Today the Auckland Transport Board have their latest meeting and I’ve taken a look through the reports to pull out the interesting bits.

Firstly and surprisingly the agenda for the closed session is surprisingly bare. The only non-regular item is Tamaki Regeneration Project – funding and governance agreement.

The main business report seems to have a bit in it to cover. As always, this is based on the order they appear in the report.

Supergold – at the time of writing the report, AT say they had almost 105k cards loaded with SuperGold concessions (both the blue and gold ones), up from 45k in May. A recent press release also stated that now 97% of SuperGold trips were taking using HOP cards. The map below shows where paper tickets were still being issued

2016-08 - SuperGold Heatmap

Urban Redevelopment – AT say give a brief overview of some of the work they’re doing to work with Panuku Development Auckland.

Key priorities at this stage include:

  • Takapuna – Ongoing input into options for development of AT parking sites, and identification of short and long term public transport infrastructure requirements.
  • Manukau – Ongoing input into the Manukau Framework Plan currently under development. This document will identify potential streetscape upgrades, and potential sites for redevelopment including parking sites.
  • Onehunga – Analysis being undertaken on the potential impact of East-West Connections and Airport-Mangere rail on future development proposals.
  • Henderson – Early stages of high level visioning. The AT focus is on providing for train station expansion requirements associated with CRL operations, and on any implications of street network proposals including on level crossings.

Northwest Busway – They have selected Aurecon to develop the Indicative Business Case for the NW Busway between the City Centre and Westgate and is due to be completed by April 2017.

Harbour Crossing (AWHC) – Their work on the future RTN options as part of AWHC now includes prototype designs for several RTN modes

Tertiary Student Travel Survey – AT conducted their biennial survey and covered 2,108 interviews at campus’ across Auckland.

The surveys show that there has been a significant growth of students using public transport since 2014. Total public transport main mode travel to campus has increased from 41% to 48% and non-car travel has increased from 60% to 63%. Student attitudes towards public transport are strongly positive and nearly all students have an AT HOP card. Price and overcrowding are now seen as the biggest barriers for increasing use. Use of AT sources of information (e.g. journey planner) have significantly fallen since 2014 as the use of google maps for transport information has grown. Attitudes and use of public transport are similar across all CBD/City Fringe campuses and suburban campuses. MIT Manukau students are highly represented in train statistics.

Lincoln Rd – AT lodged a Notice of Requirement to widen Lincoln Rd. Notification is expected in September.

Albany Highway – The upgrade of Albany Highway north of the motorway has been going on for some time but AT now expect it to be completed in October, well ahead of what was in the contract.

Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Shared Path – Section 1 from Merton Road to St Johns Road is expected to be completed by the end of September, Section 2 to Meadowbank Station and Section 3 to Orakei are expected to have resource consent completed soon with Section 3 due to start construction in October.

Newmarket Crossing (Sarawia St) – As expected the Cowie St Residents Association have appealed the consent to the Environment Court. AT now expect a likely decision on this in March/April 2017 although based on other projects like Skypath, that seems optimistic. In the past, AT have said that the opening of the Parnell Station is dependent on the Sarawia St crossing being removed.

Bike thefts – AT say they’re working with the police and our friends at Bike Auckland to address bike theft which has been increasing as cycling becomes more popular. This will include extra CCTV cameras and an education campaign.

Manukau Rd Transit Lane – The new transit lane is saving buses and T3 cars 4-5 minutes during the morning peak and has increased the people movement efficiency of the corridor by 10% – and based on anecdotal reports, that’s still with a lot of single occupant vehicles being driven in the lane.

New Bus Lanes – AT claim they are planning to deliver 19.1km of bus lanes this financial year and the first of the physical works were due to start by the end of August – but I’m not sure where. One of the lanes being added will be Gt North Rd at Waterview which is being done in conjunction with the Waterview project and expected to start construction in September and be finished by March 2017. An indication of some of what is being worked on is below.

2016-08 - Bus lane Programme

New Bus Network – Things are on track to go live with the South Auckland network on 30 October. Tenders for West Auckland are being assessed still while the tender for the Central and East networks have gone out.

Station Gates – Designs are complete for electronic gates to be installed at Henderson, Manurewa and Papatoetoe. They don’t say when they might be installed though.

