Despite enabling works for the City Rail Link being on the cusp of starting we still don’t know just when the rest of the project will get the green light. Here’s the latest on the issue.

While they are yet to budge on the start date in recent months we’ve seen a noticeable change in the way the government talks about the project. It is talked about much more positively and I think a big part of that is Transport Minister Simon Bridges not being ideologically opposed the project like his predecessors were. The latest comments about it come from the break at Waterview yesterday.

Transport Minister Bridges says Auckland’s next big tunneling project will be the City Rail Link (CRL), with the early stages getting underway in the first half of next year.

The government and Auckland Council are still at odds over when central government funding for the CRL should kick in, but Bridges said they were getting there.

“Everyone accepts it’s got to happen, it should happen, it will happen, now really we’re down to about an 18-month timing gap between the council and the government,” he said.

An 18 month timing gap doesn’t sound like much at all but actually aligns fairly closely to what we already knew. The council have now said they want works under way in 2018. They actually wanted it sooner and the draft long term plan included funding for it however the Auditor General didn’t think it should be included without the government confirming their share of funding.

On the other side of the fence the Government have said a 2020 start date but have also said they would consider it happening sooner if some employment and patronage thresholds were met. The CRL is the only transport project that I’m ever aware of in New Zealand that has had targets attached to. As I’ve said before the employment target in particular is odd as there are many other factors that influence travel demand and many other trips to the city centre every day that aren’t for employment.

The Ministry of Transport have finally published their latest six-monthly report on progress which covers up to the end of June – you can read my version for a few months ago here. The MoT report only covers the patronage target as the employment figures are only produced annually with the latest ones due out at the end of next week. On to patronage but before reading the current update it’s worth remembering what the Ministry have said in the past about it.

The first report in December 2013 essentially predicted that Auckland would never reach 20 million trips prior to 2020. The second one in August 2014 and the third one in February this year predicted that patronage would grow till about 2017 then taper off.

Here’s what they now say:

Auckland Transport’s Public Transport Monthly Patronage Report for June 2015 shows rail patronage of 13.9 million trips for the year to June 2015, compared to 11.4 million trips for the previous year. This is an increase of 2.5 million trips or 22 percent.

Rail patronage has shown strong growth over the last two years and, if this growth can be sustained, the rail system is likely to reach 20 million trips well before 2020. However, given current patronage of 13.9 million is 6.1 million trips below the threshold and the variability in results since 2010, at least another year’s growth will be needed to confirm this result.

The Ministry’s comments on patronage are now verging on comical. After saying for almost two years that it’s unlikely Auckland will meet the 20 million trip target the stunning growth of over 21% has forced them to change tack. They now finally admit we’re likely to see the target eclipsed but then go on to ignore the growth rate and say that with the total being only 13.9 million trips that we should wait another year just to make sure the growth continues. If the current growth continues then by June next year rail patronage will almost be at 17 million trips a year and on track to hit 20 million trips some time in 2017.

2015-08 - Rail Patronage vs Govt Target

It’s like whoever is writing these reports is desperately holding out hope that the growth will slow down. The question is will it?

Reality dictates that at some point the high level of growth we’re currently experiencing will have to slow down. Even when it does I doubt growth will suddenly grind to a halt and those future increases will be off a larger base. There is still a lot of improvements to be made that will influence patronage including:

  • Optimisation of the EMUs should see them become faster and even more reliable
  • A move to six trains an hour at peak times on the Western Line, frequency is perhaps the most factor for driving patronage
  • Integrated fares will make it easier to transfer between bus and train services and make many current trips cheaper.
  • The New Network creates an integrated PT network with more buses feeding in to train stations we should see more people transferring between services.

So how has rail performed in the months since June – pretty well actually. Patronage for the month of July was almost 22% higher than July 2014 while August was over 20% higher. That has raised the annual growth of trips on the rail network by 22.7%. As of the end of August patronage is sitting at 14.4 million trips up almost 500k trips in just two months. I’ve also heard that September is shaping up to be another good month and the results of that should be out within the next few days.

