Service Pregnant With Pauses


Data about this morning’s peak time Britomart congestion meltdown needs to be sent imediately to the transport minister as proof we need the CBD tunnel link NOW!

Trains piled up around the network and outside the tunnel as services fought for a berth. This triggered further delays as the timetable was thrown out.

I spotted a silly letetr in the Herald newspaper yesterday that argued we don’t need to waste millions on a tunnel ($2b at last count) just to service a couple of city stops. The writer argued trams up Queen St as an extension of the planned waterfront service would be fine. It’s a pity the Herald published such nonsense and without the explanation this is about finishing the job that should have been done when Britomart was built as the number of platforms can’t cope.

Here is a snapshot of what happened on just one peak time Britomart- bound train from the West this morning:

8.14am Service is fully packed. Train Manager asks in a carriage if someone would stand for a clearly visible expectant mother who had got on at Morningside and was among those standing. No one responded. A man with glases kept reading, another adjusting his iPod and appeared to turn up the volume. Young women started at the woman and ignored the request. Appalling.

8.16am TM repeats his plea. Finally a young man gives up his seat.

8.20am TM makes an intercom announcement apologising for the over crowding saying the previous train did not stop at Baldwin Ave and this one, a 6-car did picking up all those passengers. He said the issue would be fixed after Christmas (when the platform there is extended)

8.30 Train arrives at Newmarket. Train driver swaps cab, doors close but nothing moves. TM goes out to investigate and makes phone call. Is overheard by passengers to say there are no berths at Britomart and  service will be delayed. Chinese whispers spread, passengers get restless.

8.32 am TM announces over intercom that he will open the doors again as the service is delayed 10 minutes because of no berths. He apologies.

8.34 Newmarket  station announcer busy apologising for services from Britomart that are delayed because of an “operational issue’

8.36am TM goes outside and comes back to announce over the intercom he is getting “confusing signals from Newmarket that this train may not go to Britomart but return to Waitakere.”  Passenger unrest grows. Passengers make nervous calls and sent txts to their workplaces.

8.37am: TM invites anyone who has an urgent appointment to leave the train and make alternative arrangements to get to the city but assures those on board the train will be eventually going to Britomart as scheduled.

8.40am More announcements from the Newmarket announcer about services south and west that have yet to leave Britomart so will be delayed arriving at Newmarket

8.43am TM announces they have the signal to leave Newmarket but to expect more delays outside the tunnel. He said he could foresee some red signals.

8.48am While train stuck outside the tunnel with another Eastern service nearby, TM announces there is still not a berth - no fresh news but this was to ‘keep you informed’.

8.51am TM urges passengers to fill in a customer feedback form (carriage erupts in laugheter). He says he wasn’t being funny but “only when numerous people write in, can we get change. We do our best as online staff but we need your support to get them to realise that these services need to be run more efficiently.”

9.02 Service arrives at Britomart (was due 830).

Britomart tunnel: not able to cope

The TM did a very professional  job with communication and prevented what could have been an on-board revolt.

But numerous people were heard saying they would not travel on trains again as they tried to explain the ongoing issues to their workplace by phone or txt. (They almost always come back!)

The TM also did a brave job in telling people to send in their feedback and seemed as genuinely troubled by the problems as the passengers.

I hope Auckland Transport grab the data from this morning’s meltdown and send it to the government.

The train service has to have a through tunnel link ASAP.
And in Wellington today, a train completely forgot to stop at Waterloo station as this reader reports:




  1. Matt says:

    So very, very glad I got a lift with my girlfriend instead of catching the train. It’s stuff like this that makes me nervous, since I work in an industry where it’s all about billable hours and working directly with clients. Missing meetings just isn’t cool. One of my colleagues arrived at the office just before 9, saying the supposed seven-minute trip from Newmarket to Britomart had taken half an hour.

    But, hey, it’s only traffic congestion that costs Auckland money, right?

  2. Matt says:

    PS: that’s disgusting about how that pregnant woman was treated. I don’t buy the whole “stand for women” thing, in this age of equality, but pregnancy and physical infirmity are an entirely different story.

  3. Jon R says:

    OK, obvious this isn’t a good situation. However, if roadworks or some sort of disruption occurs on a road/motorway and all motorists are delayed 30 minutes do they swear never to drive again?

    Obvious Steven Joyce needs a good dose of reality inserted somewhere - Auckland needs the CBD tunnel asap.

