The new timetable that includes Manukau is now available on MAXX. If you want to catch a train from there in the morning, arriving at Britomart between roughly 8am and 9am you have the following options:

  • 7:16 via Glen Innes
  • 7:37 via Newmarket
  • 7:57 via Glen Innes
  • 8:18 via Glen Innes

Each will take roughly 40 minutes to get to Britomart. To those that want to be on the very first revenue service to use the station you will want to catch the 7:26am from Manukau to Britomart on Sunday 15th April (I think I will most likely still be in bed) while the first revenue service to arrive at the station will leave Britomart at 7:06 and get there at 7:46. This does raise its own questions as it means train and it’s crew will sit around at the station for 40 minutes before making another run, hardly an efficient use of resources and something I hope gets fixed up quickly.

One thing I am very disappointed about though is that the only real timetable changes are to add in Manukau when last year Auckland Transport promised on a number of occasions that the new timetable would include improvements to the western line which simply haven’t happened.

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  1. Hourly off-peak is like a sad sad joke. Whatever happened to getting 15 minute off-peak services on the rail network? That doesn’t require any more trains or any more drivers, it just requires Auckland Transport to care about more than just the peak time to Britomart commuter.

    Let us hope that by the time MIT opens next year the timetable is much better than this.

    1. A joke alright, especially seeing as the train and it’s crew are sitting there for 40 minutes doing nothing between runs.

      1. Just last year they stated:

        “Introduction of train services to Manukau. Initial service offering will be 3 trains an hour during the peak and two trains an hour at all other times.”

        This is a big drop from what they proposed, unless services are increased there’s no way someone will transfer at Manukau, and no way Manukau will become one of the largest stations on the network. I can only assume they realise that with the current fare system that penalises transfers between bus and trains that people will be unwilling to transfer. Let’s hope that once they sort HOP out we’ll see Manukau’s services increased. Still pretty pathetic for a station that has been delayed for months (years) that we’re stuck with hourly off-peak.

  2. I would like to see an included service that provides timed transfers at say Puhinui but then carry’s on west. If you want to head to Britomart then you can change at Puhinui. This would provide more services from Manukau all along to Newmarket and the Western line. I think the hourly services is a joke. A train should be AT LEAST every 15 minutes out of Manukau. Every hour, two to Britomart and two west?

    1. Yes Dan, as has been mentioned here a lot, there seems to to be no culture of turning the service pattern from a lineal Britomart focussed one into becoming a true network: Expecting and facilitating all sorts of different kinds of trips and cross town destinations. Open, flexible and adaptable. Of course this will be much more viable once the City Rail Link is open but there is still much that could be done especially now with Manukau City opening. If nothing else AT, Violia, and Kiwi Rail need to show that they can actually manage a real network as soon as possible. Is it a failure of understanding of what a whole network approach requires?, or an absence of talent or a whole lot of silo-ed thinking throughout the many levels of the structure?

      For example it seems highly likely that the MIT campus will attract students from out west and this sort of long journey is exactly the sort of trip that AT should want to make easy and attractive. Relying on transfers can only work with much better frequencies than these.

      Especially pre-CRL there surely is merit in a west-south services; Britomart is constrained, the reversing at Newmarket is inelegant, and especially on many of the school timed trips Grafton, Newmarket, and Middlemore are big final destinations anyhow. How much of a difference would it be for the Britomart bound travelers to change at Newmarket than to sit and wait as they do now? AT got any numbers on this? The PT users as well as the operators need to start getting used to transfers for the future design of the system to work. Manukau-Henderson would be a useful proof of concept for showing AK can run a network. Are the operators up to it? Have we the rolling stock? Can we train some drivers, FFS?

      1. Removing spaghetti runs doesn’t only apply to buses, it also applies to trains.

        AT need to start running trains through Newmarket West to South and allowing easy station changes/transfers at Newmarket for Britomart and Eastern lines.

        AT also needs to put a dual line rail link between the Eastern Line and Southern Line at Westfield station so that you can get a circular line working between the GI loop and the stations north of Westfield (Penrose, Ellerslie, Greenlane, Remuera, Newmarket etc).

        This enables you to run high frequency trains in a continuous loop on this “outer loop” via GI, Penrose, Newmarket, Britomart in both directions immediately.

