We often talk about the big projects, networks, as well as game changing best practice regulations. For a while I have wanted to create a small campaign about the small things, low hanging fruit where for cheaply i.e. not for hundred of millions of dollars, we can achieve with a “Small Step” a “Great Leap” for the people the project and area it effects. My first post was on expanding access to Sylvia Park Station, this one targets one is about transfers at Britomart.

This post will be short & simple, but it will make a huge difference to people transferring at Britomart. At current the normal platform use of Britomart is

Platform 1 – Eastern Line

Platform 2 – Onehunga Line

Platform 3 – Southern Line

Platform 4 – Spare

Platform 5 – Western Line

This layout is awkward due to the main transfers between lines being between the Eastern & Western, this means to transfer the passenger has to walk all the way to the other side to transfer, often rushing due to the timings of the trains. On the weekends for example to transfer from the Eastern Line requires you to be at the front carriage, hope the Western is on time and to run to platform 1, or be doomed to a 30m wait. The main transfer at Britomart is between the Eastern & Western Line because transfers between the other 3 lines happen at Newmarket.

So what is my proposal, my proposal is that the Platform use of Britomart be changed to

Platform 1 – Eastern Line

Platform 2 – Western Line

Platform 3 – Onehunga Line

Platform 4 – Spare

Platform 5 – Southern Line

This layout would

a) Make transfers between the Eastern & Western Line easy.

b) Make no difference to Eastern Line passengers travelling to Newmarket as the Western Line goes to Newmarket as well.

c) Transfers to the Onehunga Line from the Eastern Line would be a little more difficult, however the transfers are likely to be very low & Platform 3 is only a little further away.

Moving the platform use would be low cost, and not cause to much trouble as this has been done before. However it would make the passenger experience just a little easier & if we can do that shouldn’t we.

So what do you think?

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  1. I would leave platform 5 as the spare one, it is the slowest one in and out of and there is works happening at the end of the platform meaning the trains stop nearly 20 metres short.

  2. I could imagine changing this would cause signalling hell. There is probably a pretty good reason for the current layout, and changing it is likely to cause large signalling and train timing issues.

    1. I am not sure since I have been catching the trains the Western Line was moved to 1 & the Eastern to 3. Then later the Western was moved to 5 & Eastern to 1.

      They are also able to adapt when issues, for example the Eastern Line service was late one morning, so the Western Line I was on stopped on P1, and became the Eastern which was very convenient as I needed to go Panmure that morning.

      1. The eastern line was moved to platform 1 to allow the eastern trains to get out without having to cross, I’m not sure why the western would have been moved to 5 other than maybe a visual thing for the directions they go.

        1. Agree Eastern should be on 1, makes the most sense due to movements, with Western on 2 right next to it having on 5 is not great.

    2. I wonder if anyone here could verify the impact on signalling? I imagine the platforms have been designated in a way that makes track switching, and therefore the timetable, efficient.

      Western Line trains come in on the right hand side track (when looking down the Britomart tunnel) and stay on that track until veering off to platform 5 (vice-versa with Eastern Line and platform 1). If Western Line trains ended at platform 2 they would come in on the same track, but have to cross over onto the left-side track, before veering off to Platform 2.

      Then again, these days .. how much of a problem would that actually be? I like the idea Harriet!

      1. Be good to know if reasons it can’t, and if I was in charge would change it as part of the next timetable adjustment which I think is around Feb?

      2. It is irrelevant (train movement wise) what platforms the Onehunga, Southern and Western line trains come in on as they all get from Newmarket to Britomart on the same line.

  3. Yes!
    I was stoked to make my one minute connection on Sunday the other week – done, as you say, by waiting at the door of the first carriage and sprinting across the platform.
    A bit of adjustment to the timetables so that the Western and Eastern lines don’t leave at almost the same time on the weekends would also help, and is surely possible given the 30 minute frequency.

    1. The aim is to have 15min trains excluding Onehunga M-S 7-7 which will help.

      I just can’t see it happening at least without some objections from Kiwirail though due to two lines sharing the tracks between Westfield & Wiri & no third main. At 8tph each way 7-7 M-S it will be difficult to slot freight movements in.

  4. I work in Newmarket, but live on the Eastern line so transfer at Britomart twice daily, I’m not so particular onto which line I transfer to but things are not well arranged for transfers currently.

    The timetabling is really not set up for it, which I imagine is a much bigger problem to resolve than this, but currently only being close to the Onehunga line for transfers seems very inefficient given its much less frequent schedule.

    1. The whole network isn’t set up very well for transfers, the AT mindset is an old one that concentrates on only moving people in and out of the CBD. While the new bus hub improve this once you are on the train it is assumed you want to get to or from Britomart, the contingency plan for late running trains on the southern line with the new short turn arounds at Papakura from next week shows this.

  5. I think the issue is that the 3 busiest trains are kept spaced apart like they are now to avoid the platforms becoming too full of people either just arriving on, or waiting to leave on, adjacent trains.

    Imagine the crush if two 6 car EMUs loaded to the gills from the Eastern and Western lines arrived on platforms 1 and 2 and unloaded their 750+ passengers each on to the same platform area.
    Then factor in the number of folks waiting there as well to get on these two trains on their return trips and you could easily have 2000 plus people on one platform.