I often wonder if there’s a bit of a physiological barrier of 15 million that affects many people’s view on the targets. Once over that 15 million trips I think we’ll see comments like those of the Ministry start to change.

One thing Simon Bridges has said recently is that he is reminded almost every day from Len Brown about just how fast patronage is growing. Hopefully he kept that in mind when he read this report.

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  1. Speaking of EMU optimisation, I caught a train the weekend before last after a bit of a hiatus and my perception was that the middle-carriage doors (I had a stroller with me) opened faster than previously. Anyone else noticed that? Or was I just fantasising?
    The other thing I noticed was how ludicrous it is to have to wait many, many seconds before the door can be opened.

    Back on the main topic, the MoT position really is laughable. It’s just a shame that the Minister of Finance doesn’t really believe in rail or we might see an actual shift in the thinking coming from Bridges’ ministry.

    1. There is very good work going on on dwell time led, I believe, by Rob Mayo, who occasionally comments here. Not inconsiderable time savings are likely to won through this work, and magnified along each route should improve journey times and network efficiency considerably.

      1. And kudos to those who are working on the issue but surely, by modern computing standards, this requires no more than a trivial software adjustment in the control circuitry?

      2. There are multiple stages in the 4-second computer controlled process of passenger-door-open enablement from time of driver cab door release button press, thus tweaks to the control circuitry are not simple at all. The driver forcing all doors open at stations also takes 4 seconds from driver cab button press to actual door opening. There is a further 7 seconds of system processing from time of full door close completion til the time the Driver is able to re-engage the EMU motors. Like the first 4 seconds after train wheel stop, this 7 seconds of system processing time just prior to train wheel start, cannot be easily reduced.

        In the dwell time reduction work I am doing with Transdev staff, this 11 seconds of system processing time is included in the per-station dwell time target. The improved EMU passenger door management procedure I have developed through recent field trials, has achieved a ‘maximum dwell time’ of 43 seconds from wheel stop the wheel start during peak period services and a ‘maximum dwell time’ of 38 seconds from wheel stop to wheel start during offpeak period services. The new procedure reduces dwell by an average of 10-15 seconds per station. During the morning peak period, on the most busiest Southern Line and Eastern Line services we’ve been achieving 43 seconds total dwell at major stations – Newmarket, Ellerslie, Panmure and Glen Innes, 42 seconds total dwell at Manurewa, 40 seconds at Papatoetoe, Sylvia Park and Greenlane and 30-35 seconds total dwell at all other stations. Offpeak dwell times using the new procedure are 28-38 seconds depending on the station and the number of passengers embarking/disembarking.

        The new door management procedure has not been trialled on the Western Line yet since there is further signalling system and station platform train position adjustments being made over the next 2-3 months. I am confident the new procedure applied on the Western Line will have trains not exceeding a 43-second total dwell time at the busiest stations on the line (Henderson, Glen Eden, New Lynn, Mt Albert, Grafton) during peak periods and will not exceed 38 seconds at those stations during offpeak services.

          1. It’s not good that we have gone from near instant door release and simultaneous closing on the old trains (some dwells were less than 20 seconds off-peak) to super slow mo with the new trains. As said by others surely this can be rectified?

        1. Hi,

          Thanks for the info, interesting stuff.

          This 4 and 7 seconds of “system processing” what is actually happening here? You can’t tell me the software is that slow it takes 4 seconds to react? How is it that the German and Russian metro systems get the doors opening as the train comes to a halt?

          1. Once the train has come to a halt at the station and the driver has pressed the door release button or pressed the buttons to force all doors open, the system has to verify that the train has actually stopped and wont be moving again – that takes several seconds. After door close completion, the system runs a door close verfication routine then a sequence to return power to the motors and that takes up to 7 seconds.

        2. Full marks for Rob’s efforts in trying to make the best of a bad job, but I still confess to being amazed that Auckland has managed to spend so much on new trains for such inferior outcomes on this point. Did no-one think about dwell time when ordering the trains? Did no-one think to look for world’s best practice and order that?