        Then that constant “ring of trains” can become a focal point for the other trains in the network to link into.
        Folks can then transfer onto the ring to get to the next point of call or the next line in short order.

        The concept of staying on a single train to complete your journey is an old fashioned, long distance travel concept. That needs to be rethought.

        Look at the the UK Underground and you’ll see what I mean, the District and Circle line provides the inner ring of links between the various lines and other services tie into it. You may still run cross line trains as well, to cater for specific demand patterns too.

        However, the trains here have to be so frequent that you don’t need timetables for the loop portion – you just turn up and next one arrives in a few minutes, going which ever way you need to go (Clockwise or Anti-clockwise) that way the concept of a single train being late becomes redundant as the next train along picks up the slack.

        Fast, frequent, reliable should be the guiding motto here.

        1. As we more to a transfer based network the more I look at it I really think at least some, if not all [for simplicity], Western Line trains should run south, probably to Man City, Britomart bound travelers transferring at Newmarket [assuming no fare penalty], surely there is little difficulty in having enough frequency through Newmarket from the southern line, but enough capacity there?

          Any probs with that? Too many trains on the southern line spine then? Certainly help with the Britomart choke….

          6 thp West – Man City

          2 tph Onehunga – Brito [current max?]

          Then up to:
          8 tph Papakura on Southern
          10 tph Papakura on Eastern

          Can the Puhinui to Otahuhu stretch accommodate that many trains as well as the freight movements?

          Five minute frequencies through Newmarket, as long as there is space on board no transferring rider should have to wait long at all for a ride to Britomart [+Parnell!]. No reversing.

          Or lower the eastern line freq and send some extra westies to town…?

        2. No issues there Patrick that I can see ops wise. Only catch is that soon to be operational Parnell station choking us up unless that station is ditched, crossovers a built either end or a 3rd bypassing line ism built.

        3. I just need to check something with Newmarket to make sure what you propose is viable but still I see no issues just yet.

          Wiri to Otahuhu or more to the point Westfield Junction thanks to Southdown and those pesky Metro Port Freighter is an issue. With no cross overs between Papatoetoe and Middlemore to allow running around the existing set up is pretty buggered to handle extra loads including freight. Someone was rattling around here (Matt?) that KR and AT are getting ready to start 3rd rail from Otahuhu to Wiri but not so sure which if so, would solve a few issues on congestion.

          If we could go back in time, a 4 line operation complete with cross overs from Papakura to Westfield then three lines to Auckland to Newmarket and to Britomart via the Eastern Line complete with multi-platforms at the larger stations would of been great but no…

          Hmm might go ask Kaiwhara at Better Transport Forums on what the go is with the 3rd Line

      2. Patrick, have you noticed that to get from Manukau to Newmarket on weekends, you have to wait 56 minutes at Puhinui or Otahuhu between trains? For reasons only AT can fathom, they have scheduled the Manukau trains 4 minutes BEHIND each Newmarket service! It’s this kind of stupid and idiotic outcome that eventuates from AT’s narrow focus on Britomart passengers. They are just not thinking at all.

        1. Might as well get a Day Rover or Discovery Pass and take a trip into Britomart then back out to Newmarket – will be a heck of lot quicker than waiting 56 mins. Need Penrose-Remurea? Good Luck 😐

        2. AT don’t appear to want the rail system used as a network, but rather only as a CBD-focussed “there and back” operation. This is in stark contrast to the mayor’s vision of a network that enables people to get about the region using the trains.

    1. Well spotted Dan, look how well Pokeno is integrated with the rail line. Once that interchange station is up and running at Papakura [early 2013] and the EMUs running it’s a no brainer to start the Pukekohe diesel service further south…. All the way from Hamilton; perhaps this is a way to build towards that service?

      I see trains from Puke already involve transfers, and mostly at Papakura:

      Anyway, satellite towns, with proper rapid transit connections and good countryside protections are a great way to accommodate growth and cater for those who want a smaller community and a rural village vibe but may still work, study, or want to play in the city. An important tool in the battle against the problems of sprawl. A well designed train station in Pokeno with a decent service up to Papakura would be a great focus for the community.

      Other towns already on the line. Get lobbying Waikato. Anyone visiting the blog from the north Waikato?

