Many reasons have been given why it’s impossible or impractical to run passenger trains to Huapai. Most of these reasons are in the realm of myth, and can be easily dispelled. We answer some of those reasons below.

Myth 1. We had a trial before, and no one used it

The trial in 2008-9 offered only one service into the city (leaving Helensville at about 6.30) and one out, departing Britomart around 5.30. Despite huge initial support, the service was so badly run, even the most devoted patrons could no longer justify using it. The rest of the core rail network is now electrified leading to better overall reliability. Since then, population growth and congestion have increased hugely, meaning there’s even more need and demand for train services.

Myth 2. The Waitakere Tunnel is too small, and it’s a fire risk

The Waitakere tunnel is adequate for immediate use by a diesel shuttle service from Huapai to Swanson or Henderson. It had passenger trains using the tunnel for over 100 years without incident. It continues to be used by freight trains, every day. Fire safety concerns can be addressed through the installation of fire suppression systems. 

A tourist focused, diesel hauled Northern Explorer passes through 14 tunnels between Auckland and Wellington and the vintage Diesel Hauled enthusiasts Christchurch Press Train, running a 1957 built loco, DA1431, passed through the Waitakere tunnel in both directions in April 2017, without either incident or prohibition.


Myth 3. It will be too expensive

Every transport mode in the world is subsidsed, but in fact trains to Huapai are an efficient use of existing infrastructure, because the lines, trains and platforms are already in place. Congestion costs Aucklanders billions of dollars in time and money every year, and congestion around Kumeu and State Highway 16 is costing local businesses now. It’s too expensive not to use that infrastructure wisely. A targeted transport rate could help the viability of the project and ensure the area gets something for its rates.

Myth 4. A busway is a better public transport solution

There is no NorthWestern Busway. There is no designated corridor or confirmed budget. Any busway proposal extends bus priority only as far as Westgate, and so fails to provide solutions from Westgate to Kumeu where significant congestion chokes access. Buses from Kumeu and beyond just get tied up in SH16 traffic, and that will only get worse. Even with the new improved bus network, timetabled bus travel times are significantly longer than rail journey times. See graph attached.

Myth 5. Trains to Huapai offers nothing for Riverhead or Helensville

Because Kumeu area generates a massive amount of traffic onto SH16 which also collects traffic from beyond, and constrains the traffic flow with traffic lights and roundabouts, addressing capacity and congestion there is important. By taking cars off the road at Huapai, train services benefit those travelling from further afield and to other places. Our vision sees the potential for shuttle buses to the Huapai train station from Riverhead, and maybe even Muriwai. We also see trains extended to Waimauku and Helensville as the Huapai service becomes an established and proven success. (See a potential timeframe, attached)

Myth 6. The train service will compete with the bus

There are a lot of people who would never catch a bus but would readily catch a train. Many people consider trains more comfortable, spacious and desireable to travel in, than buses. Especially if trains will get there quicker and more directly than a bus. (See the journey time comparisons below). Trains are serving different catchments and therefore provide different benefits, potentially to different audiences. Train services to Huapai are a supplement to existing bus services, necessary in a growing community. A great advantage with trains to Huapai is that it links cyclists into the regional cycling network, good for commuter cyclists and tourism.

Myth 7. Not many people work in the CBD 

Trains to Huapai aren’t just about getting people into the city. Or to work. Trains to Huapai get people to work in all points west, quicker than the bus does, but it also gets people to education, recreation and commercial opportunities in the western suburbs.