Today Auckland Transport celebrated the arrival of the last electric train – of this first batch. The celebration also included a visit by Prime Minister John Key

EMU Celebration - 1

Auckland Transport has officially marked the arrival of the last of the city’s 57 electric trains with a function at the Wiri Train Depot attended by the Prime Minister.

The last three trains from Spanish manufacturer CAF landed on the wharf last week and are now going through final checks at the depot prior to certification.

Auckland Transport chairman Dr Lester Levy says it’s been a swift journey since the contract for the trains was signed in October 2011. “In less than four years we have seen 57 three-car trains roll-off the production line in Spain, they’re all here now and they’ve been delivered on time and on budget.”

Dr Levy says more than 14 million trips are now being made on the Auckland rail network each year. “That’s fantastic considering that in 2003 when Britomart opened less than three million trips were being taken each year.”

He says this project has had excellent support from the Government including a $500 million loan to fund the electric trains and the Wiri depot. “There has also been a government grant of $90 million and one of $40 million from Auckland Council, we would like to thank them for their support.”

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the Government is committed to working with Auckland Council to see Auckland succeed. “The arrival of these trains marks the culmination of the Government’s $1.6 billion, decade-long investment in three Auckland metro rail projects.

“Over the next three years, $4.2 billion will be invested to build a robust, future-proofed transport system for Auckland.”

Dr Levy says Auckland now has trains that are of international standard. “The quality trains, along with a boost in the number of services means more people are seeing rail as an option.”

The first electric trains began operating on the Onehunga line in April 2014 and the network from Papakura in the south to Swanson in the west went all-electric just a few weeks ago on 20 July.

“We know many of the trains are already full at peak time but now that all 57 trains are here we will get more double trains operating to help ease the situation.”

Mayor Len Brown says “We’ve busted the myth that you can’t get Aucklanders out of their cars and the electric trains are fuelling the success. But their popularity means we’re becoming the victims of our own success. At the existing rate of growth, we will reach train service capacity by 2016. This emphasises the urgent need to get cracking on building the CRL.”

Each train has seating for 232 passengers and standing room for more. The trains have wider doors making it easier for passengers.

The central carriage is at platform level for wheelchairs, prams or bikes and automatic ramps mean a seamless transition between the platform and the train.

Open gangways between cars mean passengers can move from one end of the train to the other.

Some facts and figures:

  • The supplier, CAF used equipment from Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain – taking the best from the world to create trains specifically for Auckland.
  • It takes more than 15,000 hours to fabricate and assemble one electric train unit, there is 110km of wiring in each unit.
  • Each train is tested for 1000 hours on the tracks.
  • The maximum operating speed is 110km/hr, however, the average operating speed will be less than this.
  • To provide improvements to efficiency each train has regenerative braking, allowing braking energy to be fed back into the 25kv supply – a recovery of up to 20% of the energy used.
  • Noise reduction: the 25kV power supply means that the trains are very quiet both externally and internally – a very important consideration for people living and working near the rail network.
  • There’s no air pollution from the trains because they are electric and there are no exhaust fumes.
  • Rail patronage in Auckland grew 21.7% in the year to the end of June, that’s two and a half million more passengers than in June last year.
  • The number using all public transport in Auckland reached 79 million in the year to June, an increase of 9.5% or on average 19,000 extra boardings per day.

I was secretly hoping that John Key might announce the government were bringing forward the City Rail Link, electrification to Pukekohe or even just the ordering of more trains but sadly that didn’t happen. Below are the speeches from Lester Levy, John Key and Len Brown (sorry audio quality isn’t the best)

Lester Levy

John Key – I particularly liked his comments that he doesn’t think Aucklanders are any different to people in the rest of the world and will use PT if good quality options are provided. Now if only the government will follow up that with appropriate funding to enable that to happen.

Len Brown

It is fantastic that all trains are now here – although it will be a few months before all are on the tracks. One thing mentioned in Lester’s speech was that the EMUs were seeing much improved reliability and punctuality. To highlight that yesterday saw 99% reliability i.e. only three services from over 500 failed to run and 95% punctuality meaning that only 5% of services were later than 5 minutes to their destination. That’s a dramatic improvement on what we’ve had in the past.

Of course the next thing we will need is more trains. As mentioned sadly there was no announcement of that because as I understand it, it will take about 2 years to get new units built and delivered. Given the rapid growth in patronage that means we will probably need to be ordering those very soon. On patronage I don’t have July figures yet but I’ve been told they are very good and in addition August is looking good so far too.

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    1. Yes and I spoke to the head of CAF for the region and he said there’d be a 2 year delivery time for additional ones; we’ed better order them now!

      And I’m a bit surprised about that delay, they must be busy at Beasain, as they already have all the rigs and dies for our peculiar little trains…?

      1. 2 years sounds about right.
        Wellington’s “Matangi 2s” took 21 months from contract to first delivery,and that was with the ontract being signed just before delivery of the final batch of first generation units…..