        1. Drury last time I looked in the Papakura Local Board Document was being investigated but not funded in the current Draft LTP 2012-2015.

          Needless to say Patrick (and any others inclined) when looking at what Papakura Local Board (my local area) they advocated for Drury (and Walters Road Takanini) pretty hard – as I did as well seeing the merits of both stations. That being both medium to large interchange stations equiped with The Rail Station itself, bus bays and a Park and Ride (for a $2 fee of course for the closest 50% of parks).

          Need to battle to get Drury at the least onto the current LTP and RLTP 🙂

      1. If electrification is extended to Pukekohe earlier than was previously envisaged (ie. before 2020) then the opportunity arises to use diesel shuttles to link in to Pukekohe rather than the current post-electrification plan of using them to shuttle between Pukekohe and Papakura.

        1. Papakura is currently being completely rebuilt to accomodate the shuttles so I don’t think the extension of wires out to Papakura is likely anytime soon, also NZTA refused the funding AT had asked for for drawing up plans for its rebuild. Getting trains down to Pokeno unfortunately starts getting complicated because it’s no longer Auckland jurisdiction meaning we get into the silly case of EW refusing funding because they claim it’s an Auckland project. Hamilton’s buses aren’t funded enough to meet demand down there so I don’t see them coughing up for rail connections to Auckland. These are the sorts of silly situations which should be handled at a national level. Again, we have teh stupid situation whereby the government refuses to spend any money on long distance trains, but will spend billions building freeways to subsidise long-distance car drivers and trucks.

  3. Another significant change is that Off peak Easton line trains have been roughly doubled in frequency….I did find the 30 minute wait previously to be a bit long to classify it as a it a good service. I realize that other lines still have this level of service, but change has to begin somewhere.

    I haven’t looked to see if off peak southern line frequencies have been improved or not.

    1. Sam Eastern off peaks may have changed, but not evenly spread to halve the wait time thats for sure.

      There are clumps in the off peak timetable where there are still frequent off peak periods of no train for 30 minutes, then a train, then another one after 10 minutes, then another after 20, then back to the half hour wait for the next one.

      Example: GI station going south (M-F):
      10:53, 11:21, 11:31, 11:53 repeats like that until 2:53 train, from 3pm then its: 3:01, 3:21, 3:31, 3:51
      from 5pm though the frequency becomes: 5:03, 5:07, 5:25, 5:35, 5:45, 5:48 and is similar for the 6-7pm window.
      After 7pm you’re back to 3 per hour (7:17, 7:25 and 7:53) and after 8pm down to two per hour (the X:25 doesn’t show up anymore).

      Its more trains, but not very evenly spread.

  4. last year Auckland Transport promised on a number of occasions that the new timetable would include improvements to the western line which simply haven’t happened.

    In Auckland it’s wise to disregard all official statements about the timeline of future improvements. There’s a culture of delay, which means the most basic and necessary changes take years longer than is reasonable or even justifiable.

    (Yes, I know there’s an excuse (sorry, ‘reason’). There’s an excuse for everything in Auckland.)

    1. It was only three months ago that AT confirmed the new March train timetable would include network-wide changes. They knew about the staffing situation then, so I would be curious to know what the real reason is for ditching all the changes. They have basically canned everything they had planned, except the Manukau trains, and even those are to be fewer than announced.


      Have they run out of money again, for the current financial year?

  5. Probably all betting their hopes HOP would be fully rolled out to allow reallocation of (mainly human) resources.

    Buggers Muddle at AT again?

  6. Sounds like the CRL is needed now.
    With Westie trains going to Britomart via the CRL (at Mt Eden) theres no need for them to go via Newmarket etc.

    On a related side note:

    I am trying to calculate (using rough numbers) the likely improvments in journey times on the Eastern line (as an example) once the EMUs come on board.

    I calculate the EMUs can accelerate to 90kph from zero and also stop from 90 kph to zero in the same time – 25 seconds.
    This is because the EMUs accelerate / deccelerate at 1ms2. In that 25 seconds time the EMU will cover 312m of track.

    So each EMU can slow down near the station come to a stop and then reach full speed again within 1 minute (50 seconds actually) covering only 625 m of track doing so (meaning it slows down later, and resumes top speed sooner). Which must be way faster than the DMUs/SDs can do now.