          Frankly, an off-peak dwell at minor stations of 38 seconds is still ridiculous. In Melbourne (and, I’m sure, in hundreds of other places with similar urban rail systems), a typical dwell is: wheel stop to door completely open – 2 seconds; door starts to close to wheel start – 3-5 seconds; handling passengers 15-20 seconds; total 20-25 seconds…. (tbc)

          1. To further clarify – 38 seconds is the maximum I have set for offpeak dwell time and 43 seconds the maximum I have set for peak services. Dwell times can be and are certainly below these maximums depending on numbers of passengers boarding and alighting. Remember also, that the AKL EMUs all have plug doors and the middle car has auto extending / retracting ramps. Overseas, more often than not, station platforms on similar systems to AKL (systems that operate both passenger and freight services on the same tracks), are at the same height as the train carriage floors – for every door on the train. The AKL EMUs were specifically designed to work better with Auckland’s lower station platform heights and enable those with prams, in wheelchairs etc to actually be able to use the train. Many passengers love accessing the AKL EMUs via these low-floor carriages as a result and yes, the doors there because of the auto-ramps, do take longer to close – you just have to work with and compensate for that as a task performance efficiency designer and no John, its not making the best of a bad job as you describe – not at all. Every train design around the world comes with its own real-world usage challenges and the AKL EMUs are not any worse than other trains overseas that I’ve worked with. Of course EMUs with recessed doors and no moving ramps will always be able to achieve faster times to open and close. In Japan for example, there are in fact quite a lot of train services where train door system processing time can take up 7-10 seconds of every dwell. This time-negative is offset by the train conductor being as efficient as possible in the movements he or she needs to make between platform and train at each station and the timings of each the sequenced door management tasks undertaken. Simply complaining about the technology doesn’t change any outcomes – how efficiently the people can interact with the existing deployed technology is where the best dwell time savings are made.

          2. RM:

            “Overseas, more often than not, station platforms on similar systems to AKL (systems that operate both passenger and freight services on the same tracks), are at the same height as the train carriage floors – for every door on the train” – that’s certainly not my experience: the only level boarding I’ve seen is on new dedicated purpose-built rail systems, mixed passenger and freight generally making level boarding impossible. I suspect that you meant “…are *not* at the same height…”?

            “This time-negative is offset by the train conductor being as efficient as possible in the movements he or she needs to make between platform and train at each station” – don’t know about Japan, but in many European systems efficiency is gained by the conductor not being involved in door opening and by not stepping onto the platform, so why not here?

        3. …Having 11 seconds of dead time between when the train stops and the door is allowed to *start* opening, and between when the door *finishes* closing and the train is allowed to start, is ridiculous. In Paris (just an example I’ve seen) doors can start opening in the last second or two before the train has stopped, timed so that the train has stopped before the door has opened far enough for anyone to get through.

          And if you can’t pre-order door opening before the train has stopped (what’s the current position on this?), that’s ridiculous too.

          1. I haven’t stop-watched the times you give, but everything else you said I totally agree on. And no “pre-ordering” is one of my bug-bears too. Plus only having a button on one side (which will be harder to change than the bloody automatic delays).

          2. Peter N: In answer to your question as to why its not possible currently to do ‘pre-ordering’ of individual passenger doors on the AKL EMU just prior to trains stopping at a station, its because it requires quite a major change to the train’s overall system management software. Door open preordering doesnt reduce the 4 seconds of system verification done just after driver-activated door release. Currently, if you press the passenger door open button right on when it lights up after those 4 seconds, it takes 1-2 seconds for the door to open from there, so preordering doors is in reality only going to save those 1-2 seconds post button-press which is not much of a saving really. Better time savings and efficiency gains are made from when the doors open to when they need to close again. My peak services period door management procedure has the Driver force all doors open on arrival at a station and that action alone saves valuable seconds along with Train Managers completing all their door management tasks (incl Local Door close) within a 25-30 second timeframe.