      2. If they’re done with production of this batch and do not see any certain orders, they probably would have retooled and sold the manufacturing slots available, and components from suppliers would have been ordered to suit, suppliers who also will have other projects. Pulling the supply chain into gear again will probably cause a decent delay.
        Hence better order before anyone else fills in the production capacity available. Kind of wanted to see the last going up the road, but guess it will have to wait for batch 2 when it comes

      3. No need to panic, we already own a $200m fleet of quality carriages remanufactured from 2004-2010. Unless they are silly enough to sell them now, in the face of imminent capacity constraints. That would take incompetence to an all new level.

        1. Do we still own these carriages? Or have they been sold already? I keep hearing mixed messages.

          Reminds me of attitudes during the “Beeching” era in Britain (1960’s): Rip up all the closed railways as quickly as possible, just to make sure there is no going back, even if the need is there. Today many Brits shake their heads in disbelief at what went on back then.

        2. The carriages exist, although aren’t optimal. I hear the screaming that we’ve only just got them out of service, so why would we want them back, my answer is that there is a looming capacity constraint, based on available space in carriages.

          There are locomotives, but the existing ones are tired and diesel, so it is unlikely that we’d want to utilise these, especially after the cost reductions of fully electric operation are about to be seen.

          If the carriages were to be pressed into service, you’d want some form of electric engine to pull them. Surely there is a leasing market globally that would allow for this capability to be procured. This was tried in Wellington and wasn’t particularly successful, so requires planning and forethought, so is unlikely to produce the result that most blog readers are interested in.

          Personally I think we should have been investigating the purchase of additional EMU when the sparks effect kicked in, particularly with what was seen at Panmure station, a transfer without integrated fares, but we didn’t so now it becomes a scramble to provide the capacity to continue the growth. Unless we want the whole system to stall.

  1. If they start with an order for 25 centre carriages that would at least mean that all units are either 4-car or 6-car EMUs. These could be built quite a lot quicker than the motorised units and quite cheaply. Additional motorised units could then be ordered to create more 6-car EMUs when needed.

    1. Issues with that idea:

      – Eliminates benefits of running a universal EMU fleet
      – Effectively running two fleets of half size each, each half non-operable with the other
      – Platforms cannot handle 6+ cars, so four car trains unable to be paired with any other
      – Remove the ability to efficiently change the layout of the fleet

      – Inherent engineering challenge/risk in attempting a significant modification
      – Four carriage trains may not have the power required to be certified for CRL
      – Routine changing between 3-4 cars will increase inefficiency at depot
      – If the decision was made today implementation would be some time away
      – Expensive solution that would only solve the problem for a short time if non-certified for CRL
      – Risk added through custom modification of a bespoke EMU, invoking un-forseen engineering issues
      – Engineering issues lengthier to resolve due to lack of manufacturer experience (maintenance contractors) with train set up

      This idea has been thrown around a lot lately. I don’t feel that it has much merit. The CRL will permit more efficient running patterns which will assist with seats/station/hour. If rolling stock availability is such a critical issue there would be much much less risk in simply re-instating the additional EMUs that were until recently to have been purchased for the completion of the CRL. Given CAFs comments above, the lead time for additional rolling stock is around two years. That excludes the preparatory business cases, request for proposal/tenders/consultations that need to happen prior to the order being made. So let’s be optimistic and say that process takes around 18 months. If the process started in the new year we could have the additional cars by the end of 2019. One year before the CRL is started potentially causing them all to become obsolete.

      I’m pessimistic about the possibility with another manufacturer (not CAF) building stock compatible with the CAF design/tooling/control systems without hideous expense or delay should we decide to shop around. Should we entertain the idea of messing around with our bespoke new trains. Which we shouldn’t entertain. At all.

      The easy answer is: buy more EMUs and do the damn thing properly for once rather than trying to half-arse it.

      1. All Bruce says is buy 25 more 3 car EMUs from CAF, but consider asking CAF to deliver the trailer cars first.

        The 4 car EMUs are simply runt 6 car EMUs so all your objections about special fleet and such are quite simply absolute crap..
        When the A and P cars arrive from CAF in due time, then the 4 car grows up to a 6 car unit.

        By your logic 2019 is the soonest CAF can deliver anything if we order next year, so we’re gonna have 2+ years of capacity EMUs – all well before CRL opens, so what do YOU propose to deal with that issue of capacity EMUs?
        Order some more?

        Well hello, thats whats being proposed here.

        1. My thoughts are that if 3 cars are going to arrive – they might as well arrive as a proper EMU unit that we can run as a six car, rather than having three trailer cars arrive and have to pull apart/put together trains at a depot level. We have Scharfenberg couplers for a reason right? 🙂

          Assuming that the time per car is the same regardless of what type. If there is a two year lead time then it sounds as though it will be difficult to “sneak” in extra cars as suggested; even if they are un-powered.

          We’re all arguing the same point here (even though it’s all academic). If we’re going to go to the bother of putting an extra order in, it would be more useful to have proper EMUs rather than a bunch of extra trailer cars.

