The Same Old Song


Hopeful peak-time commuters entering Britomart tonight were greeted with the same old song.

Namely, a scrolling line under the timetable boards announcing delays of 10 minutes or so ‘due to operational issues.”

So what on earth does that mean?

BRITOMART; Settling in for a long wait

Does it mean:

  • Drivers didn’t turn up for work and they are short?
  • There’s too much snow on the tracks?
  • A train went through a red light and two trains collided and they”re still cleaning up the mess?
  • A train broke down and is blocking the track?
  • A UFO has landed near the Britomart tunnel and sightseers are causing trains to go slowly in the vicinity?

Answer: None of the above.

The reason was , for the second time in two days, signals failed between Avondale and New Lynn.

On neither day were  passengers told the real reason.

So why can’t we be treated as adults and told the truth? We know the track is being worked on and signals will continue to fail until new signalling is put in.

I’m disappointed at the number of people who have emailled to say they are getting disillusioned.

It’s already happened in Wellington where patronage continues to slump as passengers give up because of the breakdowns and delays but hopefully will return when new trains arrive later in the year.

There too, yesterday, the common complaint from Wellington commuters was the lack of accurate information.

It’s fine in some circumstances  to adopt the business crisis strategy of ‘not frightening the horses” - as happens when planes crash and announcements at airports about that flight become vague - but this is just a signals failure.

It’s probably the 100th I have experienced on Auckland’s train routes so I think we can cope without having a total hissy fit.

BTW, is it my imagination or are the trains getting slower and slower.

Today we stopped at Kingdon St and waited, outside the Parnell tunnel and waited and outside the Britomart tunnel and waited.

And when they do travel, it seems at such a slow speed.

I”m seriously starting to wonder if it would be quicker to walk.




  1. Matt L says:

    The thing that annoys me is we waited at avondale for about 20 minutes as two trains passed. My wife who was on the train behind me was held up for this as well and then had to wait for a third train to come through. One that was only at Glen Eden after my train finally got through the single track section.

    More priority needs to be put on the peak direction trains.

  2. William M says:


    A freight loco also failed at Otahuhu, causing delays to Southern/Eastern services.


  3. Anne says:

    @MattL Many a time I’ve watched one (or two!) all-but-empty trains coming through at New Lynn, while we who are commuting into work have to wait for 10-20 min. Seems completely counter to common sense. But “counter to common sense” could be the mission statement of KiwiRail.

  4. Andrew says:

    Yesterday morning I got on the train due at New Lynn at 9:01.

    I saw a number of factors that resulted in multiple unnecessary delays that saw this train, due in at Britomart at 9:33, arrive just before 9:50.

    A westbound LE training train (no passengers) was sent through the New Lynn single track section first, resulting in our train not arriving in NL til around 9:10. While this may have been done to keep the westbound train behind the training one closer to on-time, IMHO our inbound train should have had priority, or the training run should not have been going through at the time it did - it should have been following the next outbound service, not leading it.

    Then, for most of the the stops, our guard (“Train Manager”) was slow to get to the doors to release them, which added about 10-30 seconds to each stop to a train already late. Caused a fair bit of eye-rolling amongst frustrated passengers. In these situations, *everyone* is forced to wait for the guard.

    (Had this on the train home the night before, too. Frustrating)

    The driver was slow to change ends at Newmarket, adding another minute or two.

    Some (not all) of the staff seem to stay operating at the same speed or even slow down even more when already late (like guards opening doors at stops). These staff show no urgency to make up lost time making it look like they simply don’t care.

    It’s like they don’t realise there are people on these trains and that the trains are provided to move these people to where they want to go in reasonable time.

    Something needs to change so that the staff on an urban rail system (guards, drivers, train control ops) are all aware they have a sense of responsibility to get the people to where they need to go in good time, and that the trains are the means, not the end.

  5. Anne says:

    @Andrew I was on that same train! Only on Monday. It left Glen Eden around 9.10 (late, it was due at 8.55) and got into Britomart at 9.58. It included a 15 minute wait at New Lynn for two empty trains to come through, and a couple more unexplained stops between Boston Road and Newmarket, and an unexplained 6 minute wait in the Britomart tunnel.

    They should be ashamed to ask people to pay for this level of service.

  6. Kelvin says:

    They really should be twinned with British Rail shouldn’t they? Auckland’s very own tube network - soon you’ll be hearing MIND THE GAP (if you aren’t already)…ho hum..every big city eh..


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