Home‎ > ‎What's Along The Line‎ > ‎

@ Helensville

Helensville is 40 kms north west of Auckland City.
The Railway Station is about 1.5 kms north of the town centre.

The Parakai Hot Pools are about 5 kms west of the town centre.
 http://www.parakaisprings.co.nz/
  Email: info@parakaisprings.co.nz Free Phone: 0800 HOT POOLS (468 766)
Phone: 09 420 8998


http://www.helensville.co.nz/
http://www.helensville.co.nz/general/todo.htm
Mountain Biking

Malolo House Backpackers
http://www.malolohouse.co.nz/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helensville,_New_Zealand

Norwest Rail Action Group chairman Scott Osmond scottosmond54@hotmail.com or phone 09 420 8598.
http://www.helensvillerail.org.nz/
http://www.helensvillerail.org.nz/about.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helensville_railway_station
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About Us
Attractions
Gallery
Contact Us
Links

About Us

A Bit of History...


 It is not possible to discuss the history of Helensville without considering the largest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, the mighty Kaipara. For 25 years in the late 19th century the Kaipara Harbour was the most significant export port in New Zealand processing many tons of timber, flax, and Kauri gum. Likewise Helensville was built on the harbour, which provided the easiest access from Auckland to the north for many decades, other than by sea on the east coast. The record for ships leaving on one tide stands at 14 and was made during the 1880s. Despite a fearsome reputation the harbour entrance did not see a large number of ships lost. All those lost were in fact sailing ships most of which were caught out by an unexpected loss of wind or wind change. No steamers were ever lost crossing the entrance.

 In the early decades of the 19th century there was not a large population of Maori in the Kaipara area, because it was very much a no-mans land bordering the Ngapuhi Iwi in the north and Ngati Whatua Iwi around Auckland. As they often went to war they kept a distance between themselves consisting of the disputed territory. The last major battle between these two groups was as late as 1828.  

 The first European ships did not even enter the Kaipara Harbour until 1836, but the area began to boom when the export timber industry started to be expanded soon after.

 Prior to the opening of the railway line from Riverhead to Helensville in 1875 the easiest way to get from Auckland to Helensville was by steamer from Auckland to Riverhead, then a two day trek with an overnight stop at Waimauku, or later coach from Riverhead. The road then followed what is now Old North Road, a very hilly route of 14 miles. It was not until well after the opening of the railway that the road we now know as State Highway 16 was formed along a much flatter route, following the Kaipara River along the river flats generally alongside the railway. The rail route in fact became a well-used pedestrian access into Helensville from the south, especially by local mäori. They did not have much in the way of OSH regulations in those days! Alternatively one could take the train from Auckland to Onehunga, and ship from Onehunga to the Kaipara but risk crossing two difficult harbour entrances on the way. Then if you wanted to go further north another steamer would take you to Dargaville. From there you could take small boats much further up the Northern Wairoa River, and proceed overland to the Bay of Islands.

 In fact a railway was not the only option considered for access from Auckland to the Kaipara, a canal was a serious option for a while.

 The first major European settlers in Helensville are acknowledged to be the McLeod family, Scottish settlers from Nova Scotia. The McLeod’s set up the first sawmill on the Kaipara in 1862 near the site of the present railway station where the Awaroa Stream flows into the Kaipara River. The original name for the area was Te Awaroa and the name Helensville comes from the original McLeod matriarch, called Helen. Her name is also given to the large two-story home built on the hill above the stream called “Helens-villa”. That home is now preserved in largely its original state, and is a landmark when seen from the north of the town.

 In 1872 two large wharves were built in Helensville by the Auckland Provincial Council, a coal wharf and a railway wharf.