        2. Greg is right. The trailer EMU is cheaper, simpler and quicker to build. No traction issues because our EMUs were high powered to cope with CRL. Because CRL won’t be operational until 2020 at the earliest that gives us a few years assistance before the need to convert 4-car to 6-car with motorised units.

          As for the other points about mixed fleets that’s nonsense and it doesn’t require complex engineering or cost etc to implement.

        3. While the units may be the same, a benefit of the standard three-car EMUs is if anything occurs with one unit, there is an identical which can be scheduled in. The fleet is entirely flexible in which unit does what. Having units of two lengths makes things a little less ideal. There may also be certification issues, as the trains are integrated as three-car single units, rather than four carriages in one train, so possibly less flexible to change.
          Not saying it can’t be done, but it probably isn’t as easy as just adding another carriage. Until capacity meets demand, anything should remain an option

        4. They already plan to have several units out of service at any time for maintenance/spares etc. So shouldn’t be an issue. In reality the only problem would be is if a 6 car EMU had a problem with half of it. So in that example they could either hitch up another 3 car EMU from one being held spare, or they could just reduce that train to be a 3 car EMU until the other half is fixed. Another option would be to hitch a 4 car EMU to it and simply inform passengers that the rear carriage won’t be accessed from the platform (this happens in many countries – simply move forward to the next carriage to exit the train, just provide regular announcements. The train length isn’t a problem in terms of fitting into rail space it is only an issue fitting into platform length from a passenger point of view.
          As mentioned this is only intended to be a temporary measure until the CRL is built and additional sets ordered.
          That said long term it might be possible that a 7 car EMU set (with an extra non-motorised car) could still have enough traction for CRL (I don’t imagine a 4-car would but a 7-car might). We might have to start looking to this (a lot of cities have 6-9 car EMUs). Platforms would have to be extended where possible but in some stations the above example of informing passengers about the rear car not having platform access would apply.

        5. Greg N, Bruce: “The 4 car EMUs are simply runt 6 car EMUs so all your objections about special fleet and such are quite simply absolute crap” It’s clear that the message is not getting through that there’s nothing “simple” about creating (and then uncreating) a non-standard set of units – but I’m sure that AT, KR and NZTA do, and that consideration of 4-car units won’t even get to first base (fortunately and sensibly).

        6. Very simple actually. Just link up a non-motorised car in the centre with the other one. Happens all around the world. They are all wired up with network cables etc so controls can easily be routed through. It is a 1 day job.

        7. You keep naysaying Mike, yet offer nothing like evidence or anything else concrete to contribute except “order more EMUs”.

          Thats a given. And they’ll be CAF EMUs not Kamakuza 123 knockoffs from China as you and others seem to think they might be.

          I’d also point out that necessity makes for strange bedfellows sometimes, you may well find that inventive solutions that are **even more outrageous** to your sensibilities *are* needed in the short term to minimise the effect of the The governments delays and intransigence on investing in PT in Auckland. Its happened before, and it will (unfortunately) happen again.

          Time will tell, but I’m betting that something like this will be required to keep the lights on on the Rail network – especially once the new network goes fully live later next year.

          And its preferable to do this intermediate approach than fuck around with bringing back the old diesels – no matter how “new” the carriages they haul might look and feel, its a retrograde step.

          Pity Wellington doesn’t have the same 25kvAC system like we do here, because otherwise we could “borrow” their EMUs,
          But oh wait, I hear you cry, even if they were we couldn’t do that right? They’re not *certified* to run anywhere else on the system but Wellington right and KR and NZTA will have a fit if you tried?

        8. Greg N – your last paragraph is spot on!

          What you are calling “naysaying” I would describe as “being realistic”. Getting high-tech bespoke equipment to do something it wasn’t designed to do and has never been done before (like turning a purpose-built 3-car unit, with every car having its own particular role, into a 4-car one, operating on a network specifically designed for just 3- and 6-car trains) is never simple, let alone in a highly regulated, risk-averse, politically charged, very public and physically harsh environment – Wellington’s experience with the much lower-tech and less political EO/SE set is a case in point.I’m afraid that Nike slogans just don’t wash in that sort of situation.

          What I’m suggesting that instead of being diverted down an uncharted dead-end street (and then having to come back again), we look at achievable options – not forgetting that the existing fleet and network are still operating some way short of their potential (and achievable) capacity.

        9. People seem to be very sensitive and quick to dismiss options on both sides here. The thing in common though is that none of the ideas are simple.

          -Ordering more EMUs: ideal, as it keeps all standard. But will the network would cope while funding, ordering and manufacture are sorted.
          -Ordering more trailer cars: mechanically simple, no new parts pools needed, and may allow for quicker growth as carriages can be delivered as soon as complete rather than a set. But paperwork invariably takes longer than the job at hand; how long would the new set take to certify and how would differing sizes impact scheduling. They will also need funding.
          -Bringing back SA/SD carriages: those are still ok themselves, and are immediately available. But what is there to haul them and again, differing fleet will impact scheduling flexibility, as well as their own parts and maintenance pool need maintaining, which brings operating costs up
          -Bring back the DMUs: we’re already going to be running ADLs to Pukekohe, so they will still have a parts pool, maintenance and staff anyway, hence could offer capacity boosts as not all 10 are needed for that. But they are noisier and smaller, which passengers mightn’t like when they expect an EMU, and again, scheduling and operating costs.
          -Do nothing: Easiest. Will the network growth cope with it?

