If you think the new fast train that isn’t fast between Hamilton and Papakura is a joke, you’ve got good company.
Patrick Reynolds, who sits on the board of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, the very organisation that pumped $80 million into the train, he agrees with you.
Over the weekend, Reynolds tweeted that the service was the “worst of both worlds” and it is “[v]ery hard to see how it will attract much ridership”, until the train goes faster.
Now that is a damning assessment coming from a Waka Kotahi board member. It says a lot that Reynolds has since deleted that tweet, gone to ground, and the chair of the board, Sir Brian Roche, has apparently also gone to ground on it.
What makes it even more damning is the fact that Reynolds is normally such a fan of public transport that he often seems to defend even terrible public transport ideas - but this is evidently so bad even he can’t defend it.
So let’s once and for all understand what’s wrong here. The problem is the train goes too slowly to be a commuter train.
It’s too slow for two reasons according to the guys at the Campaign for Better Transport: the track can’t support a fast train, and as it’s on the same track as every other Auckland train, meaning it has to stop, it can’t be an express service.
The solution is actually to build another track that allows a train to go fast, and allows it to be express from Hamilton to Auckland at 160km an hour, instead of the current 100km an hour followed by a slow suburban train into the city.
What’s gone wrong is that the government decided that the best way to show that they care about public transport between cities was to throw $100 million at a slow train almost no one will use, instead of investing in the infrastructure we need now and will need in the future which will actually give us a proper fast train people might use.
This is money wasted on looking like you’re doing something when you’re doing nothing, and if even Patrick Reynolds calls you out for how bad your slow train is, then it’s really bad.