Mythbusting Commuter Rail – your questions answered here

How long is it going to take?

Average times for a freight between Hamilton and Papakura would be 1hr 35 average – but this time is irrelevant as freight trains  are 80km/h Maximum.  The Northern Explorer (express Passenger train) is timetabled to run Hamilton to Papakura in 1hr 25 mins at a higher speed of 100km/h.

The frequency of trains is very little at that time of morning, with only 4 trains departing Hamilton heading North between 4am and 8 am. It is one of the quieter times of day as there is a larger amount of trains departing before 4am and again after about 10. However, frequency of trains on a largely double line network between Hamilton and Papakura is not really a factor with the current amount of freight trains running now and for the foreseeable future.

 North of Papakura to Otahuhu and further is hard to timetable as this is dependent on suburban trains. Every train in the suburban area (Pukekohe North) is prioritised and Freight is Priority 2 where as Passenger is ‘Priority 1’ therefore getting better time slots allowing a higher average speed behind otherwise start/stop suburban trains. The Northern Explorer is timetabled to run from Papakura to Auckland in 55 mins. 

So all this stuff about single lines – what’s that about? 

 The “Swamp” is the only single line (as opposed to double line, train each way) section of track between Hamilton and Auckland. Its maximum speed for all trains is 80km/h. There are no speed restrictions for poor track through the swamp and it is in very good condition. Average time for a train to negotiate this short section (between Te Kauwhata and Amokura – just south of Mercer) is 12 mins.

 Won’t the carriages need a toilet?

Yes, toilets would be required for a journey of that length. We don’t have the exact regulations but we do know that length of journey they would have to have toilets – but for a journey catering for workers and family commuters, toilets would never not be an option to cater for comfort. A buffet car would also be a must – at the very least with a minimal service.

 These carriages everyone says are available – is that for real?

dl-9008-on-train-b79-arriving-at-taumarunui-2Yep – here they are.  They are  ex Auckland Suburban passenger carriages. These carriages (116 of them) are being stored in Taumarunui since the electric trains took over in Auckland. These carriages cost 2.2m per carriage . They were rebuilt at Dunedins Hillside Workshop (KiwiRail) before being closed down. The carriages are ex British Rail and were built in the 60/70s and designed for a max speed of 160km/h. When they came to NZ in the early 2000s they were completely rebuilt from the ground up, only retaining their main structural frame for crash worthiness. Other than that, they may as well be brand new. Most of the carriages received brand new air bag suspension bogies (bogies are what hold the wheels in place and connects the wheels to the carriage). A simple upgrade would see them identical to the 60 odd of the same carriage refurbished for the Wairarapa connection carriages – having Toilets and more long distance type seating. 

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