Today is a pretty special day as Auckland Transport are officially unveiling our first electric train. It arrived in the country a few weeks ago but it was trucked to Wiri under wraps so that staff could start the process of joining the carriages and carrying out initial testing. I’m at the unveiling and will update this post with more details when I can but here are some initial photos and I must say, the train is an absolute stunner. It feels light years ahead of what we have now and that’s when it isn’t even moving.

Note: this is the first time I have tried posting from my phone so please forgive me if it doesn’t look great.




They feel really really long, especially being able to look all the way down the inside of the train. The inside is wonderful.



Update: The photos above really don’t do the train justice. The train is really great and I think they will turn heads when people start seeing them turn up at stations. What’s more it isn’t until you really get on them that you feel how truly great they are. The carriages are connected by a gangway and you can see the length of the train, when on board that helps to make the train feel massive and every single person I spoke to was blown away by how big the trains felt. Even those who have been on Wellingtons new Matangi trains – which have open gangways too – were surprised by how open the train felt. This is due to our trains being quite a bit longer thanks to an extra carriage along with the carriages themselves being slightly longer.

I was also pleasantly surprised with how the stairs have been designed. I was previously concerned they would feel narrow or steep but they didn’t feel that way at all. Some other little features I found out about. Each carriage has a different seat cover pattern and all up I believe there are four different patterns that will be rotated through the fleet. There are a few different types of floor coverings in the train. The entrances have a rough carpet while further inside the carriages it is more like the style that exists on our existing trains.

The trains are absolutely wonderful and now the countdown is on to see them on the track. Here are also some photos from Auckland Transport taken with a better camera than that on my phone.



And here is their press release about the trains

The first of Auckland’s new electric trains has been revealed today at a special unveiling at Wiri Depot. The train arrived at the Ports of Auckland on 24 August and was taken to Wiri Depot for further testing, commissioning and driver training. The trains will be gradually introduced into passenger service on a line by line basis until all 57 electric trains are in service later in 2015. These trains will replace Auckland’s ageing diesel fleet.

Auckland Transport’s Chairman, Dr Lester Levy says the trains signify a new era in public transport in Auckland. “This is a very proud day for Auckland Transport’s electric train team and for our partners in this venture. Partners include central government’s representative and our funding partner, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA); our other key shareholder and funder, Auckland Council (AC); KiwiRail which we work side by side with; our train operator Transdev and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU); the builder of our trains, Construcciones y Auxilair Ferrocarriles (CAF) and our contractors, Downer, which built the Wiri Depot with us.

“The electrification project has had a reasonable gestation period. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who worked so hard, some years ago, to make this project a reality for Auckland. Our thanks go to the previous Chairmen and Board and Chief Executive of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA). Thanks are also extended to the previous Chairman of the Auckland Regional Council.

“The trains have been designed specifically for Aucklander’s needs and meet the latest in comfort, safety and technology. They will be very attractive for passengers with their fresh, modern decor. The seat fabric was designed by three local artists to represent the variety of cultures in Auckland. The interior design was produced from a concept that CAF originally produced and was developed by Auckland Transport’s train team.

“Each train will have room for 375 passengers, an increase of 40 per cent capacity on Auckland’s current diesel trains. Open gangways between cars will allow movement from one end of the train to the other. Space under the seats is available for luggage, strollers and guide dogs.

“Wider doors mean that passenger flow, on and off the trains, will be faster and easier for people with disabilities. Wheelchair users and others who are mobility impaired will be able to use automatic ramps on the central carriage doors providing a seamless transition been the platform and the train.

“The trains will have air conditioning to ensure the train interior is comfortable for passengers and crew through the range of Auckland’s weather conditions. International best practice passenger information systems will ensure that both audio and visual information is easy to understand with the interior designed to assist the visually impaired.

“Security and safety features include an on-board CCTV camera system which will operate continuously in all cars, providing images to the driver from any of the 16 cameras within each train. Images will be continuously recorded on-board. Emergency call points, which can be found throughout the train, will allow passengers to communicate directly with the train crew in the event of an incident. All doors have obstacle detection systems so they automatically open and re- close if something is trapped in the door”, says Dr Levy.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says “The unveiling of the first electric train is an important milestone in the government’s $1.6 billion programme to provide a step change in the performance and capacity of Auckland’s rail network.”

Terry Scott, Managing Director of Auckland Transport’s train operator, Transdev, says, “The next step for this train is driver training out on the network in October. As we introduce electric trains into the system along with accompanying electric wiring, it is important amongst the excitement to remind Aucklanders to watch out as these trains are quieter and can accelerate significantly faster than the old diesel trains. If you get too close to the wiring, there will be no second chance”.

