Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Minutes of the Hamilton to Auckland Passenger Rail Working Party meeting
Held at 12.30pm, on Friday 12 August 2011
Auckland Government Policy Office, 1 Queen Street, Auckland
Rail Working Party members in Attendance:
Cr Mike Lee Auckland Council
Mark Lambert Auckland Transport
Robin Janson Campaign for Better Transport
Cr Dave Macpherson Hamilton City Council
Tom Evers-Swindell KiwiRail
Robert Brodnax NZ Transport Agency (Representing Andrew McKillop)
Cr Dynes Fulton Waikato District Council (Representing Allan Sanson)
Cr Laurie Hoverd Waipa District Council
Cr Norm Barker Waikato Regional Council
Darren Davis Auckland Council
Raymond Siddals Auckland Transport
Annick Janson Campaign for Better Transport
Dee Bond Tuakau & Districts Development Assn
Neil Young Tuakau & Districts Development Assn
Rob George Campaign for Better Transport
Cameron Pitches Campaign for Better Transport
Cr Gordon Chesterman Hamilton City Council
Chris Allen Hamilton City Council
Steve Tritt NZ Trade and Enterprise
Cr Clint Baddeley Waikato District Council
Cr Rob McGuire Waikato District Council
Cr Rodney Dixon Waikato District Council
Aaron Leaman Waikato Times
Cr George Simmons Waipa District Council
Cr Grahame Webber Waipa District Council
Cr Vern Wilson Waipa District Council
Chairman Peter Buckley Waikato Regional Council
Cr Jane Hennebry Waikato Regional Council
Cr Laurie Burdett Waikato Regional Council
Cr Paula Southgate Waikato Regional Council
Cr Phillip Legg Waikato Regional Council
Cr Russ Rimmington Waikato Regional Council
Cr Simon Friar Waikato Regional Council
Cr Theresa Stark Waikato Regional Council
Bill McMaster Waikato Regional Council
Edwin Swaris Waikato Regional Council
Emma Wright Waikato Regional Council
Sally Latham Waikato Regional Council
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Vaughan Payne Waikato Regional Council
Vibhuti Chopra Waikato Regional Council
Wendy Valois Waikato Regional Council
Andrew McKillop NZ Transport Agency
Allan Sanson Waikato District Council
The Chair, Cr Norm Barker (Cr NB) opened the meeting by welcoming all and outlined the
general agenda for the meeting. Cr NB invited Vibhuti Chopra (VC) to take the RWP through
the agenda items.
Presentation by Vibhuti Chopra (VC)
Project Manager Vibhuti Chopra (Senior Policy Advisor WRC) provided background to the
project to date and noted that the final draft recommendations report is due by end of
VC highlighted that the draft of the Recommendation Report was based on discussions and
investigations carried out so far by the RWP. She outlined details of the preferred option in
terms of proposed timetable, route, stops, rolling stock, costs and revenue.
Cr. Dave Macpherson (Cr DM): Clarification requested: two peak trips means a return trip at
peak times which was confirmed.
Cr DM requested an addition to the agenda: the issue of connecting the Overlander with the
proposed service, which was agreed by the Chair.
Cr NB queried the estimated fare box recovery for the service proposal.
VC confirmed the fare box recovery works out to approx 33%, on revenue estimated by
KiwiRail in their proposal i.e. the $621,000 for year 1.
The RWP was then taken through the “Decisions Required” section of the Cover Report
circulated in advance.
1. Does the RWP recommend a rail service trial for 2 years - proposal to proceed to
public consultation (of all partner Councils)?
Cr DM proposed that it shouldn’t be called a trial. If the service was to go ahead and the
councils were putting in money for infrastructure then it couldn’t be a trial. It should have a
review period possibly but not be called a trial period.
Rob George (RG) questioned why the public consultation needs to happen prior to trial. A
service should be started for two years and if it is successful then it could be taken to the
public to highlight the success of it and to be able to provide information of patronage etc.
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Cr NB explained that local authorities must consult through their Long Term Plans for any
new proposals that they are intending to fund, especially if they trigger the significance
Cr Dynes Fulton (Cr DF) Noted that the issue is going to be all about funding and a trial can’t
be run without the funding and therefore consultation would be needed before the trial.
Rob Brodnax (RB) advised the RWP that the service proposal needs to be in the Regional
Land Transport Programme (RLTP), which is essential for NZTA funding. Public consultation
is also required on the RLTP.
Cr. NB asked the NZTA rep to indicate whether a ‘trial’ or ‘pilot’ is required from an NZ
Transport Agency (NZTA) perspective?
