Last year Auckland Council agreed to fund the procurement of more electric trains in order to meet the massive growth of patronage on the rail network since Project DART and Electrification of the network.
Whilst the trains should look the same as the ones we have now, as I understand it, AT will be going though a process to review the design. Here are a few improvements they should consider.
One of the great things about the new buses, like the double deckers, is that they have USB chargers to charge your phone. Personally I never have a charger on me so have never used one, but I see people using them all the time. I wonder if it would be possible to add USB chargers as part of the new trains and even to upgrade the current units to have them.
Metro Style Seating
One of the suggestions Matt has had in the past is if capacity constraints were being reached which I think it highly likely pre-CRL is to have more metro style seating arrangements by using sideways seating. While seated capacity would be reduced the capacity of the train would increase, at the end of the day not having a seat is preferable to being left at the platform, and there would still plenty of seating for those with accessibility issues.
Changing it could be easy as Matt wrote back in 2016, and if changing is easy then doing it for new sets surely is easier:
Initially converting just the centre sections of two end cars in each train would lose just 16 seats from a train but gain a huge amount of additional space for people to stand. I also understand the seats are designed to be easily changed. If you catch a train you may notice the current directional seating is cantilevered off the walls. This means there’s are no poles to move or marks to be left on the floor and changing the seats is simply a case of changing a bracket to turn the seats around. It would probably also have the added advantage of stopping vandals from scratching the backs of seats. If needed, we could do the same with the rest of the seats on the trains.
The dwell times on our trains are horrendously slow, especially compared to cities overseas. Some of this is related to the process the train managers use, but some it also relates to the trains. If you watch the door opening/closing process closely you’ll see a couple of things that suck up time and when added together and across all stations, quickly adds up. These are
- There’s a few second delay from the time the train arrives till when the doors can be opened. This occurs even is situations where the driver automatically opens all doors.
- To improve accessibility to the trailer car, there is a walkway that extends out to the platform. This is quite slow, delaying the opening of the doors compared to the other doors on the train and delaying departure while waiting for the platform to retract. This would ideally be a much faster process. The other doors have a small fixed platform and so even having the walkway only reset to the same distance a the other doors would make an improvement.
- After the doors close and the train manager has signalled the driver to depart there is a multi-second delay until the power is activated to the train again (you can hear it click back on)
All of this process needs to be much faster and rolled out to the existing trains too.
The intercom system within the train is completely useless, I am not sure why train managers even bother using it. The intercom from the drivers cabs is better though, as are the automated announcements. I know AT plan is to phase out the TM role but wonder if having another look at the intercom is worth it.
I also don’t know if this is possible but would be cool if communications could come from the control centre direct in a clear manner. It might lead to information getting out to passengers quicker and clearer which makes them happy, all while giving AT the confidence that correct information is being issued.
So there are some of my ideas, what are yours?