Auckland Central MP calls for new tram line routes

03:21, Jul 05 2011
TRUNDLING ALONG: One of the trams imported from Australia to run the Rugby World Cup tram routes.
TRAM LINES: The interior of one of the trams brought over from Australia to run the Rugby World Cup tram routes.
TRAM MAP: A map of the Rugby World Cup route two trams will run.

Auckland has link buses and now there are calls for a tram line to run similar routes.

National's Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye wrote to Mayor Len Brown, Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and and the New Zealand Transport Agency yesterday asking them to consider investigating the merits of a tram link. 

Kaye proposed the link could travel through Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, Karangahape Road, Queen Street and downtown Auckland.

The MP wants the council to "properly" investigate "the feasibility of trams in central Auckland".

"This needs to include an analysis of the costs, funding options, routes and types of trams - because different trams can accommodate different numbers of people," Kaye said.

While Kaye is determined to investigate the loop connecting Auckland central with the western bays, the MP said she "will make it clear that we are also open to other routes".

The request follows a heritage tram project, which is already underway.

The Auckland Waterfront Development has imported two trams from Australia - both painted "carnation red" - which will be installed on a loop within the Wynyard Quarter and will run in a 15-minute clockwise circuit along Jellico, Halsey, Gaunt and Daldy Streets during the tournament.

The trams should be ready to roll by August 6.

One will seat 52 passengers while the other will carry up to 32.

The development group has no plans to install a loop around the areas Kaye proposes but is open to ideas about extending the track.

"The demonstration of the heritage trams around Wynyard Quarter is the first part of this project and provides us with a window to the future in terms of modern light rail vehicles," said Waterfront Auckland's Chief Executive John Dalzell.

"The Auckland Council Transport Committee has asked Waterfront Auckland, the Auckland Council officers and Auckland Transport to look at extending the tramway to the Britomart Transport Centre and this will be evaluated as part of the upcoming waterfront plant consultation process."

When trams were decommissioned in 1956 old tram lines underneath Ponsonby were removed so any new routes would need to factor in the cost of the new track infrastructure, Dalzell said.

Kaye believes the main attraction of tram systems is "they require considerably less capital outlay than conventional metro systems and construction is also generally faster".

The Auckland Council's CBD rail link project is estimated to take seven years to complete.

Kaye plans to push the tram link project through social media and has gathered support from a number of constituents and the private sector.

She believes the tram link will be a good idea because of their modern and international appeal.

"The last 10 years has seen a revival of interest in tramways and today trams are at the cutting edge of a number of cities' urban transport.

"In Australia, France, Italy, Spain, [the] US and the UK, approximately 25 new tramways have been opened or re-opened in the last decade."

Final costs for the privately funded heritage tram project at Wynyard Quarter are around $7.4 million, Chief Executive John Dalzell said.

"The budget for the heritage tram project is $7.4 million and final costs are not expected to vary greatly from this.

"The budget was inherited by Waterfront Auckland from Auckland Regional Holdings Ltd in November 2010. No investment is being made by Auckland Council for the tram project and as such no rate payers' money is being directly used as it is a privately funded project with costs being met by Waterfront Auckland."