 The early function of the railway (opened from Riverhead to Helensville on 29 October 1875) was not only for passengers but also as a transshipment point for large export ships that berthed in the river adjacent to the railway yards. That first trip took 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach Helensville. The section from Riverhead to just south of Kumeu follows the route now known as Old Railway Road, and was closed after the line was pushed through West Auckland to Kumeu with the first train running on 18 July 1881, thus providing direct rail access from Auckland to Helensville. The line from Kumeu to Riverhead was closed at this time. It is interesting to note that the route via Swanson and Waitakere was not the only contender and a second route, which follows the present Lincoln Road from Henderson, was suggested. This route would probably have been more practical today, especially as a commuter line, as it is much shorter, but the landowners at Waitakere won the battle for “their” railway. At the same time the Awaroa Stream in Helensville was bridged and a new railway station and yards opened on the much larger site of the present station. Helensville remained the terminus of the line until the route to Kaupakakapa was opened in 1889.

 The original Helensville Railway Station was at Helensville South. So in fact the present station (which should correctly be called Helensville North), was the second terminus at Helensville and both stations were used for many years, as Helensville South was closer to the centre of town.

 The present station was built in 1880; just prior to the when the link to Auckland was opened. The station was originally further west of its present location. At this time the Helensville South station became a passenger stop only and in fact remained open until 1978. In 1881 a Post Office was added which operated until 1911. The Stationmaster doubled as Postmaster. The station was moved east to its present site in 1927, and the main line was also moved further east, which also removed a curve. It was also enlarged and a new verandah added. In 1980 it was closed as an officered station when the last passenger train to Auckland stopped running and became a flag station with a traffic operator in charge. In 1983, 20 metres at the southern end of the building was unfortunately removed. All of the expected ancillary structures once existed at Helensville including Goods Shed, Engine Shed, Coaling and Water facilities, stockyards and also timber loading facilities. A turntable was in place from 1908 until a turning triangle was built in 1942. This triangle is still used today for excursions from the south and shunts from as far north as Whangarei.

 It was not until after the opening of the line right through to Whangarei in 1922 that NZR decided to consolidate their operation at Helensville North. A separate Railway Refreshment Rooms was built earlier, but in 1923 they were built on to the railway station. At this time 12 railway cottages were also built in nearby Awaroa Road and Nelson Street.

 The Helensville Dargaville ferry service continued until the railway went through to Dargaville in 1942. The Port of Kaipara was officially closed in 1947 and the Marine Department closed their Kaipara offices at that time.

 Helensville was of course a refreshment stop for passenger trains. The Northland Express ran on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from when the line was opened to Whangarei in 1923 until 12 November 1957, after which Fiat railcars ran a daily service until they were withdrawn on 31 July 1967. A commuter train ran leaving Helensville at 0650 in the morning with an evening return until it too was withdrawn on 18 August 1980. In July 2008 a single daily return commuter train was re-introduced from Helensville to Auckland on a trial basis but it failed due to lack of patronage and was withdrawn at the end of 2009.

Acknowledgements.
  Men Came Voyaging -  Colleen M Sheffield, 1963.
  Written for Helensville Centennial.  

  Tracks in the North - H J Hansen & F J Neil 1991

  Tall Spars, Steamers & Gum -  Wayne Ryburn 1999

  The Kaipara Line -  Peter Reeves 2000



================================================================

http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/rodney-times/3074703/Helensville-service-derailed

Helensville service derailed

BY GEMMA REDDELL
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2009
Kaipara Cannonball
Photo: GEORGINA DUXBURY

STEAMED UP: A special Kaipara Cannonball steam train trip to Helensville’s Heritage Day was packed, but the same level of support was lacking for a soon to end regular commuter service.

The jam-packed steam train at Helensville's Heritage Day was a stark contrast to the failing Helensville passenger rail service.

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority has withdrawn funding for the rail trial from Helensville, but the service may be continuing as far as Huapai or Waimauku.

Nor-West Rail Support Group chairman Scott Osmond says the Auckland Regional Council transport and urban development meeting last week saw much of the blame for the service's failure put on the authority.

"The Helensville rail service trial has been a farce, and I believe much of the blame for its failure lies with the authority," he says.

