Wow Double Tram Rainbow!


Here are official photos of the arrival of the new waterfront trams to be launched on the weekend of August 5.

Waterfront Auckland has leased two 1920’s trams from Australia – 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 and then hopefully further afield.

Both trams have been restored at the Bendigo Tramway Museum in Victoria, Australia.

Mike Lee with the Chief Executive of Waterfont Auckland John Dalzell and Project Manager Iain Purdie. Mike Lee, as ARC Chair, championed the return of the trams.

Trams last ran in the CBD in 1956.

On his blog, Mike Lee published an email he sent a year ago to then ARC chief executive Peter Winder:


the idea of a heritage waterfront tramway was last year resolved to be one of the ARC’s legacy projects. As you will be aware it has been on the backburner for some months for a number of reasons. We have been distracted by the attention we have had to put into other projects (eg Queens Wharf) and of course by endless day to day political crisis management – but also to be fair because of difficulties around the project itself.

Three issues have been problematic:
– 1) location of stabling for trams (6 max)
– 2) obtaining sufficient heritage rolling stock
– 3) difficulties in connecting Britomart to the Wynyard Quarter.

In regard to issue 1) I trust staff have taken advantage of the interregnum to come up with some ideas on this – otherwise I have some myself. There is plenty of space around the Wynyard Quarter.

In regard to issue 2) I have obtained verbal agreement from the Victorian Government officers for a recommendation to the Minister to provide us with 2 x heritage trams in good working order – albeit final touch up work would be at our expense. Also as part of the gift – spare parts would be included. Basic frames and chassis could also be provided if we wanted to recreate replica ‘Auckland trams’.

In regard to issue 3) the logical answer is Te Wero bridge. However that is unlikely to happen for at least 5 years.
The other options are
1) connect Halsey Street via Viaduct Harbour Avenue (appealing but difficult because of tight turns and very narrow carriage way and therefore too problematic)
2) do what they would do in Melbourne and simply connect up through Fanshawe Street (difficult because car-centric Auckland City would likely oppose)
3) do not try to connect the Wynyard Quarter with the CBD – yet.

I have come to the latter conclusion after giving this matter a lot of thought. Getting in now with a tramway which encompasses the whole quarter makes a lot of sense. A tramway running along Jellicoe, along Halsey, back along Gaunt and northward along Beaumont would be only 1.5 km long and easily affordable. It could be started relatively quickly before we leave office.
On the Christchurch figures 1.5 km Wynyard Quarter tramway would cost around $6.7m. Extra costs would be incurred for garaging – though that could mean a creative solution but maybe there has been some good staff work on this.

I have given this matter a lot of thought and the benefits of a LRT system built into Wynyard now will add value to the Wynyard development (presently very much dependent on cars – despite hopeful talk of PT). It will also provide a very convenient way of getting about the quarter and from transiting from bus at Fanshawe Street to trams. ( I raised this idea in conversation with Shane Walsh of Sanford tonight and he was extremely enthusiastic – he said he had been suggesting it himself.)

But building a tramway – even a tiny one like this will also make history in terms of catalysing the return of trams/LRT to Auckland for the first time since the 1950s.
The other factor is that if we don’t do it now – I doubt it will ever happen.
I would like to talk further with you about this but now feel this could be our most meaningful ARC legacy project of all. We only have a few months to achieve this but of course it is not exactly a new issue for us.





  1. karl says:

    Despite Mike’s clear hope for this to be the start of the tram renaissance, I think it is best to market this as a tourist attraction only for now. Until the Te Wero bridge happens, let’s not pretend it is anything but.

    I hope that having managed to become Transport Chair, he can at least push it forward, so that it doesn’t stagnate in it’s little Wynyard Quarter corner. I would very much love to see the trams come back. I grew up with trams, and they have gotten so much better since, technologically.

  2. Martin says:

    A great little read that.

    I’d like to think that the option of re-creating a classic Auckland Tram on a new/refurbished chassis might happen in the future along with the implimentation of modern trams further down the line.

  3. Nick says:

    Just wondering why it is that he said Te Wero Bridge can’t be used for a Britomart connection for atleast 5 years?

  4. karl says:

    Nick, because the bridge (or at least the fancy design they chose in the original competition) costs $50 mil. Even Council can’t easily drop that on the table.

    Also, at least technically, it would likely be paid for by a Council CCO (Auckland waterfront) from rates and development subsidies, unless someone like Mike Lee decided it should come from other funds and can convince everyone of it.

    In short, of course it could be built next year, but the plans don’t have it until 5 years off, is my understanding. By then, the Wynyard Quarter will also have some thousands of new workers, so I hope they DO keep at least that date.

  5. Jon Reeves says:

    And just incase you didn’t know, Steven Joyce took a large chunk of PT funding away from Auckland for the Holiday Highway and other Roads for White Elephants.

  6. BD says:

    The main problem with the National Government is that although Traffic Volumes around Auckland are growing rapidly, this growth is not on State Highways but on local roads, so National have this stupid thing in their head that although State Highways are roading infrastructure, this is not where the problem is.

    The only way to reduce the traffic volumes is to build better public transport infrastructure and improve existing roads so they are better connected. But the money is being wasted on White Elephants, leaving almost no money left for much-needed infrastructure.

    Labour may not have been perfect but at least they were committed to just finishing the State Highway network that needed to be done years ago like completing the Western Route, but National doesn’t want to stop their they want to keep spending even more and more money on roads until the end of time. This is why the CBD link is not their concern. They think wasting billions of dollars on building a motorway between Puhoi and Wellsford is a good investment, but as one Northland Leader pointed out “Northland isn’t worth the investment!”. Labour has common sense and believe operation lifesaver is all it needs.

    Operation Lifesaver is a millions times better and has a higher Cost Benefit Ratio it that will do both jobs, improve congestion, shorten travel times and make the existing route lot safer, create jobs and it can be done a lot sooner. It’s a win win no brainer!

    National are mad not to go for this option.

    Getting back to the trams issue, a bridge that supports trams, buses, cyclist and pedestrians would be way better. It would also relieve congestion on Auckland’s roads providing an alternative route for buses to Britomart instead of using busy Fanshawe Street. but as this is classed as a local road, National doesn’t want to know even though this is badly needed.


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