Train performance – More work to speed up trains is being planned and includes line speed, interlocking and signalling works. The report says this is for a new recast timetable in March/April 2017. Previously they’d suggested a new timetable was due in February so it appears this has slipped.

There is a separate paper about HOP which deserves its own post and will be going up at midday.

Is there anything else you’ve seen in the reports you’ve found interesting?

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  1. AT’s New Bus Network for the Southern sub-region just so happens to go live on my birthday. Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.

  2. So no bus lanes for the North Shore…What a surprise!
    Nevermind that the Shore doesn’t have rail.
    AT should 4 lane all of East Coast Rd (where it hasn’t already done so) and make bus lanes in several sections.

    1. They should also put proper separated cycle lanes in on East Coast Road. Only part of the road has painted cycle lanes. Would make a huge difference to cycle mobility along this corridor if they could get this completely sorted.

    2. There is space for them. In about 1991 we removed one lane in each direction to make the road a bit safer. It had been two each way as it had been one of the main roads north.

  3. I know its a perennial favourite but I am praying train dwell times will be addresed. Last week on an off peak west train, possibly a quarter full, the average dwell time per stop was 47 seconds, with virtually few if any entering/exiting at some stations. It was painful. The trailer car is definitely the culprit with the glacial step movement and door opening delays but the other cars aren’t exactly a highlight either. It wasn’t the TM either.

    And there was the much promised but never delivered extra balise’s to counter the train crawling away from stops that were approached with red lights, New Lynn, Baldwin Ave etc, etc, made all the worse with a 3 car. Hopefully that and far fewer unneccesary red lights can be sorted. These are very fast trains with so much potential that run slower times than the diesels and blighted by fixable issues, if only someone had the will to do so.

    1. Waspman – I agree dwell times on Auckland’s EMUs are like something out of the Flinstones, i.e. stone age technology.

      I’ve just actually finished timing dwell times here in Lisbon (where I’m currently staying) and found they averaged 30 seconds per stop, whereas I understand Auckland is more like 50 seconds per stop. I don’t know what system they’re running here but it doesn’t seem too sophisticated.

      Not sure I agree with you on whether the TMs are a factor, but regardless: something must be done to speed them up. Back of envelope calculations suggest it’s costing $5 million p.a.

      Planning a post on this next week.

        1. yes, and similar savings for western and eastern lines. Every service, every day would run 5 minutes faster.

          Might even be enough to increase timetable frequency. Would certainly save money and attract more passengers, providing a right royal positive kick to farebox recovery.

          If I was Auckland Council I wouldn’t be too happy charging ratepayers for the money to simply be wasted on excessive dwell times. Auckland’s are seriously the worst I have experienced.

        2. There are easier ways to shave 5 minutes off the southern and even easier ways on the western line than trying to play with the dwell times (something that requires the trains to be reprogrammed).

        3. Well, it might get you to Wiri junction 80 seconds quicker, but unless the Manukau service is proportionally rescheduled, you’ll just burn it all waiting beside the depot for Puhinui platform to clear. Then there’s the same problem at Onehunga/Penrose and again at Newmarket and again at Quay Park. Of course, all these other branches would be benefitting from the same dwell time reductions, but the interleaving of the various lines doesn’t necessarily allow a compressed timetable to translate linearly. Your example would be a best case, maximum possible result, rather than what is likely to happen.

          If (IF!) dwell time improvements are made, and I’m increasing unconvinced that they will any time soon, I don’t think we’ll see 20 seconds shaved off with plug doors and ramps soaking up so much of the cycle time. There are things about the door control process that are said to be “hardwired” as if that is akin to being written in stone. It may just mean “expensive to rectify”, or “whoops, we got hoodwinked on the contract specification”, but I also think it means “we don’t want to change it”. Not yet at least… not until the need to improve performance has made the Train Manager position untenable. As soon as TMs are gone, hey presto, “hardwired” might suddenly become slightly more flexible.

      1. What? Flintstone technology? Was I supposed to put my feet out and used them to propel the train? Sorry, my fault. I future I will do that, and that will help with the dwell times. On another note, why is gating of the stations talking so long? With the amazing take up of super gold card by the senior citizens, I would have thought that Auckland Council could be installing the gates, or is this a stalling technique to get into next year budget (perhaps the third platform at Otahuhu has used the money).