They passed a resolution of the possibility of continuing with a more frequent service but only as far as Huapai or Waimauku, and this was to be undertaken urgently with a view to starting such a service from February 2010.

An average of 43 passengers daily have travelled in total on the three daily services, says the authority customer services general manager Mark Lambert.

"The subsidy paid by the ratepayer and taxpayer per person per journey for this service is $45.72. This compares with a regional average of $5.02 per passenger per journey.

"A great deal of time, effort, promotion and research was put in by the authority towards making this service successful within constraints such as limited rolling stock and taking into consideration the provision of services to other parts of the region."

Regional council chairman Mike Lee says he is very disappointed that for a number of reasons  the trial service to Helensville did not work out, but given the current state of the rail system he was not surprised.

In June 2009, Mr Osmond says he asked for the Nor-West Rail Support Group to be included in the review process, but the first communication from the authority on the review was a press release announcing the cancellation of the trial.

"During the lead-up period to the introduction of the service the Nor-West Rail Support Group was frequently asked for input and advice on the service.

This showed a good level of community consultation," he says.

"However, since early 2009 this has stopped."

He says when the service was announced in June 2007 they told the authority that having only one daily return service wouldn't work.

"No matter what time it ran or how long it took they completely missed the point that it was about changing behaviour, which is one of the most difficult marketing and service challenges, especially when the product or service has not been designed to 'fit' the needs of the market.

"In this instance the main market identified by the authority was limited to commuters, however without knowing the destination and times of the majority of commuters even this was rather a stab in  the dark," says Mr Osmond.

He says they agreed to support the trial anyway, as they felt it would be the only opportunity to use the valuable resource, which last ran as a suburban service in 1980.

The Nor-West Rail Support Group, made up of local community members, made many suggestions to the authority to improve patronage, but he says all were rejected.

"These included the use of a railcar as a shuttle service to link with western services, fare stage changes, use of concession options on the morning train as it is the only service despite running earlier than the normal concession time, and more post introduction promotion."

He says they asked for a survey to be done before the service  started, and the group ran an informal one when the authority refused. the authority finally held a survey in December 2008, when the train service wasn't running, and no changes were made.

He says Helensville passengers were frustrated when the train stopped each morning metres after beginning the journey while the locomotive engineer got out to change a signal.

"When I spoke to a senior Kiwirail train running official informally it was fixed within days by allowing it to be done as the train arrived."

There were regular stops of about six minutes waiting for citybound trains, and the time between Waitakere and Helensville was continually hindered by ever-changing speed restrictions, one of which is 10kmh through Kumeu, says Mr Osmond.

The train also frequently stopped at all stations instead of running as an express service, adding half an hour to the journey, and it often left the station early - leaving passengers behind.

"The timetable has never been achievable and was unrealistic," says Mr Osmond. "The service has been beset by poor reliability and poor staff attitude."

He says a bus-rail combined ticket would have certainly been worth trialling, especially over the summer.

"This was suggested in September 2008 when it was clear the patronage was not meeting expectations. It was not actioned until February 2009, then offered in June but declined as the trial was supposed to end in July."

He says with proper support, alternative options could have been tried throughout 2009  to produce a better result.

"I would suggest it stops this week rather than spend another six weeks languishing in this state of apathy," he says.

"We can only hope now that despite the best tradition of local, regional and central government in ignoring the needs of western Rodney and a carefully planned strategy is adopted to enhance the provision and uptake of properly integrated public transport, including rail, in our area."

- Rodney Times

========================================================================


=========================================================================
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10521371

New commuter train services

 14 July 2008  NZ Herald

By Mathew Dearnaley

Most Auckland rail commuters will face timetable changes this morning, to allow extra services through an expanded network from Pukekohe to Helensville.

That has brought a warning from rail safety officials for drivers and pedestrians to be extra careful at level crossings, especially if these are on their regular travel routes where they may not expect to meet trains at certain times of the day.