          All options come at a cost, and it’s a matter of how desperately do we need capacity, and which is the least non-ideal solution? More trailers may need more paperwork and a wait, but it could offer future unit growth opportunities while being quicker to deliver than the whole set EMUs. Some may see bringing back diesels as backwards, but they are available immediately.

          Pays to keep all options on the table until the situation is fully defined.

        10. SC suggested leasing locomotives for hauling the SA cars. Haulage options include the surplus New Zealand EF class (3 stored at Upper Hutt), and the Queensland 3900 class, which has gearing suitable for passenger operation (11 stored at Gladstone or Rockhampton). There are 46 electric locomotives stored in Queensland, most of them with DC motors and geared for freight rather than passenger operations. All these locomotives operate on 25 kV, and would have a power-to-weight ratio almost as good as a 6-car EMU. These could operate shoulder peak services, allowing more of the peak services to be 6-car EMU’s.

          While the best option is more EMU’s, other intermediate options should be part of the business case. It may strengthen the business case for ordering more EMU’s because of lower life cycle costs.

        11. Mike you claim we have special bespoke EMUs. Nothing of the sort. We have fairly standard EMUs with a few options. A bit like ordering a VW and getting sat-nav and reversing camera added along with a turbo engine rather than buying a bespoke car like a Rolls Royce.
          You claim it has never been done before. This is also false; there are many EMUs operating around the
          World with additional non-powered cars added to them. In fact 8 car EMU (2x 4 car EMU is quite a popular option). As for your comment about the network not being designed for 4-car that is also incorrect as it can handle up to 6-car at present and 4-car is effectively a runt 6-car.
          The main point is that you could probably order 25 unpowered cars for around the same price as 5 normal 3 car sets (15 cars total) not to mention they would be quicker to manufacture. Then in a few years order the other cars to complete 6-car sets.

        12. SC:
          Every option is difficult because planning ahead to cater for a predictable situation was lacking when it was needed most.

          No one is suggesting trailer cars on their own, ordering more EMUs is needed and a given here, but there is an option of getting the trailer cars sooner to make *existing* 3 car EMUs into 4 car EMUs until the powered A and P cars arrive.
          That step gives a potential 25% capacity boost to every 3 car EMU – its not 33% because the trailer car has less seating and more standing room in it.
          We won’t enough spare EMUs to make all trains 6 car EMUs (as is needed) – until we get the extra 3 car EMUs from CAF. Which is years away even if we order tomorrow.
          in fact AT could pick up the phone tomorrow and order extra EMUs from CAF if they so desired – CAF already have all the specs on hand, the only question would the the delivery timetable.
          There is no need to get competitive quotes – only 1 supplier (CAF) can supply the gear, and the expressed requirement of ordering 57 EMUs to start with was to have a single fleet with a sigle maintenance organisation (CAF), so why would anyone muddy the water with second rounds of tenders when there is only 1 supplier? Wellington did the same with their Matangis, so we should copy that process. Its not unheard of.

          We’re not talking about converting an Airbus A320 two engined plane to a bastardised DC-10 by putting a 3rd engine on the tail here.
          4 car EMUs are a standard configuration around the world. with 2 unpowered trailer cars instead of one as Bruce points out. Maybe we don’t hook two up to make 8 car EMUs but again thats done worldwide, and even with shorter platforms, you can leave the overhanging doors closed and people use the closest next door. London Tube trains do this ALL THE TIME now.

          Our EMUs are massively overpowered because they’re designed to handle the CRL incline, so they can handle 2 unpowered carriages as eaisly as one on the system prior to CRL opening.
          Why do we have to make life so hard for ourselves with all this “never been done before, so it can’t be possible” rubbish.
          Aviation is way more regulated that railways are, and for good reason, planes simply can’t fall out of the sky.
          Trains? Not so much, yes regulation is needed, but acting like trains need to be regulated as if they are planes is just plain wrong on every level. Which is the approach you are taking here.
          I know trains are certified to work on certain parts of the network – as a one time thing. All locos of a given class are then in the same boat certification wise.

          Using your logic, Air NZ could not take a plane that flies Auckland/Wellington and use for any other route – without a stack of paper work being done first for that plane? Yeah, Right.
          Especially when that same plane can fly the Tasman to Australia anytime Air NZ want to?

          Maximising the capacity of the current fleet is a given, but it will only get us so far, for so long [like 12 months], and then what?
          CRL will still be years away at that point too, & running patterns can’t radically change that much til then, yet demand will increase by at least 10% a year, a figure which means 5,000+ more passengers need to be carried each and every working day of each and every year. When the current trains are already groaning at peak.
          Thats 100’s more EMU trips will be needed – even if they’re 6 car ones.

