On an average weekday, around 70,000 trips (and growing) are made on Auckland’s rail network. A number that has risen substantially in recent years. If, like me, you rely on a train as part of your commute you need to be aware that trains won’t be running due to workers striking.

People who usually travel by train should plan ahead and make alternative travel arrangements on Friday, 8 December.

No trains will be operating from 2am on Friday until 2am on Saturday because of industrial action.

Due to the short notice of the industrial action Auckland Transport will not be able to put on extra buses in place of train services.

AT is seeking limited additional buses to support some bus routes.

Ferry and bus services will operate as normal.

Auckland Transport’s Chief Transport Services Officer, Mark Lambert says: “We are sorry but with no trains operating, the roads will be busy and there will be delays. People should consider options such as travelling outside peak times, sharing rides, cycling or walking. People should also talk to their employer about their work situation.”

Mr Lambert says AT staff will be on duty at some busy locations to assist customers with information and advice. Updates will be provided on the AT website, Twitter and Facebook.

More than 30,000 people travel by train around Auckland on an average weekday.

This is going to be really frustrating for those who rely on trains, more so given the new bus network has been implemented in the West and South and it pushes more people to use the train. However, given the strike is on a Friday I can see many choosing to take a long weekend, a silver lining for those that can do so.

Unlike the strike a few weeks ago in Wellington over pay conditions, in Auckland’s case the Union say it is all about safety. This stems from plans to move to driver-only operation.

“Despite going into mediated negotiations, Transdev is refusing to budge,” says John Kerr, RMTU advocate for the rail workers. “They’re determined to reduce crew numbers and introduce driver-only trains.

“This plan put passengers and drivers at risk, and the only reason we can see for it is cutting costs and increasing profit.”

Transdev’s proposal would make train drivers have responsibility for monitoring door operation and passengers, dividing their attention and significantly increasing the risk of accident.

The union’s reasoning is what I really struggle with. Cities all over the world run trains with driver-only operation, without drivers at all, or have train managers locked away with no view of what’s happening inside a train. Even with our trains today, if something were to happen, the train manager is just as likely to be at the other end of the train or even in a different set entirely and so not be able to provide assistance. For instance, in my 50 minute train ride today I didn’t see a train manager at all. Do we really need train managers on every train?

This isn’t to say I’m advocating for no staff on trains and we absolutely need more security on some services. But we’re likely to get a lot better results for customers with staff more focused on the services that need them.

Alternate travel options

Of some concern is that there will be no additional bus services. Many parts of the rail network have good access to alternate bus services to get around, however there are also a few gaps, especially off-peak. Below I will give a quick overview of what the alternate transport options are.

Western Line

Below is the bus network map for West Auckland.

From Henderson there are several direct all day bus services to the city which operate via the North Western motorway. These are the 133, 133x (peak only) and 134. Timetable available here. These services combine to give buses every 5-10 minutes at peak, plus every 15 minutes all day. For station beyond Henderson your best bet is to get to Henderson on one of the local buses.

For the area between Henderson and New Lynn your best bet generally is to catch a local bus to New Lynn. From here the Route 18 runs into the City Centre via Avondale and Great North Road every 6 minutes at peak and every 12 minutes all day. These buses will take you to Albert St by Victoria Street.

From Mount Albert inwards (covering Baldwin Avenue, Morningside and Kingsland) buses along New North Road (though do divert to St Lukes) run every few minutes at peak, and every minutes all day. These buses will drop you off along Wellesley Street.

To get to Grafton or Newmarket from the West, the best bet is to take 133 or 134 (from Henderson) or the Route 18 (New Lynn and Avondale) to Karangahape Road overbridge, then transfer to the Inner Link.

Southern Line (including Manukau)

If you’re commuting into the city from Pukekohe, you’re out of luck. No bus services operate between Papakura and Pukekohe. Good luck!

Better news from Papakura and other stations along the Southern Line near Great South Road. Route 33 operates every 15 minutes along Great South Road from Papakura to Otahuhu station, including via Manurewa and Manukau. From Otahuhu you can change to the 322 which continues along Great South Road to Britomart via Newmarket and Ellerslie. This runs every 20-30 minutes from 5.25am and 8.50am. Beware that this is a long trip, with a journey times around 2 hours if you take this at peak! The better option at peak is to take the 360x which runs from Papakura to City via Great South Road, but gets on the motorway just before Manukau station. However the departures are rather limited.

During the day your only option is the 321. This runs every 30 minutes from Otahuhu to Britomart, but runs via Greenlane Hospital so doesn’t go past Newmarket. Timetable here.  Note this service also runs to Middlemore, so changing to this service at Middlemore is the best bet of getting there.

From Ellerslie to the city the options are good, and you can take any of the 500 series buses. These buses run along Great South Road between Ellerslie and Newmarket, then go onto Brtitomart via Grafton and Symonds Street. They operate every few minutes at peak and about every 10 minutes all day.

Inner Eastern Line

From Panmure, things are easy with any of the 500/501/550/551 buses continuing into the city from the Eastern suburbs. Are also some expresses at peak times which should give a more reasonable journey time.

From Sylvia Park the 505 and 525 will take you into the city via Ellerslie-Panmure Highway and Great South Road. Though again this is a long trip, with scheduled times of around an hour. Timetable here. 

From Glen Innes you can take a range of 700 series buses to the city, including the 715, 719, 745 and 757. This combine to give a fairly frequent service all day, though the journey time would is 40-50 minutes.

From Meadowbank the only option is the 655, which runs into the city via Remuera Road and Newmarket. This runs every 30 minutes at peak, and every hour all day. Timetable here.

From Orakei you can take the 605/606, though you’ll have to walk up to Manawa Road to catch this. Timetable here. 

Summary

This has highlighted there are some real gaps in service provision tomorrow. The biggest issue appear to be the total lack of PT to Pukekohe tomorrow, and very slow journey times of buses from the south. Clearly it is difficult to source buses and drivers at late notice, but some targeted extra services could have gone a long way to filling the worst gaps.

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189 comments

  1. Hi Matt

    If I was boss of AT I would be firing the incompetent people that have allowed this to happen and give you a bonus of $1 million.

    Thanks for this post. Thanks for the practical solutions to get around the strike.

    Perhaps newshub/nzherald could get in touch with you and see if they could spread this post for you (with your permission and credit to you of course)? That way this sort of information can be spread further. Also would mean that nzherald isn’t posting ‘7 signs of dementia’ every 3 days .

  2. This does highlight the impact that it will have to the East Auckland public transport network should this happen again in the future, or any time the Eastern line stops running. Most of the East Auckland buses will the ferrying passengers to the train with minimal buses carrying on to the city centre.

  3. I understand the logic of the New Network but they should have continued to operate city-Papakura busses, Perhaps just once an hour but this would also have had the tremendous benefit of being able to start earlier and finish later than the trains.

    1. As a further note… catching the 33 and the 321 yesterday was fuuunnn.

      The 33 wasn’t too bad but it takes a long time to get anywhere… and the bus driver clearly needed a bigger float. I was a bit annoyed as well because while a bunch of people piled off at Otahuhu Town Centre some of them then got on the 321 as we went back that way. It would have been better if I had caught the 755/6 instead (my trip wasn’t time sensitive). As it was the 321 driver actually turned people away (and later on had to skip some passengers).

      Going back was pretty rough but that was because I only needed to be in town for just over thirty minutes so I didn’t have any “recovery” time. The “objective” failure there was that our 33 return was, at one point, overtaken by another 33.

  4. WIth CCTV on all train carriages, driver can monitor the train. If something bad does happens, driver should be able to lock the doors and call support on the next station.

    Security Guards, Staffs, Police can then wait on the next station to deal with the issue.

    At the moment train managers can only monitor a single carriage at a time and they do not know what happens in the next carriage. So currently it is not much safer.

    Of cause during some high risk hours/route, on board train manager/security guard would help. But for relatively safe and trouble free hours/routes, it is not necessary to have TM onboard.

