It’s Bad- But Be Fair!


Wellington media are continuing today to bash the endless delays to Wellington commuter services.

We went through this situation in Auckland at the height of the rail improvements and performance times are only now starting to come right.

Wellington has the first of its new electric trains arriving and station and line improvements are becoming visible as it heads to a new rail era.

I think the media is being unfair in going over the top about this when improvements are on the way.
Where are the positive stories about the new trains?

Here is what they are complaining about today.

Tranz Metro’s performance target is to have 95% of its  services arriving and leaving within 3 minutes of the scheduled time. From August 09 to April 10 ther performance never reached that -and Wairapapa (last line) was especially dismal.

But Auckland’s Western Line services got even worse than those figures.

They're old, breaking down - but new trains are only months away




  1. Matt L says:

    I agree, those figures are great compared to what we had on the western line for a while, plus they could trains late if they are more than 3 mins late where as we use 5 mins.

  2. Doloras says:

    The modern media’s agenda is always to exaggerate any grumblings or complaints, and give voice to the most whiny and entitled consumers, because anger and negativity are strong psychological buttons to push and sell papers. No-one would buy a “good news” rag.

  3. anthony says:

    look at how the Johnsonville line, which uses the english units, has a higher performance rate than Ganz Mavang.

  4. Of course the Wairarapa Line won’t have that good figures for 3 minutes. 68% on time to 180 seconds. is great for a rail trip that takes 95 - 120 minutes!

  5. Harry says:

    Stupid Dim Post and Campbell Live

  6. Richard says:

    It is possible to go a long distance and keep to time within minutes. About thirty years ago our family was staying at Paihia and I had taken my bike to get some training in. We decided to go further north on the last day so we checked the map, calculated the distance to Kaitaia via the main road and the eastern road. Then worked out the car travel average speed and my cycling speed. I headed north via SH 1 over the Maungamukas? and the family set off at a calculated time later up the other road the arrangement being we kept going until we met.

    I turned into the main street of Kaitaia and there coming the other way was the family car. We met within metres of the Post Office!! (About 130kms travelling from memory)

    I can quote another similar episode and often we used to cycle 150 odd kms and arrive within minutes of the estimated ETA

    Surely it should be easy if the signals and motor don’t fail to drive a train 150 kms. and arrive within minutes??

  7. William M says:

    @Richard: there is more to a single train service (ie, getting from point A to B) than signalling and operational rolling stock. Consideration has to be made for boarding times (come on integrated ticketing), temporary speed restrictions, and the like. In your example, you’re not stopping to pick up passengers. You are probably already aware of any speed restrictions (or lack thereof for a bike, I suppose), and the traffic flows on the main highway are very different to suburban passenger traffic flows. You are comparing apples and oranges.

  8. William M says:

    I agree that the media is being a little ferocious on rail performance lately. I feel as if it may have to do with the improvements spelling the end to this type of story. The Dom is notorious for catching the dramatic “angry” commuter, and forgetting that not far away, the motorway was experiencing really bad congestion due to a slip! Not exactly objective journalism, but then, most print media likes to run off the raw emotion of these stories. If I had half a page for every angry Auckland road commuter, you’d have to run several special editions of the Herald or Dom to cover them.

  9. Paul says:

    Lets face it people, the main stream media is full of…

    …one eyed reporting, I use the word “reporting” loosely. They are there to sell, and make money.

    Go elsewhere for your news, here is a very good start

    Its the same over here in Aus too.

    Jon C. Keep up the Good reporting (not used loosely)

  10. Joshua says:

    William M, it’s the same for Auckland train commuters, motorists and bus users, we could fill pages with angry users of all forms, but because it is common, it doesn’t get headlines. However in Wellington they are used to superb performance from their train system, so when people do start complaining it makes the paper.

    But I do agree, the papers are trying to make money, they fail to mention how with the little, and I’m talking tiny in Wellingtons case, sacrifice to performance short term, how the benefits and improved long term performance advancements are going to be. They need to have a look at what Auckland went through, and still has to go through, then consider themselves lucky.

  11. joust says:

    Once the factor of improvements is established there is a danger of the operator doing less than they normally would to maintain on-time performance. The throw-up-our-hands improvement explanation does go part of the way to account for lateness. I wouldn’t have thought we really have a well-enough connected network in either of the North Island’s main centres that work going on in one place should affect the services on another basically seperate line. Newmarket’s signalling was certainly the exception to that however. 95% arrivals+departures within 3mins certainly sounds like an amazing dream to Aucklanders.

  12. rtc says:

    Long distance trains in Europe can travel from Switzerland all the way up to Hamburg or Berlin, an 8 hour journey, and arrive at the scheduled arrival time. NZ should be able to manage this too.

  13. Martin says:

    I regularly go around the UK and Europe on long distance trains, sometimes crossing 2 or 3 countries and the trains nearly always arrive on time, often early.

    Thus being considerably late heading up the ‘Rapa on a barely used line and running regularly late is quite poor form.

    And no I’m not backing the media, just stating the obvious.

  14. Thomas says:

    Stating another obvious comment Martin and RTC, the UK and Switzerland aren’t using trains that were designed when Hitler was still in power! (English Electric trains that is)…lol

  15. rtc says:

    @Thomas - I agree the equipment in NZ is ancient and needs replacing and maintenance has been lacking, however, the comment that arriving on time 70% of the time is pretty good for a 2 hour journey is what I was disagreeing with.

  16. carl from Melbourne says:

    Wellingtonians don’t know their alive. Come to Melbourne & try to be on time. Dozens of trains cancelled here each rush. Any excuse here OK. Reality here is of course, lack of infrastructure spending by successive Gov’ts.
    Get real Wgton & pull ya head in. You have new trains comming & the best re-vamp since the early 1950′s re-configering of the Hutt Valley Line. I remember what it was like.

  17. James Pole says:

    My understanding is that the reason for the often-late Wairarapa trains is due to the timetable being designed with the assumption that trains were to be operated by high-powered DX locomotives. I heard that a couple of years ago TranzMetro often subbed the DX for slower DC locos which caused a lot of late running Wairarapa services. I’m not sure if this is still the case or have they finally retimed the timetable for DC locos?

    @William: True about the slip. I was supposed to take a Airport Flyer bus on Sunday but services did not run due to the slip on SH2. Didn’t see much hype in the media about that! Ended up taking a taxi instead — negating the whole point of the Airport Flyer…

  18. carl from Melbourne says:

    Not true about substitute DC for DX. I used to work for for the old NZR in the 70′s. Trains to the Wairarapa then used old DE locos, which incidently were the first ever diesal electric locos ever purchased for NZ in early 1950′s. It’s generally all about gearing, not “horse power”. The few carrages that comprise the Wairarapa train don’t amount to much pulling weight for a loco. It’s all in how the gears are configured. Current Ak locos used in suburban services are geared for “rapid” light passenger service, although than could, manage a very heavy goods train.

  19. Martin says:

    @ Thomas

    Even given the age of our equipment 70% is pretty poor and I don’t agree with the equipment either as there as still many old diesels (47s and 37s) doing longer distance passenger trains in the UK.


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