Mayor Calls For Light Rail

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After a visit to Oregon, Mayor Bob Parker is calling for light rail in Christchurch.

Serco to look at long-distance trains

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Stuff reports the UK “rail giant” Serco is to look at New Zealand’s remaining four long-distance trains:

Minister of Transport Steven Joyce has confirmed the company sent him a letter recently saying it was preparing a paper on the train services. He expected the company’s ideas would be put into the mix of options for KiwiRail next year  when a strategic review of its business was completed.

Interesting – I wonder if Joyce is looking at asking KiwiRail to sell off Tranz Scenic.

Auckland train procurement begins shortly

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The Railway Gazette International reports:

KiwiRail is call tenders early in the New Year for the supply of up to 114 electric multiple-unit cars for Auckland, following the cabinet’s approval of a NZ$500m loan on November 24.

The first of the 1 067 mm gauge EMUs will enter service on the Eastern and Western suburban lines in 2013. Auckland Regional Transport Authority will also lease up to 13 electric locomotives to haul ex-British Rail SA and SD coaches on the Southern Line.

Interestingly, the article also states that “the operation of suburban trains in Auckland and Wellington will be put out to tender.” Does that mean KiwiRail is exiting public transport in Wellington as well, since Auckland’s services are already contracted out to Veolia?

Auckland Public Transport Now On Google Maps

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Google New Zealand has announced they’ve added Auckland’s public transport options to their Google Maps service. It seems to be working, albeit only for buses at the moment.

CBD Loop Investigated

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Auckland City Harbour News reports:

Investigations into a city rail link between Mt Eden and Britomart show it could have one of the steepest rail gradients in the country.

Last week Auckland Regional Transport Authority strategic transport planning manager Matthew Rednall presented an update to Auckland City Council’s transport committee.

He says earlier this year the council signed a memorandum of understanding to progress investigations for the link.

“Parts of it are very steep, there is a 70-metre height difference between Mt Eden and Britomart.”

He says the gradient would flatten out at points to accommodate underground stations, which would be on 200-metre-long platforms with access points to the surface.

“We are working on what land is required.”

Mr Rednall says stations would be about 700 metres apart, with possible locations at Aotea Square, Karangahape Rd and Newton.

“They are three distinct areas that connect the city,” he says.

“The catchment would provide coverage for the whole of the CBD.”

Newmarket Station Open Day This Saturday

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The $35 million Newmarket Station will be open to the public this Saturday, reports The New Zealand Herald:

Although KiwiRail has yet to complete a reconfiguration of tracks at Newmarket Junction before passenger trains start calling at the station on January 18, the building itself has been largely finished in time for tomorrow’s open day from 11am until 3pm.

Its focal point is a 1000sq m covered concourse built 5m above three sets of railway tracks, where passengers will converge from four entrances before using escalators, lifts or stairs to reach platforms below.

Each of the four “island” platforms is 180m long, almost four times the reach of Newmarket’s Olympic-size swimming pool.

Interest in mothballed line

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The Wanganui Chronicle reports rail freight traffic could be returning to the disused Castlecliff rail line in Wanganui could be returning in the new year, with a number of industries in the area interested in using the link. The line was mothballed in 2006.

Finally! Integrated Ticketing Signed Off

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The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA), in conjunction with its partner Thales and its funders the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Auckland Regional Council (ARC), today signed the contract to deliver a super transport ticket for Auckland. The ticket will be Auckland and New Zealand’s first, true multi-modal transport ticket. Thales’ strategic partner of Hong Kong’s leading contactless smart card payment system, Octopus will supply the core central clearing house system.

ARTA’s Chairman, Rabin Rabindran said, “This is history in the making for Auckland and New Zealand. After a long and often challenging process, ARTA is at the gate and very happy to be signing the contract for the supply of a superior, multi-modal transport ticket for Auckland, which forms the basis of a core central ticketing system for New Zealand. This is about winning the big game.

Read ARTA’s media release here.

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