        13. Greg N: sorry, but that’s not my logic at all. What I’m saying is that the EMUs are designed as 3-car units, with everything being optimized for that particular setup. Adding a car makes it a different (suboptimal) beast, something not to be undertaken lightly. Sure it happens, but the only examples I’m aware of are where an entire class has been modified as a permanent exercise, very different from what you’re proposing.

          Similarly the infrastructure is designed for multiples of 3-car trains, and there are many circumstances where a 4-car train would again be suboptimal, eg when stabling it takes up more space than a 3-car train, but put it in a 6-car space and a third of the space is wasted; and a 4-car set can’t be coupled to a 3-car set, because the train would be too long. So a 4-car set is neither fish nor fowl, and adds the sort of multiple-fleet complexity that Auckland has only just got rid of – and certainly doesn’t need.

          And Bruce, if the EMUs are so standard, could you point us in the direction of where CAF-built units Auckland style (or similar) are operating?

          Sorry, guys, but simple it ain’t – if you want simple you do what’s already been done, or what you used to do. You don’t head off into the unknown, particularly if there’s no long-term benefit. Don’t get distracted by sideshows!

          My last word on this particular aspect, I think.

      2. They could manage boarding better. For instance, have the front cars loaded first. Let people know you’re going to do this and just don’t open the doors of the back car or cars. Move the train. Load the back cars. Or Load different cars at different stations. All this can be accomplished by real time signage. People will adapt to this in about a week. In cities like New York and Philadelphia, there are A trains, B trains, locals, expresses etc. It doesn’t take long until a rider knows instinctively which train they need. AT could do something much simpler and accomplish the same thing. All this totally temporary until new trains arrive which can’t happen soon enough.

        It would be nice if they could do “trippers”, extra trains that run a few minutes behind a scheduled train at peak times. They should definitely do this on the NEX and it can be done much sooner than with rail. Of course, I doubt that the current train system can accommodate trippers because of the limitations of Britomart.

        1. So will the doors in other carriages not open, how will those that got on through one set of doors subsequently get off at an intermediate stop, or am I missing something?

        2. What would be stopping people from just walking through to the other carriages? There are no doors between them, remember.

        3. One of the best features of them too! Gone are the days of the crowded tail carriage, just slide on through to a much more even distribution. Even when full, it still feels bigger for it

  2. Re Simon Bridges’ : “Over the next three years, $4.2 billion will be invested to build a robust, future-proofed transport system for Auckland.”

    Does anyone have a breakdown of the $4.2 billion in spending over the next 3 years?

    1. Your can be reassured that whatever Bridges says sounds good on the face of it but in reality will be money already spent or long budgeted for and will almost exclusively go into motorways and highways.

      1. There is zero Transit Capex spend in the years ahead, nothing at all, CRL is not in any budget yet, There is no extension to the Northern Busway funded, no North western busway. Some funding to match AT’s programme on small things, NZTA do fund 50% of the PT opex, so it will be that plus motorways and the urban cycleways fund. AMETI isn’t even in this period.

        Almost all of that is Motorways then.

    2. Remember this is the same Minister Bridges and Roads that wanted to build 10 bridges on some tiny little pissant (yes I know there is some tautology here) Northland roads. Don’t set your sights that anything meaningful or sensible will emerge.

      1. They should stay single-lane, its more beneficial in terms of traffic calming and the chances of two cars approaching, one from each direction at the same time, is a very rare occurrence.

        1. Unless you are a Top Gear presenter like Clarkson, when of course, a collision caused by another vehicle on any one lane bridge is pretty much guaranteed.

  3. This is another big step towards the high quality PT system that Auckland needs to become a truly international city.

    It’s great news, disappointing that there weren’t any big announcements to follow up this success.

    Roll on the ground breaking ceremony for the CRL.

  4. Each train is tested for 1000 hours on the tracks? Is that a typo? Running it for 8 hours a night for 4 months before putting it into service? How poorly constructed are these trains if it takes that long to work through their defects?

    1. I’m not privy to their specifications but for anything that can cause so much harm if things go wrong it makes sense for local agencies to be cautious in signing them off as OK.

      1. Then why aren’t all heavy vehicles tested to the same level?, many more people die from trucks then they do trains, yet trains are always blown out of proportion as a big safety hazard. Why isn’t their a road safety week instead of a rail safety week!

        1. “more people die from trucks then they do trains, yet trains are always blown out of proportion as a big safety hazard” seems to be a problem around the world. There’s quite a good discussion of it at The main problem seems to be the ‘as low as reasonably practicable’ liability test applied in a House of Lords legal case. ALARP can achieve much safer railways than roads, but at a cost that can be as much as making a rail death a hundred times more costly to prevent than a road death. A cost-benefit approach would make more sense for overall safety, but probably needs legislation to reverse the legal precedent. A UK report ( para 86) says rail is spending three times as much as road to avoid a death. Kiwirail’s National Rail System Standard / 4 (,%20Effective%20Date%2011-06-2007).pdf) requires the use of ALARP.