    I think the issue is train managers fear about job loss.
    To make a win win solution, we can add additional off-peak train services. The new service will re-train existing train-managers as drivers, and increase their pay rate slightly as a result.

    That would solve all the issues as well as improving farebox recovery rate.

    1. CCTV is crap. You can’t see most of what is happening in the saloon and the screens are tiny with grainy images. People regularly tag the camera lens covers and put stickers over them the external ones are always filthy. The display image size is about 35x45mm. You can expand each image to about twice the size, but that takes so long you can only view one car during a stop even at today’s pace and no, you can’t drive a train while monitoring the saloon through the crappy cameras at the same time.

      Calling ahead for Police assistance even now with the TM managing the situation is at best, going to get you a Police officer three to four stations ahead and you’ll still have to wait. There is not going to be Police or staff or security who can actually do something at the next station. AT are not offering any of these mitigations for the removal of TMs. *That’s the problem*

      The TM’s main operational role is to monitor the train/platform interface during door closing and ensure that the train is safe to depart. This is the annoying 7 second wait before the train moves off that everyone hates so much. AT are so desperate to get that 7 seconds out of the dwell time, they’ve “built in” multiple system delays to the trains themselves as an offering the the safety case gods to enhance the chances of being allowed to remove a human check with direct line of sight and capacity to intervene in hazardous situations. A driver in the cab peering through filth encrusted, tampered with, sun struck, rain wetted cameras is a very poor substitute. Sure, they get away with those things in other places, but they also pay a stiff penalty in random cancellations and bizarre delays – “wrong kind of sunlight”, and so on.

      TMs fearing for their jobs? No shit. Why shouldn’t they? They’re being asked to accept a collective agreement that will see careers as long as 50 years wiped out within a few years. They’re not even being told when! Their compensation – they’re welcome to take psychometric testing for the driver role that has about a 5% pass rate. A role that is about to get substantially more difficult, but with an even bigger career gallows for people who make mistakes. The rest can give up their redundancy rights and become TOs in a direct conflict role with a much higher chance of being spat on or punched in the face. It’s a bad deal for everyone and that the management continue to pretend that anyone in their right mind sign up for it speaks of either immense stupidity, contempt or conspiracy. This plan is miiiighty dodgy. What’s really going on?

      1. CCTV is crap? Then get a better CCTV system. Virtually every reputable CCTV system manufactured in the last few years can be described with the technical term “not crap”.

        Police assistance? You won’t get many arguments on this one – even your estimate of “three to four stations ahead” is probably being generous. But I can’t see this being any different to the status quo where Train Managers will turn their backs rather than acknowledge a conflict situation arising.

        Monitoring door closing and the 7 seconds of suspended animation? Not needed, not wanted, not practiced on any other civilised train system worldwide. Don’t mitigate it – just get rid of it.

        Train Managers fearing for their jobs? So do I sometimes – but it never occurred to me that I should lash out and inconvenience 30000 people because I do. Yes, we feel for the specific individuals involved but, as a general group, you need to accept that you are about as relevant as the possibly apocryphal “buggy whip manufacturers” and move on. This should have been obvious for at least the last decade.

        1. New CCTV – great idea. Maybe if they waited until it existed before trying to force crews to accept it and give up their jobs they’d get a better response. That’s not what’s happening, though.

          I agree that the door process and the added fake safety delays in the control system are unwelcome, but the problem here is that they’re not being replaced with real proven solutions. “Trust us, it will be fine. Just sign here” is not good enough.

          Quoting an acquaintance: “Something that is not regularly evident with a situation as rare as full rail strike action has become these days is that current employment law makes anything less than the full strike a worthless endeavour. Any lesser action, whether a uniform ban, overtime ban or a one or two hour strike is punished with the same ferocity as a full day strike. The operator can sustain those kinds of action indefinitely, eventually leading to expiry of the collective agreement and allowing them to start with a clean slate and terms to suit themselves. Past governments’ attempts to neuter the union has left just one big blunt tooth. They have no choice but to use it or give up everything.”

          1. The focus on train managers is at best stupid. The unions need to focus on encouraging transdev in the re-training of staff for other positions, or transferring these roles to AT. That would be Unions doing their job, rather than spending their members money on trying to prolong the inevitable.

            If it is about Health and Safety of the public as the Union suggests, then money currently spent on employing train managers would be better spent on upgrading CCTV systems within the train and employing roaming guards with real powers.

            The Union is effectively shooting themselves in the foot and all this strike does is reinforce the premium solution of driver only trains with roaming guards rather than train managers that can hold the public to ransom.

        2. EH? Matt Lowrie will come down on you like a ton of bricks for not using your real name…

          Matt time you asked Eh for transparency? Will you or delete their shady comments which read more like an Auckland Transport manager or Transdev PR specialist. If not, well let the good times roll.

          1. We have a lot of people that don’t use their real name. We called you out for being a hypocrite, complaining about others not using their real name while you weren’t either

          2. Nah, nothing to do with AT or Transdev, just a commuter who was frustrated yesterday afternoon about the anticipated disruption to my day today. In the end it turned out surprisingly easy to rearrange my affairs as a one off so I didn’t have to travel – I wouldn’t like to have to do it often but it has given me a bit more confidence about asking to work from home on appropriate occasions.

            Re-reading my comments in the cold light of (next) day, I see that my frustration shows through even though I stand by the comments I made. I did, however, make one other comment on this article that I now see added nothing to the conversation and I apologise to Blair Skarratt for being a bit of a dick.

      2. I also take exception with the CCTV being described as crap. I also don’t think that the driver should be monitoring the saloon either – They’ve enough on their plates looking for hazards and monitoring their performance with regard to the schedule and track conditions.

        Checking the doors shouldn’t be an issue, they already have cameras pointing both directions as you can see here: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2014/04/27/photo-of-the-day-emu-launch/

        If the cameras are dirty, that’s a maintenance and safety issue. If some miscreant obstructs a camera in-car, that should already be recorded (I’d hope at base, in real time) so getting the police called shouldn’t be an issue… Which leads to another issue – The time it takes to get police on site. That needs to be a little faster…

        1. the trouble with getting police is that they are all standing around at money generating checkpoints .
          Many years whilst living in Auckland city I arrived home to find my flat had been broken into rang 111 and was told it would be 3 days before they could investigate and just up the road there 20 cops standing around stopping cars after having a go at the person on the other end of the phone I had 1 officer turn up 30mins later with apologies . The ones that did me over did finally got busted and got 31/2 and 5 years between them .
          So what the driver take a train to the closest checkpoint to get anything done ?

          1. In fairness the road police are funded out of ACC levies and fuel tax and are funded for a specific purpose. If they were routinely diverted to general crime it would be in breach of the public finance act.

            That of course doesn’t stop us deciding to reduce expenditure on road police and increase it on general police, it just has to come from the right source.

            It would also be quite legitimate to fund the policing of transit from fuel tax revenue in the same way it is used to subsidise transit.

          2. What an idiot, 9 years of budget cuts and frozen budgets to the police under National has seen traffic policing reduced to a shell and I can reassure you there is far more demand to respond to jobs than cops.

            20 cops standing around, time for a ZB old timer whinge session. There is not a group that has that many on at one time, let alone at a check point.

            Don’t let facts get in the way of a good story!

          3. However the plan is to have roaming guards with enforcement powers, if these guards are truly roaming and do have enforcement powers as suggested then they would most likely be the first respondents, and be able to detain people where required?

            Waspman – police budget was increased under National. Just not increased enough, and also some funding was re-distributed.

          4. @ Josh – I agree that the “Transport Officers” would be the first responders in most cases. I also think that they’re a step up from Train Managers.

            Where I have an issue is that I was under the impression that they have no power to detain, only the power to demand payment or remove persons from the train. I thought that they weren’t even able to obligate people to provide identification for official purposes (trespass notices, etc).

            Of course, we don’t have the shear number of cops required to be responsive and unless serious money is spent on recruitment and retention, that isn’t going to change any time soon.