New timetables introduced yesterday include a doubling of peak-period trains running between Swanson and Henderson to four an hour in each direction and extra services between Pukekohe and Britomart.

The first scheduled passenger train to run between Helensville and Auckland since 1980 is due to begin a year-long trial at 6.32am today for a 95-minute trip to Britomart.

That will mark a 27 per cent expansion of the region's passenger network to 140km, after improvements by Ontrack to about half of the 30km section of railway line between Waitakere Station and Helensville, to minimise speed restrictions.

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority has also spent about $900,000 building new platforms at Helensville, Waimauku and Huapai to allow passengers to join the train before it calls at all other stations from Waitakere to New Lynn.

Although the daily trip back from Britomart to Helensville will not be until 5.30pm, and there will be no weekend trains, Norwest Rail Action Group chairman Scott Osmond is confident community support will make the trial successful and see more services added.

He said yesterday he was pleased the transport authority agreed to a request by his group to allow passengers to travel on the evening train's return run to Auckland, leaving Helensville at 7.15pm.

Although about 15 freight trains pass through Helensville each week, the resurrection of passenger services has prompted warnings from the authority and Ontrack for drivers and pedestrians to be extra- cautious at level crossings.

Authority customer services general manager Mark Lambert said care should be taken throughout the region, in view of extra services from Pukekohe and an 18 per cent increase in seating capacity on western line trains.

Ontrack northern manager Steve Collett said people who crossed railway lines at set times should always check that the way was clear.

By Mathew Dearnaley | Email Mathew

=========================================================================

16th February 2009  

Commuters aren't exactly crowding rail-station platforms out west, reports Joanna Davies. But there could be good reasons why they can't take a train to work

When Sheena Easton chirped ``my baby takes the morn ing train', she was almost certainly not singing about the Helensville line.

Her song was a hit in 1980 but, almost 30 years later, rail authorities are struggling to make such an impact on commuters from the little town on the banks of Kaipara River.

The only morning train to Auckland City departs at 6.32am on its 95-minute journey to Britomart, arriving in downtown Auckland at 8.07am.

Trains have run from the town to the city since July in a one-year trial to see if rail is a viable alternative to catch ing buses or driving. But the results have been less promising than originally hoped.

``It's not going as well as we expected numbers-wise,' says Norwest Rail Action Group chairman Scott Osmond.

``We're getting about 40 passengers before the Waitakere stop in the morning, but we'd like to be getting 80.'

Between the Helensville and Waitakere stations, the train stops at Waimauku and Huapai. The station platforms were built especially for the trial.

Advertisement

Mr Osmond says the biggest chal lenge is convincing people to change their habit of driving into town every day. ``People still like to sit in their cars rather than take public transport.'

Another problem has been the western line upgrade. Over Christmas, two rail bridges between Helensville and Waimauku were replaced and the entire line was shut down for three weeks.

Trains to Britomart are stopping at Fruitvale Rd in New Lynn while work is being completed on the New Lynn station. Buses run for the remainder of the journey.

Mr Osmond says the line would have lost some casual users over the holiday but he doesn't think this alone has stopped people using the train.

Auckland Regional Transport Authority will decide the future of the service.

At the moment it is too soon to tell what the future of the line will be _ whether it will be open for public rail use or used just as a freight line.

Authority spokeswoman Sharon Hunter says daylight saving boosted passenger numbers on the evening journeys.

``Significantly higher numbers were recorded on the evening trip with day- trippers travelling on the outbound service and back on the return trip,' she says.

``Patronage on normal weekdays has continued to similar levels for the September quarter.'

On the authority's books, the num bers average 25 passengers a trip for the new stations.

Christine Rose, the Rodney coun cillor for Auckland Regional Council, catches the train from the Waimauku station most mornings.

``It's still early for this trial _ even after a year or so it can take a while for patronage to increase.

``The stations cost over $1 million so, to maximise the investment, we'd like to keep the service running as long as possible.'

