Auckland Council have agreed to purchase 17 new three-car train units by 2019.
The decision to purchase the engines at a cost of around $198 million was decided at a meeting today, Wednesday 26 July.
The cost was down from the original estimate of $207 million,
It means the trains will be battery powered between Pukekohe and Papakura, and will run on the electrified wire system from Papakura to Britomart as they currently do.
With the increase of housing developments in the Franklin area, the recent decision will provide better public transport options.
Franklin Local Board deputy chair Andrew Baker says, “This is the start of something that has been top of the list for many people in the Pukekohe and surrounding areas for as long as we have been here. It removes the need to change trains at Papakura and will make using trains more attractive which is vital to get people out of their cars.”
He says he has been supportive from the first time the possibility was raised and remains excited as to what this means for Franklin.
“Whilst we continually hear that we want electrification like the rest of the network, that would take several more years and much more money to build and we still need to buy the train units, so if buying more units I believe it is absolutely innovative to buy hybrids that can service us in a far shorter timeframe and improve services whilst the electrification of the line is planned and provided for,” he says.
“It will also allow for future services further south out of the Auckland area and also to the western areas of Auckland including maybe one day out to Glenbrook and Waiuku.”
Manurewa-Papakura Ward Councillor Daniel Newman said the announcement is another game-changer for public transport in the south and provides significant amenity to commuters.
“I want to provide every incentive for Pukekohe commuters to leave their cars at home and take the train directly into the city.
“I also want growth in Drury and Paerata to be accommodated through the delivery of new and purpose-built stations in those communities, which is better than clogging already congested streets around the Papakura station.
“The benefit of removing the need to transfer at the Papakura station with the associated risk of a missed connection cannot be easily quantified. But I want the roll-out of an improved network to accommodate passenger growth from 2019.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the decision saying the investment in the public transport system is paying off.
“Aucklanders have taken to public transport with demand increasing by 17 per cent in the last year and we’re about to achieve a record 20 million passenger trips a year in Auckland.”
The approval in principle starts with an initial payment of up to $25 million in 2017/18 to meet forecast patronage growth from 2019. The decision is conditional on the NZ Transport Agency committing to funding at least 50 per cent of the capital and operational expenditure associated with this investment. Auckland Transport will also make an initial payment of at least five per cent or $10m, but no more than $25m for the order in September 2017.