Every week we see a heap of articles about transport. We will cover some of them but a lot we don’t. So I thought it might be a good idea to cover some of these in case you missed them. Let me know what you think as I may make this a regular post.
Train Derailment cause
Yesterday it was reported why a train derailed in the Britomart Tunnel last year, ultimately resulting in days of disruption, has been released.
A broken piece of track has been found to have caused a train derailment in Auckland’s Britomart in May last year.
It caused cancellations, delays and the train station had to be closed overnight.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission released its findings into the May 9, 2018 incident on Thursday.
It found that a “fractured and broken section on rail” caused the front half of the Auckland Transport train to derail.
The track met required specifications but a machining defect was believed to have reduced the track’s resistance to fatigue and fracture.
The commission said the train was carrying about 130 passengers at the time of the derailment.
“It stopped just short of a concrete wall diving two platforms.
“Nobody was injured, but there was moderate damage to the train and the track.”
One thing interesting in the report is it mentions how often tracks are checked in Auckland.
- Within Britomart at least there are visual inspections conducted once a week by someone walking the tracks when trains aren’t running
- There are also weekly inspections from the driving cabs of trains
- Every 12 weeks the Auckland network is inspected using ultrasonic testing equipment on a specialised hi-rail vehicle.
In addition the report notes one of the actions since undertaken as
7.3.2. An independent wheel/rail interface working group has been established to resolve any potential rail wear issues within the Auckland passenger network.
I suspect this is related to a lot of the maintenance and disruption the network is currently experiencing
Trains Shut Down
While we’re on the topic of trains, services were disrupted yesterday after a bomb scare in Wellington.
Commuters in both Auckland and Wellington should expect delays and cancellations to train services this afternoon and during evening rush hour, after services were shut down during a threat to the National Train Control Centre.
Nothing untoward was found, police said, following a search of the Wellington Railway Station, which houses the control centre, and services are running again. But passengers should expect delays.
This is not the first, or even second time the entire Auckland network has been shut down due to issues in Wellington, for example back in 2012 a power failure shut the network here down – not long after it had been moved from Auckland to Wellington.
Shifting control of Auckland’s trains back to Auckland is already on the agenda and is expected to be delivered sometime between now and 2023 at a cost of almost $24 million.
Electric vehicle sales surge
Electric vehicles are getting more popular.
New motor industry figures show a total of 605 electric and plug-in hybrids vehicles were sold in September.
The numbers were boosted by the first significant numbers of the base model Tesla reaching the country, with 329 sales making it the third-best selling passenger-SUV segment.
Interestingly those numbers different from the Ministry of Transport’s who say 1008 new EVs were registered in September, significantly up on the previous record of 648 set in June. Overall numbers remain small though with total EVs put at just over 17,000 compared to a total vehicle fleet that is somewhere over 3.2 million.
Paying people to scrap old cars
After considering a range of options for lowering carbon emissions from our ageing vehicle fleet, the Government settled on a planned electric car feebate scheme and new emissions standard. But it is also still investigating a vehicle scrappage programme to encourage people to surrender old cars.
The age of cars and other light vehicles owned and driven by New Zealanders is high compared to other countries, and continuing to rise.
The average age of our light passenger vehicle fleet increased from 11.7 years in 2000 to 14.4 years in 2017. By comparison, the average age of cars and light vehicles in the United States was 11.6 years for cars and light trucks in 2016, and 10.1 years in Australia. In Canada in 2014 it was 9.3 years and in Europe just 7.4 years.
Getting old cars off the road would be beneficial for safety and as well as likely helping in reducing emissions so a scheme of some form seems like a good idea.
Finally a useful Hackathon
The NZTA have run a number of hackathons in recent years but it finally looks like there could be a useful one coming up.
The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport are calling for volunteers to take part in a hackathon using the potential of technology to respond to public transport disruptions.
It will be the Transport Agency’s fourth hackathon, but the first in collaboration with Auckland Transport. A hackathon is a 48-hour digital innovation event where people with diverse backgrounds and skills come together to brainstorm and collectively develop technology solutions.
The hackathon, with a “Green Light” theme, will be held in Auckland over the weekend of 15-17 November and participants will be challenged to reimagine the public transport experience in the face of planned and unplanned disruption.
The Transport Agency’s Chief Information Officer, Derek Lyons says they’ll be looking for real world customer-centric responses to situations that can affect anyone at any time.
When public transport works well it can be fantastic but when things go wrong, it can be a nightmare of not moving and little to no information e.g. do you get off and try a different service (if that’s possible), do you wait it out or do you give up although and try and find another way to your destination. It will be interesting to see what comes out if this one.
If you’re interested, register for it here.
New trains for Wellington regional services?
A business case has been prepared for buying new trains for the Capital Connection in Wellington and I believe for the Wairarapa services too. What’s interesting is a press release confirms that the preferred option is for dual mode multiple units, in other words trains that can run on both electricity when under the wires and diesel outside of that. This is something that we also need for future Auckland to Hamilton (and beyond) services too and I wonder if we as a country should be looking at options for a ‘regional dual mode’ train design with just the electrics different so they can work on the respective networks.
Why wouldn’t we want it too
A tweet out of Sydney showing a before and after of George St got me thinking:
🔥 Sydney's all grown up 🔥
— Jason Packenham (@jasonpackenham) October 3, 2019
To me, the question isn’t why we’d want this for Queen St and Dominion Rd, the question is why wouldn’t we want it.
As we’ve heard before, it appears the NZ Super Fund are apparently looking at some sort of grade separated line with a tunnel under Queen St. What the above images show is that there is also huge amenity value in having light rail on the surface in places as you can deliver street outcomes you simply wouldn’t otherwise be able to. Perhaps in the future we will need a second ‘CRL’ and grade separated option but that doesn’t diminish the need for light rail across the isthmus.
Ultimately the discussion is not Light Rail vs Heavy Rail, it’s Light Rail and pedestrians v a huge number of buses and cars.