With electrification works in full-flow, and major track realignment works necessary to construct the Parnell Station, disruptions to regular train services start tomorrow and will continue right through until the latter part of January. The closures are outlined below:

Rail line closures:

Saturday 17 December and Sunday 18 December – Waitakere to Britomart, Papakura to Britomart via Newmarket, Onehunga to Britomart, and Papakura to Otahuhu.

Monday 19 to Saturday 24 December – Newmarket to Britomart.

Christmas Day – Full network closure, no buses replacing trains.

Monday 26 December to Tuesday 3 January 2012 – Full network closure, buses replace all trains.

Wednesday 4 to Sunday 15 January 2012 – Newmarket to Britomart and Papakura to Britomart via Glen Innes.

Monday 16 to Wednesday 18 January 2012 – Newmarket to Britomart.

There has been a lot of  discussion and debate around Auckland Transport’s decision to close the Britomart to Newmarket section of track, the most intensively used part of the system, during the week before Christmas. This matter was considered in quite a bit of detail by the Board of Auckland Transport in November:I must say I was pretty sceptical to hear that more regular passengers would be disrupted in mid-late January than in the week before Christmas. Here is the information in the Auckland Transport board paper though:I must say I’m a bit mystified by these numbers. Britomart has around 12,000 passenger boardings a day (up from the 2010 figures), which suggests around 24,000 trips to and from the station. If around two-thirds of those trips are currently from Newmarket (a conservative estimate I think), then a heck of a lot more people are going to be disrupted than what’s suggested by the figures above. As I noted earlier, I also struggle to believe that normal patronage (ie, excluding Big Day Out) in late January is higher than the week before Christmas.

While it’s good that there will be replacement buses, I do wonder whether simply allowing people with rail tickets to use the existing bus services would be both a heck of a lot cheaper and also give people a lot more options for completing that Newmarket/Grafton to Britomart section of their journey. It’s rather nonsensical that’s not being proposed.

In any case, it seems like this holiday season will see the biggest set of works yet on the rail system. It should also mean that the infrastructure side of electrification is well on its way to completion by the end of the 2012/2013 holiday period, which may perhaps be the last time we need to fully shut down the rail network for an extended period of time.

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  1. especially annoying shutting the Newmarket Britomart section is for the dodgy Parnell station site.
    Good they have been slightly smarter with the rail replacement buses. However is much room for improvement.
    Should run express buses from Papakura and Manurewa for example instead of having all the buses follow one ridiculous route.

  2. In my opinion, the Bus Replacement could be a lot simpler, logistically.

    This morning, on the Western line, we were all given a “Transfer ticket”, i.e. an extra piece of paper suitably clipped, that we then had to hold onto and not lose. Of course, we weren’t given it immediately – the clippy had to return to our carriage after a couple of stops and ask who was going to Britomart as he had forgotten to hand them out the first time round. And I got on at New Lynn; either he hadn’t remembered at all before Mt Albert or he had remembered earlier and forgotten before New Lynn. Or it was just easier to wait until we got closer to Grafton, I suppose, but it did have the added risk that patrons with headphones on missed out as they weren’t expecting to deal with him a second time and didn’t hear him and respond.

    Once we got to Grafton, we all herded off the train, up the stairs and onto the buses. No problems there, an elevator exists for those who find the stairs a bit much and there were no shortage of buses. Half the clippys accompanied us and half stayed on the train as it continued to Newmarket. Once on the bus, the clippy came down the aisle to collect transfer tickets. Inevitably, some people didn’t have one and, while he seemed bemused as to what to do the first time it happened, by the time he was half way down the aisle (and the bus was a fair way up Grafton Rd) he was just moving on as soon as someone confessed to having no ticket.

    Which begs the question, why go through the whole charade in the first place? I’d guess that more money will be spent on printing transfer tickets than will be saved by catching one or two non-train travellers who fancy a free ride between Britomart and Grafton (this being more likely in that direction than the opposite, I would have thought). Why not just confine ticket checks to the train and remove the need to have a second staff member on the bus? This is supposed to be a short term solution to a time-limited problem, after all, so why not try to minimise the inconvenience to regular patrons?

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