        2. The simple answer is that railways are much easier to regulate than roads, and don’t get stroppy about it: we regulate what’s easiest, not necessarily what’s right.

    2. 1,000 hours x 57 trains. You would wonder what they were finding by the time they got to the 56,999th hour!
      Air NZ new 787’s ” there is one day inspecting the aircraft, a 2 hr flight, couple of days for Boeing to fix any noted issues, usually cabin appearance things, pay the money (list price is $250 million ), fly it home and put the asset to work.”
      Hmmm. Is this an example of the efficiency of our quasi public sector me thinks?

      1. You will recall that by the time AirNZ gets is 787s they are/were (a) years and years later than planned, so late in fact that AirNZ had some operational issues as they had to keep 747s in their fleet way past their use by dates (b) Boeing spends a decade “debugging” the plane and assembly processes before even 1 ships to a customer (c) Boeing builds about 10 planes and keeps them for itself to aid certification processes and for world wide promotional tours and air shows and such so the dungers come out early on and are usually reworked and reworked over time.

        Airline customers only pay for the plane upon “delivery”, as each plane is a significant numbers of millions of dollars, the process for “acceptance” is more of a ceremonial handover than actual “acceptance” testing. So the 2 hour acceptance flight and such is just a formality.

        Once a Boeing plane is certified by the FAA its pretty much a rubber stamp exercise for the rest of the aviation authorities world wide to do the certification in their area as they use FAA as the lead certifier. And once the AirNZ 787 comes out of the factory, there is really bugger all left to do before the money changes hands.

        In the case of CAF EMUs, they were delivered on time, on budget and any kinks appear to be largely the result of KR and NZTA excessively conservative operational rules for a new class of EMUs and ETCS over anything else dodgy and/or overhead power supply issues (a KR problem). And the inevitable training/crewing issues – neither of which is CAFs fault.

        If there are inefficiencies here, its not the Manuel effect of having Spanish trains more the lacklustre service from the likes of NZTA and KR over AT.

        1. The 787s are direct replacements for the 767s, as a result of the delays these planes have been held in service longer than planned. The 747s were replaced by 777-300s.

  5. It amuses me that the Nats keep banging on about them investing $1.6billion in AKL rail.
    What Bridges really means is:
    Labour’s Michael Cullen budgeted $600million in 2006 for the DART projects (double tracking Western Line, Newmarket and New Lynn station upgrades, Onehunga re-opening etc)
    A $500million loan to Auckland for the EMUs, which the ratepayers will have to pay back to the government.
    And finally, National does get to claim credit for the $500million it spent on the electrification project that it paid Kiwirail to build.
    So, in reality, less than a third of what they keep on claiming, is what has actually come out of their Budgets.

    1. Yet they get all the credit because their political opposition have done such a woeful job of explaining what you have just done. Demand better representation. Or be it.

    2. Yeah theirs no accountability for anything they say. Lying isn’t a crime unfortunately. But we can vote them out if we got it together and all started voting wisely next elections…

  6. Apologies if this is a stupid suggestion but I wonder if we can not get some interim capacibiliy until some new trains are ordered by doing two simply things.

    1. Building the southern link to manukau station but not electrifying it yet.
    2. By bringing some diesels back to the western line and running 6 TPH. These would only run from Henderson to the old train stop and not go via Newmarket.

    For the Manukau southern line, I know it will have a small impact on kiwi rail wiri options. But we are talking about only a few hundred metres of track and perhaps some signalling. I doubt it would be overly expensive. Then we could run trains from manukau station to pukekohe. This may remove some passengers who are just traveling between puke and hi mai plus a few passengers that are transferring at puhnui.

    It think there would be enough refurbished trains to allow a 15 minute service (I.e. 4 TPH).

    Introducing a Henderson to the old train station to supplement the electric trains would allow the western line to go to 6 TPH. If they invested a small amount of money the could build a temporary station at the old Newmarket west station site.

    This idea is aim at removing some of the people who are travelling on some of the intermediate stations rather than to britomart. It also does not add to the congestion at Newmarket or britomart station and uses existing rolling stock. I know it is a sub optimal band aid solution until CRL is built in 2022. But having the trains at total capacity at 2016 just seems madness.

    Now NZTA and AT predictions about passengers numbers growing to about 16 to 17 million before stalling makes sense. There is just no capacity in the system to support the growth we having been seeing for more than another year. We have not ordered enough trains to support 20 million.

    1. Pretty crazy idea, Andy. And we may well end up there if they don’t write an order soon. One tweak; only run the western line train as far as Grafton station for the downhillers. Use the long straight down behind the University (old Brewery) to switch trains across for their return journey. Keeps them out of NMKT and interfering with the Southern line schedules and exacerbating Sarawai St. Being diesels they could run all the way up to/from Helensville and placate the western line advocates as well.

      1. Good idea as in interim measure. Ideally the network should be electrified out to Kumeu and down to Pukekohe (eventually down to Frankton too).