    Now, this is a nice problem to have, but seems to me that the current layout is just AT/Transdev taking the easy option to avoid managing that issue.

    It also smacks of the time when Transdevs own staff believed that people had to tag off at Britomart before being able to switch trains [thinking which is now totally outmoded with zonal fares in any case. So even if it were true once, it no longer applies now.

    No doubt the AT/TransDev people can spout any number of the HSE regs to back up their beliefs that they can’t possibly do whats obvious and is the more customer friendly.
    Just like they do that now for the same issue at Newmarket. Forcing folks to go “up and over” to change trains.

    We can’t just stagger train arrivals/departures as folks want to be able to switch trains in both directions.
    So it makes sense for the Western and Eastern trains to depart [and thus arrive] more or less at the same time.
    And the only way to do that is to allow both trains to be closer to each other.

    Certainly having folks rush around platforms while trying to make connections is itself a health and safety issue now.
    So its not like we’re turning a totally safe situation now into a completely dangerous one with the changes.

    1. I think this is the main point. Putting the Eastern and Western Line on the same platform would probably overload the platform, given the western is like five or six times as busy as the Onehunga.

    2. Staggering the trains is easier said than done, peak sees a train up or down the tunnel every 90 seconds and train control seem unable or unwilling to have one going each way in the tunnel at the same time. Harriet mentions off peak and weekends when it would be a little easier but it still comes down to train controllers in Wellington.

        1. Something that should have been done years ago, there are already six control zones north of Te Rapa all but one control AT metro trains at some point.

        2. It’s actually more efficient to have a single centralised control centre for the entire network, and breaking it up to put one desk in Auckland is counter-productive, and will be more costly. Having one desk 500km away from the network provider office instead of just down the hall is bizzare, to say the least. It was all put in one place for good reason, and the decision to break it up again is not that of the network provider, but rather is driven by AT. Needless to say, the increased number of business trips to be made between Auckland and Wellington will no doubt be passed on to ratepayers one way or another!

  6. Why not have platforms 1 & 2 as Onehunga and spare (either / or), allowing the Southern 3, Eastern 4 and Western 5.
    With a little platform (3) modification at the door spacings, couldn’t Eastern (4) services then be entered / exited onto from both Southern (3) and Western (5) services, with the primary focus the 4-5 platform transfer?
    The 3-4 platform transfer could be glass ‘metro’ door gates that open on a short delay after the 3 arrives if the 4 is waiting
    3-5 platform transferring recommended at Newmarket.

    1. Interesting idea would give a Spanish Platform layout,

      Issues would be
      1. How much.
      2. Does it effect the Post CRL layout in any way negatively.
      3. Eastern Line would have to cross which was why it was moved to P1.

      Be interesting to know if feasible though

      1. There is space on the outer sides of tracks 1 + 5; the CRL through lines. So a ‘Spanish solution’ could be built [ie only allowing exit on one side of the train and boarding from the other which is very efficient and orderly especially at high demand times and stations], but would be terrible for transfers as these new platforms would not be connected to the train level concourse, some kind of up and over would have to be built….

    2. That goes back to slowing the eastern trains exiting Britomart by having them cross the others services, platform 1 has the eastern services exit directly onto the down main without any crosses required. Platform 4 would require a rebuild to accommodate exiting on that side of the train, something that won’t happen this side of the CRL when Britomart is reduced to four platforms.

  7. I live fairly centrally and work in Newmarket so don’t often use Britomart. I wanted to go to Sylvia Park after work one day last week, so I caught a train into Britomart, then transferred to the Eastern Line. The issue I was faced with was figuring out which platform I needed to transfer to. From what I could see, there are no screens facing the platforms which list all the upcoming trains and their platforms (like they have above the ticket machines at street level, at the top of the escalators, and above the paper ticket gate). So I walked along the end of each platform and checked their individual departure signs to see which platform I needed. It’s not a major, but I think having a platform-facing screen would’ve made my transfer a bit easier.

    1. I don’t often go to Britomart, and when I transfer there I have the same problem. Irregular users have no idea which platform to run to. I didn’t even know that there were fixed platforms for each ‘line’.

    2. Depending on you definition of what ‘fairly centrally’ is, it could be quicker for you to go south to Otahuhu to get to Sylvia park totally eliminating your need to go to Britomart at all.

  8. I believe platforms 2 and 4 are slightly shorter, which is why the six car lines have been put on 1, 3 and 5. Also as Greg says there are issues with two main lines on the same platform. From a purely biased Ellerslie perspective I’d like to see Onehunga and papakura leave from 4 and 5, then I can watch the signal and see which one is actually going first.

    1. The platforms are all the same length, platform 5 is currently shorter due to the stopping marker being moved for CRL works, the six cars would be spread that way for passenger distribution. The Papakura train leaves two minutes (week days) before the Onehunga train so there is no need for them to be close enough that you wait for a signal before deciding what one you will take.

      1. My observation is that 2 and 4 have a shorter useable distance due to where the escalator shafts are at the eastern end, the gap is too narrow for people to safely walk past so it has been fenced off. When six car trains come onto platform 4 the last door only just fits inside this fence.

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