Worst Delays Over?


After another shocking month of train delays in March, especially on the Western Line, signs are things are getting better.

Although April performance figures have not been fully compiled yet, ARTA says that the early signs are positive.

This is because of the work performed during Easter weekend, involving the commissioning of the double track section between Newmarket and Boston Road providing continuous double track between Newmarket and Avondale, remedial work on the points and signalling equipment at the Newmarket Junction and the track work elsewhere aimed at reducing the level of speed restrictions that affect train performance.

Train timetables on the Western Line were also adjusted to allow for a few minutes extra at Newmarket and a change to the evening express service stop.

But March had been another shocker.
Although there was an improvement observed on the Western Line, numerous “disruptive events” occurred that resulted in a slight decline in overall performance during the month.

In March 66.2% of services operated on time or within five minutes of their scheduled arrival times compared to 67.9% last month and 84.9% in March last year. 50.2% of western line services operated on time or within five minutes of schedule compared to 46.8% in February and 86.5% in March last year.

There was a slight improvement recorded in the performance of Western Line services as the month progressed - but signal and points failures continued to impact on service delivery and speed restrictions at the single track sections at New Lynn and Grafton work sites reduced the opportunity for trains to recover from delays.

The performance of the Southern and Eastern lines in March further declined from February mainly as a result of train faults and an incident where a signal cable was severed.
In March 74.3% of Southern and Eastern line services operated on-time or within five minutes of schedule, compared to 78.3% in February and 84.0% in March last year.

Morningside fault on April 17

The following major incidents were reported during the month:
Signal, points and track failures

  • There were seven instances of points and signal failures in the Newmarket area during the month. These occurred on 9 March (two incidents during the morning and evening peak periods), 23 March which affected a few late morning services, in the morning peak of 25, 29 and 30 March and during the middle part of the day of 30 March.
  • KiwiRail identified the primary cause of these faults and carried out remedial work during Easter.
  • There were three other notable signal/points failures during the month – on 1 March a signal fault at Morningside caused disruption to morning peak services on the Western Line, and two points faults during the morning peak at Pukekohe on 8 and 11 March disrupted services on the southern and eastern lines.
  • In addition, major signal outages occurred on three days. Evening peak services, mainly on the Western Line, experienced severe delays on 15 March following a loss of communications with the Wellington Train Control caused by a maintenance outage that had not been notified to Train Control by Telecom.
  • In the early hours of the morning of 24 March a signal cable was accidently cut that resulted in a loss of signals through the Otahuhu/Westfield area. This had a severe impact on the positioning of trains to commence their daily operations and for trains scheduled through the area and affected peak trains on all lines.
  • At around 11.30am on the same day a signal cable was cut at Avondale resulting in delays to Western Line services through the middle of the day.

Train Faults:

There were seven train faults that had a significant impact on service delivery during March.

  • On 3 March three separate train faults, at Te Mahia, Sylvia Park and Remuera, impacted on evening peak services, mainly affecting the Southern and Eastern lines.
  • On 10 March a train fault at Otahuhu caused delays to the positioning of evening peak services that impacted on all lines.
  • Late in the morning of 11 March a train was disabled at Sylvia Park disrupting the Eastern line interpeak services.
  • Trains on all lines were disrupted for a time in the early evening of 12 March after a train was disabled in the Britomart tunnel
  • A train fault at Papakura caused delays to morning peak services on the Southern and Eastern lines on 17 March.
  • Other:

  • During the afternoon of 13 March a train struck a shopping trolley that had been placed on the track between Panmure and Sylvia Park causing delays and cancellations to eastern line services.
  • A major fire near Glen Eden at the Waikumete Cemetery in the evening of 29 March resulted in disruptions to evening services on the western line to allow the fire service access to the rail corridor.



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