            TOs are a good thing, however the management of the whole debacle has been poor from both sides. Though having said that, watching the Transdev talking head last night did not endear them to me.

          5. The budget was cut under Judith Collins by 10% then a “voluntary savings” of 19% under Anne Tolley, then frozen, more or less until the 2016 budget with a slight rise to take into account increasingly unattractive wages.

            It has suffered with long term issues as a result!

        2. Cameras get dirty in a trip, depending on weather but even then a driver needs to look forward and ahead, not at a TV screen in the cab. Imagine peering down at that grainy picture thinking, ” did I see that right?” meanwhile just up ahead…..

          So much is happening at take off when 100% forward attention by the driver is required and major distractions like cctv detract from that big time!

          1. Considering how new the trains are, it would be pretty embarrassing if they cant be monitored off-site. Surely a better solution would be off-site monitoring, then communication with drivers and roaming staff when there is an incident.

            With door operations, what is the driver monitoring while stopped that he cant control the door operations?

  5. While empathising with people concerned about their job, their job is more about catching free riders than keeping the peace, something I have found amusing when I get on at a gated station to have my hop card checked. I suspect as gates are expanded to cover all stations that staff will be cut down in any case. Auckland trains are among the safest in the world, with or without staff, and double decker buses don’t have an extra employee upstairs do they? Unfortunately this is the price we pay for the ongoing automation of our lives, and as many have warned, we will need to seek more innovative employment as the robots take over. On a personal note, I often do a train bus combo after work on a Friday, with an Eden Terrace craft beer transfer, which tomorrow I will have to try on a straight bus bus combo, which is nowhere near as exhilarating. I commute against the flow but for those of you who take rush hour trains (which are reasonably full anyway), pushing 70,000 people onto buses will make your personal space a little smaller I imagine. Try to find the positives in your journey, such as, oh, maybe I could survive a trip to India. Perhaps a good excuse to dust off the bicycle for those with a lesser commute. Please don’t drive, then “they” win 🙁

    1. Train Managers have no revenue protection responsibilities, that’s Ticket Inspectors and now Transport Officers. I don’t see why people are so keen to give up our status as amongst the safest in the dubious hope of some undefined payback. While transport advocates bellow “VISION ZERO!” about the roads, they call for the undoing of Zero Harm principles on the railways.

      1. How do TM’s make trains safer? They have no powers, just stand there in one cabin doing nothing (and to be fair, none of them are really physically threatening). Opening and closing the doors are no safer if it were Driver or TM, in fact I would argue driver is safer to operate as not only is he in control of the vehicle, he also has or should have better vision of all doors through CCTV.

          1. That brought a smile to my face.

            I’d prefer to see more Maori Wardens on the trains. While they don’t garner the respect that they used to, they still seem to have some sway. That and they’re friendly. Most TMs aren’t very friendly.

          2. Christ, we want to make trains safer. The number of people I know of who have been assaulted by bouncers is staggering.

          3. And given powers, trained properly, and paid appropriate to their new skills. We could also call them Transport Officers and take away the time consuming process of opening and closing doors.

  6. Good day for trying out the cycleways, if you’re lucky enough to be near one. My 12-year cycled Pt Chev to Sylvia Park return yesterday!

      1. On road in Pt Chev only (presumably soon to change) and then on footpath briefly in Onehunga. The rest of the way was cycleways. 20 km each way! If I’d done it with him I’d actually be making progress on getting fitter instead of just talking about it. 🙂

        1. That’s awesome! Good on not only him, but you for giving him that freedom!

          If I had grown up in Auckland, I’d have loved to cycle all around when I was that age – So much to explore here.

          1. Thanks to you all for your enthusiasm! And as a follow up, he went to Henderson yesterday; 13 km each way. Again, almost completely on cycleways. He has a little game: when he’s reading a series of books, he looks at where the next one is in the library system, and goes to wherever the closest one is. Sometimes St Heliers, Remuera or Mangere Bridge.

            This is such a change, and such a freedom. And they’re not perfect cycleways, but I really really appreciate how far we’ve come since a decade ago. 🙂

  7. You are right to be skeptical about the safety claims. There is no evidence extra train crew makes them safer. It is more about preserving a career structure for drivers, with brake guard and co-driver positions being used as entry level jobs for (hopefully higher paid) drivers. In Australia several fatal crashes have proven the point. In the Waterfall rail crash (NSW) the brake guard did not intervene to prevent the crash after the (unfit) driver had a heart attack. In the tilt train crash (Qld) the co-driver left the cabin to get coffee early in his shift.

    I do not favor US style wage low wages, but equally, this strike is based on lies. If they want more money, they should say so. No Court will agree there is evidence to support this. Rail unions really shoot themselves in the foot with claims like this, losing public support for PT expansions.

    1. Brake-guards? Co-drivers? It’s not the ’80s anymore! Before you go chucking around accusations of “lies”, you’d better get your own facts straight. Money is absolutely not the issue here. Some crew members are being offered massive pay rises to accept driver only operation with no testing completed, with no improved CCTV design being presented, no extra platform supervision, no processes or rules developed, no safety case completed, reviewed or presented. It would be negligent to even consider accepting this proposition blind. Hobson’s Choice. Catch 22. Rock and a hard place.

      1. And why is the testing not completed? Because the unionised staff refused to run the trial?

        I’m still wating for the platform two at Newmarket to make transfers work, that was supposed trialled six months ago. Thanks guys, great work.

        1. The lack of union observers hasn’t slowed the testing process one bit. In fact it’s probably going more quickly without the cross party consultancy and reporting back that would usually go on. Perhaps AT should have pressed the DOO button when they first put the contract renewal up for tender instead of waiting months, changing their mind and then cancelling the process to add it?

          As for the Platform Two situation, my understanding is that trials were done and processes decided six months ago, but it is delayed installation of new PID equipment (pretty sure there’s an OIA that states as much) and the delayed development of the next timetable that is holding up progress there.

      2. Pretty sure platforms are monitored at the moment, I’ve been told at station platforms to stop smoking over the loud speaker a few times.

        FYI – I don’t smoke, and each time was in Winter when I had a cold and was breathing out hot air. If they can pick this up, then the CCTV cameras at stations are perfectly fine.

        So what extra supervision would be needed? I could write up processes and rules for driver door operation for you today if you would like. Safety case could be done in the week, since its standard practice overseas there is plenty of data to use.

        1. You should get your CV and a proposal in the mail to the fine folk at our city’s rail development team, they might need some help, because seven years after ordering DOO capable trains, there still isn’t a safety case ready to submit for regulatory approval. As you note, it shouldn’t be too difficult, as there is well tested material worldwide to crib from, and yet still we wait. I’m quite sure that all parties want the best and safest system they can deliver in Auckland, but at this stage there is virtually no reliable evidence that it’s DOO and not the existing two-person crew. As soon as that changes, the argument is over.

          1. Yea, unfortunately my mortgage is based on my current salary 🙂 . Unfortunately commercial construction is much more lucrative than AT and Kiwi-Rail positions.

            Maybe that why it take soo long

      3. Les don’t quibble about terminology. Those terms are used in other jurisdictions i have worked in. Whatever the term, i say again, there is NO evidence that two person crews are safer than one person running trains. Otherwise why don’t we have two people driving every bus as well? Would that be safer too? No. Sometimes a second person is just a distraction. The real safety issue in both cases is managing driver fatigue.

        If you look at some of the safest rail systems in the world in France, Germany and Japan, they have one person crews. That includes passenger checks at platforms. Show me any published real world evidence where overall two person crews running urban passenger trains are proving safer than systems in the countries I have named.

        1. Scott, I believe that buses indeed did used to have 2 people on board – a driver and a conductor. And safety on board a bus, with a conductor, was far, far better than it is today with only a driver. That’s just a fact. Show me any published real world evidence to say that it is not.