  4. William M says:

    If that was my partner awaiting a seat, I would have had more than a few words to say about some of those passengers. Particularly as the woman was visibly pregnant. My partner no longer takes the train anywhere because she knows she may not get a seat and being 7-8 months pregnant, it is not ideal for one’s swollen ankles, etc.

  5. Matt says:

    if roadworks or some sort of disruption occurs on a road/motorway and all motorists are delayed 30 minutes do they swear never to drive again?

    Some of them look enviously at the train running past, unimpeded by roadworks, and think they quite like the idea of someone else doing the driving and a consistent journey length.
    Then they try the train and end up stuck with a situation like this, and figure that, actually, it’s better to drive because 1) people accept “stuck in traffic” as an excuse for being late, and 2) if you’re going to be late it’s nice to know you’ve got a seat, windows that open, a stereo, and nobody standing on your foot for half an hour, or an hour, or more.

  6. karl says:

    The anti-train folks will just spin this as a reason why we should NOT invest into more rail. So it’s important that this be publicised with the real reasons - and the real fix.

    1) people accept “stuck in traffic” as an excuse for being late

    Actually, Matt, I don’t think people are any less accepting of a “train was late” than they are of a “stuck in traffic” excuse. Your second argument, I think, is on the money though.

    Of course it all comes down to where you are, and how long the average trip takes you (either on the motorway or on the train). People may have a frustrating experience every now and then, but choose to stay with their particular mode because at the end, on average, they still feel they are better served.

  7. Graham says:

    Arrived at Baldwin Ave to catch 1137 train to Britomart. Either never arrived or arrived 32 minutes late. Now know reason, but in those 32 minutes not a single indication over the loudspeaker as to extent of and reason for delay. Very poor public relations!

  8. antz says:

    I encountered a pregnant woman on a crowded hutt valley train one time. the poor woman was about 7months ready and she standing and was being squished between 3 people. therefore i gave up my own seat to help the poor mother. she was very, very grateful.

  9. J says:

    My wife has encountered the same thing many times while pregnant. It is appalling - especially when a heavily pregnant woman can feel faint or ill in such situations and is extremely uncomfortable. The issue can also be made all the more infuriating if the able-bodied young person in question feels the need to reserve a seat for the comfort of his or her bag!

  10. Nick R says:

    Last year I got into an argument with a young woman crammed in next to me on a crush loaded peak hour train in Melbourne. The train was seriously crammed and it was basically one mass of humanity bouncing around cheek to jowl. This woman ordered me to stop bumping her, and got all indignant when I rolled my eyes and said there was nothing I could do, it was a sardine tin situation and everyone was being bumped from all sides!

    She then exclaims ‘but I’m pregnant and you people keep hitting my baby’… man you should have seen the carriage then , about half a dozen people leap up out of their seats and the crowd miraculously parted like the red sea for her to breeze through! They were basically fighting over who would give up their seat!

    You certainly couldn’t tell she was pregnant, and I don’t see how she feels she had the right to get upset with all the other frustrated commuters if she kept her secret to herself. I am glad there was such a prompt reaction from the people sitting down when they found out though; and I can’t say I’ve ever seen a visibly pregnant woman standing on a train in Melbourne.

    One thing can say is most train commuters just mind their own business with their iPod or newspaper or whatever, they don’t spend their time aboard looking around at the other passengers. Half of them don’t even listen to the announcements. If pregnant women want to take a seat they need to just ask someone directly, not wait around for someone to offer or try to get the TM to arrange it over the intercom and get upset when it doesn’t happen.

  11. Jon C says:

    @Nick R the TM verbally addressed the seated passengers near the door twice including the males and young women who continued to sit… They could not have not heard even with an iPod on. Sadly I was standing so couldn’t help the woman. I couldn’t believe the passengers just stared at the TM like naughty kids being staunch to their teacher’s orders!

  12. Chris says:

    If I was standing on the train and noticed a pregnant woman I would go over to a young person that is sitting and explain that there is a pregnant woman who would like a seat. Of course, they wouldn’t say no.

  13. Nick R says:

    That was kinda my point Chris. If you ask a specific person directly they will oblige, if you make a general appeal to anyone sitting near the door then they are more likely to shrug it off as someone elses problem.

    Having said that, it seems the culture in this regard is a little different between Auckland and Melbourne. Perhaps Aucklanders don’t have a long enough history using trains en masse to have developed the behavioural norms that have always existed in Melbourne.

  14. Jon C says:

    He was in their face. He didnt just yell from the door!