    Secondly, anyone know the total length of track in km between Britomart and Papakura (by Eastern line and by Southern lines).

    As it seems to me with 14 stops from Britomart to Papakura, that the EMUs should easily save 1 minute per stop given their better acceleration profiles.

    So a Back of the Envelope calculation for total trip time would be approximated as:
    (number of stations * 1 minute “stop/start time”) + (number of minutes spent waiting at all stops) + (time taken to cover the track distance assuming 90kph speed).

    Note: The total track length needs to be reduced by (.6km x number stops) – as .6km is the track length the EMUs will cover during the arrival and departure at each station as they slow down and speed up (over 14 stops that is a not insignifcant 8km or so).

    So for Britomart to Papakura via Eastern Suburbs line, the total time now is about 50 minutes off-peak “station to station” according to the timetable.

    So using the above improvements, I expect, we might chop maybe 15 minutes if the trains need a max of 1 minute per stop to slow down and get back up to speed.

    And if we assume 1 minute average “wait” period per station, that is 14 minutes of train “stopped” time spread over all the stations along the route (ignoring the waiting at Britomart and Papakura stations) before the start and after the end of the journey.

    Plus 14 minutes stopping/starting again for all stations.
    And the last variable left is how quickly the EMUs can cover the track distance (assuming no signalling delays).

    If the distance is Britomart to Papakura via GI 34km (as I calculated via Google Earth), then the EMU could cover that in just under 23 minutes if it never stopped. Less the 8km covered during station arrival/departures for stops, thats 34-8 = 26km = 18 minutes at 90kph.

    So putting that together we have:
    18 minutes of clear track travel, 14 minutes of arrival/departure stop/start time, plus 14 minutes of waiting time over all stations as the minimum the trip could take – this gives a minimum end to end trip time of 46 minutes.

    So, where is it that my calculations are going wrong? I thought it would be less than that with the EMUs.

    So do I have too much wait time over all the stations – halving it to 30 seconds per station average would save 7 minutes.

    Station arrival/departure times too long? EMUs can only do 1ms2 so that is pretty much fixed.

    Train not running fast enough on the track? I thought 90kph was the usual limit on the Auckland rail network.
    If its 100kph, that will shorten the time in two ways:
    1. by 11% or approx 2 minutes (making the 18 minutes to cover the between station track 16 minutes) and also
    2. the clear track between stations reduces to 23 KM as the track covered during each station arrival/departure is now 800m instead of 6km, making for 11km “less” track to cover at 100Kph, over the total trip that saves 2 minutes ore of travel time.

    These 2 changes combine to reduce the 18 minutes by 4 minutes, to 14 minutes.

    If trains run at 100kph not 90, the arrival/departure time for a EMU is still under 1 minute total for arrival/departure (it becomes 28s from 100kph to 0 and 28s from 0 back to 100kph, as compared to 25s each for the 90 kph speed) so the 1 minute combined arrival and departure time at the station is still valid.

    So a revised calculation, with all the reductions the total trip time and running at 100kph between stations is more like:

    14 + 14 + 7 = 35 minutes, which is about 15 minutes faster than it takes now which is about what I thought the EMUs could achieve.

    It is interesting to note that only 1/5th of the trip time is actually spent stationery/loading and unloading passengers.
    So any improvements in these times below the estimated 30 seconds will help a little but not much.

    The new EMUs have wide doors to let more people on and off and also at once, which helps to reduce the stopped time at the station, so perhaps 30 seconds could become a little lower, but even at 20 seconds average per station for the stop time per station that won’t shave more than 2 minutes of the total trip time.

    The best improvements in trip time appear to come from simply making fewer stops. Each stop saves 1 minute.
    Only 1 minute I hear you ask? – 1 less stop saves about 1.5 minutes of “trip time” but takes about 30 seconds of time to cover the 800m of track included in that 1.5 minutes, so the net change of trip time of removing a stop is 1 minute.

    This fact cross checks in that if you never stopped at any stations it would take 20 minutes at 100Kph to go from Britomart to Papakura, which at 1 minute added per stop, and 14 stops would add 14 minutes to that time, or make the total trip time about 34 minutes, which is close to the 35 minutes calculated.