RB stated that NZTA staff are not able to give any indication at this stage.
Cr DM noted that infrastructure isn’t something that you trial – you have to put it up at the
beginning. An issue for TA’s is whether they are going to build stations or not.
Cr NB noted that the Silver Fern option was chosen because it requires less start up cost.
VC brought Appendix 3 to the attention of the RWP which is the station/infrastructure
assessment report carried out by KiwiRail. It suggests a staged approach to infrastructure
development to spread the costs out more evenly and takes into consideration the fact that
this is a “trial” service and therefore a full infrastructure development approach might not be
most appropriate in the initial stages of the service.
Cr DM stated HCC doesn’t need to consult on a new rail station in Hamilton as the station
costs are already included in HCC budgets.
Cr NB put up a change to question1 to read:
1. Does the RWP recommend proposal to proceed to public consultation (of all
partner Councils)? (take out ‘rail service trial for 2 years’)
Cr NB reiterated that the proposal needs to be incorporated into councils LTPs.
Cr DM stated that HCC support consultation in the LTP, although not through a separate
special consultative procedure. The amount of work required means it would be a review
period, rather than a trial period.
Cr Mike Lee (Cr ML) suggested that the word ‘Trial’ is useful for consultation purposes as it
reassures people who may be sceptical about the project. It also indicates that the service
will not go on forever even if not successful and therefore would suggest keeping the word
VC asked the RWP to confirm that, in principle, they agree that the proposal proceed to
public consultation through the LTP’s of partner Councils?
This was agreed in principle. The question of whether it be recommended as a “trial” service
or not was parked for the time being.
2. Does the RWP recommend that the rail service trial proceed to public consultation
even if there is no funding contribution from NZTA and/or Auckland Council?
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Cr DM said that HCC would look at questions 2 and 3 together because of funding issue – to
align with how PT elsewhere is handled.
Cr DM noted that the public is aware that any subsidy will come from local people and not
It was generally agreed that the proposal be consulted with the public with or without funding
contribution from NZTA and or Auckland Council.
3. Should a full business case be prepared to apply for NZTA subsidy? When should
the Business Case be prepared
• Now – prior to consultation
• Following outcome of public consultation
• It needs to be noted that it could possibly cost around $20,000 to prepare
this. Cost sharing?
Cr DM stated HCC supports the preparation of a business case now, prior to public
consultation. The Business Case to NZTA is not only for NZTA, but also for other partner
councils and the public.
Cr NB said that WRC supports the preparation of the Business case now.
Cr DF said that Waikato DC supports points 2 and 3 (the preparation of the Business case
Cr DM questioned the $20,000 estimated to undertake the Business Case. He suggested
the Business Case can be prepared by staff from the partner councils, and the cost
absorbed within Councils budgets.
VC bought to the attention of the RWP that there was a Business Case proposal from
Boulter Consulting put to the RWP at the 6 May meeting which was estimated at $50,000.
Since it had some very detailed work, some of which has been completed, the estimate has
been revised, though it would still come to approx $30,000 to-$50,000. But optimistically
$20,000 has been assumed. In order to make a funding application to NZTA, as has been
agreed by the RWP, the report needs to strengthened.
Bill McMaster (BM) indicated that the Business Case would need specialist transport
economic advice which is not available in house.
RB said that at the end of the day, this proposal will be put up against other proposals
across the country when NZTA is considering it so it needs to be well done.
Cr DM suggested that the Business Case be undertaken in house and then, should external
advice be required, HCC would be prepared to contribute some funding.
Darren Davis (DD) advised that Auckland Council could possibly offer transport economic
assistance, the expertise is available in house. Darren was to check availability.
Integrate service with overlander
Cr DM stated that the proposed service needs to integrate with the Overlander to show the
entire picture of services that are available for the Waikato people to travel to Auckland. The
proposed subsidy will fund the two Silver Fern rail services but noted that there are three
daily services provided if the Overlander is taken into account.
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Tom Evers-Swindell (TE) clarified that the Overlander and the Silver Fern are run by the
same people ie KiwiRail. However, the Overlander is a multipurpose train (7:20am – 9:30)
and does not stop at smaller stations en route. It does however offer a passenger rail service
out of Auckland in the morning. The Overlander works well for Auckland to Hamilton trips
because of the timing.
Mike Lee (ML) asked what the cost of ticket from Hamilton to Auckland on the Overlander
TE advised that ball park ticket cost lies between $40-$49, but this varies based on different
factors including when the ticket was brought. It needs to be noted that all this is being
looked at, at the moment.
