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Manukau Rail Passenger Link Opens Sunday April 15 2012 & Future of Services to Waitakere

Good news! The Manukau new rail link opens on Sunday April 15, 2012.
Rail services will operate for the first time to Manukau at a three train per hour peak and one train per hour off-peak frequency, with the first day of operation being on Sunday, 15 April 2012. The offpeak frequency is somewhat short of what the blogging commnuity were expecting for this new service but is probably not surprsing due to funding constraints. This will be a red letter day for the New Zealand Rail industry as the first wholly new passenger line to be opened since the 1950's when the Hutt lines in the Wellington region were expanded up the eastern Hutt side of the Hutt Valley.
Still no word however on other major changes to the Auckland rail network timetable that were all originally planned to have had an extensive overhaul from February 2012.
On a more sombre note the future of rail passenger services beyond Swanson to Waitakere looks increasingly ominous. It would seem hard to continue to justify the operation of this relatively short length by a diesel shuttle only operation (and all its commensurate costs) post electrification for what must be very low patronage. An eventual extension of a regular train service to Huapai/Kumeu maybe the only way any train services beyond Swanson may survive in then longer term. With the poor patronage of the Helensville trial in 2008/2009 this may be some time off - more than 5 years anyway. This is one service to watch!

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