    Anyone got any comments as to if this is going to close or not to the actual numbers that the EMUs could actually achieve?

    1. I’m pretty sure the press releases around the time the EMU contract was signed suggested 10 minutes will be sliced of Swanson – Britomart and Papakura – Britomart trips because of the faster acceleration and deceleration of the EMUs.

        1. Down to 42 minutes? And to think, a few years ago Veolia offered a 28 minute run from Papakura to Britomart!

    2. Just bear in mind that any speed increases are unlikely until all trains are electric. This could well be end of 2014.

  7. @ Greg N; a very interesting post and a good read, I thank you. A couple of things that may (or may not) help your calculations.

    I may be out on some of these times but if so it won’t be by much. I believe dwell times in the current time table to be worked out at 18 seconds, this means busy trains will be late and quiet trains need to waste time between stops. As I understand it 18 seconds is an international standard, I’m happy to be corrected.

    A DMU on a late night run with few passengers and a good (fast) TM can easily do Papakura to Britomart in 44 mins (possibly less) while stopping at all stops. The same crew with a busy (full) train will have trouble keeping to time.

    An efficient train manager can make all the difference, one who has been ‘disciplined’ or is newer, will work to the ‘book’ which takes for ever at every stop, result late running trains. I’m not one to point the finger at someone who just wants to keep their job.

    A timetable needs extra (I bet there is a proper word for it) time built in to cushion (soak up) delays, the perfect calculated timetable will result in lots of late trains. This is magnified by the fact that freight and Overlander (even empty retuning to tranz scenic depot) get priority on the network, ok not officially but this is how it works!

    How I heard it was the EMUs will have a top line speed of 110km/h with an actual top speed for possible future use of 120 or 130 (can’t remember which).
    Your calculations will be effected by curve speeds, local instructions and the ever present temporary speed restrictions not to mention Train Controls whim to delay for a KR train.

    I hope this helps future calculations.

    1. 30 seconds

      It is 30seconds dwell time at each intermediate platform with Newmarket at 3mins for Western Line Trains.
      No train is supposed to leave the origin station, Otahuhu, Newmarket, New Lynn or Henderson BEFORE scheduled departure time (which is in bold on the public paper timetables).

      As for everything else – no comment

  8. Correct me if I;m wrong, but I understood:
    – KR are planning 3rd track Papakura-Westfield for freight
    – existing South & East services use almost all slots between Papakura-Westfield, so limited options to add more services from Man City to anywhere.
    – original idea of simply terminating East services at Man City has the drawback of halving the frequency of services south of Puhinui (because the East trains that used to run to Papakura would now be finishing at Man City).

    This leaves AT with a headache. Man City is a pointless track, especially as it has under 2,000 residents living within the catchment, unless it can draw a lot of the shoppers and store workers. But… it is faster to get a local bus to Man City than catch a train from Papakura or Manurewa north to Puhinui, then double back to Man City by rail.

    Best to leave the track vacant until it can be connected to Airport rail. But that would be embarrassing to planners, so they would rather stuff up the rest of the rail network… ooops.

    1. Certainly branch lines have fundamental geometric problems for the operation of the rail network. However, don’t get sucked into the mindset that the only point of the rail system is to deliver people to Britomart at peak hour. Manukau is certainly more of a destination station than an origin station – particularly for north-to-south traffic, which means that it will hopefully add passengers in the reverse commute direction and make better use of the rail network.

      Also over time you’re likely to see most south Auckland buses feed into Manukau Station, where people can jump on the train to head further north.

      1. Manukau as it currently stands will serve more likely as a destination rather than an origin point for now. Bob most of us are aware of the fatal flaw with Manukau in the fact that it does not have the South-Pakakura/Manukau Link (thanks to the Inland Port and some daft planning decisions) where that link would be a massive boon for Southern Auckland. Effectively another Sylvia Park Station where the Southern’s come up for some shopping and Mall Rat experience.

        However despite the link failure I am sure Manaukau will pull in people from the North End who work in the City Centre – despite the station being 110m short of where it was meant to be. Just get those Eastern Suburb feeder buses feeding in (Hill Road, Manukau Heights, Southern Otara, Flat Bush) and Manuaku will take off quite quickly.

        Will see in June what the patronage figures are like

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