        2. Well, Scott, we don’t have 264 tonne buses with up to 1000 people on board. We also don’t have train managers sitting in the cab distracting the driver. It’s division of process, double checking, isolation of safety critical duties and conflict of interest. The person charged with safe operation of the train is not also in charge of fast operation of the train. The person in charge of worrying about what’s going on ahead is not also in charge of worrying about what’s going on behind. It’s putting layers of intervention between the human and the hazard. You can talk about France Germany and Japan until you’re blue in the face, they just doesn’t compare when the layers of intervention that are apparent in those places are not being replicated here. That’s the problem.

          By the way, I didn’t reply to your post to quibble about terminology, I replied to dispute the relevance of your references to the kind of two-person crewing that was abandoned in NZ 30 years ago.

          1. Maybe we should look at systems closer to home with comparable network hazards as here in Auckland. Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth.

  8. For those that are going on the 321 to the city or Newmarket they can get of at Grafton station then a link bus to Newmarket . I just hope the 321 is not to full around as I have to get to Greenlane then do the return to the City

  9. “The union’s reasoning is what I really struggle with. Cities all over the world run trains with driver-only operation, without drivers at all, or have train managers locked away with no view of what’s happening inside a train.”

    Auckland is not every other city in the world, we have lots of terrible people getting on trains.

    “and we absolutely need more security on some services”.

    Sorry but no not “some services”, this is needed on EVERY service, I’ve witnessed issues during peak times, out of peak times, in the evenings, in the early mornings, and on different lines and locations – even in locations such as between Newmarket and Britomart.

    I find it highly unusual that the author claims to use the trains but does not understand this! I witness incidents on almost a daily basis.

    “Even with our trains today, if something were to happen, the train manager is just as likely to be at the other end of the train or even in a different set entirely and so not be able to provide assistance. For instance, in my 50 minute train ride today I didn’t see a train manager at all. Do we really need train managers on every train?”

    Agreed, this just reinforces the need for a permanent presence and highlights that we need more permanent staff on our trains, not less.

    1. “We have lots of terrible people getting on trains” – that is an extremely negative view to have of your fellow commuters, I feel quite insulted. And have you been to other cities in the world? I guarantee they have many more “terrible” people than Tamaki Makaurau. I don’t disagree with you that security is necessary, just don’t be so mean to us humble soldiers of the post-automobile revolutionary forces!

      1. I’ve been in Sydney for the past couple of months and using the trains here which are several years (decades?) old, and one thing I have noticed is that the carriages are still in pristine condition with no vandalism whatsoever despite being in service for years. Compared to Auckland’s new trains which are almost brand new but already defaced with vandalism with windows/seatbacks scratched.

        I think we absolutely have an issue with ‘terrible people’ on our trains that is different or worse than what other cities around the world experience.

        1. On the other hand, the old diesel trains weren’t noticeably vandalised. Maybe the key thing is that these are new trains?

          1. The key thing is that we have a problem with thugs who have no respect for people or property.
            We now have a government that wants to give these little toerags a hug rather than some harsh penalties.
            How about a 10 year ban (for starters) from using PT for those caught vandalizing these assets?

          1. I wasn’t, just pointing out how absurd the suggestion is that we have a problem that is specific to NZ.

            I support taking a tougher line on vandalism and anti social behaviour. AT’s proposed system will help with making it easier to enforce fare evasion but it will also need assistance from the Police.

      2. Matthew you are taking it way out of context. Lots of terrible people – not all terrible people… obviously…

        Yes I have a negative view, hard not to when you travel on Auckland trains and witness incidents almost daily…

    2. I agree, there are some trouble making people that use the trains here – But 100% disagree that it is unique to Auckland. Have you used Sydney trains in the evening? Drunk youths etc? Same in Vancouver, same in New York.

      Something that I do find very strange is that since the introduction of the EMU’s the amount of people involved with trains and the train stations has trebled? Driver – yes, train manager – yes, at least 1 security guard at each station – yes, occasional ticket inspectors – yes.

      Why the massive increase in staff numbers? Why not cancel some of the Armourguard contracts and look into having some AT staff attending stations, not necessarily as ‘security’ but just having a staff presence makes a difference.

      As many have pointed out, having security, and having TM’s, ticket inspectors etc doesn’t stop a few idiots using the trains at all.

      1. How is one staff member who does next to nothing with no enforcement powers on every train no matter how long it is and what time of day it is any safer than having selected trains covered my multiple staff with some enforcement powers?

        1. What makes you think anyone prepared to risk jail time by committing assault, robbery or vandalism is going to be deterred by a staff member whose only special power is to take their name and issue an infringement notice? Fake name, walk away, next train, rinse and repeat. Maybe add a dash of violence in there before the walk away part. The TOs fines will do a great job in deterring your recoverable fare evasion, people who actually do want to continue to get to work or school by train, but your average thug is going to choose to stick to the many trains that won’t have a distinctively uniformed TO on board, just like they did when Ticket Inspectors wore yellow Hi-Viz.

    3. Peter N – I like the author travel frequently on the trains and rarely see trouble. I suspect the reason for the difference is you either travel at different times and/or different parts of the network than me, yet we both travel on trains with a single uniformed staff member. It would make more sense to target the staff presence towards the trains you are on not the ones I am on, fortunately this is pretty much what AT are planning.

      1. I catch trains primarily on the western line and at various times of the day. As it is a car replacement for all my activities. When I go on the Southern it is often worse at times. Eastern is generally fine but still can have issues.

        I find it hard to believe you hardly see trouble. Perhaps you arnt paying much attention. Headphones? Phone? Nodding off?

        1. Well isn’t that an argument for exactly what AT are proposing: mobile security and ticket officers who can be targeted to the trains that are the problem, rather than arbitrarily having a door opener on every train?

          1. Well I don’t agree with that, I’ve been taking the train ten or twelve times a week for the last two years and I can only recall one time where I noticed a problem.

        2. I can’t sleep on a train, don’t have headphones and rarely use my phone on the train. Most of the people on my trains are commuters and it is generally pretty quiet, I do occasionally see trouble but it is much more likely to be dealt with by a frustrated passenger than the TM.

          I’m struggling to see your point, you say you see trouble regularly (which I don’t doubt), yet there are TMs on every train at the moment. Sounds like pretty good evidence that the TMs are of little value for solving trouble.

          1. Sounds like evidence that the seeds of trouble are sown widely and that removing the one remaining deterrent from most of the trains will allow trouble to flourish unimpeded.

    4. These ‘terrible people’ (which is quite insulting to local Aucklanders) dont have any consequences because TMs cant do anything about them.

      To me this just reinforces the need to get rid of TMs in favor of roaming officers who can actually have power to do something about these ‘terrible people’. You know, like they do in Sydney and Melbourne.

      And from my experience, Auckland ‘terrible people’ are no worse than in other cities like Melbourne ‘terrible people’ or Sydney ‘terrible people’.

  10. Hugely ironically when we were undergoing the consultation for the new South network and the systems like the bus to Pukekohe was removed and the express buses were revised down we were told these networks were redundant and not needed. The remaining express buses are only there because we fought hard to keep a skeleton service for a year or so after the change over. But things like this (and the times when the trains shut down due to signal issues, “track issues” and power issues) its clear the supposed redundancy is sort of useful. Of course it is a tricky balance, but still these networks were somewhat complimentary rather than redundant and a bit of contingency is not a bad thing unless you have an issue free system.

  11. That’s good news for a lot of people with out trains and only whey the trains are slow from pukekohe because it don’t have new trains they still run AD no one cares about public transport ever and empty busses and thats whey fuel prices keep on going up because more cars on the road then taking public transport

    1. I’m not familiar with the scenario you are describing. Where are cars using public transport? Are you referring to the Gt Barrier Island ferry?

  12. Maybe we could trial the driver-only services tomorrow? Don’t cave in Transdev, the service needs to change and with a growing and modern rail service in Auckland, there needs to be the flexibility to cater to customer needs: An efficient, reliable, and yes of course safe, service.

