On Sunday 26 August new train timetables come into effect. The biggest change is the introduction of long overdue improvements to weekend frequencies. Although they’re still not frequent enough to meet Auckland Transports definition of frequent services as part of the new network which is crazy given rail is considered a backbone of our PT network.
AT have been including details of the timetable change in their board reports for many months, here’s what the latest one said:
The proposed train timetable upgrade has been approved by KiwiRail and will be introduced on Sunday 26 August. The new timetable includes:
- Improved journey times across the Southern, Eastern and Western Lines, including further reduced dwell times
- An increase to three trains per hour, from 7am to 7pm, across the Southern, Eastern and Western Lines at weekends, up from two trains per hour
- Weekend services will largely follow the same weekday inter-peak timetable
- Weekday afternoon and evening services will transition from the ten minute frequency in the PM peak to a 20-minute frequency from 7pm until 8pm, and to a 30-minute frequency thereafter
- Services to Parnell station increased to include all Western Line services, throughout the day. Currently, Western Line services only operate to Parnell after 7pm, and at weekends
- Pukekohe shuttle services continue to operate three trains per hour during the morning and afternoon peaks, with an increase to two trains per hour during inter-peak periods and at weekends, up from one train per hour
- Later night services on Friday evenings, with an additional two service operating over the current timetable.
These changes have in part been enabled by the completion of the Cowie St bridge which has enabled the Sarawia St level crossing to be removed
Looking through the timetables in detail there are some interesting, and not all positive things to note.
- As mentioned above, all services will now stop at Parnell. Despite this, services are now scheduled to be one minute faster between Swanson and Britomart compared to the current timetable. That means services are now scheduled to take 54 minutes, but sadly that’s still one minute slower than the old diesel timetable.
- Currently there are a number of services that start or end their run at Henderson. This includes the first two services of the day (starting there) and at the end of the day the last service (ending there). In the new timetable all services will start or end at Swanson. This is good and will make it easier for some customers but the downside is that AT have dropped the first service of the day.
- For me personally, this change looks to make my commute longer and more annoying. Trains are due to arrive at Britomart a few minutes later than trains currently do, which means I’ll most likely just miss a quick connection to a Northern Express. So it effectively adds another 10 minutes to my journey.
- Disappointingly there are no new later night services on weeknights other than on Friday and so the last service departs Britomart at 10:12pm which is too early. The two extra Friday night services will be useful though.
- The current timetable for the Southern Line alternates between taking 51 and 53 minutes. The new timetable settles on 52 minutes for the journey. Like the current timetable, there are no clockface departures from Papakura so if you just miss a train, you could be waiting for somewhere between 8 and 12 minutes for the next service.
- The Southern line currently also has a few services that start at or end before Papakura (terminating at Puhinui). Like the Western Line, the new timetable will see all services travel to and from the end of the line but it also means the first service won’t reach Britomart till after 6am.
- The Southern Line does a little bit better on the night services with the last one at 10:30pm but interestingly there will be two buses after that stopping at all stations between Britomart and Otahuhu.
- AT have dropped the Onehunga line services from the Southern Line timetable. This does make the new version tidier and easier to read but does mean people using it may have to consult two documents, which isn’t ideal.
- The Eastern is the only line that will retain a pre-6am service to Britomart.
- Most services are scheduled to take 38 minutes (same as now) but a couple of services will take 39 minutes, 1 minute faster than the current time some take.
It will be interesting to see what impact, this timetable has, especially on the usage of trains on weekends.