      2. Yep, they let me out of my box today and they are having some trouble getting back in. Your suggestion is much better because you do not need to have to buy more ticketing machines and tag off posts. So it is a zero sum option from a CAPEX point of view (but it will have OPEX costs). It was just an idea about how to keep the growth up until someone can get another $100 or $200 million into the transport budget. I just think it will be difficult for AT to get that kind of money within the next 12 to 24 months and I am skeptical that the Government is going to give it to Auckland (perhaps as another loan if they have a moment of weakness). I was just thinking with the resources we may have available to us and the capability restraints we have was there a way of adding some extra capacity between 2016 (or when EMUs are completely packed ) and 2022 when CRL is open.

        As Patrick notes it is not a great idea by any means (I didn’t know about the fact that the Western line would get 6 TPH early next year – thanks for that information). One of the issues could be that the diesels can breakdown so often that they cause more problems than they solve. Maybe you could bring back the Silverfern railcars (if they have not rusted away or been sold) and run a Helensville Service like you suggest Mr Plod. Could we have 8 TPH on the western line or would there be problems regarding closures of crossings? By the end of 2016 the Engineering School will have some stuff underway at the Grafton campus…not sure of the timeframe for the teachers Colleague timeframe. Maybe as far as Grafton is good enough …I would get the Grammer and St Peters Kids to there station, plus hospital and med school. Grafton is not far from Newmarket.

        I wonder if the new electric trains, improved reliability and being on time will results in a growth greater than 21% from now on? I would have thought one train every 10 minutes would help boost the western line performance.

    2. 6tph on the western is coming with electrics in the new year, I was assured by senior AT people yesterday. They are constantly tweaking the dwell and running times and are working to a new tighter timetable at the end of this year. This will provide to two additional slots at Britomart. If all goes well.

      Lester Levy said they are now running at 99% reliability and 95% punctuality with 100% electrics. And intend to keep this up…. Threading the old bangers back into this would likely break that. Anyway they are expensive and dirty to run. More EMUs is the answer. There were encoroaging noises by significant players about this yesterday.

      It was not insignificant, in my view, that the PM was there at all…

      1. Patrick, you are pretty clear you never want to see a diesel ever again. However, the issue with completely rejecting them is the fact that there are no spare EMUs (unlikely to be for a while) and any proposed extensions to the network would need electrification, which some may be unwilling to invest in until it is proven the route can work. While in an ideal world every new option could instantly be answered by more EMUs, they simply cannot be immediately available. It is unwise to instantly reject options which could fulfil an interim proof-of-concept or capacity boost in absence of the ideal.

        As for the PM being there; he turns up for every celebration he can find. Significance is questionable. It would be nice to think it is a sign more EMUs are to be ordered, but not hopeful on that particular indicator

        1. Sc not only am I distainful of old rattlers I am also against using scarce resources on sending high cost, high capacity, urban systems to low population rural locations. Especially as the frequency will perforce be low.

          Maximise value by serving high volume communities first.

          Of course it would be great to have high quality high freq services everywhere but that can only happen in a world without constraint. Now if we prioritise rail to Helensville then other things will miss out, most likely much much more valuable things. Work towards it by all means but I don’t see these types of uses for rail as a priority.

        2. Patrick I don’t think anyone here would suggest that Helensville should be prioritised over other necessary PT improvements. It should of course be prioritised by receiving a small sliver of the funding currently being squandered on unnecessary high-capacity highways. Can you not agree with that?

          Now sure, this is not likely to happen with the current mean-spirited regime, but it behoves us (as PT advocates) to keep pushing this and other seemingly “far fetched” ideas, just as fervently as others push for Moar Roads. Time you got over your hang-up on this.

          But there are two issues here. Helensville is only one of them. The other is the looming crisis due to shortage of EMU’s to meet the rapidly rising demand. What is your problem with the SA sets? Why such irrational disdain, when just a few weeks ago they were still the mainstay of the service that has triumphantly brought Auckland to where it is today? True, they were struggling of late to sustain the operation on their own, but now they would not be ‘on their own’. They would simply cover a shortfall which looks certain to exist. Less intense, less stress, less risk of unreliability than before.

          Why call them “rattlers”? Apart from the diesel loco at one end (and the genny at the other!), they are quiet and comfortable. They don’t even have compressors and static inverters whirring away under them as EMUs do.

          Yes, more EMUs are the answer, but if these cannot be procured in time to avoid a target-busting crisis, what do you propose? Extra buses? – Now those probably would be rattlers and I know which rattlers I would prefer.

        3. Patronage from Helensville has the potential to be greater than many of the stations on the Auckland network ( AADT on SH16 alone is about 5,000 (see and there’s probably a similar flow on the Old North Rd, so that’s around 10,000 people a day. A good public transport service should be able to get 20 to 30% of those, or around 2,500 a day and a couple of SA sets running a semi fast Helensville-Auckland service could help relieve overcrowding at the busier stations along the line. A similar solution from Pukekohe would probably be even more popular.