    1. Who’s going to drive them? The army? We’ll do the driverless trial tomorrow to simulate what happens when the sole crew member is incapacitated and there’s no-one able to access the cab.

        1. Then what, clever clogs? I know you don’t know, because AT don’t even have a plan for that themselves. Who signs up for a system that doesn’t even have the basics covered? I’ll tell you what probably happens, though. Two to five minutes after the train fails to clear its next timed stop or the obstruction causes a following service to enquire about an unexpected stop signal (up to ten minutes in total), Train Control will be unable to make contact with the driver by radio (already common as reception is patchy) or phone (which is legally required to be off or set to silent), so they’ll have to signal the next train to enter the occupied section or block the adjacent line for a passing train to stop and investigate. This could be on a bridge, in a tunnel, in the CRL, across a junction, at night, anywhere. By this time we’re probably up to 20 minutes of network seizure without even knowing what has happened yet. There could be anything from 0-1000 on the disabled train and also the rescue train. The rescue driver will have to abandon their loaded train leaving the passengers locked inside unassisted to go and investigate. The result is probably either an emergency services matter or a crime scene. Passengers on at least one train can expect a 30-90 minute wait while the standard evacuation procedure is carried out. Either way you’re looking at a three hour blockage on both lines with a single crew member now responsible for perhaps two thousand stranded passengers in a potentially precarious location inside the rail corridor. Yes, yes, this is a dramatic worst case scenario, but it’s a real possibility, all parts of which have happened before and is the kind of thing that needs to be nailed down in the safety case and standard procedures before DOO can be accepted. None of it has been done.

          1. Why not add the drivers cabin feed to the control centre? They can liaise with TC as required. Of course, the driver wouldn’t be very happy with that and they may have a case to be so disconcerted. I’ve had to work under surveillance in one role, wasn’t much fun.

          2. So the TM is needed just in case the driver suffers a medical event or is a victim of crime? That is why many of us see the position as redundant and a waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere.

            Not sure what the TM would do in this situation anyway, other than make some garbled announcement about the train being delayed due to conditions.

          3. Yes, Jon, those sorts of things would be useful and are possible, but can we trust that they’ll ever be delivered to the required standard? The track record on other non functional or sub functional features on the trains and transparency on processes doesn’t give cause for confidence.

            Dealing with driver incapacity is one of the TM’s mandated emergency roles, but obviously far from the only one. First aid, emergency evacuation, operations centre liaison, schedule management, security liaison, customer service, eyes and ears in the saloon and platform, door fault correction, OTP reporting, security reporting, fault reporting, and on and on. Some of those are vital safety matters that will have to be transferred elsewhere. Others are simply better done by a second person who’s not already busy. The most important of all is the signal/platform/door/right-of-way process. Splitting the various responsibilities in this process between two people greatly increases compliance and correct execution. Auto-piloting is a huge problem with DOO and the easiest way to prevent it is a second person double checking critical steps. That can certainly be done in other ways (cab signalling etc), but those things are not on offer at this time. That they think they should get agreement without providing evidence of equivalent processes is rightly concerning.

            TMs can’t move the train, but they can access the cab, first aid cabinet, all communications, disconnect the train from the overhead, secure it, activate emergency ventilation and lighting and massively speed up the recovery process. They’re an “insurance policy” against a whole lot of stuff and like any insurance policy, they’re not always paying out, but you’re glad when they do.

          4. LES – what you have described is a whole lot of things a TM can do, but most of the time they do bugger all, which is why the job is unsustainable.

            Are you suggesting that AT don’t hire TOs and keep the TMs or are you suggesting they hire TOs as well as keeping TMs?

          5. ‘but most of the time they do bugger all’
            I do not agree with this as many times I see the TMs talking to passengers and often helping with travel enquiries. In one instance there were several IHC people boarded a southern train and one who was extremely confused was calmed by the TM and she told the young man to stay with her and she would ensure he was safe to Britomart where his parent was waiting.
            I remember thinking that TM went above and beyond.
            Just the TMs presence often will be reassuring for people and calms younger people from behaving badly.

          6. Mike nothing in your comment makes a case for door openers, you do perhaps make a case for guides, for customer support people, but not TMs. This is an antiquated and pointless role. Pretty much proven by your claim that their greatest value is ‘chatting to people’.

          7. The TMs are pretty useless at that. I get a lot of young tourists out my way (must be a backpackers or something) and often they ask the person in uniform where to get the bus to Mission Bay or how to get to the coach terminal or whatever.

            The TM’s usually have no idea an I have to step in to give directions.

          8. @ LES – You make some good points, though as jezza said, it’s a big call to keep TMs for what they currently do.

            Obviously there is potential value for a role similar to the “Auckland ambassadors” that you used to see in town, upskilled to take on some TM duties, but the question really comes down to value for money. I admit that this is an uncomfortable question because the fear is that it’ll be used as a wedge to drive wages lower.

            Regardless of whether we like the proposed situation or not, it’s going to go ahead. It really is a fait accompli, so all that can be done now is embrace the change and work towards improving the situation. Do you have any suggestions on how all bases could be covered, without retaining status quo?

          9. Jezza – Most of the time my insurance company is doing bugger all, but I still pay them for when I need them. As you’ve said above, your experience on the trains has been pretty benign, so perhaps your observation of the extent of TM’s duties is not complete. A few services where the SHTF could be instructive. I’ve seen a few.

            My preferred course of action was always to give the TMs the extra powers of enforcement that TOs have been created to hold. That will never happen because the point of this exercise is to deliver as little as they can get away with and that means slashing staff coverage and BSing the public on what they’re getting, not upskilling mandatory crew.

          10. Jon_K – I don’t think it’s that big a call to simply keep TMs doing what they do, and I want to reiterate that they do a LOT more than can be observed by the layperson with an agenda. The act of checking the signal during the door process alone is worth the price of admission. To get that kind of process security with signalling is going to take ETCS2, which is at least ten years and tens of millions of dollars away. As I’m sure someone will point out yet again, there are DOO networks doing just fine without that level of signal interlocking, but we’re way above “just fine”, way beyond most of their performance levels and would prefer to keep it that way. I don’t think many people realise just how long it’s going to take for DOO to break even and start offering cost and time savings.

            Fait accompli? – Probably. I hope the strikers have a Plan B, because their opponents have the resources to keep this on the boil until legal provisions force an unpalatable resolution.

            There are technical solutions to some of the concerns, but at this stage I think the horse needs to go back in from of the cart. The operator needs to bring out the safety case, the equipment upgrades, the staffing plans and lay all the cards on the table before asking anyone to buy into the biggest operational changes in 30 years with their own jobs.

          11. Entirely new fleet, new track, new signalling system, new stations, new ticketing system >>> keep 30 year old operational practices.

            Exactly the problem.

          12. ‘The act of checking the signal during the door process alone is worth the price of admission.’

            Seriously, this is why the union is loosing the public relations battle, spurious arguments like this. The driver also has a clear view of the signal if they are doing door operations.

            The way the TMs have dealt with relatively minor challenges in the past has not filled me with confidence that they will be much use if the SHTF.

            I should say I appreciate your input on here, been good to hear the other side. I hope this strike if nothing else ensures the parties sort out the differences as this is going to happen at some stage anyway

          13. J – See if you can get access to any of the work on human factors in fatigue and SPAD prevention that has been done recently for AT/NZTA/TD via OIA or some other means. It’s not a spurious matter, and from the perspective of we who have driven both with and without train managers, it’s one of several key factors that inform our preference for process interlocking via a second person.

          14. Les – If your insurance company is doing bugger all, I’d hate to see what your premiums are!!!

            Insurance companies normally have enough staff to have at least 80% productivity of their staff. If there staff are unproductive then they will downsize to reduce overheads and make the company more efficient.

  13. While I am generally supportive of people’s right to strike, I don’t think they should be able to just strike like this without first having say a judge decide that it is justified. I’m this particular example it has nothing to do with safety/pay/work conditions and is all about them trying to stop AT from getting rid of TMs (which is something that should have happened with the EMUs.

