Post card from Hann. Munden Rail station

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

Hann Munden Rail Map

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

288,890 100 km
Kassel – 194,747

Hann. Munden – 23,668

Gottingen – 116,891

335,406 50 km
Hamilton – 156,800

Ngaruawahia – 5,100

Huntly – 7,670

Pukekohe – 29,000

Manukau – 375,700

574,270 100 km

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).

Hann Munden cantus train Hann Munden Train ticket ATM

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.

Grandview land use & local retail

Much of Grandview’s diversity can be seen as an extension of the Nawton area on the south side of Grandview Rd and the mixed activities on Avalon Dr. This diversity should not be seen as distasteful by outsiders who observe the mixing of tradies’ workshops, auto sale yards, auto dismantlers … plus family housing. This suburb is allowing maximum flexibility in land use so that buildings are renovated and economic activities take place. The opposite approach is to risk having empty land or empty shop windows and zero income to pay bills.

Avalon Dr Mix use

To protect both residents and industries, we do have the following rule in the Hamilton Operational District Plan (ODP) Rule 5.5 p731.

“Where an industrial area is situated in close proximity to residential neighbourhoods, nuisances, including smoke, noise, dust, vibration, glare or other noxiousness or danger shall not result from the activity.” (ODP Rule 5.5 page 731)

The measure of liveability in a mixed area is one of tolerance to nuisances such as noise, smell and vibration (for privacy one should invest in curtains or blinds). Living in a mixed environment should be seen as an art/choice that can be managed by people if the cost is right.  Land historically used for business purposes normally will have protection from non-business activity.Grandview Land Use

Invasion of business into residential areas should not be feared if its activity doesn’t produce nuisances greater than that of normal households; it adds diversity and opportunity. Although many of us like to have a say in what happens in our neighbourhood, if an activity is distasteful, our reaction should be based on a measure of nuisance, not necessarily on the type of activity.