4. Is the recommendation for two peak and two off peak services?
General consensus – yes.
5. What are the recommended off peak times
Possible options -
Depart Britomart 0915
Arrive Hamilton 1130
Depart Hamilton 1145 (to Britomart)
Depart Britomart 1000
Arrive Hamilton 1215
Depart Hamilton 1245 (to Britomart)
VC advised that these off peak times are for starting discussion.
Cr CM supported arriving approx 8.20am arrival in Auckland for the peak service and later
departure time would be the10am leaving Britomart).
Cameron Pitches (CP) suggested changing off peak time so the train dwells in Hamilton for
longer during the day so that people going to Hamilton from Auckland can have their
meeting etc and come back up later in the day.
VC responded that the off peak times were based on it being a Waikato train and the survey
results which showed people wanting to go up to Auckland for leisure purposes. The
preferred time for getting to Auckland in the survey was around 11 am – dwelling in Hamilton
and leaving later in the day (around 3 pm) reverses that idea.
RG suggested the RWP use the Base as the main departure station for Hamilton. Ideally
6:20am leaving Hamilton (The Base) and a later return from Auckland (5:30pm).
Raymond Siddals (RS) suggested that there be market research done to inform the
Cr ML asked: how do we get closer to the 2 hour journey time mark ie how do we get the
service quicker? Getting the time the service takes lower is important because of
competition with buses etc.
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TE replied that KiwiRail has done timetabling though normal sources – unfortunately the
trains are increasingly held up in Auckland. There may be ways to get around this (i.e.
making the train go faster in the Waikato.)
Cr ML suggested that it would be good to get precision timing.
Cr DM suggested that if time can be shaved off on the morning peak run, make the
departure time later rather than arrive in Auckland earlier.
6. Do RWP recommend a bus service to link trail the train to Britomart? Will this be
implemented by Auckland Transport? Cost sharing?
Cr ML stated that the bus is going to be an essential part of the service. It will be needed to
get customers from A-B with an “onward ticket”.
–The question was asked: whether the train can stop at Newmarket?
RS noted that it is not possible to say definitively. There may be a way – if it goes around
the waterfront and back into Newmarket (against the peak train flow). The problem is that
due to current timetabling, dwelling at Newmarket is very hard and the Silver Fern is not
designed for fast stops (needs 2-3 mins)
Newmarket is a very important stop in the Auckland network.
TE suggested another option to consider – having the Strand as a through point and
Newmarket as the final termination point for passengers. Due to less congestion on the
Waterfront line it might not take any longer to come in that way than through Newmarket.
TE Newmarket would be a short stop i.e. 1 min.
Cr NB said that the walk from the Strand was very informative for the RWP.
TE could put a timetable proposal up for the Waterfront – Strand – Newmarket option.
Newmarket is possibly a better option for termination (the bus that links to the train will be
facing rush hour am traffic).
Auckland officers suggested Kiwirail would need to run the bus service.
TE noted Kiwirail doesn’t run buses - possibly explore private shuttle operators – they may
want to take the opportunity.
Cr DM - important not to over-complicate the service – one ticket for both the train and the
bus(not separate tickets for buses/shuttles etc) would be important.
CP asked if there is any chance of getting this service into Britomart?
RS – Noted that Britomart station is at full capacity.
Cr ML – asked whether the Overlander could leave later?
TE - The Overlander leaves early because it is a 12 hour journey - important it doesn’t leave
too late. It’s unlikely the current Overlander timetable can be tinkered with.
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Cr DM suggested that getting off at Newmarket would ease the pressure of getting a bus at
There would be other travel options available to customers at Newmarket.
RS suggested that if you get on a train from Hamilton to Auckland, you’ve got somewhere to
go – so a shuttle integrated service would guarantee to get you from A to B, C, D, E...
Cr DF noted that the discussion was tending to focus on detailed matters and the group
needed to work through the big issues.
Cr NB asked the RWP if terminating at the Strand is still the preferred option now that
people have experienced the walk? The distance and the meandering nature of the walk
does not make it very appealing.
Dee Bond (DB) suggested that maybe the previous option of the service terminating at
Papakura and using other services to get to Britomart needs to be relooked at.
Cr Laurie Hoverd (Cr LH) commented that the Strand is not such a barrier – walking not
such a bad thing.
CP commented that a change at Papakura means getting on an all-stops service, ie not an
express service like the Silver Fern.
VC told the RWP that staff will bring back options to next meeting about the route and
terminating station and possibly pricing of bus link.
