Call for Tauranga passenger trains

The last passenger train to run in Tauranga was at the Jazz Festival in 2009. Photo: Steam Inc.

Using existing rail corridors for commuter transport is being suggested by Tauranga architect Mark Wassung, as a way of reducing traffic congestion on the city roads.

Existing rail connects the CBD, Baypark, Bayfair, Airport, and the harbour on both sides including the cruise ship part of the Port, says Mark.

The Mount and beach areas could be served by a Terminus Station created in Blake Park area.

Platforms could be built and gravel parking areas created to reduce civil engineering and building costs in the early stages of the development. Later these could be improved and upgraded with increasing usage, says Mark.

“Tauranga has existing railway corridors which connect the coastal area and the CBD. Not many cities have this advantage.  

“The city is experiencing unprecedented growth, and if cognisance of the pressures that this will place on future development is not taken into account now, the opportunity of identifying corridors and land allocation for park and ride facilities to enhance suburban railway will be lost to future commercial interests and a lack of visionary planning.”

For starters the suburban commuter service could use redundant diesel trains from Auckland, but he expects increased to allow investment in electric trains.

“Electric locomotives which store battery supplied electricity, would allow operation beyond overhead electric supply in less populated areas,” says Mark.

“These are things that can be built into future planning.”

The suburban service could serve the coastal area from Omokoroa to Te Puke initially and further afield in the future. A spur line connecting the Proposed Te Tumu Development and serving the development in eastern Papamoa should be included in future planning.

Provision should also be made for future doubling of the line and any necessary land allocation planned for now, before economic pressure makes land prices prohibitive, as has occurred in Auckland.  

The same applies to Park and Ride facilities to be provided in reasonable proximity to stations.

“To prevent the expense of two way line doubling in the early stages of the development, sidings could be provided for staging of the suburban trains to allow free flow of freight trains as a priority,” says Mark.

The Tauranga computerised traffic management system could be adapted to facilitate this.

“Some negativity has been expressed in the ability to co-ordinate freight and passenger services, but with co-operation, computers and scheduling, this is managed world-wide in much larger and congested situations,” says Mark.

“An interchange facility with buses could be created on vacant land at the Baypark rail intersection. Likewise, a similar interface with buses should be identified to serve the more difficult steep terrain in the southern suburbs which is not suitable for rail.

“Rail facilities are cheaper to establish and maintain than impervious surfaces created by road development.

“The stone ballast that supports the sleepers and rail is permeable and thus obviates the stormwater runoff created by roads and the ecosystem damage associated with this.”

By preparing early for a suburban passenger rail service, the local councils will be creating a vision for future generations, as it will not only provide ease of movement, reduction of road traffic and carbon emissions, but will save costs, says Mark.

He’s suggesting the start will be a peak hour service from The Strand connecting Omokoroa and Te Puke with an 8am and 5pm suburban passenger rail service.


Capt H

Posted on 28-11-2017 10:49 | By maildrop

As simple as that. Then they just need to close the port to free up the single line for the passenger trains.

Yes to trains

Posted on 26-11-2017 16:48 | By Captain Hottie

Mark Wassung seems to be full of great ideas re public transport, pity he wasn’t elected on council . Build stations at Te Puna, Omokoroa and Bethlehem. They don’t have to be grand Britomart-style, just simple shelter from the elements with adequate lighting and security. Have a big central station in the city, maybe the Cargo Shed. Then more stations west at Baypark (with an interchange), Bayfair, Blake Park and Rata St, and east at Domain Road and Te Puke. Have free park n ride facilities at the outer stations. Then start building more intensive housing and shopping facilities around the stations rather than the middle of nowhere - The Lakes being a prime example of where NOT to live and shop if you don’t have a car.

@old trucker

Posted on 26-11-2017 16:34 | By Captain Hottie

I never catch a bus from town in Willow Street. It’s manky and full of weirdos and loiterers and there are no shops or car parks, hence not busy (apart from the weirdos and the loiterers). I walk up to Grey Street where it is busier and feels safer. But yeah agree with you about the cafes. Who wants to sit outside a cafe and have stinky noisy buses pulling up every few minutes?


Posted on 24-11-2017 04:26 | By old trucker

They should get the Kingston Flyer going and (by the way is RUSTING away on a siding down south) this would help as by the time they got steam up with the coal the day would be over and the pollution would be awful. like those buses all day in the city,there is a Bus stop in willow st, (WHY do they need to go through Grey st and stop twice to get people, are people to LAZY to walk to Willow st,this woul give Grey st xtra parks,another thing about Buses is on Cameron rd a BUS stop on every block,(outside Cafes), The only one is outside Wharehouse where there is NO shops, people are lazy, and im sure exercise would do them good to walk from 11th Ave to outside above to catch a bus,cafe owners should have access to those parks for the business, Thankyou 10-4out.