        Is it just me but Transport upgrades/projects seem to take forever? The new canopies (which is a local board project -not AT) for the walkways are just taking forever. I understand they have to work at night but I think it has been weeks since the have done anything. I would have thought gates would be a priority as it would increase farebox recovery, which might be able to be used to pay for other upgrades. Maybe it is just my ignorance.

        Is there any update on the completion of the Otahuhu interchange completion or Manukau bus station? I would not be surprised if Otahuhu is behind schedule.

        1. Lack of funding; the whole Transit sector needs to catch up on 60 years of neglect, but we are still wasting the vast majority of money on persuading people to drive more. We are still in the dumb phase, even if improvement has at least begun.

        2. Auckland has under-invested in transport for 50 years, and is growing really fast; there’s a lot to be done.

          I also suspect AC / AT are short on human resources. You might note that the favourite game of politicians is to run around promising to deliver more stuff, while also promising to cut Council’s staff numbers. End result? AC / AT often don’t have the staff they need to deliver existing projects, let alone the extra projects that are promised (often with little consultation).

          I can think of several (major) transport projects in Auckland’s recent past that have lurched onto the radar ahead of time due to the machinations of particular politicians. East-West link and AWHC, for example. Can you imagine how much of AC / AT’s internal resources are suddenly diverted with those two National Party road-building wet-dreams? So the reason a lot of good projects are delayed is because limited human resources are diverted to deal with the shit projects that are thrust onto the radar, often by politicians.

          If you merge the story-lines from Catch-22 and Animal Farm, then you’d probably have something fairly close to transport project delivery in New Zealand.

          Don’t get me wrong: Politicians have a role in setting a strategic direction and engaging with the community. I just don’t think they should be involved in project selection as it risks random pork-barrel projects. Instead, what I’d like to see is 1) politicians lay off criticising Council staff; 2) avoid making rash promises on individual projects, and 3) accept that if you want to get more stuff down, then you often (not always, mind you) need more people onboard.

          This is particularly true when it comes to technical projects, which involve fairly complex and uncertain issues like investigation, design, and construction.

          Low probability of that happening eh?

        3. Gates are something like $400k + ongoing costs so not cheap that AT can just roll out.

          Paper says Otahuhu in track for opening on 29 October but also says concourse will be used from about 10 October after current per bridge removed.

          Works for Manukau are currently out for tender (they said ages ago it would open after the new network went live

          1. and $400k is simply the cost of the gates.

            Physical modifications are often required to stations so as to enable gating, and then AT incurs subsequent operating costs – as you note. All of which needs to be budgeted for in competition with other priorities, such as integrated fares.

            I support strategic gating of stations, but seriously: PTOM, Integrated fares, and the New Network are more important priorities.

      2. Stuart the programming needs looking at as the current dwell times are nothing to do with the ‘TM factor’ as you put it, the doors take 40 seconds from the time the driver give a release to the time they can move again and that is without heavy passenger loading taking even longer. The location of the signal in relation to the stopping marker is an overall factor on total times eg ETCS will only allow 15kph to the first signal and at places like platform 3 Papakura (85% of Britomart bound departures are off platform 3) it is nearly 100 metres (40 plus seconds at under 15kph) before it can get to line speed.

        1. Dwell-times are too long. Auckland is worst practice in this area, as far as I can tell and it needs to be sorted.

          TMs should be ditched as they add to operating costs.

          1. ‘Ditching’ the TM saves nothing, it doesn’t reduce dwell times and like when POs were removed any money saved is just reallocated to other jobs that end up replacing them. If you are not careful you will end up spending more when trying to make savings.

          2. Stu this TM bashing is getting boring. Lat week I was boarding a train at GI with my son in my arms and a bicycle on the other hand. The TM came and told me go get a sit and I’ll take care of the bike. Once at Britomart he came back and helped me get off. And these are small things. If the presence of TMs help one young girl feeling safe taking a train then that’s worth the cost. We can afford that, and lets focus instead on dumb procedures that actually delay dwell times.

          3. Im simply observing that TM’s are an unnecessary expense. Paying TMs means we can run less service for same dollar.

            That’s the trade-off I’m highlighting. Rather than accusing me of bashing anything other than digits on touch screen, you should be making the case as to why auckland needs TMs.

          4. P.s. I’m happy you enjoy TMs. I personally would rather spend money on different things. Rather than accusing me of “bashing” them, perhapd you could just accept that we have different preferences and opinions? How bout that?