7. The estimated start up year/time of the proposed service (assuming that it
receives the go ahead through public consultation)
VC – Once the service receives the go ahead after public consultation further
implementation details like station upgrades, timetables, fare structure, ticketing etc will need
to be worked through which will take time. Given this, what kind of service implementation
timeframe is the RWP recommending? If the proposal gets adopted through the LTP’s it will
be by 30 June 2012.
RB – if you were to get NZTA funding it would be confirmed by 30th September 2012.
Agreement that ideally around 2nd to 3rd quarter of year 1 of the LTP for the service to start.
8. Does RWP recommend a second railcar if the capacity of one railcar is exceeded
within the trial period?
Note: Adding a railcar could potentially double the operating cost of service resulting in a
higher rates/subsidy requirement. The revenue increase would not be proportional.
Cr DM asked why the doubling of costs?
TE told the RWP that the only saving is on driver costs, everything else is double for a
Cr DM suggested that wouldn’t it be better instead to run more services (with the addtional
rail car set) rather than putting another rail car on the first one, if the costs are double
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TE - Could do but the assumption is that people are wanting to travel up at the same (or
similar) time and one railcar is doing the forwards and backwards trip.
The RWP noted that it may be essential to put on a second railcar because if the first rail car
is full it may kill the momentum and turn people away.
CP - After two years the environment the RWP will be operating in will be different – we’ll
know more and will be able to commit to things.
Decision – RWP wants to keep the option of operating with a second rail car if required due
9. Stations/stops recommended by RWP for the trial service?
Note: Capital costs of station upgrades will be borne by the relevant territorial
Cr DM – Important to keep the Base as a station– this is a deal breaker. Agree with
proposition in Q9.
Cr DF - Tuakau is key stop for Waikato District Council. Huntly also – if no cost.
Cr DM – A south Auckland stop is needed for connection to Auckland Airport, as well as
stops that connect to the hospital.
RS - Papatoetoe would be the likely stop for the airport connection.
RWP agreed the following stops for the startup rail service from day 1 –
• Frankton, Hamilton
• The Base, Hamilton
• Te Kawhata (but only if there is a backlash)
• Huntly, Waikato District
• Tuakau, Waikato District
• Papatoetoe, Auckland
• The Strand, Auckland
• Newmarket, Auckland
10. Does the RWP support a regional rate (within Waikato) levied by Waikato Regional
Cr DM questioned the sliding scale rate? (ie the further away from the track, the less you
Links into only HCC and Waikato District rates.
Cr NB – Asked for comment on the option of HCC/Waikato DC putting it on their rate line
(operational costs) ie for direct rating by these TAs
Cr DF – stated HCC would have to make a decision with Waipa DC.
Cr DM - HCC would align with Waikato and WRC – would consider separate rating as a TA
Cr DF – supported a rate levied by WRC
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Cr DM – Preference is a regional rate on a sliding scale. Would consider a local HCC rate if
had to (but this would be out of sync with how buses are funded).
Noted HCC and WDC need to work together to agree preferred position on rating and report
back to the meeting on 26th August
11. Does the RWP support rating of only Hamilton and Waikato district areas?
All of HCC and Waikato DC?
– or Hamilton City and 10km buffer of the track
– or rate whole region on sliding scale
The RWP indicated a need for a further opportunity to discuss this.
Cr NB – Need to get an indication of whether Auckland agrees to the 40% benefits attributed
to Auckland region and the resultant funding contribution indicated.
Cr ML stated there is potential at this stage for Auckland to be involved (financially) if the
benefits attributing to Auckland can be clearly identified and quantified, such as mitigating
Auckland congestion, carrying Auckland passengers, links with the development work
happening in Auckland. Cr ML advised that Auckland will pay if direct benefits can be
VC – The suggestion is that in the Business Case that is prepared as a funding application
for NZTA, covers in detail all the benefits accruing from this service both to Auckland and the
Waikato region and will quantify these benefits.
13. Does the RWP recommend that it have a continuing role through the next stages
of the process leading up to the implementation of the service?
Cr DM – Agree, though the frequency of meetings might change.
Waipa DC - Yes
Auckland C– Yes
HCC – Yes
Waikato DC – Yes
CBT – Yes
VC took the RWP through the next steps and reiterated that the meeting on 26 August is to
sign off the final Recommendations Report of the Working Party and would possibly need to
be a long meeting so that agreement on all recommendations was reached and options
coming out of this meeting could be tabled.
Cr NB thanked the members and other attendees.
Meeting concluded – 2.00 pm