          3. Hi Rob,
            Thanks for the insights, very useful to know.

            Question – is the 7 second delay from all doors closed and driver pushes “start” to train wheels start a fixed delay that occurs *any* time the train is told to “go” by the driver [i.e. whenever the train is starting from a stationary position]?
            Or is it a forced delay of 7 seconds just imposed because of the door close cycle before train can go?

            e.g. if the doors were all closed [or never opened] at a stop, and the train driver waited say 10 seconds before hitting “go” – would the train wheels start immediately, or would the 7 second delay before wheels start occur anyway?

          4. Greg N: the 7-second process only occurs when the train has stopped at the station, one or more passenger doors then open, those ‘main doors’ are closed, the ‘Local Door’ is then closed, the Door Key switched to the OFF position and subsequently removed. The train system performs a number of checks during those 7 seconds that start from the time of door key switch off/removal – incl verification of all door close, return of power to motors. The dashboard screen in the drivers cab advises the driver when this routine is complete and he or she can then engage the throttle to move the train. If no passenger doors are opened and a Door Key has not be inserted / switched to ON on any door control panel in the train carriages, then neither the 4-second pre-Door Open nor the 7-second post-Door Close sequences are initiated.

        4. Yes thanks for your work Rob. Hopefully you can make further gains. However you and I both know from our experiences living and working in Japan that 30-45 seconds just does not cut it compared to the 15 seconds over there. This goes back to those involved in the train design and manufacture not getting it right. It makes you wonder if those, particularly at the NZ end, involved in the design had ridden first class transport overseas and understood what needed to be got right. Once again in Auckland we get some small but important detail in a project wrong. This city waited so long for these trains and for something like this to not have been gotten right in the original design just makes my blood boil!

        5. Well on the western line still average of 50s off-peak (minimum dwell was 41s at Fruitvale Rd) weekend 3-car for stations Grafton-Swanson, exception of New Lynn which takes around an average of 75s for some reason. This is well off the 38 seconds you have mentioned, but I note you have said it hasn’t been trialed on the western line yet, is there any expected timeframe around this? I am hoping it will be before Parnell opens as that will delay the Britomart travel time even further on the Western (note, the padding recently added to the timetable).

    2. It would be useful if the “open” button was active as the train arrives at the platform (roughly 10 seconds before the train stops). That way the doors can open as soon as the train manager gives the go ahead.

      1. Better if the driver released the doors as soon as the train stopped at the platform – Matangi in Wellington are being modified so that this best-practice approach can be introduced

        1. The door open circuitry requires the train to be proved as stopped. Sometimes the electronics take a while to recognise this.

          1. My car’s braking system certainly doesn’t take 4 secs to know my wheels are skidding. Sounds like we bought the wrong technology. Being able to press the button before the train stops would also save valuable time.

      2. Yes has been mentioned multiple times here before, should be able to pre-order door opening as is normal on e.g. Swiss and German trains.

        1. Yeah there’s no reason there can’t be a pre-order, so when the train is “proved stopped” the doors open without req of pressing the button again when it lights. Inside could be the same, it’s rather irritating having to wait for the light.

  2. Hopefully we smash that 15 million mark and we get an early start to CRL to tie in with the council build.
    At what point do we order more EMUs? The current fleet was ordered in anticipation of 20 million trips from 2020 with the benefits of the CRL improving capacity from better train productivity. Without the CRL 20 million will be too many people for the current fleet. Time to order more EMU’s.

  3. “Transport Minister Bridges says Auckland’s next big tunneling project will be the City Rail Link (CRL)”

    I would have thought Central Interceptor would get to qualify as a big tunneling project.

    ““Everyone accepts it’s got to happen, it should happen, it will happen”

    Who is everyone and what about the business case promised by the PM when they announced support?

    1. It does, and it’s amazing the lack of discussion around it. Is a billion dollar tunnel (more or less) really the best option?

      1. Really?, you want to see lack of discussion have a look at the NZTA juggernaut planning to blow $5-6 billions on a disastrously poor project across the harbour, without the slightest discussion.

        No project has been weighed and measured and given hurdles get over like the CRL.

