Last week I wrote about the issue of dwell times on the new electric trains and how they combined with other factors mean the EMUs that are meant to be much faster are have instead actually ended up being slower. Rail users will also be acutely aware that the performance of trains has been appalling in recent months – on that it’s been reported that while the withdrawal of the old diesel trains will remove one of the causes of unreliability, the new trains are having teething problems and will need 6-12 months of bedding in.
That very same afternoon as my dwell time post the AT board papers were published online and an attachment at the end of the business report deals directly with the issue of train/rail performance by showing what is planned to improve it over the next year. The initiatives are broken down by month and in to four key categories – Operations, ETCS (the signalling system), Rail Infrastructure and EMU Reliability Plan.
All the initiatives are shown in the images below – although they can be hard to read so click to enlarge or open the AT report (1.03MB) and scroll to the last three pages – however here are the things that most stood out to me.
- A range of fixes for the new trains over the next few months which should improve their reliability.
- Improvements to signalling could provide significant savings including
- potentially 30 seconds per train from addressing how the signalling system deals with level crossings (from August)
- faster line speeds on the Onehunga line saving 15 seconds (September)
- faster line speeds on Southern Line to Penrose saving 20-25 seconds (September)
- faster speeds around the curves behind Vector Arena saving up to 30 seconds per train (October)
- faster speeds on the curves on the rest of the network, this most affects the western line where savings could be 15-30 seconds (November)
- additional balise to speed up dwell times at some stations and improve timekeeping between Britomart and Newmarket
- Reviewing door opening and closing procedures to reduce dwell times (September), prior to that they are considering having doors opened and closed automatically at peak times.
- Changes to rules for drivers which could save 20 seconds per train (October)
- Hiring platform supervisors for Newmarket to improve punctuality (November) and extra drivers to reduce the need for some drivers to change ends on Western Line trains saving up to 2 minutes (December)
- Closing Westfield Station saving 2 minutes per train
- A new timetable in May next year that will provide a minimum of 15 minute frequencies between 7am and 7pm, 7 days per week. This will be to tie in with the roll out of the new bus network in South Auckland.
- New platforms at Henderson and Otahuhu to be able to turn back trains running late – this may be good for train operations but not necessarily good for passengers if you’re travelling to a station past Henderson or Otahuhu.
It’s nice to finally see laid out just what is planned to be done to improve services for customers both in terms of reliability and journey times as many of the issues listed are ones that have been raised numerous times already. It seems that for the Western line in particular the combined time savings could stack up to be a decent amount
While I understand many of the specifics won’t be known until the initiatives are rolled out, perhaps AT could try and pre-empt customer any frustration from slower trains by publishing some of the key points from the document above in a general public focused way on their website and at stations around the network.