    The other thing is that they are doing this as a 24 hour strike not just a 1 hour in the morning 1 hour in the afternoon disruption deal. This is disgusting when there really isn’t much of an alternative transport option. With the new network this of course is a bigger issue since there aren’t bus services that offer a similar route anymore. I really do think that AT needs to reconsider this as while the trains are awesome, Rail disruption or strikes can cause massive problems.

    1. There is an alternative. It’s called four wheels.
      Beats being held to ransom by ratbag unions who feel emboldened by a left wing government.
      You are correct when you say TMs should have gone with the introduction of the EMUs.
      The unions just want to return to their glory days.

      1. Ratbag unions, brilliant. Dust off the ol’ 70s sayings!

        They hardly exist and now we live in a low wage, low standard work environment to enhance investors returns. Bring on cheap exploitable labour rather than do the right thing.

        You prefer the Pike River scenario I assume?

        1. @Waspman – I certainly hope that was directed at JeffT as my post was most certainly not anti-union just anti this current strike/TMs

          1. I’d imagine it was directed at Vance. I’m choosing to interpret Jeff’s comment as showing that he’d like the unions to return to their glory days, too. 🙂

    1. Council and their CCO are the ones driving this change, not the operator. They’d rather keep clipping the ticket for double the workforce. That’s why the tender process was interrupted last year – to make achieving DOO a condition of the deal.

  14. “Cities all over the world run trains with driver-only operation”

    They are a small minority compared to all the cities that run with onboard staff, and they only do it on rail networks with much higher staff levels than Auckland has, except the staff are at the stations and not on the trains. DOO networks generally have higher staff costs than Auckland.

    This strike, I understand, is the first of several to take place before Christmas. They will continue until the decision to remove TMs is reversed, and, ultimately, train drivers will refuse to depart without a TM onboard.

    Auckland had one of the safest networks when each train had a full staff compliment, and Wellington still does. The difference it makes to have visible onboard staff on trains is obvious, you only need to compare Auckland with Wellington.

  15. So, after 13 years why hasn’t Auckland Transport put our rail service up for public tender ONCE in that time? I will be amazed if Greater Auckland will come out questioning this, as it is very unusual Transdev and its’ previous entities have had their contract constantly extended. The net result is the French multinational now wants to make trains less safe as what appears to be a cost cutting measure.

    Am I holding my breath for GA to question AT and bad tendering practices?

      1. That they did. KiwiRail was going to tender, then decided against it. Not sure why.

        Wasn’t this about the same time that GWRC took over passenger services in Welly?

  16. It’s only a safety issue as this is a justifyable reason for striking.
    This is a farce and unacceptable in a modern city.
    Time to plan for automating trains.
    If the union wants to continue acting like this there will be no more jobs.

    1. That’s the spirit. 35% rates increases for everyone until we can pay for a $15 billion driverless network, just to spite the people who run the trains to record levels of OTP and customer satisfaction because they made you grumpy for one day.

  17. My thought about the often-cited “other cities have DOO” defense is that many of the cities provided as examples actually only do DOO on lines and/or networks where every station is staffed. For example Lodon’s Underground has DOO because they have staff present at every station during operating hours. I understand the LU forbids trains from stopping at stations that are not staffed (e.g. either scheduled closures on weekends for low usage station as well as unscheduled closures if too many staff call in sick at one station). However the Auckland rail network is not comparable to the LU network so it makes more sense to compare to a proper suburban railway. I’m not aware of any suburban railways anywhere that does DOO on lines where only a handful of stations are staffed—do they exist? Genuinely curious here as I was under the impression that DOO was not being considered in Auckland due to our staff-only-major-stations operating model. I would be happy if AT went to a staff-all-stations model and got rid of onboard staff like the LU OR kept the status quo which is actually still the dominant operating model for this type of railway. Getting rid of on-board staff while having minimal station staff is going too far IMHO.

      1. Just spent a week in Berlin, went on numerous U bahn and S bahn trains, all driver-only, saw zero station staff and only one ticket inspector who moved from train to train. I found much the same thing in Paris too.

      2. Can’t speak for Melbourne or Perth, but in HK the trains have no staff in the cabins but the CCTV is monitored like a hawk. If there’s a disturbance, the cops will be waiting the next station.

        Does anybody know if our trains are monitored in real time, at all times? Logistically, that’s quite a demand. Assuming 15 cameras per train (incl 6 externals), each streaming 7fps @ 720p, using H.264 code, each camera would need 700+Kbs. Total BW requirement of 10Mbs is about 10x the speed of mobile uploads. I got that figure after looking at several websites and using an online calculator… For the sake of simplicity, I’ve assumed that all cameras would always be streaming – This is a pretty poor way to do things.

        So unless the cameras have their own modem, or the train has multiple 4G modems, even using a standalone transcoder is not going to be enough to monitor all the cameras… That’s just for one train, too.

        I’m not saying that it’s not doable, but I am concerned that we won’t spend the money required to make it work properly – That’s the Kiwi way after all! 😉

        1. Not monitored live, they go to the depot with a USB stick to download data and video. A single contractor monitors platform cams for the whole network on request. 4G equipment on the way for wifi onboard, probs live monitoring too.

      1. Buses can stop very quickly and have the added bonus of being able to steer their way out of danger. Unlike a train!

        And buses are very slow. Guess you knew that though.

        1. If the bus driver passes our or has a heart attack they don’t stop in a hurry. Isn’t that the argument, the TM is needed to take over in case of incapacitated drivers… yet on the bus system we are perfectly fine go log ten thousand service-hours a day (twenty times more than the rail system!) without a single driver having any kind of back up. Is this not twenty times the problem then?

          1. Good logic. Playing devil’s advocate though, psychologically a train is more enclosed and not being able to see the driver makes the passengers feel more isolated.

            Not that I disagree with you.

          2. Show me the 264 tonne bus with 700 people on it under a 25000 V cable in an isolated corridor with 1300 tonne freight trains passing by. As I said above, that is one of numerous responsibilities the TM holds. Your attempts to diminish the role by needling a single point that you haven’t even understood properly is not much of a case.

          3. I’ll show you a 40 tonne double decker with 100 people on board in the middle of eight lanes of motorway traffic on the Harbour Bridge instead.

          4. Oooh, much wow. One hundred people in an environment with constantly obvious hazards, each independently controlled. Perilous, for sure, but not in the same league as mass self evacuation into an active block where the signalling allows stopping distances ten times the line of sight. It’s bad enough encountering a few people in your path in that situation, never mind hundreds who are each blocking someone’s escape route and ability to detect an approaching EMU.

            Every part of the worst imaginable scenario has happened in Auckland and it’s only by chance that they haven’t happened simultaneously.

    1. You are talking only of the Underground.
      I used the Hatfield train to Moorgate which went through many stations which had no-one at them for example Welham Green Train station – there are many UK train stations with no one at them and trains with only one person on board.
      It’s not all about the London Underground.

      1. Can we please stop letting the British anywhere near our rail system?!

        Why can’t we have some Japanese or Swiss or something for a change.

          1. It’s not mindless, the British don’t have a culture of either efficiency or customer service on their railways, they are focussed on bumbling on and not making anything too difficult for the operators. The user be damned. Theirs is a culture of don’t say anything, don’t make a scene, stiff upper lip and persevere, one where delay and failures are just accepted as how it goes.

            I would much rather import the Japanese rail approach where they start apologising and mitigating when a train is 20 seconds behind schedule, or the Swiss where a system failure is seen as a personal failure for the staff concerned.

          2. Wow. If you said those things about any other nationality you’d be hauled over the coals for bigotry. But hey, it’s fine for you guys to use London as an example when it suits you! For the record, the other union voices I’ve heard discussing this matter in the media have been Kiwis and an Australian. Any comment on the filings of those demographics and why they’re ruining our rail service?