Dr Levy says, “Along with so many Aucklanders, we are very much looking forward to the first trains going into service in the second quarter of next year, finally bringing the latest and most modern public train transportation to this wonderful city. We thank Aucklanders for their patience in respect of all the work and preparation that is necessary to begin running these trains on our network”.

Lastly AT have released this timeline explaining what will be happening with the EMUs over the coming years.

EMU timeline - Sep

Oh and a video of the unveiling

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  1. Looks good; first new trains for Auckland, in Auckland, ever. I look forward to seeing them running on the Western line in a couple of years. Maybe then we won’t have as many cancellations, like this morning. Amused to see that NZTA have decided to apply their logo to a vehicle that’s pretty much being paid for by Aucklanders (unlike the new ones in Wellington, which have been paidd for by new Zealand taxpayers). I guess that this move is a reflection of the reality that AT is increasingly acting as though it is the Auckland office of NZTA, rather than being an Auckland Council controlled organisation.

      1. Probably the government loans for the trains being provided via NZTA’s funding administration? If so, especially ironic seeing how for all other projects, they are forbidden to fund train projects, even from the PT pot, I understand!

        1. To expand on my comment below, the loan repayments are paid out as operational costs and as such the NZTA pays for half of them (well just over half but that is another story).

  2. Great photos Matt, I particularly like the second one which closely matches the artist’s rendition of an EMU at Britomart. What is your copyright policy please, eg can these be used elsewhere (with attribution)?

    1. Onehunga Line gets them first, I believe including for the testing. There was even some talk of actual passengers being allowed on some trains before the official start, so some lucky sods might wait for a clapped out diesel train one day, and suddenly be whisked away by electric magic…

  3. Photos 3 and 4 show steps from the carriage floor down to the door, but photo 5 seems to show the bloke in the fluro vest standing at a door without steps. Is that the case, or can I just not see the steps?

    Also… Why are there steps along the carriage floor (and nothing to do with the doors)? As far as I remember, Wellington’s trains have flat floors right along the carriage.

    1. Obi – the trailer carriage (middle) will be low floor (no steps) – but only between the doors. Hence the steps at the end of each low floor section. You’ll see there are what look like fold-out wheelchair ramps too – similar to the Matangis but these ones look more flush to the floor – less of a trip hazard. The power cars at each end have too much equipment underneath and cannot be low floor. So in fact these are identical to the floor arrangement of the new Wellington Matangis (except that there are two power cars with one trailer car between instead of just a single of each type).

      1. The wheelchair ramps deploy automatically too which will reduce dwell times and aid frequency, as well as access. It also has Automatic Train Protection kit; allowing closer following which means more frequency when we need it…. This is one up to date machine……yeeeha!

      2. Thanks for the explanation. So do the carriages pretty much come in fixed sets of three, with a major engineering job required to break them down? I assume that the interface required to allow a door-free connection between carriages is more complex than a simple hookup arrangement. And are they open inside for the entire length of the train, or just inside each set of three carriages? I’m having trouble imagining how this all works… I know the TGVs come in fixed trainsets and I think they are organised with the ends of two adjoining carriages sitting on the same bogeys. But these Auckland carriages don’t seem to share bogeys, so I guess the carriage connections must ensure some degree of rigidity.

        1. Open all the way through and despite our narrow gauge they feel really roomy. Will run in 3s or 6s only [our stations can’t handle 9s- and anyway,better to increase frequency than keep making trains longer]. They don’t share bogies but the middle car is not powered, so no set shorter than 3 cars.

        1. I spent three weeks in Switzerland in July and every train I used had wifi and power points. Even the local buses had wifi. To me this is an essential service in the 21st century.

      1. That’s kind of inevitable, since the train’s WiFi router is going to connect to the Internet through 3G/4G itself. But the cost is pretty small, and it’s far better than nothing for all the people with WiFi-only devices.

        1. Only problem is the WiFi won’t work in tunnels since they rely on mobile phone signals. On the Wairarapa train on Telecom, there’s no reception from halfway between Featherston and the Rimutaka Tunnel until you get out of the Maoribank Tunnel at Timberlea – and even then it takes a minute to connect as 460 phones try to reconnect to the network simultaneously…

          1. It may well be to the mobile service providers advantage to equip the tunnels in AK for mobile service. The technical requirements for this to be achieved are relatively small given that the tunnels in AK are few in number and short in length. The effects of multiple reconnects as a train leaves a tunnel may well also cause problems especially at peak times. Maybe time to lobby the providers….

