18 Aug 2015

Pukekohe commuters call for rail electrification

6:36 am on 18 August 2015

Rail commuters in Pukekohe, South Auckland, are demanding a firm date for the extension of electrified services to their town.

The Campaign for Better Transport wants the new electric rail service to Onehunga extended to Mangere.

An electric train (file photo). Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Auckland switched over to an almost entirely electric service last month, meaning a diesel shuttle has had to ferry commuters between Papakura and the southern terminus at Pukekohe.

Pukekohe commuter Niko Kloeten has started a petition seeking a firm date for electrification, saying in the meantime he opts to drive to Papakura to pick up the direct train.

Commuters have complained the diesel shuttle has been unreliable, with connections between services failing sometimes by a matter of minutes.

Auckland Transport public transport group manager Mark Lambert said they had been working with the operator Transdev and the network company Kiwirail on the problems.

"It's fair to say we were getting a few complaints in the first week of operation, but those have died down a bit and we're also working with Kiwirail to improve a couple of connections particularly first thing in the morning," he said.

The agency's figures show reliability and punctuality was close to 100 percent for the last three days of last week.

However, even when the shuttle is punctual, passengers complain that late arriving electric trains in Papakura miss the departing shuttle, something Auckland Transport insists is being addressed.

Auckland Transport said electrification to Pukekohe could be more than a decade away.