          5. “P.s. I’m happy you enjoy TMs. I personally would rather spend money on different things.”
            Different things like increased security staff on board, increased drivers wages (due to doing more and having extra responsibility), more platform staff. Simple people like you see it as simply saving $24hr and that will buy extra services but that $24 gets swallowed up into providing the environment where your DOO operation is possible without providing any extra service. Do all this and then some of the smaller stations get closed due to extra costs involved in them remaining open with DOO services, where do this people that normally use them go? While this will increase total travel times, if that was your goal for removing TMs why not just close these stations now?
            How bout that?

          6. Saturday afternoon, 20th August around 2:30pm, 3 car set, the TM was doing a good job at kicking off and keeping off all by himself several free loaders attempting to get on the Southern line run from about Remuera to Penrose, all trying to go south. No other staff on board, he seemed a bit tougher than others I’ve seen, perhaps they put him on this run for that purpose.

          7. OK Stu, quantify safety. Quantify a black eye or maybe even a rape. 24$h sounds cheap now. We can have more services AND TMs. If we can afford 1million dollar houses we can afford that

        2. I’m not sure the 15km until the first signal is always true.
          At Glen Eden, Swanson bound trains are about 30 metres away from the signal just before the level crossing. They crawl up to the signal then fully accelerate. Britomart bound trains also have the first signal about 30m away just after the footbridge. These trains never crawl up to the signal, they go full acceleration immediately.
          So the creeping is maybe because of the level crossing?

          1. There are no level crossings at Papakura (not near the station anyway) but the 0658 tripped out the ETCS for exceeding 15kph before the signal and didn’t end up passing it until 0702.

          2. The 15km/h thing occurs when a train approaches a stop signal with a crossing immediately behind it. The figure of 15km/h is the speed at which the ETCS can reliably stop the train before the crossing should the signal be accidentally passed at red. The further away the threat location is, the higher that speed can be. Glen Eden, Fruitvale, Baldwin, Morningside etc are 15km/h. Others are 25km/h like Avondale. Others up in the 60s. At Papakura the situation is that the train has either just been re-activated after changing ends or has come to the platform from the depot, and has not yet registered an ETCS location, so it applies a precautionary speed restriction until it can verify its location and attain a movement authority. Once it passes a signal and conforms the train has the right to proceed, the normal running speeds are permitted. Quirks of ETCS Level 1. Adjustment of these quirks are more likely to contribute to reduced run times in the near future than dwell time adjustments. We run the target speed/braking curves right on the line speed limits in other more established networks, but for now Auckland is set conservatively.

        3. The fastest EMU stop I’ve observed whilst timing was 27 seconds at Westfield platform with no passenger activity. That’s pretty much the lowest possible under normal conditions. I’m sure someone else will be able to dig up the details, but IIRC the spec was originally for something along the lines of “30-40 second dwell times with the ability to go to DOO in future”, which it almost seems was translated in Spain as “30-40 seconds with DOO, but whatever you want with TMs until then”.

          1. Newsflash from Welly:
            Off-peak Johnsonville trains regularly manage wheel-stop-to-wheel-start dwells in under 20s. Fastest I have timed is 15 sec and that is quite common. Probably similar on Wellington’s other lines also.

            I’m not sure how much of this difference (i.e. compared to Auckland) is due to less-restrictive ‘proving algorithms’ and how much is due to Wellington only deploying wheelchair ramps when necessary, but seriously, that Auckland footstep deployment at every stop has to be overkill. Can it not just be modified to work under the control of the TM, only when a wheelchair-user needs it?

          2. The ramps only work when a middle car door is opened, so not every time, but thanks to the public’s preference for the middle car with no steps, it is most of the time. Investigations have been undertaken, hands wrung, but apparently nobody thought to make the ramps only retract as far as the fixed ramps – about 1/4 of the distance they have to retract or extend before the doors can move.

  4. Does anyone else think introducing a new timetable in March/April is a problematic idea?

    I would have thought it fairly essential that any new timetable be implemented in February so the kinks can be ironed out prior to March madness setting in.

    Also, I have to laugh at an “education campaign” around bike thefts. What are they planning to do? Educate people not to steal bikes?!!

    1. Timetables: I agree TRM; March/April is circa 1-2 months too late to 1) meet March madness and/or 2) iron out kinks (such as driver training).

