A series of new train timetables have been released, and will take effect from Sunday September 19th – the day the Onehunga Line starts running. The timetables are here:

Southern Line

Eastern Line

Western Line

Onehunga Line (yay – it actually exists!)

Here’s the Onehunga Line timetable – I just have to post it to remind myself that it’s actually happening. We’re finally getting another railway line in Auckland: As you can see, it will be half-hourly frequencies during the peak times and hourly frequencies at other times. I still think it’s a missed opportunity to not run half-hourly frequencies during the day time at weekends, as I think there could be a lot of people using the train to go shopping at Onehunga – particularly at the Dressmart which is notoriously short of parking. Hopefully over time the demand for weekend services means that half-hourly trains becomes a formality.

In terms of the other changes, there are some interesting amendments. Most of the express services have disappeared – I think because frequencies are getting to such a point where it become difficult to mix stopping patterns as some trains start catching other trains. There are a couple of remaining southern line limited stop trains in the morning peak, but that’s it. I wonder whether that will annoy passengers, or whether the higher frequencies will placate them. Other changes include the introduction of six-car trains on many of the services, which will be a welcome increase in capacity: particularly during peak times. The fact that Baldwin Ave on the western line is yet to be lengthened means things will be a bit messy there – with only some trains stopping. Western Line trains also run at 15 minute frequencies for a significant chunk of the day now.

Another good change is that the very popular Eastern Line has had its frequency boosted. Looking at morning peak time arrivals at Britomart for trains on the Eastern Line there are services arriving at 7.18, 7.26, 7.34, 7.44, 7.55, 8.02, 8.12, 8.25, 8.32, 8.47 and 8.53. That’s 11 trains in just over an hour and a half, or around one train every 8-9 minutes.

One last positive change is that the colouring of the Onehunga Line on the rail map has changed from brown (shown on many of the insides of the trains) to blue. I like this change because the brown was very similar to the colour of the Southern Line and the blue shows that the line runs from water to water, harbour to harbour. Our rail map is also starting to look half respectable. So all up it’s good to see all these extra trains running, and to see the Onehunga Line just about ready to go. I guess the interesting pay-off will be to see how those who currently catch express or limited stops services respond to their trips taking longer than before. Will the increased frequencies and longer trains make up for the slower ride? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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  1. While I generally like to be positive about things and am happy to see the Onehunga line opening I’m not that happy with all aspects of the western line timetable. My main concern is that we have lost the express service but haven’t gained any extra peak services, we are still at roughly 15m between trains which is the same as the current peak schedule, I could understand removing the express if we were to move to 10m frequencies. My other major concern is that the westbound timetable has actually scheduled to take longer than it does now i.e. the current 4:58 service is scheduled to take 51 minutes from Britomart to Swanson, the nearest service on the new timetable is the 5:04 which is scheduled to take 53 minutes. My issue is that we have just got double tracking finished so there is no delays from having a single track anymore and things are expected to now take longer.

    A few other minor issues, right in the middle of the afternoon peak there is a 20 min gap, also for me it is annoying that some services terminate at Henderson which means that stations after that only have hourly frequencies still after 7:30. On the map they show the park and rides however they have forgotten the one at Sturges Rd which is actually the biggest on the line at 170 carparks (and doesn’t even get half full)

  2. Good points Matt. My understanding is that the Western Line will be going to 10 minute peak frequencies and 15 minute off-peak frequencies (during the week) from early next year. At the moment ARTA literally can’t add any more trains to the network at peak times because Britomart is at capacity.

    Over the Xmas holidays I believe that bi-directional running will become operative in the Britomart tunnel. This will enable a few extra services to operate – which will mean 10 minute peak frequencies.

    One does wonder why mess with the peak timetables on the Western Line at all though. Why not keep the express – at least for now?

