Onehunga branch line reopening full steam ahead
15 September 2010
A special historic steam train filled with guests celebrating the reopening of the Onehunga branch line will roll into a brand new Onehunga station on Saturday 18th September. The guests will be the first passengers to use the line in 37 years.
The steam train recognises the history of the line which was the first to run in Auckland in 1873, taking passengers between Waitemata and Manukau harbours.
Guests will join the Minister of Transport Hon Steven Joyce and Auckland Regional Council (ARC) Chairman Michael Lee to officially mark the reopening of the train line and its newly constructed stations at Onehunga, Te Papapa and Penrose.
The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) developed the three stations as part of a $3.6m project and KiwiRail developed the track and signalling work.
ARTA Chairman Rabin Rabindran said: “The reopening of this historic and special line is a major milestone in Auckland’s public transport history.
“Passengers will once again be able to travel by train from Onehunga to Downtown Auckland and back again; and we expect hundreds of people to use the service each week. There will be an additional forty-nine services operating on the new line every week day.
“As part of ARTA’s commitment to making Auckland’s public transport a fully integrated system we have also ensured that all buses that cross the Manukau Harbour, as well as cross-town 008, go via the new Onehunga Train Station, providing the option to transfer from bus to train easily for passengers. In addition, Park and Ride facilities will be available, taking more city bound car trips off congested roads.
“To do this, and to accommodate the new services at Onehunga, a network wide timetable change will also be introduced on 19th September. The new rail timetable will accommodate more than four hundred extra train trips a week across Auckland. This is approximately a 25% increase in services, the biggest increase in train services in recent times in Auckland.”
ARC Chairman Michael Lee said: “It's incredibly satisfying, given the long battle to achieve it, that the return of rail services to Onehunga is happening at last. Queen Street CBD is once again linked by rail to the Onehunga Mall which was also once called Queen Street."
Mr Rabindran said “The infrastructural developments made in Onehunga as well as across Auckland’s rail network over the past few years would not have happened had it not been for the significant investment made by the government and the region in rail.
“ARTA would like to thank our funders for the commitment they have shown in improving public transport across the region. The impressive patronage growth we have seen this year, with over 8.4 million people choosing trains, shows that our efforts in introducing more frequent services and better infrastructure are paying off.
Mr Rabindran said “The Onehunga Heritage Festival 2010 is also taking place on Saturday. Members of the public are invited along and will have an opportunity to ride the steam train for free between 11:30 and 1pm and take part in other activities commemorating the heritage of this special part of Auckland.