Despite all the publicity and hoopla, the first scheduled slow train from Hamilton to Papakura had just 59 paying passengers on it, although media on freebies counted their staff and claimed 80 people:

The new rail service from Hamilton to Auckland has been lauded for providing an important connection between the regions, but there are concerns about why it doesn’t drop passengers in the city.

The service, Te Huia, made its inaugural journey on Tuesday with around 80 passengers, although it can carry up to 150.

The first service left Hamilton at 5:46am, stopping near The Base shopping centre and Huntly, before arriving at its final destination in Papakura just before 7:30am. 

Two return journeys are on offer each afternoon from Papakura to Hamilton. Te Huia will operate only on selected Saturdays.

Newshub reporter Karen Rutherford was on the first trip and spoke to Huntly local Samuel Dysart, who works at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland and was on the first service on Tuesday.

“Buying down here was the only way to get my own home, we moved from Auckland to Huntly two years ago – I will definitely be using the train if it works out.”

Newshub

And there’s the rub…if it works out. Even Blind Freddy knows it won’t work. Here’s why:

  • So 5:54 train from Frankton arrives at Papakura at 7:25. Next train from Papakura to Britomart departs at 7:35.
  • Let’s assume the Hamilton Express arrives in time and you can get onto the connection.
  • This arrives at Britomart at 9:06. If close by in the CBD let’s assume you get to your desk for 9:30am.
  • Last train back from Papakura to Frankton departs at 6:25pm. To catch that you’d have to be on the 4:36pm from Britomart. So leave your desk by 4pm, if close by.
  • Train gets to Frankton for 8:04pm.
  • So all up that is over a 14 hour day for 6.5 hours work – assuming you don’t have lunch.
  • And assuming the network runs like clockwork.

No thanks. What sort of an idiot has a job that will fit that schedule? They’d be working from 9:30am until just 4:00pm. No business could sustain such a low productivity worker like that….unless they work for the government.

Dysart said financially it’ll cost about the same as running his car, although it will add a couple of hours to his daily commute. He will also need to change trains at Papakura to get to Britomart before catching a ferry to Devonport.

Newshub

Cost the same as his car, but without the convenience of the car. Again, only an idiot would use this service.

It’s hardly New Zealand’s answer to the bullet train. Te Huia will travel at up to 100km/h, but average 64km/h during the journey between the two cities.

Newshub

It will never be a fast train, as thanks to generations of short-sighted politicians, we are locked into a narrow gauge rail system. You simply cannot make that work for a fast train.

I bet if I stick a crew with a camera on this train in the dead of winter we will be the only ones on it.

By the time the next election rolls around this will be seen as an embarrassing and expensive politician’s folly.

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Slow Train from Hamilton Has Ignominious Start
Cam Slater

Cam Slater

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news,...