fresh air in the area where it will soon be carrying [...]

  25. Greg says:

    They should just build the tracks to the bridge and from the bridge on both sides (and get a third Tram maybe, or borrow one from MOTAT…)… And the people can walk across the bridge.. Cause it’s a bit pointless how it is now, it really needs the link to Britomart.


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