Onehunga One Year On


Today is the re-activated Onehunga Line’s first birthday.

The line -which some in high places argued would not get patronage- has been a success.

Since the inception of these services a year today in September 2010, there have been 567,882 passengers recorded on Onehunga Line services up to this July.

There were 58.932 passengers recorded using the Onehunga Line during July  alone.

Before the line opened on September 19, ARTA estimated start up patronage on the line for the two hours at morning peak, from 7am to 9am, as at about 100 people boarding at Onehunga.

It’s said this has been exceeded.

In defending the Onehunga platform size at the time of construction , ARTA’s estimates were that the trains departing from Onehunga would be able to take 530 people seated with capacity of 1,000 including standing.

By 2016 patronage was 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.

It’s true that some use the line as an alternative to the normal Southern Line and only go as far as say Penrose.

But if you saw the Onehunga platform on the Fatal Friday of the RWC Opening ceremony you would have seen it packed.

And it is especially busy on one or two of the peak time morning services according to those who catch it from Onehunga.

Onehunga has consistently been the best performer of all the lines in terms of reliability and punctuality.

The opening of the station a year ago was the best most colourful of the station opening ceremonies in recent years because it coincided with the Onehuga heritage festival and the communtiy got very involved in it.

The next step for the station will be the extension of the platform.

Onehunga will be extended by 10m at each end and this will not upset residents living in the nearby apartments, who, according to Auckland Council Transport Chair Mike Lee at a recent meeting, are now happy with the service alongside their window. During the construction of the line they complained bitterly worrying about the impact and whether it would become a crime spot.

Onehunga was built on the old overgrown ITM site. This is how it looked.

Construction was slow and it wasn’t a smooth project with complaints from nearby apartment residents to deal with and a long wait for the appropriate resource consents.

The start of construction


The Onehunga site before construction

Te Papapa and an Onehunga Line platform for Penrose also needed to be built.

And then when the opening day arrived, hundreds came, especially to see a steam train arrive.

The opening day attracted hundreds

Manukau's new underground train station is almost ready

>Let’s hope the opening of the Manukau line in February is as much fun.

Full coverage- Photos and videos of Onehunga opening




  1. Jon Reeves says:

    The re-opening of the line has proven rail is what Aucklanders want. Good on Cr. Mike Lee and the Campaign For Better Transport for getting this like re-opened.

    Plenty more public transport projects to take on moving forward.

  2. bob says:

    Pleasing to see Onehunga line successful! I am glad though, that you noted the passengers getting on and off between Britomart and Penrose are not really using the Onehunga line, but the South line. Onehunga patronage should be counted as those geting on or off at Te Papapa or Onehunga stations only. That way we get a true picture of demand.

  3. Ian M says:

    Please, please can we finally get the morning time table trains between 9.45 and 11am..useless for us students!

  4. Cam says:

    An cue Geoff to dispute the patronage numbers…….

  5. Matt L says:

    Glad to hear the nearby residents are now happy with the service, there are definite advantages to having a train station nearby.

    As for the patronage figures debate, yes some get on from other stations along the way but the additional services would likely contribute to growing additional passenger from there as well.

    Lastly I would also say the reason the Onehunga line has better performance stats is that it is much shorter than the other lines so has less chances to get held up somewhere

  6. Ben says:

    Ah the Onehunga Line, yip has been a success indeed. Just a damn bugger the platform is not long enough to take four car DMU sets. But then again the Black Friday that was saw the ADK-4s being sent down to Onehunga and doing a good job clearing the platform out.

    Have had discussions at length with various others and even scouted the Onehunga site myself. If they ever build the Airport Line via Onehunga, the old freight corridor should allow a platform two that would cater 4 car sets (thus allow even more passengers to travel).

    Lets hope for some “better” planning and future proofing stations for increasing demand.

  7. Ingolfson says:

    “Onehunga patronage should be counted as those geting on or off at Te Papapa or Onehunga stations only”

    Agree, but as noted, if the demand “tails off”, north of some Southern Line stations, that extra capacity on the rest of the Onehunga Line has it’s uses closer to the CBD as well…

    “the platform is not long enough to take four car DMU sets.”

    Four car DMUs? Why would we care about that?

    Our future EMUs will run in 3-car or 6-car configurations, THAT is what we need to futureproof for. And for the forseeable future, 3-car should be fine on Onehunga, while 6-car is just a bit too far at this stage. Once the airport line happens, changing the two stations (assuming the airport line is to start with 6-car sets) will be a pretty small drop in the funding pot anyway.

  8. Ben says:

    @Ingolfson: I assume you “forgot” to read the rest of my comment in context. It is a bugger that Onehunga can not take the 4 car DMUs (whether ADL-4s or ADK-4s) because there are occasions until the electrics are fully ready where Veolia do need to send down to Onehunga a 4-car DMU to clear a back log (Black Friday was a perfect example).

    And with the ADL’s staying around post EMU introductions - knowing Auckland’s chronic power woes, you might want to to have a few DMUs or heaven forbid a diesel loco hauling a EMU ready to go.

