14 Jul 2008

12 month trial for $1m Helensville rail service

1:35 pm on 14 July 2008

Auckland's longest-distance commuter rail service was launched on Monday morning. The Helensville service now has 12 months to build enough patronage to avoid being scrapped.

More than $1 million has been spent extending the commuter rail timetable to Helensville, north west of Auckland city - 28 years after the previous service was ended.

It extends the Auckland rail network by 30km. Some 40 additional regular passengers have to be found to ensure the survival of the 90 minute journey.

The new line also competes with a long-established bus service, which gets commuters to the Auckland CBD 15 minutes quicker.

However, Auckland Regional Land Transport committee chairperson Christine Rose is confident that commuters will support the journey to the Auckland CBD, or other suburbs along the way, especially with higher petrol prices.

A Radio New Zealand reporter on the initial service estimated there were about a dozen genuine commuters on the train before it reached the western suburbs it formerly served.