          3. When do we every use London as an example? Rail operations in England are hardly the thing to replicate!

        1. I agree. British Railtrack is hardly a model of efficiency. It was cut to ribbons in the nineties and lots of British rail workers went looking for work elsewhere. Some are very good, but British rail unionists tend to be very militant as a result, and still seem to be fighting the rail equivalent of cold war battles, when the rest of the world has moved on.

  18. There maybe some guards – sorry train managers – out there who see their role in the same light as the guards of old – it’s just ( from what I have seen) they aren’t all that visible. And if they remain invisible for long enough someone is bound to ask the obvious question – why are they here in the first place. If the union is so keen to protect the train managers jobs, which after all is what the union is there for, it should be telling its members to up their game.

  19. The union is using safety as a front to try and hide it’s true agenda which is no jobs must ever be lost no matter how much progress is held up. Unions are backwards, irrelevant organisations and this strike action is a prime example of why unions are yesteryears approach to industrial relations.

    The argument for safety is weak. Most of the train managers I see couldn’t pull the skin off a custard let alone deal with an incident. Their only role is to open and close doors which is an automated task in 2017. Station security is another pointless expense which is incurred. I’ve never seen a skinnier, smaller bunch of security guards. If there was a dust up they’d be useless!

    Speaking of useless the AT website is exactly that. As regular readers know I’m an avid train user and trying to make alternative plans tomorrow. Trying to work out how to get where I’m going on a bus is like trying to solve a Rubix cube. I’m going around in circles and getting nowhere. The best I seem to be able to come up with is to leave 25 minutes earlier, walk for 10 minutes to a bus stop. Take a tiki-tour of Auckland and get dropped off a 15-minute walk away from my destination.

    I think I’ll be driving.

    1. And 99% of these security seem to spend more time on their Idiot Phones in stead of keeping an eye out for those wanting to catch a train

    2. most of the security guards that are on the station platform seem to be more into their I[diot] phones than watching / keeping an eye on the punters on the platforms

  20. the biggest point you are all missing is in all DOO operations in the world, their networks have a fulltime rail police force with arrest powers (and guns). The new proposed TO have no power to even remove people from a train. You cannot claim it is safe to have DOO if you have no police force or numerous staffed and gated stations. Currently a call to police is lucky to be attended 1 in 10 times.The strike is all about public safety, not job retention or wage demands. DOO operation will also lead to a drop in patronage as passengers are too sacred to travel which will put a serious dent in future planning.

    1. Enforcement officers in Melbourne and Perth are certainly not armed. It is rare to see enforcement officers on trains in Melbourne let alone Police officers.

  21. I’m surprised at some of the anti-worker sentiments being expressed on this blog, they sound like the sort of things Hosking and Hooton will be saying on Friday.

    If we want a better transport network in Auckland, we need people to run it, right?
    People who are respected and not not made to feel that they’re just being retained until every last job that can be, is automated.

    Yes, as well as safety issues, they’ll also be concerned about future job losses – and in time some jobs surely will go, or change. But let’s make sure it’s done in the right way, not by rushing through major operational changes. Unions are at historically low levels of influence, they know that there’ll be pushback, so their safety concerns will be genuine.

    Strike action is always a last resort, and makes its point best when called on short notice, to show the public that these workers are not invisible, or lazy.
    They’re the lifeblood of the system.

        1. might want to reread my comments. I have a great deal of respect for the rights of workers whose positions are needed. Did the TM’s worry about the rights of the thousands of other Auckland workers, like myself, when they made the decision to strike? No. Oh and you’re right, my concern is a fast service for customers on our modern train network.

    1. Imagine if we had a group of people who had maintained the old job of operating semaphore signals at traffic intersections. We’ve long since got the technology of traffic lights up and running, but these folk have maintained themselves in the process so that every change of the lights requires a person to walk across the intersection, put a key into a panel and push a button for the lights to go from red to green some time later, before standing around till the next phase. They’ll claim they’re essential to proper safe operation, and that they need to be there in case of emergencies and to give advice to passing motorists. But most people would see this as a waste of their time and of ratepayers money and wondering why they are doing.

      Then imagine they called a strike and blocked all the intersections to prove how indispensable they are, show how semaphore controllers are the lifeblood of the traffic light system. Do you think that would gain them much support from the public? Or would it piss off tens of thousands of people who are just trying to get to work?

      1. Great Strawman argument there, but there’s a huge difference between traffic signals and a giant metal tube travelling at high speeds, carrying ~1000 people, deep underground (soon).

        I’m not arguing that TMs need to be retained forever, I’m saying let’s support the workers through a proper process, so safety is prioritised. They’re mostly people who love their work and want the best for our PT network.

        It seems that downsizing the workforce will be inevitable, but let’s do that in the most responsible way we can.

        1. Really? One simple intersection can have three thousand people an hour moving through it at high speeds on literal collision courses, with only the robot traffic lights to separate things. If anything the intersection is a much more dangerous place (actually it is, the crash statistics show that).

          If these people want the best for the PT network then why are they shutting the trains down to fight against a more efficient and effective system?

          The process is a proper process, there is a pathway for staff to transition to a number of other roles. Hell, TMs that get transitioned to another onboard role are still going to get 50% of the redundancy payout?! I wish my job would do that every time my job description changed (i’d probably be retired already, my job changes drastically every six to twelve months as the company and marketplace evolves).

          1. Yes intersections are very dangerous, but still irrelevant to this thread.

            As I stated, I’m willing to take their safety concerns as genuine.
            Industrial action in Auckland is exceedingly rare, and is always a last resort when negotiations break down. I’m not overly familiar with the talks so far, but I’m sure that the decision to disrupt commuters travel today was not taken lightly.

            You’re of the opinion that this is unacceptable and that these workers should just accept whatever conditions they’re given. That’s not the type of society I want to live in, but I’m guessing we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          2. No I’m not of the opinion workers should just accept anything, but I am of the opinion that people who work in essential services shouldn’t strike.

            A strike in most factories and businesses really only hurts one thing, shareholder profits. That is exactly the right target, the management and board.

            But trains, buses, ferries, these things seriously disrupt the lives of thousands of members of the public who have absolutely nothing to do with arbitration between the worker and the employer. That’s just a dick move screwing over completely disinterested people trying to go about their lives. Would you accept a police, fire service or emergency department strike?

          3. The process is bullshit, Nick. It’s demanding that people walk the plank without any evidence that the circling fins are dolphins and not sharks.

          4. Well good for you, keep striking, keep fucking over the public and keep damaging the perception of whether people can rely on trains. See how that works out in the long run.

          1. Les keeps on talking about these high speeds. We are lucky if the trains reach 100km/hr on our network.

            But to be fair a fully loaded train does take a lot more to stop than a fully loaded truck.

            In saying that, they also have the benefit of a more predictable network than that of a bus or truck driver, and remarkably less hazards no matter what Les would like you to believe.

    2. The thing is we don’t need people to do this job, the role is just there because it was always there. Yet we are still paying people full time to do this job, sucking up money that could otherwise be used to improve the public transport system.

      I personally can’t stand Hosking and think that workers rights are important, however that doesn’t extend to protecting jobs that are not needed anymore.

      1. Who would have thought we would agree on something for a change?
        In an ideal world the whole train network should already be automated by now.

        Any disturbances or civil disobediences at any of the train stations can be dealt with by the police bots… 🙂

      2. All the operator needs to do is prove that those things are true and the dispute withers away. Instead they insist that the staff need to have blind faith in a company that has repeatedly screwed them, and sign up for new job descriptions that hold significantly more risk for them, both personally and professionally. That applies to all of the onboard roles, not just TMs.

        1. Those comments there suggest its the staff holding the grudge of past treatment, rather than proving their so called ‘safety issues’.

          There is plenty of evidence already reference that DOO are perfectly safe. Even examples from over the ditch with a similar environment.

  22. Union’s play an important role protecting and advocating for wages & pensions but this action is a really bad call.

    Train Managers like many roles are no longer required, times & technology changes. Claiming NZ is special is utter rubbish. I used trains in the UK for years with no train managers and went through many trains that stopped or got diverted for many reasons and never required someone on board.

