Back in January I made a request to Auckland Transport asking what had been done/planned to improve travel times on the rail network, the response I received was very positive and if able to be implemented fantastic for rail users. You can view the entire response here.
The highlight is the section on dwell times, which remarked that CAF have been hard at work testing different options to reduce the dwell times with one option possibly allowing 20 second dwells. Whether this option is feasible outside the depot however is to be seen.
CAF have recently undertaken timed tests in the depot for different opening and closing options – for the time from wheel stop till power is back onto the traction motors. It can be achieved in 20 seconds, plus the actual door open time depending on the open and close method. A modification has been implemented that has further reduced the time required to make the traction loop by 2 seconds – which is a good improvement to bank.
AT also asked KiwiRail and Siemens (signalling company) to look at improving network travel times by optimising the ETCS (European Train Control System) signalling to allow increased line speed. The sections reviewed looked to be centred around the Westfield – Newmarket – Britomart section of network. As someone who uses the Southern Line I can understand this with line speeds feeling very slow considering the track alignment, zero level crossings & geometry. In a section where next the southern motorway you feel you should be putting the pedal down leaving traffic in the dust, instead you find yourself limping along.
The areas AT believe line speed can be increased are (up – towards north, down – towards south)
- #3a: Line Speed Increase NAL South (Westfield Junction to Newmarket) – (saves 10 sec Up, 15sec Down)
- #3b: Line Speed Increase OBL South (Westfield Junction to Newmarket) – (saves 15 sec Both)
- #3c: Line Speed Increase NBL (Newmarket to Britomart) – (saves 20sec Both. But addition of Parnell station will negate.)
- #8: Sarawia St in-fill balise (Reduction in delays approaching 203 signal) – (saves 10 sec per train crossing to Platform 1)
- #9a: 304 Signal approach clearing removal (eliminates risk of Up EMUs stalling at Neutral section).
- #9b: 204 Signal approach clearing removal (eliminate the need for trains to slow to 20/km).
Overall the time savings of this could result in travel time savings for
Southern Line – Up Main Services of 70sec & Down Main Services of 35sec
Onehunga Line – Up Main Services of 65sec & Onehunga Down Main Services of 35sec
Western Line – Up Main Services of 30sec & Western Down Main Services of 20sec
However some of travel times may be negated by the opening of Parnell station, however Southern Services will of course have that offset by the closing of Westfield.
They are also looking at adjusting the level crossings to allow higher line speeds, this will be very useful if implemented for Western Line users.
Modifying the level crossings to support higher speed operation will result in the level crossing alarms operating for longer until the trains start running at the higher speed.
It mentions the potential reports to be done in the future for other sections of the rail network, hopefully we will see further optimisation in the future.