    Right now when a 4-car DMU is sent to Onehunga, it can be done but is a pain due to the 4th car overhanging.

    Also if I remember right a 3-car EMU (the ones proposed) are the same length as a 4-car DMU, so length for length wise you have an issue straight off the bat of the platform not being long enough.

    So all-in-all A.T might as well get a move on and either extend the platform or build Platform Two for Onehunga to cater for 4 car DMU and/or 3 car EMUs.

  9. Matt L says:

    Ben – Onehunga is doing well but won’t start needing more than a two car DMU until the electrics are rolling, the only exception to this would be for big events but in those cases our rolling stock resources are generally focused on the busier lines anyway. A 3 car EMU is meant to be 72m long vs a 4 car DMU which is about 80m, not a huge difference but important on a small site.

    When it comes building an airport line then the entire station will likely have to be rebuilt anyway on a new alignment so isn’t worth worrying to much about at the moment. As for Aucklands power issues, it isn’t that bad and regardless the new transmission line is being built as we speak to improve security which will be completed next year and the entire network can also be fed directly from the Southdown plant.

  10. Ben says:

    Matt - hmmm on those measurements a 3 car EMU would just fit (as of current it is the rear half of the back carriage on and ADL-4 or ADK-4 that sticks out when 4 car sets were sent down two Fridays ago.

    Not so sure I would agree though on the statement about not needing more then a 2-car DMU at the moment. The 7:45am and 8:15am services to Britomart from Onehunga and the 5:16pm back to Onehunga are pretty full and might benefit from a 4-car set. Especially the morning ones seems the Onehunga runs just ahead of a Papakura-Britomart service and the last train in the area was 15-20mins earlier.

    Forgot about the Southdown Plant direct link there as a back up - well least it is there - just in case.

  11. Matt L says:

    Ben - It still needs to be lengthened as there needs to be enough room so that the train can be easily positioned on the platform etc.

    As for the capacity comment, remember that while Onehunga is doing well, much of it is from north of Penrose where there are other options available. Each 2 car DMU has about 130 seats and more room for standees so unless the peak runs are seeing 150-200 passengers from Onehunga and Te Papapa then longer trains aren’t needed. There are two people on my floor at work that catch the train from Onehunga and they say that at peak times there is probably 30-50 people getting on with some more at Te Papapa so plenty of capacity left (haven’t asked for a little while but I don’t think that would have changed much)

  12. Ingolfson says:

    I did not “forget” to think of the rest of your comment, Ben. And especially not intentionally, so why so touchy with the air quotes?

    But why would we build a train station in Onehunga to cater for one-off events, and for a one-off situation which will be irrelevant in 3 years anyway?

    That may make sense at Kingsland, for the RWC, but thinking about four car DMU’s at Onehunga makes little sense to me.

    We need to husband our scarce rail cash and for the same reason, also our resources in terms of planners and simply effort invested in improving our rail network - there’s much more important things to do than 4 car DMUs at Onehunga. How about we instead look at improving Mt Albert, or Otahuhu, or work on the CBD rail tunnel planning.

  13. James Pole says:

    I know my view won’t find much support here (given the comments I’ve read so far) but I think that it was a bit too early to reopen the Onehunga branch. As has been referred to in the article, currently the other lines suffers from poor performance compared to the Onehunga line. Also someone mentioned stations that have yet to be updated to the current standard (my local, Mount Albert, being one of these).

    I would, in all honestly, have preferred to see the resources invested into the Onehunga instead invested into bringing the existing network up to a high standard of performance (in terms of reliability) and stations. AT should only be expanding the network once the existing assets are performing well.

    I’m not against the Onehunga branch itself, I just feel that the timing meant that AT did not get a good return on their investment compared to other projects they could have otherwise invested in.

  14. ingolfson says:

    I disagree on that, because the Onehunga line gave us all the following:

    a) A totally “new” catchment served by rail
    b) Better capacity on the southern line north of Penrose
    c) An airport line that is literally much closer than before (important for advocacy for the line)
    d) Similar for the Avondale line - would NZTA have been so positive in protecting the corridor and futureproofing their bridge structures during the Waterview design if rail hadn’t even reached Onehunga again?
    e) Protecting the rail designation the best way - by actually using it
    f) Much more good publicity for rail than “just” upgrades for existing stations. You can only do the “we got another X% increase” news story so often in the press before people stop caring. Getting a story about totally new rail lines gets people thinking - “Why not at my place?”

    No, I don’t think everything should be done that could be done (or I wouldn’t have argued against Ben’s position), but I think the Onehunga Line was a pretty great bargain.

  15. pooks274 says:

    James Pole, is their any info on the airport line? Is Manukau in the loop? Connect the dots I say!!


  16. Matt L says:

    Ingolfson - Bargin is the right word, from memory all up it was less than $20m to reopen and has probably had more impact than spending that money on other parts of the network.

  17. joust says:

    hard to believe its only been running for a year, seems to be such an important part of the town centre now.


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