Wellington, 4 times Tauranga population and almost no traffic problems

Posted on 23-11-2017 15:20 | By Peter Dey

Tauranga seems to have more rush hour congestion than Wellington and only going to get much worse, and Wellington has 4 times the population of Tauranga. It seems obvious that Wellington’s suburban rail service is a huge benefit. Suburban rail in Tauranga seems an obvious improvement.

Yes, yes, yes

Posted on 23-11-2017 09:56 | By jaydeegee

Passenger trains to Auckland, Hamilton, Te Puna etc. etc. Improve the infrastructure, cut down on new roads and costs of maintaining same. Reduce greenhouse gasses. Make a lot of sense.Let’s do this!


Posted on 22-11-2017 14:54 | By MISS ADVENTURE

passenger based all loose money, roads make a profit, there is no comparison.


Posted on 22-11-2017 14:09 | By

Totally support this.

Commuting by train

Posted on 22-11-2017 12:54 | By Lvdw

is a fantastic idea. As well as being able to commute easily to Auckland or Hamilton for the day or for events or weekend stays. We almost never shop in the Tauranga CBD because of the congestion and parking issues and never ever consider going to Auckland because of the horrible roads and the terrible traffic jams, day or night. So bring on the trains I reckon.

Terrible idea

Posted on 22-11-2017 12:49 | By maildrop

Single line, narrow gauge and long slow freight trains to move aside for. CBD to Papamoa in 3 hours. Great day out. Zero uptake. Cobbling something together out of old left over bits. It’s called throwing good money after bad. Trains are good, this idea is bad.

One step further

Posted on 22-11-2017 12:27 | By michael

Great idea, but services could be expanded through to Auckland via Hamilton. When we came to live in the Mount about 20 years ago, there was a regular daily railcar type through to Auckland. It was possible to travel to AK,spend the day there and return early evening. We used it a lot, but sadly it was cancelled due to lack of patronage

Passenger trains

Posted on 22-11-2017 10:36 | By Val.M

I love the sound of this! We MUST use whatever resources are available to get some traffic off the roads! Go for it! If council want more people to visit central city, I am sure this will draw many in just to get a ride! Me for one! I just dont go there from Papamoa! Keep it up guys!


Posted on 22-11-2017 09:52 | By Helios

A great suggestion with many benefits to general public, visitors and cruise passengers. I am able to see the trains from my window and I see no reason why a good schedule cannot work for both the commercial and passenger use. There are big gaps between trains which can readily be planned to make use of an economic and pleasant transport facility.

Too easy for council

Posted on 22-11-2017 08:51 | By freedomkiwis

Brilliant idea but I fear it’s just too easy for council. They have a way of making things so complicated and then have to charge the ratepayer accordingly. There should be no conflict with freight at all. Other cities bigger than ours can do it.

Won’t happen.

Posted on 22-11-2017 08:18 | By waiknot

I have made this suggestion to a few councillors a few years back.

If this

Posted on 22-11-2017 08:12 | By Merlin

If this could work I am all for it especially because of the traffic problems north of Tauranga .Interesting to note when this was mentioned before the previous Transport minister Simon Bridges was against it.Wonder how the new Transport Minister feels about it.

This idea..

Posted on 22-11-2017 08:09 | By Border Patrol

.. has been mooted by various groups and individuals over many years. It does seem the logical solution to the traffic problems in Tauranga, however never seems to gain any traction. It most likely comes back to ownership of the lines, the port, freight timetables etc etc and ends up in the too hard basket. I wish Mark all the best in promoting this further with the powers that be.

Great thinking

Posted on 22-11-2017 07:57 | By Nztoffee

This is definitely something that should be considered. It will be interesting to see the level of service that could be provided without impacting the freight traffic too much. However passenger services will need to have priority as they must run to a strict timetable for people to trust and use them.


Posted on 22-11-2017 07:39 | By collydogz

What a brilliant idea. However I doubt that our council will agree. They never agree to anything that makes perfect sense. This is a brilliant solution. A lot of the infrastructure is already there. But whats the bet they will come back and say that it wont work because those lines are used for freight. So lets keep the freight flowing freely while our city chokes to death.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now
Opinion Poll

Do you think free parking in the CBD on Saturdays will bring more business to retailers?

No it’s going to add to the parking problems
Yes and it should be extended throughout the week