In 2015 I spent the best part of a week in Hann. Munden. This post benchmarks its rail service compared to what we could have in Hamilton NZ (pop 156,800: density 1,400 p/km2).
To help understand the population base that supports the Hann. Munden rail service, let’s first note there are two rail services between the city of Gottingen (pop 116,891: density 1,000 p/km2) and the city of Kassel (pop 194,747: density 1,800 p/km2). The blue line is a direct service (19 minutes, distance of about 50km), which then continues on to Frankfurt. I interpret this as a fast, two trains per hour service. Link – Gottingen to Kassel time table
The second is the green line, which is a local Gottingen to Kassel (60 minutes) service passing through the rail station at Hann. Munden (pop 23,668: density 200 p/km2). I regard this as an hourly service. Link – Hann. Munden station time table
Now to bench mark this against a Hamilton rail service, listing equally sized population bases as in the table below.
|City/Town – Population||Population base||Distance|
|Hamilton – 156,800
Morrinsville – 7,490
Tauranga – 124,600
|Kassel – 194,747
Hann. Munden – 23,668
Gottingen – 116,891
|Hamilton – 156,800
Ngaruawahia – 5,100
Huntly – 7,670
Pukekohe – 29,000
Manukau – 375,700
The challenge Hamilton faces is that it is twice the distance to reach a supporting population, making the travel time between cities over 1 hour.
But is this a real issue? The blue line in the Hann. Munden map is a fast city-to-city service; the green line is about picking up people in smaller towns. The Hamilton to Auckland service should be very much about servicing the towns between our main centres; we must not just focus on travel between the two major cities, but more on supporting the people in the towns between, where most would be happy to choose journeys of about an hour. This would include trips between Te Kauwhata and Hamilton (50km) or Mercer and Ellerslie (50km).
Image: Cautus train Hann.Munden station & Ticket machine on DB train to Kassel
It’s also important to note that Gottingen and Hann. Munden are in the state of Lower Saxony, while Kassel is in the state of Hesse. These are very different places, with different histories, but are focused on giving access to the maximum number of people travelling between their cities.
The New Zealand approach often feels as though it limits the movement of people that live between city centres. Outside of Auckland we get very good funding to support road traffic, which is OK unless you need to visit Auckland. Then you are wasting time. Once in Auckland, only a local can predict travel times; for an outsider the motorway network can feel like being in a swampy river-mouth lagoon at high tide.