      Cycle theft: There are some clever ways to educate people about bike theft. Here’s one from Europe

      1. When the door was taken off the shelter at Papakura Station. Is there any evidence to suggest that there is a difference in the number of bike thefts occurring from the shelter pre door and post door?

      2. The education campaigns will be about what type of locks to buy / what to look out for when locking your bike, and how to make sure that your bike is registered, so police can prove theft / return the bike to you when thieves get nabbed (which does happen quite a few times, but regularly leaves the police with hundreds of bikes they are unable to return).

  5. Is there any procedure for customer feedback/suggestions/questions to get on the agenda of the monthly AT board meetings?
    Or are these meetings just a reporting session for the board to receive updates from AT management?
    OTOH is there any mechanism for properly dealing with customer suggestions? I’m assuming AT management generally ignore blogs such as this as none of the many common sense suggestions are actioned.

  6. I wonder if they’ll talk about the Airport Trains public meeting on tomorrow night in Onehunga? Strange that Auckland Airport and others all confirmed to speak at the meeting, but NOT Auckland Transport.

  7. I’m very surprised that Panmure Station is not being gated or looked at. Its a very busy train station and is predicted to keep growing. From your post earlier, Panmure partronage is higher compared with Manurewa or Henderson station.

    1. It is not about how busy the station is it is more about where the people go to or come from and if that station is gated or will be gated in the near future.

  8. I had my bike stolen 6 weeks back. It sucked.
    With the increase in bike thefts has also come an increase in bikes being turned in to the police, so check with them if you’ve had a bike stolen. Unfortunately for me, they didn’t have mine.

  9. The Harbour Crossing work on the future RTN options is looking a bit suspect, with some questionable figures included that appear to try to make driverless trains look more favourable than conventional rail with a claim you can only get 24 trains an hour with conventional, vs 36 trains an hour with driverless. Given that the same signalling/operational systems can be employed in both, the claim is essentially false.

    It would appear “whoever” has come up with those figures have made the mistake of looking at real-world examples, then assuming the high level of headway enabling technology often employed by driverless networks is unique to that mode. In reality, it just isn’t usually installed on conventional rail because people don’t generally demand the same level of safe-running technology of human-controlled vehicles. It’s mandated in driverless networks, because people would otherwise not be as comfortable putting their lives in the hands of technology alone.

    I hope it isn’t a prelude to the ditching of heavy rail to the shore, but in light of the ditching of airport heavy rail made under similar dubious means, it wouldn’t surprise me.

    1. “the mistake of looking at real-world examples”

      Yes, that’s a classic mistake. Much better to make up numbers.

      1. It’s in the North Shore RTN Study. A slight correction though, they state automated metro at 36tph, vs conventional rail at 24tph or 30tph with ETCS3 signalling. They don’t however mention that the same technology that enables headways for 36tph can be utilised in trains with drivers as well. The only reason it isn’t, is because it’s not usually required.

        They also seem to be taking a Takapuna Branch as a given, to be built as a 2km tunnel (not sure why a tunnel of that length). They go on to say that for automated metro it can be staged, i.e., buses at first, feeding into automated metro at Akoranga. But for conventional rail they assert it can’t be staged, and will therefore have to be built from day 1, pushing up the cost for conventional rail. No mention of why it can’t also be staged.

        Thirdly, they claim automated metro can be built on the busway alignment, whereas conventional rail will require a complete rebuild of the grades. Like Kirkbride Rd on the airport line, they seem to be insisting that conventional rail be built to freight standards. The reality is that automated metro and conventional rail are essentially both heavy rail variants. They can both operate on lines steeper than the CRL if need be.

        All up though, LRT seems to be the preferred option. But my point is that there appears to be work in progress to kill off heavy rail to the North Shore.

      2. James Geoff is a discussing a document not yet in the public domain; he’s just showing off that he has indiscreet connections, and of course snuggly pulling on his tinfoil hat and scanning everything for signs of conspiracy….

        1. Ah, good. I was wondering how anything mentioning ETCS Level 3 had got out at this point. All in due course, I’m sure. I’m inclined to agree that double standards (rather than conspiracies as such) are being applied in the rail mode comparisons, but to be fair, by the time we get around to NS rail, the playing field will have tilted far in the favour of the lighter formats.

          1. The NS RTN report Geoff is referring to is a pre-business case scoping study. No need to start drumming up conspiracies just yet, they haven’t even started the evaluation.