          2. Don’s right – the mobile providers should consider extending the cellular networks through the main tunnels in AKL (really is just Parnell and Meadowbank perhaps). I know we don’t have the density of passengers / hour as the underground metro systems in other cities (many are FULLY cellularised) but nor do we have the amount of subterranean lines. The two main tunnels out of Wellington on the NIMT would be prime for it too.

  4. Am I right in thinking that these doors will manually open and also can be manually closed with a button, like most trains in Europe? If true, this is great for those cold, wet days.

    1. Maybe – there are some pretty obvious open/close buttons in the last photo. But if so, how do you open the door from the outside? There’s no buttons there…

        1. Oh neat. I didn’t see them in the photos, but they’re pretty clear in the TV3 video. Does it light up or something to show that someone inside has pushed the button as well? Otherwise I can see it being a bit of a scrum with people boarding having to walk up to the door to push the button in case no-one’s getting off, and then having to get out of the way again if it turns out someone is getting off. How’s that work in Europe?

          1. I think people can use their eyes to look through the windows to see if there are any passengers wanting to get off.

            Strange place to put the buttons – in Wellington they’re to the side of the door.

          2. > Strange place to put the buttons – in Wellington they’re to the side of the door.

            Why strange? I presume the placement is to make sure your hand isn’t trapped by the door sliding open over the button. Isn’t that why?

          3. You can use your eyes to see if people are standing by the door, unfortunately, that’s not always the same thing as them wanting to get off.

          4. Pretty sure Melbourne’s are off to the side aren’t they? I thought their doors opened into a wall cavity though….

  5. Only slight negative; the aesthete in me is still not loving the gaudy acid yellow on the inside – it is impossible to argue with Health and Safety wonks it seems, fabric nicely understated. But otherwise they are fantastic! Absolutely glorious and a complete transformation from what we are used to. These will offer by far the best quality ride in Auckland on any mode. You can keep your German cars stuck in traffic compared to these beauties flying along cleanly and quietly on their own ROW.

    Very good speeches from Lester Levy, The Mayor, CAF, and Transdev. The Minister was not present.

    1. I can just picture the rubber necking on the southern motorway as they waltz up and down during the rush hour. Just need some decent marketing aka the Danish bus advert to bring the point home.

      1. That would be supporting “the wrong man” weeks out from local body elections. National desperately want Len to go away, so that 2020 can become 2030 for commencement of the CRL.

      2. “I don’t understand why Nikki Kaye wasn’t there.”

        Because she’s never supported PT except in those press releases when she’s looking for voters?

      3. Cameron, I don’t understand why you would expect any parliamentary politician to be there, it’s a local government event. Good on Lester Levy and Len Brown for celebrating a milestone in the electrification programme. Also, I don’t think Julie Ann Genter is in government unless she’s changed sides recently. I note there’s no MSM online publicity yet, so maybe there’s some kind of embargo in place.

        Matt C, I understand that National’s policy is not to get involved in local body elections or candidate endorsement.

        1. The government often comes to events e.g. John Key attended the opening of the Hobsonville Ferry terminal, Brownlee attended the recent opening of the Ellerslie Panmure bridge and in the past Steven Joyce attended most of the upgraded station openings. The government are paying for the wires to make these trains work so they are fairly involved. Lester Levy read out a speech from Gerry Brownlee.

          As for MSM, there has been some stuff up for a few hours now.

          1. Thanks Matt L, I was looking at print media online – I don’t watch a lot of TV so didn’t think to look at those websites. My point was that this is a milestone, not an “opening”. No doubt national politicians of all persuasions will turn up when the trains are formally opened to the public. There was simply no need to politicise your great post on this thread, but we still have freedom of speech so if someone chooses to do so, then go for it.

        2. “Cameron, I don’t understand why you would expect any parliamentary politician to be there, it’s a local government event.”

          Which of course our government normally leaves in peace to do its thing. NOT.

          Also, are you kidding? Our largest city is not important enough for our parliamentarians? Not even for the MP’s who are local to it?

        3. Bollocks “it’s a local government event”. The trains are being half funded by NZTA and the government has paid for the infrastructure which allows the trains to run. It would be entirely appropriate for the Minister of Transport to be present, as the successor to the visionaries who actually saw electrification get off the ground. That none of the Cabinet showed up is entirely about sour grapes at rail being popular in Auckland despite their best efforts, and at Len being likely to be the mayor for a second term. Being seen with him could be seen to be supporting a man who they don’t like and don’t want, but you can be certain that if it was Banks as mayor (ignoring the other problems with that scenario) we’d have had Big G plus Steven and maybe even Bill.

