Six weeks ago Auckland’s first electric train arrived in the country, just over 3 weeks ago it was officially unveiled and yesterday marked a new milestone as testing reached the point where it was able to exit the Wiri depot under its own power for the first time. What’s more, Auckland Transport kindly invited me to be on board. Up until now the testing has been confined to the depot with the focus being on ensuring all of the systems work properly.
Testing isn’t allowed to take place on the main lines unless there are no other trains running so we were limited to the parts of the third main that have been completed as far as Puhinui just over 1km to the north of the depot however it was enough that I can say from personal experience that these trains are going to be amazing. The train was super quiet and smooth in accelerating, in fact the low rumble of the wheels on the tracks seemed louder than the electric motors.
As the testing was happening during the morning peak there were quite a few scheduled services going past, I noticed that the drivers of those trains were all almost hanging out of their windows to get a good look at their future office.
Regular train users will likely know that trains aren’t running this weekend to allow for electrification works to continue and so the testing team will take the opportunity to get the EMU out again and up as far as Otahuhu – they can’t go further north than that till some other bits of work have been completed in a few weeks.
Since the unveiling, the inside of the train has had everything covered up to protect it and the engineers have set up testing stations in the train to monitor its performance however it also shows that if patronage somehow doesn’t grow as expected, AT could always turn the train into a mobile office and rent out desk space. They have also added some large barrels which are/will be filled to help represent the weight of passengers.
At Puhinui some passengers got a look at the new train for the first time.
But I’m sure you don’t want to see pics of the interior. AT also filmed the event giving one of the best views most will have yet seen of the train. I’ve used the non-music version but it’s worth noting that the sound seems a little sharper on video than it is in real life.
Oh and in case you’re wondering what the white things sticking out from the doors are, they are polystyrene blocks and are being used to help test clearances as the EMU will need to be tested against every single platform and other structure around the network to ensure there is no conflict.
Lastly reader Alex was at Puhinui for one of the trips there and took a some of photos of the train being tested. The one below in particular highlights the differences between the cabs of the current loco hauled SA trains and the EMU