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KiwiRail starts Stage 2 of Rebuild, closing stations and AT announces fare increase



KiwiRail has started the second phase of the Rail Network Rebuild (RNR) project. (Photo Auckland Transport)

Dr Malini Yugendran
Auckland, March 17, 2023

KiwiRail will begin stage 2 of rebuild in Auckland with the closure of five stations while Auckland Transport announces fare increases.

KiwiRail and Fare Increase

KiwiRail has started the second phase of the Rail Network Rebuild (RNR) project, which involves closing five stations on the Eastern Line: Ōrākei, Meadowbank, Glen Innes, Panmure, and Sylvia Park. These stations will remain closed throughout the second phase of upgradation from 20 March 2023 to January 2024.

In addition to the station closures, Auckland Transport has also announced fare increases of approximately 6.5% from 2 April 2023. Shorter distance fares will increase by around 8%, and longer distance fares will increase by 3% to 5%. This announcement had mixed reactions from commuters.

Reactions

Rajeev Balan said, “I recently started travelling by train instead of driving alone in my car. It is more convenient and less frustrating since I do not have to sit in traffic. I enjoy sitting by the window and planning my day or catching up on work emails. The increase in fare is only by 20 cents and I am cognizant of the fact that they are only charging half rates at the moment due to Covid. I do not see any issues with the small increase in fare given the current scenario.”

Mansi Joshi commutes from New Lynn to Britomart on the Western line and prefers taking the train to avoid traffic and costly parking in the city. However, the recent announcement of a fare increase has left her unhappy as it adds to the already high cost of living, creating an additional burden. “While the current half-price offer is appreciated, the small increase now will become a lot when fares return to normal,” she said.

Priyanka Patel takes the Southern line to Britomart, and she stated, “I am generally satisfied with the service as trains come every 10 minutes. However, there are some occasions the board shows that the train is arriving, but the delay can be up to five minutes. They should make an announcement in advance that there will be a delay. Additionally, I am not happy about the increase in price. Currently, I am paying $3 as a half price. Our disposable income is affected by the increasing prices of goods and services while our salaries remain unchanged.”

Visashan Naarayan, a BSC student at the University of Auckland suggested the government make public transport free for students and senior citizens.

Train Services

Ms Joshi recounted an incident, saying, “My 12-year-old was left stranded when the train service was cancelled, and there were no staff members available to guide him on what to do. He started panicking as he was on his way to school. I think there should be regular announcements and staff members present on train platforms to assist passengers during delays and cancellations.” She also suggested that the app offer updates on cancellations and delays.

Arthi, a Western Line commuter, said, “Auckland’s train network is appalling. The current western line service is too slow and infrequent for it to be a reliable means of transport. Population density is a critical factor in planning for better services. One good thing which the government has implemented is the heavily subsidised train fares which is a motivation for people to use trains.”

As Auckland’s public transport system undergoes significant upgrades, it is essential for commuters to stay informed about changes and disruptions that may affect their daily commute.

Commuters are advised to download the AT Mobile app and opt-in to receive recommendations based on their AT HOP Card travel. This will allow AT to recommend alternative travel options based on their personal journey and provide specific reminders when a change might affect them.

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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