Before the trial, the only trains to pass through the three rural towns were freight trains.

The last passenger service ran on the line in 1980.


=========================================================================
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK0804/S00191.htm

Helensville rail service scheduled for July start

Friday, 18 April 2008, 10:10 am
Press Release: ARTA

Media release

17 April 2008

Helensville rail service scheduled for July start

 

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) announced today that the first rail service to Helensville since 1980 will start on Monday 14 July 2008, in line with the introduction of an updated network-wide timetable. The network-wide timetable, which begins on Sunday 13 July, will reflect the completion by the New Zealand rail agency, ONTRACK, of the double tracking work from Henderson to Swanson, enabling four trains an hour to run during morning and evening peak on weekdays on the Western Line.

The Helensville service will run on a one-year trial basis, making stops at Waimauku and Huapai before travelling along the Western Line and into Britomart. The trial service was funded by the Auckland Regional Council and includes three temporary stations. Construction of the stations will begin this month.

ARTA’s Chief Executive Fergus Gammie says, “As ARTA redevelops Auckland’s rail network with ONTRACK, we are able to offer commuters many more services, which means greater transport choices other than the car. The aim is to get people off congested roads by providing them with a frequent and reliable public transport service.”

Mr Gammie says the Helensville service will depart on weekdays just before 6.30am, arrive at Britomart at around 8am, returning to Helensville from Britomart at approximately 5.30pm.

“The final timetable details will be completed shortly and will be publicised as soon as they are available.”

Scott Osmond, Chairperson of the Norwest Rail Action Group, which is championing the trial service from Helensville on behalf of the community, says, “Representatives from the Norwest Rail Group conducted a survey of potential departure and return times given to us by ARTA and its operator, Veolia Transport Auckland. In one week, we received ninety responses from the community, with the majority in favour of the times chosen from a number of options given to us by ARTA and Veolia.”

The Helensville service and improvements to the Helensville rail station to make it fit for commuter services, as well as new station developments at Waimauku and Huapai for the service and future Western Line rail services, are included in the ARC Draft Annual Plan which is open for public submission until 2 May 2008.  Summary copies are available at www.arc.govt.nz, 366 2000 or 0800 806040.
ends-

 

============================================================================

Exciting developments on cards for local passenger rail (September 24th, '07)

    Exciting things are happening with the recent announcements of two planned passenger rail services for Helensville.
    The Auckland Regional Council has announced that a one-year trial of a commuter train service, from Helensville to Britomart, is proposed to start in July 2008.
    And a group based at Waimauku have started planning the introduction of a regular weekend train service bringing Aucklanders to Western Rodney to experience the attractions of the area.
In addition to the shops, cafés and hot pools at Helensville and Parakai, the group is also looking at stops where passengers can experience other attractions such as Muriwai gannet colony and beach, wineries, and other local destinations.
    A working group has been set up to ensure the commuter service is provided in a way that maximises use.
    It has representatives from the Western Rodney communities which will benefit from the new commuter service. Representing Helensville are Scott Osmond, a member of the Helensville Railway Station Trust and Helensville Residents & Ratepayers Association, the Helensville Business Association, and councillor Grev Walker. ARC councillor Christine Rose is also actively assisting.
This group is working with ARC and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, which funds the work needed on stations and supplies the trains, which are run by Veolia Transport Ltd on railway tracks owned and maintained by Ontrack.
    Initially there will be just one train daily taking commuters in to the city in the morning and returning in the evening. Proposed stops for the new service are Helensville, Waimauku, Huapai, Waitakere and then selected stops to Britomart.
    “We are committed to the success of the train and plan for it to be just the beginning of a regular and extended service,” says Scott Osmond.
    “It is important that we get our message accepted in this most confusing situation.”
    Many readers may be unaware that trains and railcars running north to Whangarei historically served Helensville and further north. These services stopped in 1967 and a commuter train ran until 1980, when it too was suspended due to lack of patronage.
    Scott says the working group intends to survey the local communities, asking if they would they use the service, what times they wish it to run, and what facilities are required both on the train and at the stations.
    “There is no point in providing a service with inadequate station and on-train facilities, that does not run when people need to use it!”
    Any comments on what readers expect from the service can be made to Scott Osmond, email scottosmond54@hotmail.com or phone 09 420 8598.

