Nominal Metro rail speed

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First, a bit of history about New Zealand Rail speed records

The fastest speed officially achieved on New Zealand’s railway network was attained by a Vulcan railcar. On a trial run on 25 October 1940, it reached a speed of 125.5 km/h (78 mph).

In September 1938 Standard railcar RM 30 covered the 321 km between Napier and Wellington in 4 hours and 36 minutes running time. In 1967 RM 30 took a group of railway enthusiasts from Auckland to Wellington in 9 hours and 26 minutes (running time 8 hours and 42 minutes).


That is an average speed of 70 km/h for the Napier–Wellington run, and 75 km/h for the Auckland–Wellington run. That was last century and this century our Wellington to Auckland train is a bit slower, at 10 hours 35 minutes, giving an average speed of 65 km/h.

We do need to note that intercity rail is different to urban and regional rail. The table below shows some of the speeds modern urban rail-metro can perform at.

Source: Google maps and the last two are from Transportblog 2011 Jan 11 on what will be the most modern urban train set in the world.

Metro route Distance Time Average speed
Wellington to Waikanae 85 1 hour 82 km/h
Wellington to Plimmerton 25 30 minutes 50 km/h
Wellington to Porirua 20 27 minutes 44 km/h
Groningen NL to Veendan NL 27 33 minutes 49 km/h
Rotterdam Centraal to De Akkers Spijkenisse 20 39 minutes 31 km/h
Brisbane Central to Brisbane Domestic Airport 16 22 minutes 43 km/h
Auckland Britomart to Manukau 24 42 minutes 34 km/h
Auckland Britomart to New Lynn 16 32 minutes (28) 22 km/h (34)
Auckland Britomart to Henderson 23 44 minutes (38) 31 km/h (36)

The speed matches the 30 km/h to 50 km/h ideal urban speed for a motor vehicle lane as stated in NZTA report 489.

The area commuter rail is a winner over other modes of transport, is by its ability to move a good ten thousand plus people per hour along the equivalent of a two lane road, at a proven predictable nominal speeds of 30 to 50 km/h.

Final note: Two factors that need to be considered when looking at transport options are safety and land area for storage of the means of transport when it is not in use. The limits of storing unused vehicles will be the subject of a number of future posts.


One comment on “Nominal Metro rail speed

  1. I am really please to see this post. I lived in Wellington for 10 years, and the trains were great. Therefore, I am very pro the potential of commute trains in the Waikato, connecting our urban centres.

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