            The heavy rail he refers to is the concept of extending the existing Auckland heavy rail network to the north. Yes that requires meeting Kiwirail/CRL mainline geometric standards, it’s not legal to build heavy rail any other way. The signaling systems in use can be upgraded to get 24 trains an hour, then again to a theoretical 30 trains an hour. However there is not even the slightest suggestion of more than that.

            He is also wrong about the automated metros using the same signaling systems to get 36tph. They don’t use signaling systems or signals at all actually, they use a headway management system which relies on one central computer controlling the acelleration and breaking of all of the trains at the same time to maintain safe stopping distance at very high frequencies. You can’t do the same with a driver sitting between signals and train control.

            If Geoff means a train system that is like heavy rail but doesn’t have the same geometric constraints, uses a different train control system and can’t inter operate with existing main lines then it’s not really heavy rail.

          2. Nick, I didn’t say automated metros use signals, though any system of controlling the movements of trains can be fairly described as a signalling system. But a train on tracks, with or without a driver, is still heavy rail (as opposed to light rail). They are still trains. The removal of a driver does not suddenly change other factors such as track geometry. And retaining a driver also does not mean you can’t have close-running headway technology installed. There are lines in the world with 40 trains an hour. Technology is what enables it, not removal of a driver.

          3. Geoff – I’m no expert, but I would have thought any technology that would allow 36 or even 40 tph would be so automated it would effectively make the driver redundant. So yes you could put a driver in the cab, but in reality it wouldn’t make any difference whether they were there or not.

          4. Indeed Jezza, and as I understand it operation through the CRL will be partially automated. I would think it quite possible for trains on a conventional network to have their operation enhanced by significant automation at specific high-activity locations where doing so can bring additional efficiency.

          5. According to the gossip machine’s latest murmurings, not any time soon. ATO in the CRL has supposedly been shelved for the foreseeable future. Keep in mind that the gossip machine in question is not known for its accuracy, but it does cast doubt on previous ATO gossip.

          1. Yes, can you please provide a link to the report you cite, or otherwise explain how you came by it?

          2. Patrick, by untrue I’m referencing your comment “scanning everything for signs of conspiracy”.

            I don’t know if the RTN Study is public or not, but it isn’t confidential, and will be provided by AT if you request it. Perhaps if we had more public scrutiny of such studies when they are still a work in progress, we wouldn’t keep ending up in situations where publicly-mandated projects like airport trains get canned behind the scenes with no public consultation, which we then have to fight tooth and nail to get back through campaigning and public meetings like the one in Onehunga last night.

            If AT have plans to dump heavy rail to the shore as well, we should be told that now, and not after the decision has been made. The mayor was elected on the promise of railways through the city, to the shore, and to the airport. They are mandated by the public.

          3. AT have no plans for anything, they haven’t even started the business case yet. If you have actually read that report you’ll see that heavy rail performs best under many scenarios and could indeed be preferred.

            As for “dumping heavy rail” they have never chosen, picked or supported heavy rail in the first place, so can hardly dump it!

            All the earlier reports said the busway would be fine for ever, so really you should be glad the analysis of this report shows that rail is actually much more necessary, and sooner!

            Really don’t get your mode fetishism though, if these is some other form of rail that suits better why not support that?

          4. Because Nick, trains to the airport and North Shore were already promised by the mayor. CRL in 5 years, Airport in 10 years, and North Shore in 15 years. That was the promise. AT’s job is to deliver on that promise. The public have been mucked around for too long, and that’s on top of decades of earlier mucking around.

            They are supposed to be building it now, not questioning over and over, year after year, whether the promise should even be delivered. The public voted for it to happen. You may have noticed that AT’s decision to replace heavy rail to the airport with light rail, was actually a decision to just dump heavy rail. That’s the only certainty they have delivered. They are not actually going to start building their alternative any time soon, if at all.

            What we are witnessing is a process of killing off all further expansion of the rail network, replaced with a vague notion of what may happen instead in some later era. It’s just the same old Auckland routine that killed off every other attempt to establish a proper network over the last century. “Buses will suffice for now, and we’ll look at xxxxx in the year xxxx….”

          5. Geoff. Anyone claiming to have evidence needs to show it if they wish to be taken seriously. It is important for readers to be able to review it and make up their own minds, rather than rely on the blogger or commenter’s interpretation. As it plainly says in our user guidelines:

            6. Opinions, while welcome, are not facts, so do not assert them as such. When citing facts, commenters should always aim to provide supporting references and links, especially when asked for them.