      4. Gerry Brownlee was at the launch of KiwiRail’s latest new locomotives, at the Strand station two weeks ago, and for the earlier new locomotives Steven Joyce and John Key were present, and it doesn’t get any higher than that. So they’ll attend rail events (Steven and Gerry have been to numerous station openings in Auckland). Maybe they were just busy? Or perhaps they’ll attend a later venue, when the train actually enters service? Today wasn’t a laucnh of the new trains as such, just a photo op mainly.

  6. What’s being done to the rail corridor so that these babies will actually be able to operate at something like their top speed? And how quickly? Because I’m sure I’ve seen comments in here by those better-informed about there being many, many speed restrictions across the network because of the lousy state of track maintenance.

      1. Well Patrick to do the job properly, we’d need two freight lines – one each way, but sadly looks like even 1 is too much to ask at Panmure.

        1. Panmure is a shocking mistake- shows that Kiwirail has no real faith in what it does.

          One freight line on the Eastern and Main Trunk south with a few passing sidings and daytime opps can be completely off the electric lines.

      2. Why a dedicated freight line? Why not a third main, electrified and signalled properly. Then you can route suburban and freight on any or all lines as needed, including things like express trains and limited stops.

    1. We would really need to reintroduce express services to have any chance of 110km/h running (assuming 110km/h is ever allowed). Our stations are too closely spaced for trains to move at that speed for more than a few seconds. As I understand it, the existing track speed of 100 is to stay the same on the Eastern and Southern, while out west the existing 80 is to be increased slightly, to 90, but that won’t include the inner suburbs.

  7. Train top speed can’t be fully acknowledged until testing has been done. Most areas speed is suppossed to be max 90kph but many areas are a bit slower due to the many curves.

    1. Not sure if there’s going to be covers normally – since if you have a cover, you couldn’t couple one 2-car train to another 3-car train. Even adding a cover to the sides that aren’t coupled at that particular moment would make the whole thing much more inflexible.

      So my guess is that they will always look like that, but possibly with the couplings a bit more retracted?

      1. Similar trains here in the UK have equipment in the same place but have aerdoynamic fairings over them so when not connected to each other, they are both more asthetically pleasing and aerodynamic. The first impressions I had of these EMUs is that they would be the same as like British and European locos they are far less attractive with their “noses” open.

        Not a fan of having carpet in the coaches as they will be a pain to clean and will quickly deteriorate and become an eyesore.

    2. As far as I know, there are no covers planned, they have been designed as you see them.

      Max – these are all 3-car trains, there won’t be any coupling 2-car trains to 3-car trains.

      1. Aware of that – that was a typo… they should move the 2 further away from the 3 on the keyboard. I would never have typed 2 if the 2 was somewhere to the right of the 7…

  8. Great to see. Very pleased with the look of them. I will be back living in Auckland soon, and ready to ride them.

    Buttons on doors is the norm in all the subbie stock in Switzerland…

  9. Yeah sure, compare long distance trains with a regular commuter train. A good comparison would be the German S-Bahn.
    P.S. I used the TGV a few months back and it is not that great.

      1. The TGV system has a remarkable record- no one has ever died in an accident. This is a greatly under appreciated aspect of these incredibly fast trains… given the numbers of people that we routinely accept as mere ‘collateral damage’ of the global private vehicle system…

          1. Further, the recent Spanish accident’s death toll was the same as three weeks’ worth of Spanish road deaths.
            The earlier French accident was equal to ONE DAY of French road deaths.
            In New Zealand, I can’t find the source right now but I believe the total number of rail deaths ever in NZ rail’s 130+ year history (excluding trespassers and deaths of road users caused by road users, ie level crossing accidents) is less than the annual road toll.

            It’s amazing how we think deaths on anything other than roads are a tragedy – on roads, we are too immune to the higher numbers – oh dear, how sad, never mind, move on.

      2. I have used TGVs twice, one on a 1hr trip and one on a 6hr trip. Both were an older model so I probably shouldn’t judge them until I take a new model. Most European countries do have great high-speed trains. I agree with you on the ICEs, I have travelled extensively on them and they are amazing.

  10. Great trains; great day.

    I have a suspicion that the Auckland we know and mostly love is about to get a little lovelier as a result of these trains.