      2. The official chain dragger at MoT is certain to be right eventually as without the CRL growth will hit capacity ceilings; it simply won’t be possible to keep growing, at the peaks at least, without this critical solution to constraint.

        Just keep the faith, and the downturn might just come in time. In fact the work on the CRL especially at Britomart itself is likely to be somewhat constraining, as are bus changes….

        I don’t mean to say the 20mil target is in any doubt, but rather that the rate of growth will surely lower, although of course say a 15% growth on 15mil trips is 2.25mil trips and therefore actually higher than 20% growth on 10mil [2mil]. That is what makes this year’s growth so much more impressive; it is on top of last years.

  4. And somebody needs to remind the Ministry of Transport that they are public servants responsible for supplying evidence-based advice, and not lackeys who only tell the Minister what they think he wants to hear.

    1. We don’t know if the author is doing that, or rather is just editorialising because of his own prejudice…? Or which is worse?

      Either way it is unfortunate that these reports do amount to a very clear and consistent point of view much more strongly than as a scientific reflection of the data.

  5. We, up to 5 or 6 of us, take the train from Manukau to Britomart or Newmarket etc, does the family pass I buy count at all in the stats?

  6. National will not support it unless the general public supports it, espacially near election year.

    The general public still have a perception building more roads is the best way to solve the problem.

    What most failed to realise is the more people use pt, the less people will relie on cars and it will ease off some road capacity.

    More education need to be made to general public to change their views.

      1. And certainly anecdotally everyone I’ve spoken to – including those who exclusively travel by car or bus – sees the CRL as absolutely essential.

        Once the cost penalty for mode switching is removed I imagine we’ll see explosions in traffic from people who take full advantage of quick trains to New Lynn, Manukau, Newmarket and Panmure then switch to a bus for the last leg home. As opposed to a single seat that grinds through town fighting with cars.

      2. Kelvin’s claims are basically conventional wisdom and don’t require evidence; many commenters here make those same points all the time. Yes, some surveys show the CRL as a positive, but that and $4 will get you a cup of coffee anywhere. When in the heat of a political campaign, the roads v. PT discussion can get very nasty and PT is a more nuanced case to make, unlike roads roads roads.

        We can’t take anything for granted, and have to run through the tape on this one.

        1. “are basically conventional wisdom and don’t require evidence”

          You aren’t on stuff.co.nz. Evidence is exactly what is required.

          1. I’m not dismissing the importance of evidence. There has to be rational arguments for major spending decisions. But sometimes, even often, the non-rational is what tips the scales. Fact is, conventional wisdom exists, it’s very powerful, it drives political positions, and it can’t be easily dismissed.

            And you’re right, I pay no attention to stuff or the Herald except when people I trust refer me to them. The really hard part is getting either of them to care about evidence and present it in an effective way. Something that used to be called “reporting.”

  7. Is that rail growth (above the govt target) sustainable? From when Ive used the train at peak it just seems like there is no capacity left at britomart or on the network.

      1. Post CRL what is the current network capacity with all 6-car EMUs? I assume that we will see a peak capacity crunch long before we get anywhere near total network capacity.
        I have recently been looking at TfL (transport for london) and the new trains they are introducing there… They have designed them to operate driverless (although there will be a driver initially but when removed the train is to be easily reconfigured to add in extra space on each train for passengers without the driver cabin), and they are upgrading the systems to allow trains to travel much closer to each other to increase capacity.

        1. I don’t think that there are any serious proposals to remove drivers from London tube trains (which certainly couldn’t be done easily), and there are no proposals to remove drivers from any trains that operate on the national network, as Auckland’s do.

          The nearest London gets to the CRL are Thameslink and Crossrail, which will have train control systems very similar to Auckland’s ETCS, with the addition of Automatic Train Control (but not driverless trains) on the central core.

          Auckland’s ETCS is actually state of the art with respect to main-line train control systems.

          1. They have just recently announced that as pretty much all tube lines are getting new trains over the next decade and new control systems. If you have ever been in London during a driver strike you will know why people are ok with driverless. The DLR has been driverless for a long time. Not too mention saving around £30 per hour per train (tube drivers get paid A LOT in London).