        4. Oh howsoon people forget the lessons of the past and ignore reality. The Hellensville service was sliw, dreadfully sliw and had a handfull of customers each day. It must have cost ARTA a small fortune to operate. It’s the most indirect trip to the city. As for Old North Rd, in order to access the rail line, it would be necessary to drive away from town to catch the train. How much sense does that make? Far easier to make a connection to a frequent bus at the ONR / SH16 intersection.

      2. Problem with that Patrick is thats fiddling in the margins, by the time AT sort that out at the western line and it gets 6 TPH , they’re at least 6 more months down the track. Folks need those extra services now, those last 3 EMUs that arrived will allow for 3 3 unit EMUS to become 6 unit EMUs.

        And the additional capacity that the extra 2 trains per hour in peak is pretty much already spoken for. Let alone in 6 months time.
        [2 TPH is only 1500 more people carrying capacity per hour, thats what 2 x 6 unit EMUs will add per hour, or 3000 per AM/PM peak].

        At best thats 1 years worth of growth at the current rate, and the demand will have grown – the capacity will be half used up by the time they get them in service.

        However, from the AT perspective, they’ll all say (and the Minister will see) that “we’re all doing something” – so we don’t need to order more EMUs until we fully max out the ones we have. Thats wrong headed, they should order more EMUs now [hell they should ahve ordered more 12 months ago].
        While they get on and maximise what they have now.

        Because doing that will mean that CAF will be only 18 months from delivering the next batch of EMUs if they do it that way. If we leave it, then it will be 2 years.
        And if we get CAF to be smart in how they deliver the units to us, we might get some relief sooner.

        Regardless, by not thinking ahead of the curve, we’ll always be chasing our tails with PT uptake running the way it does.

        We have the same issue with buses – double deckers were needed 2+ years ago, they’re coming onstream now from H&E and NEX, no movements from NZBus on DDs, so those folks in the Isthmus area – you’ll have to keep putting up with full buses.

        I suspect a large chunk of the problem is that Bridges et al doesn’t really think the rail/PT uptake will last – so its simply just a blip like it was a the RWC 4 years ago.
        And just like the driving downturn is “a blip”. And real soon now, things will go back to normal.

        What they don’t see is **this is** the new normal.

        I can see the Government having to fork out big $ to airfreight the EMUs direct from Spain rather than send them via ship the way this growth is going.

        1. What you call ‘fiddling at the margins’ is likely to bring the most cost effective time savings for more people more often than anywhere in the country. There may well be 5 minutes per line that can be recouped. That’s great for every passenger, and absolute gold for the efficiency of the whole system. If AT weren’t doing this we should be furious. But yes we still need to be ordering more trains at the earliest opportunity.

        2. Agreed that its good for *existing* passengers to have those improvements, but it doesn’t help the marginal/next passenger of these services (the ones yet to use the trains – e.g. those hordes in the wings currently using buses who will be using trains as part of the New Network next year).

          Because the improvements and capacity increases they need will be well and truly fully utilised before then and then AT is 6+ months down the track and still no closer to ordering or doing anything else.

          This “nice to have problem” is becoming a predictable crisis, and crisis management techniques will be needed to get us out of it.

          If Key and co think that Auckland traffic is bad now, or that Hobsonville is convoluted to get to, then see how far the tailbacks stretch as those 30,000+ new migrants each year who settle in Auckland all try and cram onto overloaded PT services (thanks to trains being full, the buses also don’t work well either), and the roads ensuring all are jammed solid for hours and hours each AM and PM, then see how “urgent” the problem becomes.

          While they can say “we didn’t predict the speed of uptake”, now the evidence is in and the uptake is clear, the onus is on them to let AC/AT act and order more trains ASAP.

          Bill English may well agree that they were a “bit late” to act on Solid Energy, but they well find they were even later to act on the Auckland PT surge too. And I know which one of those two will be the more expensive at the ballot box for them in 2017.

        3. Need the Fanshaw St urban busway and interchange badly. After all, the NEX breaks even right? Justified for some more investment perhaps?

  7. 21% growth in a year is MASSIVE. That would be doubling in around 3 1/2 years. That’s the end of 2018. But is isn’t to be…

  8. Are the Spanish trains at fault for the delays? Have drivers been required to learn a new language? And when will BMW make a train carriage so that Key will feel comfortable on the tracks?

  9. That is a massive improvement if they can keep on time running above 95%. Will be impressive if that’s happening already.

  10. My trips home at peak all week ran early. Early enough we had to sit at Penrose and Otahuhu almost every night. Inbound to town varied a bit but I got different trains some days. The part where inbound falls apart is after Newmarket. Anything over 8 minutes is ridiculous

    1. Ted that is the standard way of illustrating spatial efficiency. And spatial efficiency is at the heart of what cities are. It is the currency of cities. It isn’t really about what cities may or may not ‘look like’, but rather it illustrates the trade-offs we make when we choose to invest in or prioritise different movement modes in high value places [ie cities].

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