  11. One news covered it tonight:
    Again, touching on the issue of when to start constructing the CRL. I hoped that the arrival of this electric train would have catalysed the commencement of construction but it looks like that a Congestion Free Auckland is still a decade plus away.

    On another note, the animation in the video of the [I can’t tell] station seems cool.

  12. Wow, this are certainly a lot better looking than the ones they have down in the capital!

    Although the photos look nice, it’s probably true that they’re not something you can probably really appreciate until you see them in the flesh

  13. Agree Patrick. Seeing Len walking down the narrow aisle on TV last night confirmed my opinion that back to wall seating would have been a better use of space throughout the entire set.

    1. The lack of seating in the middle actually allows higher loadings, as people can stand in greater density. The mix of styles is an appropriate compromise.

  14. Meant to say but no one has died in a high speed TGV accident, but people have died in TGV crashes…still, unbelievably safe compared to driving.

  15. Great photos lads. Looking forward to seeing them in action. WIFI will be barely used for work and mostly for Facebook. Waste of time having it on the trains. Maybe a selfie with the new trains?

  16. Would be nice to be able to see how steep the stairs actually are.
    I am opposed to having Wifi on public transport due to the health effects. Mobile phones are bad enough but at least a person can choose not to use them. With Wifi we don’t get a choice.
    If there’s a train crash surely the whole 3 carriages will derail if they are all joined together. No escape.
    A long wait to see these on the western line by the sounds of things. Can’t imagine them ever getting up to top speed on the Western Line – they will no longer be travelling to Waitakere. A disgrace.
    With all the dark coloured window glass it will be like travelling in a cave especially once the light starts to fade early in the afternoon in winter.
    Will reserve my opinion on these until they are actually operational & I’ve had a chance to get inside one.
    Something can look good on TV but you don’t actually know how it’s going to perform until you use it on a daily basis.

    1. hd: the new trains being in three-coach sets will have little influence on what happens in a derailment – a French TGV three times as long derailed completely at three times the speed, and stayed upright with no significant injuries – and the state-of-the-art ETCS signalling system means that collisions between them are well-nigh impossible.

      Have to agree with you about tinted windows, though – they make Infratil’s new Alexander Dennis buses almost impossible to see out of at night (worse if the particular window is blessed with a Confravision advert or the operator’s logo), making stops difficult to see for even the most regular traveller.

      1. The painted over with advertising bus windows are the main reason I no longer use the bus. I like to see where I’m going. I can’t even begin to imagine how tourists and new immigrants get on. It’s impossible to see where you are on your journey or whether your stop is coming up. Especially in winter when the windows are also covered in condensation. And the lighting is impossible to read by. Not to mention the germ circulating air conditioning. Having all our buses airconditioned is not helping our greenhouse gas emissions one iota. No doubt it’s cheaper to build air conditioned buses, rather than ones with opening windows – as they all used to be. The ones with the opening window in the ceiling were the best for Auckland’s heat and humidity. All they had to do was make them all electric, hybrid or running on biodiesel, or bring back the trams, and the diesel fumes issue would be solved. Other countries have their bus fleets running on biodiesel. NZ is so behind the times in so many ways.

    1. Unfortunately decisions made long ago on rail in NZ mean that the platform height is limited to 750mm above the tracks, not 1m like in most other places. They have to be this way as otherwise there are some freight wagons that would hit the platform if they went past. It isn’t possible to get the floor height down to 750mm as it needs to be above the wheels and there needs to be space for the motors and other units like aircon. At the same time level boarding is seen as essential these days for people with disability so the steps are a compromise. I was quite concerned about how they would be but after seeing them in person I don’t think they are an issue.

      1. why can’t they fix the problem like getting newer freight train wagons and having those follow other countries height…surely there are countries willing to sell second hand trains that are higher than the current ones

      2. Couldn’t they solve that by moving the edge of the platforms back, as well as up, so they wouldn’t get hit? Then design an EMU that was as wide as the freight wagons?

        Bit late now, of course…

        1. Key problem would be the interim time, I guess. You can’t just turn up one Sunday and get all the train stations ready for the new cross-section trains on Monday morning. So all the stations would have had to be re-built over a period of many months / years, which would mean that in the interim, you’d have a massive, unsafe and impractical gap between your old trains and your new platforms. The issues with switching from one standard to a new one are manifold…

  17. why did they do that in the first place? can’t they fix the heights of the wagons and the platforms? or at least the wagons then the tracks can be lowered

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