            Without this courtesy we, or you, can be accused of skewing the information in a particular way, and simply won’t be taken seriously. As is the case here.

          6. “I don’t know if the RTN Study is public or not, but it isn’t confidential, and will be provided by AT if you request it.”

            Does this mean that you have obtained a copy by requesting it from AT? If so, could you please upload the document to or some such repository of OIA requests?

  10. Dear AT/Transdev.
    Please reduce the dwell times. I don’t care how you do it. Customers are becoming frustrated. We may lose ridership.
    Thanks, Jeff.

  11. If ETCS1 is a problem why do we have it?

    AFAIK it hasn’t prevented any collisions or derailments, and it is not designed to stop a SPAD.

    Let’s disable it and let the drivers drive to the signals the way they used to. We could probably get Papakura-Britomart down by at least 5 minutes, probably 8.

    1. ETCS level 1 is not a problem, it’s application in Auckland is merely a work in progress, and to be blunt, an easy scapegoat. The further down the track we go, the less it will appear to be interfering with or restricting performance. There are still a number of steps to go before it is maximally implemented. Systems like this can’t simply be dropped into place in a new network running to maximum capacity on Day-1 – the parameters are regularly tweaked and over-cautious limits loosened. As it stands, it allows performance in quite a number of locations that exceeds the legal limits for non-ETCS operation. It also allows for a combination of speed and frequency that can’t otherwise be accommodated. That’s why we have it. As far as anyone knows, ETCS is preventing collisions and derailments every single day – because they’re not happening. Most of the time ETCS is complained about now, it’s because it has performed an intervention that is intended to prevent a collision. Whether that collision would have happened without intervention remains the secret of the human at the controls.

        1. Depends on what you count as intervention – I probably can’t share any useful data without stepping on toes in this department.

      1. I don’t see how departing stations like Glen Eden at 9km/h when the signal is green and the barriers are down, is preventing a collision. The train should be accelerating away as fast as it can.

        1. That’s one of the quirks rather than the active functional period. Up until the barriers dropped and the signal changed to green, that same intervention cycle was actively preventing a collision. Your example is only looking at the last 15-30 seconds of that whole cycle. That annoying hangover is due to be pruned once a particular thing is agreed upon behind closed doors, and some time later eliminated with a hardware update.

          1. So the creeping up to level crossing is an ETCS quirk. It must be just specific to Auckland as I cant rremember such creeping activity in UK, emus really move there.
            Did AT end up with sub standard ETCS or incompatible software or hardware or was implemintation just too difficult?

          2. It’s a quirk of that particular arrangement of features, not of ETCS per se. As you note, it doesn’t happen in all locations. I’m not aware of a level 1 ETCS installation in the UK, so there’s no comparison. There are Level 2 lines, but Level 2 doesn’t have this quirk. Auckland will probably get Level 2 when the supporting technology and the need for it coincide. Lets stop this incessant leaping to the conclusion that AT have bought a dud or been ripped off or been too cheap or made a mistake. The job isn’t finished yet.

          3. ok, thanks for explaining, I realise ETCS is an essential safety system. Its good to know the creeping to level crossings is to be resolved.
            This quirk is just so weird that many users see it as pointless and silly. Public perception of RTN performance is important so such high profile delays must be removed

          4. 50% of the level crossing issue (i.e. the slow approach to the station stop) would be exactly the same with ETCS Level 2 (or Level 3 if it existed). Having to go slow until the balise after stopping is a Level 1 problem, which can be fixed by throwing money at more balises between the signal and the stopping point.

            The best way to avoid this (and how it is done in other countries) is to not build stations 5m from level crossing or have full barrier level crossing and shut the crossing well before the train get there for many minutes at at time (as often done in the UK). Neither of which are really options in Auckland.

    2. PS – disabling ETCS would probably make no difference on the Southern Line as the time savings from the relatively few changes in line or curve speed would be cancelled out by the necessarily draconian application of signal-to-signal speed restrictions across all the junctions. In fact, on some occasions it could be slower. This wasn’t a problem in the good old days when you could be sure that there wasn’t another train crossing in front of you for half an hour. When it’s 15 seconds away, harsher rules apply. On your next Britomart trip, see if you can see the speed indicator displaying “20” on the signals approaching Penrose or Newmarket. A non-ETCS train has to do 20 through that whole section if there’s a train crossing the next junction. An ETCS train can carry on at normal speed right up to the platform, when the release speed drops in. The ETCS haters never seem to mention things like that.