          2. Bruce, some facts:
            a) four out of seven tube lines are proposed to get the New Tube for London; the other three include the largest line. That’s nowhere near “pretty much all”;
            b) deliveries are intended to start by the mid 2020s: they are not being delivered “over the next decade”
            c) they will be capable of Automatic Train Operation, but at least initially they will be staffed: Transport for London says that there will be jobs for all current tube train drivers for the rest of their careers;
            d) dedicated segregated tube lines are very different from main-line mixed-traffic railways such as Auckland’s;
            e) all DLR trains are staffed, so savings in staff costs ae not as great as you appear to think;
            f) Auckland trains are not designed for automatic operation, and won’t be due for replacement for 30/40 years.

            So London’s plans are largely irrelevant to Auckland, as should be clear when comparing the chalk of one to the cheese of the other.

          1. Mike:
            a) 4 tube lines have just had their trains replaced with S7&8 units in the last few years and these are high tech trains (not currently fitted out for driverless but apparently able to be upgraded in future). They are also now replacing 4 other lines leaving only 3 lines with older trains: Jubilee (1996), Victoria (2009), Northern (1995).
            B) expected to be operating on the Piccadilly line by 2022
            C) there are a lot of old drivers and they will be older next decade so once all the trains are in operation there won’t be much reason to leave them on the trains.
            D) Yes they are dedicated however since KR is such a small operation it shouldn’t be hard to update their trains to a higher standard (albeit still with a driver)
            E) I don’t know where you heard that DLR trains are staffed? They aren’t. Some stations are staffed and they have security/cleaners working on occasion bug no drivers/train managers.
            F) They’ll need a half life upgrade in about 20 years…shouldn’t be too hard by then to automate as it will be standard around the world by then.

          2. The DLR trains often had ‘train managers’ during peak periods who would move around the carriage and operate the doors at stations, but no drivers as such. Unless things have changed in the last couple of years.

          3. Bruce (apologies to others for continuing this part of the thread that has little relevance to Auckland, but misconceptions continue):
            a) precisely – still lots of older trains around in well over 10 years’ time;
            c) there are lots of young drivers too, and they’ve been told that there’ll be trains for them to to drive for the rest of their careers;
            d) KR is such a small operation that Auckland would be prepared to pay for its upgrade so that its freight trains would work with automatic EMUs? Sorry, but you’re dreaming – and no-one has yet demonstrated that this is even feasible;
            e) “I don’t know where you heard that DLR trains are staffed? They aren’t. Some stations are staffed and they have security/cleaners working on occasion bug [sic] no drivers/train managers” – sorry, but you’ve got this completely wrong. My information is from Transport for London, at https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/help-from-staff, which says that “the DLR has a Passenger Service Agent on every train” and “On the DLR and trams, most stops and stations are unstaffed”. Your source to the contrary is?
            f) “shouldn’t be too hard” – and your source for this optimistic statement?

            I think that we’ve thrashed this to death, so let’s get back to what’s achievable in Auckland.

    1. Ari, peak is about two hours a day, to/from one place, in one direction only.

      There are the other 16 odd hours a day of service, and all counterpeak service, and all trips along the line that don’t go to Britomart still to fill up.

      While peak service is important, there is a heap of potential for growth at other times (that non-peakhour-peak direciton growth also gets helped majorly by the CRL buy the way).

      1. Only caveat to that Nick is that the peak journeys on the rail network are the most valuable to users of all other transport networks; drivers, road freight, bus users….

        Heaps of off-peak capacity; so how about variable pricing as an incentive?

        1. Is avoiding crowding and congestion not incentive enough?

          If you want more carrot they could start by increasing service levels across the day. I’m currently forced to travel at peak commuter hours because the service turns to shit at 9am and 6pm on the dot. Left to my own devices I will work from about 10 to 6.30. But if I do that my journey goes from 30 mins to 1:15.

