It seems as though the funding issues for the Onehunga Line, that resulted from the removal of the regional petrol tax, have been resolved. This follows on from a post I made a couple of weeks ago that related to progress being made between the ARC and NZTA to provide the necessary extra funding. It also appears as though there will be three stations along the Onehunga Branch: one at Onehunga, one at Te Papapa (quite near Mays Road) and one near Mt Smart stadium.
I have included a map of where I think the stations will be located. I’m not 100% sure of the location of the Te Papapa station and the Mt Smart station, but they would certainly not be too far from where I’ve shown them:
The main benefit of the Mt Smart station seems likely to be for events, and it may well turn out that this is and events only station. There isn’t much residential development within easy walking distance of the Mt Smart station – although I guess there is potential for people who live elsewhere on the rail network but work near the station to catch the train. I suspect that wouldn’t be particularly many people though.
I have a couple of hopes for this line, apart from the obvious one that it’s reasonably popular. My first hope is that it gets decent service frequencies. There aren’t that many available peak hour slots into Britomart left (due to the lack of a CBD rail loop) so I am not sure whether, at peak hour, a huge number of trains will be able to be run from Onehunga into Britomart. I think that it’s most likely that trains which currently terminate at Otahuhu will be re-routed to instead terminate at Onehunga. Off-peak I hope that the service frequencies aren’t cut back too much either – perhaps a train every 30 minutes during weekdays and at weekends would be great. And that links in with my second hope: that the service runs on Saturdays AND Sundays, and at reasonable frequencies on both those days. The reason I hope this is because I actually think it could be damn popular. The big white blob just above the Onehunga station is DessSmart Onehunga: an extremely popular shopping centre with very limited carparking. As Sylvia Park has shown, people are very eager and willing to catch trains to shopping malls at the weekend, and I imagine that Onehunga will continue that trend – if a decent weekend service is provided. And finally, clearly the Onehunga services must start and end at Britomart. That’s a bit of a no-brainer.
So the obvious question is “when will it open?” Well, according to ARTA: “services are expected to begin on the Onehunga line early next year.” So not too far away.