      1. For example the recent interlocking and ETCS changes between Remuera and Newmarket where the “20” speed indicator are used, save nearly 2 mins compared to running without ETCS on the old rulebook and at the same time removing the residual risk with the old arrangement. So much disinformation about ETCS on here sometimes.

        Also, nobody seems to have noticed that at Easter ETCS was used to allow linespeed through Parnell to be increased by 50%!

        The restrictions at level crossings are the biggest ‘still to be solved’ ETCS problem, but there are ideas afoot to improve this.

    3. Hi Chris. Do you remember a few years back when a (thankfully) empty SD set derailed on a crossover at Westfield junction and turned over? This was due to an accidental overspeed that is now impossible with the EMUs thanks to ETCS. Imagine if that SD set had been full of commuters and the engine was a the rear of the train – it could have been a massive disaster. ETCS is implemented to remove the risk of these rare but catastrophic events and therefore also allowing additional services to be added without increasing risk of such events. Also, although it will not stop all SPADs (neither will ETCS Level 2 by the way), it does supervise the driver’s speed down on approach to the red signal and ensure any SPAD will always stop the train before the risk of a derailment/collision. The difference in SPAD rates before and after ETCS is considerable despite a much higher number of trains being run. In summary – ETCS is doing exactly what it was intended to do from a safety viewpoint and yet we are still getting service delivery of over 95% ontime – so it can’t be that bad!
      As others have said there is still more to come from ETCS.

      1. Sure that wouldn’t have happened with ETCS but it probably wouldn’t have happened had it been in service as stopping and starting would have kept the driver alert and not the last empty returning from Waitakere at night with the driver falling asleep.

        1. You’re right. We should turn off ETCS and rely on things “probably not happening”.

          PS: Did it say in the accident report that he fell asleep?

          1. Well unless more than one SD set has rolled over there, yes he did fall asleep after a long trip empty back from Waitakere and it doesn’t change that if it is in the incident report or not.

          2. Utterly irrelevant, Bigted. I don’t see why you would even bring that up. Running empty happens all day long and is no more a risk factor for passenger drivers than driving a freight train to Hamilton is.

          3. I thought he misinterpreted the signal and thought he was crossing over to the other line further along, and so was still moving too fast when he went though the actual crossover set for him? I don’t recall any sleep issue, but could be wrong.

          4. The TAIC accident report says that while the driver was tired, fatigue was not a factor in the derailment, and it describes the actions taken by the LE immediately prior to the crash.

            Clearly in TAIC’s view the driver was not asleep, so Bigted must know better than the professional accident investigators.

          5. Mike while I was not there and I haven’t read the accident report before, I was told by someone that was on that train at the time that the driver was asleep immediately prior to as Geoff points out went into the crossover set for him when he would have been expecting one further along. By being asleep doesn’t necessarily mean in a deep sleep but more like what you get (I know I have) when driving tied when you suddenly wonder how you got to where you are. The driver I understand is still driving. As stated by Chris below ““Lost situational awareness” (AKA “where the hell are we”) is as bad as falling asleep.”

          6. Bigted, the only other person on the train was the train manager in the rear car, a long way from the LE in the loco cab, so your statement that the LE was asleep was based on what you’ve heard from someone who was not actually in a position to know – and you made that statement without bothering to read the accident report first. If you did read the report you would find that there is no suggestion that the LE lost situational awareness, either.

            Once again you’ve been caught out playing fast and loose with facts – and making a false statement about a living person is something that you do at your peril.

            Mods – I suggest that all comments about the people involved in this crash be deleted.

          7. Mike what someone tells an official investigator and what that same person tells fellow crew members could (and would be if that had really happened) be different, I know I would not admit to an investigator that I may have been asleep/lost situational awareness but would probably tell the other crew members later on that it may have happened.

            I have no issue with Mods deleting this if they wish right back to it’s first mention by Trundler yesterday morning.

  12. “Lost situational awareness” (AKA “where the hell are we”) is as bad as falling asleep.

    I know that ETCS1 does good things – but so does moving block.

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