          1. Yeah there is still considerable travel out of peak, part time workers generally start or finish work midday and shift workers travel at various times, the motorway is still congested throughout the day, nowhere near as bad but there is still much incentive to take PT. E.g. with part time workers, there is a chance they will be travelling at a directional peak either when they come in or when they leave, but there may be no decent PT option for the midday component, due to lack of express or only having decent peak-only service.

            For me as a shift worker I have to drive in as I start at midnight and the trains stop at 10pm most days, yet I travel back home in AM peak congestion. So by serving me properly off-peak I would be helping not contribute to peak car congestion on the return trip. Sure I could leave early, like I have in the past, but who wants to sit at work for 90 minutes every day before starting? No thank you!

  8. I am truly hoping the minister is not calculating on the current arrangement in Britomart throttling growth to below 20 million, vis a vis putting off the evil day when his governments bluff is finally called. I tend to think the way things are at the moment it is already an anchor on patronage and schedulling more trains, although Britomart is not the only culprit.

  9. “and the variability in results since 2010,”

    That variability is only because of the massive upswing in train usage during the RWC – that was 4 years ago now, and only when measured as rolling 12 month total graphed monthly as it is above.
    MoT want to somehow conjure that “Fact” up as a “bogeyman” that may prove their inaccurate predictions are correct?

    Really MoT, is that the best you can come up with, “variability since 2010 in patronage” when the only variability of rail patronage measured month on month has been one way – and thats up?
    And 3.5 of the last 5 years was on clapped out kit struggling to cope with demand and only in the last 3 months have we ditched the old slow diesels completely – and all thats somehow a good thing so we should delay even longer just to be sure?

    Mind you those same folks at MoT still consider the downturn in VkT over the Harbour Bridge since 2004 to be a temporary blip, soon to return to normal, yet we are now 10 years past that “blip”, Harbour Bridge traffic must be about to return to normal any day now right MoT – to justify that tunnel under it?

      1. the patronage “bump” was not only due to RWC, but also the introduction of HOP. Patronage associated with old monthly tickets was previously estimated using multipliers applied to sales and then apportioned over subsequent time period.

        With HOP, we can actually record actual journeys undertaken without the use of multipliers. I understand this resulted in a one-off hit to patronage at the time we switched to HOP, which coincided with the end of the RWC period. Hence the rather dramatic drop.

        So the rail patronage patterns observed for the last 5 years are entirely predictable. And without RWC and HOP would show a fairly constant (possibly slightly accelerating) growth.

        QED rail patronage has not been “unpredictable”.

        Corollary: Poor analysis by MoT.

        1. Stuart and Patrick, yes HOP has helped ensure actual usage is better captured.

          And its also helped remove the need for onboard ticket sales – a large reason too I suspect for “poor” post RWC patronage was also simply that the peak trains were so damn full, people couldn’t buy a ticket from the on-board conductor any more.
          As the conductor couldn’t move down the train to actual take peoples money. So ticket sales fell even as the trains groaned under their numbers.

          I recall catching quite a few trains around that time and at peak time on the Eastern Line, the conductor couldn’t walk the carriages, they were stuck at whatever door they alighted the train on at the previous station and could sell a few tickets at best
          [or clip the ticket of those with 10 trip passes].

          This meant for rampant, and unintended (mostly) fare evasion – it made the old Yogi Beria comment ring true:

          [Auckland Post RWC rail patronage figures showed, by falling ticket sales that] “no-one uses the trains anymore – they’re too crowded”.

      1. FIFTH harbour crossing (since the original harbour bridge was expanded with the clipons in the 1960s, and the Greenhithe bridge was duplicated in the 2000s.

        In any case, there’s already thirteen lanes. Isn’t that enough?

    1. I think we shouldn’t do the additional harbour crossing precisely because we don’t want a doubling in vehicle numbers. Likewise, we should approve the CRL not because demand for the trains is increasing (though it is), but because we want it to keep increasing.

      Decide what you want the future to be, then build it. Just drawing lines on a graph, then insisting you build in order to keep the trends going, is an absurd abdication of your responsibility as a transport planner.