  3. The other thing is we have gone from a 15 min peak schedule to a schedule that varies between 12 & 20 minutes i.e. here are some of the evening peak departures from Britomart with the delay between them. The thing is a shambles.
    1506 (15 min)
    1521 (15 min)
    1536 (15 min)
    1550 (14 min)
    1604 (14 min)
    1624 (20 min)
    1636 (12 min)
    1652 (16 min)
    1704 (12 min)
    1724 (20 min)
    1736 (12 min)
    1752 (16 min)
    1806 (14 min)
    1821 (15 min)
    1836 (15 min)

  4. Weren’t the PM peak trains always a bit all over the place in terms of their timing? I wonder whether that’s been done to avoid chaos at Newmarket like we used to have at around 5.40pm.

  5. Good progress apart from the previously mentioned West line, it shall be exciting till the end of electrification and the new rolling stock…

    Then I forsee crush loads and lots of asking, “Where is the CBD tunnel..?”

  6. No, they were exactly every 15 minutes except for the express and the all stops that followed it, it then returned to an 15 minute frequency.

    4:28 (15 min)
    4:43 (15 min)
    4:58 (15 min)
    5:13 (15 min)
    5:31 (18 min)
    5:33 (2 min)
    5:48 (15 min)

  7. What’s in interesting is that with more frequent services, but with those services having the same stopping pattern, Auckland’s rail system is potentially shifting to be more and more like an overseas Metro system.

    Once we have all Eastern Line trains terminating at Manukau City and 10 minute frequencies on the whole network I think things will be even more like that. In order to get express trains back in the longer run we’re going to need to start triple-tracking.

  8. Is there anything to be gained be triple-tracking only sections, or do you essentially need the full line triple-tracked for express services?

    Because except for maybe the Eastern Line, I can’t see where the third track would go for much of the lines. And even on the Eastern Line, I may be mistaken (I just know it least).

  9. Hmm why is the Onehunga station included as a fare stage? Do they have secret plans to extend the line soon 🙂 I assume Britomart to Onehunga will be a 3 stage fare.

    Good to see some late services on Saturday night. Why are there no late friday only trains like on the other lines?

    I like the blue too…airport lines are blue…

  10. Overall I am pleased we have better timetables, although I too am a bit worried about the western line PM peak. I imagine that 5:13 would be an ideal time for a train to leave Britomart for all those that finish work at 5… you have probably 8 mins to get to the station, which is probably perfect for a few thousand commuters. Now however, they will have to rush for a 5:04 train- near impossible to make unless you work right next to Britomart, or you have to wait until the 5:24…

    For someone who works within about 800 metres of Britomart (most of its catchment(, their commute home will now be effectively 11 minutes longer- making catching the train that much less convenient. I also wouldn’t be surprised if all 6 carriages of that train become completely packed…20 minutes worth of people at the very peak of peak time.

    1. Yeah it’s really strange to have a 20 minute gap bang in the middle of the peak. I agree the train at the end of that gap will be jammed. Maybe ARTA will look to put another train into that 5.14 timeslot in the next few months.

  11. Ten minute peak frequencies, woohoo! Now to see if patronage increases in a direct linear relationship to capacity, surely it must.

    Ten minute headways is actually superior to a few of Melbourne’s lines, pat on the back Auckland!

  12. so remind me again, how many services/hour can we run through Britomart? Surely we must be getting close to maxing out…

  13. I noticed yesterday that on the Auckland rail maps inside the trains there seems to be a white sticker on the map directly after the Onehunga station. Is this just a correction to a typo or is there a specific plan to extend the line?

    1. It is because the maps were added to most of the trains over the 2009/2010 Christmas break and Onehunga had a little note on it saying ‘mid 2010’ or something similar. Some also happen to have a sticker with Grafton on it as again the maps were installed before Grafton was opened (April 2010) so they initially displayed the old Boston Rd station. Some of the trains have newer maps in them and you can tell these because they decided to change the colour for the Onehunga line from brown to light blue like in the image above.

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