  ==============================
================================================================================

Passenger rail to return to Helensville (July 21st, '07)

    Commuter train services will return to Helensville in the middle of next year. Helensville passenger trains last ran in 1980.
    ARC chairman Michael Lee says the ARC is pleased to contribute towards rail's renaissance further out west. The initial plan is to run one train in each direction, morning and night, from Monday to Friday, for a year.
    t's the latest step in expanding and strengthening Auckland's rail system, with the ARC approving $450,000 in capital funding so the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) can begin preparation in the coming year.
    The money will be used for a minor upgrade to Helensville station and to develop temporary stations at Huapai and Waimauku.
    Talks are underway with ONTRACK about improvements to the line before trial commuter services can begin mid 2008. Mr Lee says rail projects are building momentum in the region.
    “There have been requests for this service for a number of years now, and we feel it is time we delivered. The aim is to get more people onto trains and off congested highways.”
    Double-tracking of the western line and the refurbishment of stations along it continues. ONTRACK commissioned a further 7.5 km of track at Queens Birthday weekend, allowing ARTA to improve timetables. The western line will carry four trains an hour in peak times from next week.
    Rail patronage for May was 576,000 – the highest level to date. In the year ending June 30, ARTA expects to have carried a record 5.8 million passengers, an increase of 14 per cent compared to last year.



http://www.infonews.co.nz/news.cfm?id=18686

Helensville rail service scheduled for July start
Thursday 17 April 2008, 5:40PM
By ARTA
463 views


HELENSVILLE

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) announced today that the first rail service to Helensville since 1980 will start on Monday 14 July 2008, in line with the introduction of an updated network-wide timetable. The network-wide timetable, which begins on Sunday 13 July, will reflect the completion by the New Zealand rail agency, ONTRACK, of the double tracking work from Henderson to Swanson, enabling four trains an hour to run during morning and evening peak on weekdays on the Western Line.

 

The Helensville service will run on a one-year trial basis, making stops at Waimauku and Huapai before travelling along the Western Line and into Britomart. The trial service was funded by the Auckland Regional Council and includes three temporary stations. Construction of the stations will begin this month.

 

ARTA’s Chief Executive Fergus Gammie says, “As ARTA redevelops Auckland’s rail network with ONTRACK, we are able to offer commuters many more services, which means greater transport choices other than the car. The aim is to get people off congested roads by providing them with a frequent and reliable public transport service.”

 

Mr Gammie says the Helensville service will depart on weekdays just before 6.30am, arrive at Britomart at around 8am, returning to Helensville from Britomart at approximately 5.30pm.

“The final timetable details will be completed shortly and will be publicised as soon as they are available.”

Scott Osmond, Chairperson of the Norwest Rail Action Group, which is championing the trial service from Helensville on behalf of the community, says, “Representatives from the Norwest Rail Group conducted a survey of potential departure and return times given to us by ARTA and its operator, Veolia Transport Auckland. In one week, we received ninety responses from the community, with the majority in favour of the times chosen from a number of options given to us by ARTA and Veolia.”

The Helensville service and improvements to the Helensville rail station to make it fit for commuter services, as well as new station developments at Waimauku and Huapai for the service and future Western Line rail services, are included in the ARC Draft Annual Plan which is open for public submission until 2 May 2008. Summary copies are available at www.arc.govt.nz , 366 2000 or 0800 806040.


-------------------------------------------------------------------
Save Our Rail Northland
saveourrailnorthland@gmail.com
Viv Shepherd: Convenor vivshepherd@clear.net.nz
(09)438 8710 (work) (09)4362610 ( home) 021656605 Mobile