  10. I’m having a hard time seeing the current rail system handling 50% more people. The speed and seating of the trains and headways are the biggest restriction on growth; there is only so much throughput available. Can it increase 50%? I don’t see Tokyo-like crowds being jammed into AT rail cars, nor do I see more frequent or larger trains. So unless someone can show that the capacity exists today – because that’s all we are going to have – to get to 20 million, I would insist that the government find a face-saving way to back off that requirement and bring construction forward. Dam thing is, we need it now.

    1. No Government target is *be on track* to reach 20 million by 2020.

      Note this is *not* reach 20 million by 2020, but to be on a trajectory to reach it by then.

      Of course patronage varies over time – mostly up, but the big reason for the squiggle is the Rugby World Cup, back in September, October 2011, you know when the trains (and McCully, then the RWC Minister) melted down on opening night? We’re well past that temporary blip now and showing solid month on month growth, so even it slows down a bit, we’re still way above tracking for 20 million by 2020, as of now we’re about 12-15 months ahead of that linear target.

      If this was a road project the MoT would be saying “get building it now”.

      1. It wasn’t just the RWC it was also affected by the implementation of HOP a year after RWC which charged the way trips are counted (now more accurate) which accentuated the drop. Take those two changes out and patronage would have been flat or just slightly down

      2. Looks like we are both wrong:

        “rail patronage is on track to hit 20 million trips a year well before 2020” So it needs to be tracking to >20 million by well before 2020.

  11. The network wont truly be at its current capacity until there are 20 TPH going into Britomart at the peak and all of these are 6 car trains (putting aside West-South services). At the moment I believe there are 18 TPH at peak, and only half of them are 6 car trains. There’s still some capacity there.

    1. Well but we don’t have the units to run all 6 car trains. Also attempting to schedule the theoretical max of movements is unrealistic. Have to leave some slack for incident recovery.

  12. By 2017, this govt will be comparing the political benefits of announcing early funding for CRL or personal tax cuts to their core voters. Draw your own conclusions.

  13. Has anyone any idea where the supposed limit of 20-21 trains/hour into Britomart came from?
    Even with the present system, which is far from optimum, they are getting 18 trains/hour.
    Starting with the current patronage, which will be approaching 15 million boardings per year by year’s end, 15% annual growth will double patronage by end 2020, and there is no chance of the CRL being operational by then. It is necessary therefore to look at a patronage of perhaps 40 million boardings/year pre CRL even if the powers that be can extract their illustrious digits from wherever digits are extracted. This will only lift per capita patronage up to the level achieve in Wellington.
    This means an exhaustive review of track, signals, platform allocations and operations at Britomart. extra balises on the platform approaches, and all the improvements to the rest of the system presented to the Auckland Council Infrastructure Committee on 02 September 2015. In addition, a pocket siding south of Sylvia Park would help productivity. All told, perhaps $500 million pre CRL.
    Then there is the small matter of extra trains, another 50 or so, pre CRL. With stabling, power supply upgrade and other facilities, say another $500 million pre CRL.

    1. The c. 20tph limit is imposed by the flat junction and two tracks at the Britomart throat. Exacerbated by the terminating station; ie what goes down that throat has to come back!

      Improvements elsewhere on the network would certainly improve reliability and resilience and capacity at other choke points but not capacity at Britomart.

      Have heard that perhaps 24tph is possible but with very little wriggle room, possibly leading to less reliability? Am not an expert on the fine details of this however.

      But as mentioned above we do not even have enough trains for 6 car sets to run at 6tph on the 3 main lines at peak. My calculations, IIRC, were that we need another 20 odd 3-car sets to achieve this.

      1. With the amount of patronage we now have, all peak services should be 6-car EMU. So at a minimum we need to have enough for that.

  14. Regarding the employment target. Is there anyway we are able to get the education sector include3d in this? It seems to me we are getting a lot of education facilities in the central city which are a major factor in the peak traffic and yet we are not able to measure it’s effect on either the PT or the Employment figures. Management of the Education tranport demand could make a difference to congestion as well as the employment analysis.

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