    All this action is going to achieve is leave a bitter taste in people’s minds so when a Union is actually fighting for something worth while all everyone is going to remember is this major strike which is going to cause chaos in Auckland.

    If train managers are losing pensions by moving to a new role, yes this is worth fighting for, protecting jobs that are slowing down our train network and are surplus to requirements is not.

    1. I love Neoliberalism, Neoliberalism is the best guys I really want you to know this seriously guys I am telling the truth.

      I also think we need to do a steam train and it could be like omg a Thomas the Tank Engine one and it could go super fast and stuff and everyone would totes enjoy it much better than electric because everyone knows vintage steam is tres chic.

      Also buy avos guys buy avos it will be the new currency

      1. Jon Reeves, if you are going to try and slander people and insinuate corruption you should at least try and get your facts straight. Who is it exactly that works for Auckland Transport, I’ll have to ask around cos I didn’t realise anyone got a new job this morning?

        It’s a really weak approach. Perhaps you need to take stock on why you have failed as a politician and why you got booted out of the last advocacy group that put up with you… maybe you should try and be constructive and proactive rather than raking muck. I would have thought you’d want people to take you seriously rather than laugh you off without second thought?

        1. Nick Reid..” booted out of the last advocacy group that put up with you”. I actually had a chuckle at you and reminded me of Winston’s ” I’ve never been attacked by a toothless sheep before” statement.

          When it comes to politics, the show isn’t over and has barely even started. So pleased I again, successfully increased electorate and party votes. Nothing like standing on your own two feet and debating and writing policy. Perhaps you should try it?

  23. Good news, at least one train was running this morning, a freight going north on the NAL 🙂 11.45am through Glen Eden, horn blaring most of the way and the slowest freighter I have seen, must have been making under 20km/hr and often nearly stopped.
    I should have thought with empty lines, no electric trains this freighter would have shot through, must have been on a ‘go slow’

    1. Yes I was thinking could be dangerous today with perhaps people thinking “no trains” included freight ones as well. News/PR could of made that clear.

  24. Thanks to everyone for their comments, especially LES and Nick R, but also many others. It’s been a robust and interesting discussion.

  25. I wonder what has and will happen in London, as they are doing that kind of thing (as part of the New Tube for London).

  26. I was thinking about this on the train this morning that I’ll be a little sad to lose the TM’s.

    I was thinking about the balance of positive and negative interactions with customers. They are part the public face of both Auckland and Auckland Transport and I thought they did a good job at that. I’m usually in the middle car with my bike and I’ve lost count how many times the TM would help lost people with directions, help tourists get off at the right stop, help people in wheel chairs off the train, smile and greet people getting on, hold the doors open just a few seconds longer for that person sprinting to the door. I’ve even seen them break up a scuffle or two.

    We will lose all these positive experiences that help improve someone’s day and their absence will only increase the amount of negative experiences that do occur. It is pretty much a guarantee. A tiny minority who will act with near impunity when TO’s aren’t around. The AT brand and Auckland as a whole will suffer as we move to a more impersonal customer experience and no guarantee of improved service in any other respect. Everyone just becomes another a cog in the system. Economic units to be exploited with maximum efficiency. All we get is worse service and more ticket inspectors whose primary role is targeting poor brown people. Yay.

    1. ‘hold the doors open just a few seconds longer for that person sprinting to the door’. That is one of the reasons I am looking forward to no longer having train managers. The dwell times are long enough already without waiting for tardy passengers.

      I’ve seen many examples of poor customer service from TMs that I’m sure also impact on AT’s brand. A TM picking a verbal fight with a guy who clearly wasn’t ‘all there’ because he had his bike in the wrong carriage. A TM standing in the door to block a number of people transferring from another train to his at Newmarket because he was ready to go, even though some of them were pretty much in the door.

      1. “hold the doors open just a few seconds longer for that person sprinting to the door”

        Hold the whole train up by 5 seconds, with say 300 passengers = 1,500 seconds

        Make one person wait 20 minutes for the next train = 1,200 seconds

    2. Don’t forget though the new transport officers will do a lot of this helpful stuff. Yes I too have had help from a TM to get my & kids bikes to fit in on a weekend service that happen to have quite a few & mobility scooters etc all at one time.

    3. No one is perfect and everyone has their bad days. I was just saying I can see that the benefit of TM’s is really difficult to measure on a balance sheet and that benefit is not likely to be continued with TO’s. Traffic engineers measure cars, not pedestrians, so pedestrians are ignored. In this case AT is measuring dollars not the total qualitative value being created.

      The problem is when you put staff into a directly adversarial position to the customer.

      Enforcement isn’t the TM’s primary job, they are there to provide a useful service to the customer. There is a reason people don’t like police or parking wardens: because most of the time you interact with them, you are getting a ticket. Forget about all stuff they do to keep the city working.

      The current ticket inspectors don’t really help customers. They are an annoyance, interrupting your funny cat video viewing. So I don’t expect the new TO’s to be any different. The TO’s primary role will be a racist on, to target poor brown people (not officially of course, but it will be what happens). Their KPI will be to increase AT’s income and kick off the passengers that don’t pay for 2-5% of trips. It will be hard to measure any improved service from this and the loss of the hard to measure value that TM’s did bring.

      Jezza, I find it hilarious that you say you look forward to not having train managers holding trains up, and then with the same breath you complain about the TM trying to stick to the schedule. Make up your mind 😀 Removing the TM in either situation just creates the opposite situation. A driver that doesn’t have to look a customer in the eyes is more likely to close the doors on them and get the heck out of there.

      Sailor Boy, you make the similar quantitative argument all those motorway builders do about saving a few seconds actually meaning something. Are all those people on the train sitting on their smartphones going to notice the loss of a few seconds? Nope. But can you measure the stress level of someone who misses the train by a few seconds. Yes.

      I’m not saying there is a solid business case to keep TM’s, because part of their value is measured qualitatively and thus very difficult. But I think there is a good case on the basis of improving customer service if that is what AT cares about. TO’s work can be measured quantitatively in dollars, but the losses they cause won’t be measured either.

      1. ‘Jezza, I find it hilarious that you say you look forward to not having train managers holding trains up, and then with the same breath you complain about the TM trying to stick to the schedule. Make up your mind ‘

        Disagree, they are two quite different situations. The first is someone who is late for their own reasons, no reason anyone else should have to wait for these people. The second is people having to rush because of the timing of AT train transfers. In this instance AT TMs should wait a few seconds to solve a problem created by their train network.

        Plenty of people have good experience with Police Officers helping out, no reason this would be any different with TOs.

      2. Ari, of course the social contact is important. I don’t take the trains enough to know how TO’s will differ from TM’s, but I do wonder if the various parts of Council that are involved with social research even have a line for formal input to AT’s decision-making processes. They certainly should. There is a social cost from reducing jobs involving positive contact with the public, via loneliness and stress, to disconnection, poor lifestyle decisions and suicide. So while the economics of changing from TM’s to TO’s might still make sense, has the social side of the balance sheet been included? Somehow, despite the available research, I suspect not.

  27. What I have found interesting on here, is no one who is advocating keeping the TMs for passenger safety and managing bad behaviour has suggested we go back to the system we had pre-2012 where there was a conductor in every carriage.

    This suggests these reasons are really excuses to resist change, keep things as they are. If people were serious about managing behaviour and passenger safety there would be a staff member in every carriage on the train.

    1. Multiple cameras in every train coupled with silent call buttons can easily manage behaviour. The evidence is collected, and security or the police can be available at a station to intercept those with the antisocial behaviour.

  28. Is there an ideology consideration at play here also? Between whether our network is a metro or an overland type network. I think AT are trying to brand it as a metro but we also have the features of a longer distance ‘over-land’ network with gaurds checking at each station and blowing their whistles for ‘all-clear’ to move off. Maybe some metros do this also, I don’t know. I’d prefer a metro model.

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