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ARC Puts More Trains On The Fast-Track

ARC Puts More Trains On The Fast-Track

The Auckland Regional Council announced today that 10 more trains will be running on the Auckland rail network by the end of 2005.

ARC Chair, Councillor Gwen Bull, said the first of the SA trains would be “on line” in the second quarter of 2004.

She said the Council’s Passenger Transport Committee had approved an order for up to ten trains and the mechanical upgrade of nine existing units.

The package is estimated to cost $61.2 million, of which 60% ($36.7 million) will be funded by Transfund.

“This purchase will have a significant impact on the rail network as it will improve service reliability and increase capacity,” said Cr Bull.

“These trains are urgently needed as more and more people are using rail. Patronage was up 275,000 in the past four months compared to the same time last year.”

ARC figures show that, from July to October, more than 1.12 million journeys were made on the region’s trains – up 32% on 2002.

Cr Bull said that the support from Transfund meant the service could be enhanced without adding to the burden on the region’s ratepayers.

Transfund CEO Wayne Donnelly said: "We're pleased to be able to make this substantial contribution to Auckland's rail network. This funding will bring benefits to both road users, by reducing traffic congestion, and rail passengers, by increasing service frequency, reliability and passenger comfort."

Gwen Bull said the agreement to buy the additional trains followed the government's decision to give Tranz Rail and ARC the go-ahead for the first stage of double tracking on the western line.

“Construction will begin early next year to double track the line between Mt Eden and Avondale, with the work estimated to take 12 months. That too will make a major contribution to service reliability.

“We’re also looking forward to announcing next week the preferred operator to run Auckland’s metro rail services.”

Cr Bull said the three announcements showed that the ARC was making good progress on improving Auckland’s rail network, despite the funding and operational obstacles it faced.

“We’re under pressure to improve the network quickly but the money has to come from somewhere and the ARC is often caught in the middle between divergent interests. However, services are getting better and we are committed to continuing that progress.”

She said the transport issues facing the ARC would be highlighted in a presentation to the Mayoral Forum tomorrow.

ARC Passenger Transport Committee Chair, Councillor Catherine Harland said the additional trains would be able to be used anywhere on the network and were suitable for fast loading and unloading.

“Passengers will be very pleased with the extra rolling stock and that, coupled with the double tracking of the western line, will make for much smoother journeys for thousands of commuters every day.”

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