  15. DanC says:

    CBD tunnel needs to be built now. The more people on trains the better for everyone, private passenger vehicle drivers will get to their destinations faster with less people on the roads. That means more time with family / friends… More time being productive… People who want to have a few drinks after work / night out can do so and train home with out the bother of taxi’s…. & … & …..

  16. Scott says:

    Even if the money is found for the tunnel now were still gonna have this situation for the next 7 years.

    Would dropping passengers at the (soon to be refurbished) emergency strand station work. I would sure prefer the walk to 30 mins waiting at newmarket.

  17. max says:

    “Even if the money is found for the tunnel now were still gonna have this situation for the next 7 years.”

    Depends, some schemes propose widening the approach tunnel as part of the CBD works. That could happen earlier.

  18. Paul from Sydney says:

    The strand idea is worth a look in

  19. Sam F says:

    “Actually, Matt, I don’t think people are any less accepting of a “train was late” than they are of a “stuck in traffic” excuse.”

    Anecdata: I got notably more grief at work for being late when the train had issues than others did when stuck in gridlock.

    It was suggested that I take an earlier train, or perhaps I might try the bus, or another means of coming in - the kind of patronising comments that people arriving late by other modes didn’t get.

    In the end I gave up and stuck to cycling most of the time just to avoid the embarrassment.

  20. Jon C says:

    @Sam F Classic! How many times have we heard those stupid suggestions when arriving late.You are right- patronising indeed.

  21. Anon says:

    As I’ve already pointed out. Joyce English and Key need to see this. It will hack the three of them off. It shows just popular, reliable and really useful their biggest enemy is lol

  22. Kel says:

    About the not giving up their seats incident… it’s definitely not a unique thing to Auckland or Melbourne! It’s a global, human nature thing. No one wants to give up their comforts to a total stranger. I see it time and time again. Funny how an old person gets into the subway in Seoul and everyone just suddenly happens to be fast asleep. The same in China, although when someone finally does give up their seat to an old person, it’s surprising how many of them never even say Thank you!!! So no wonder~ :P

  23. Matt L says:

    Sounds like I picked a good time to take a few days off work.

    As for the seating issue, were there any school kids sitting, I often see a lot of them taking up seats which I find annoying seeing as they also get much cheaper concessionary fares while the people standing are often paying full price.

  24. Jon C says:

    @Matt L No high school students sitting but that is often an issue. I get annoyed when elderly people get in and stand and even Kowhai intermediate kids are sitting and the Maori warden in the carriage watching the students doesnt say a word.

  25. Luke says:

    If their are known issues at Britomart people should be encourage to get off at Grafton/Newmarket and catch a bus.
    Off course this will be much easier with integrated ticketing when this sort of transfer will be at no extra cost.

  26. Scott says:

    Matt L, I don’t think the use for a concession fare means you should behave any differently. Perhaps those using Super Gold, should give up there seats to school kids who did at least pay a fare? Unless it is a condition of the fare type i think it is unreasonable for you to expect school kids, uni students, and super gold cardholders to behave any differently to other passengers

  27. Andy says:

    Kel - I live in Seoul and plenty of people still give up their seats, maybe not as much as back in the day but I still often see it. Almost every person I have given my seat up to has said thank you but to be honest I don’t expect one as it is the normal thing to do in their hierarchical culture.

  28. Matt L says:

    Scott I disagree, It costs the same to run the trains regardless of the type of fares paid by passengers and we already are under a lot of pressure to increase farebox collection from the government. While I’m not saying that means we should charge those people more (although that would be nice) at the very least it should be recognised that they are getting cheaper travel and as result should have to give up a seat if one is needed for a full fare paying passenger.

    As for super gold, the scheme is stupid to begin with in its current form and should be scrapped. If we had zonal passes across the city i.e. a northern pass, then as part of integrated ticketing those with the card should get the pass for their area but have to pay if they want to take a trip outside that. That would still give them the connectivity to their community but not free travel across the entire region

  29. antz says:

    About the Trains that operates in WGTN, in which i am surprised you haven’t mentioned. it is pretty rough but you’ll get the general idea.

    it was that on Wednesday (i think?) when my brother-in-law was on the express service to Sliverstream on the Upper Hutt line, the train suddenly stopped. He found out the the train had a near miss with someone on the tracks, the warden got out and had a talk to the person who nearly got killed and contacted the police, when the train went off without him!!!
    Someone then pulled the emergency brakes to stop the train for him again, when the driver came through fuming and yelling at the poor woman who pulled the brakes. the driver realised his mishap and then open the doors to let him on. The train then drove off to Petone where they had to switch drivers (for emotional reasons). But since it takes a while and it was such a hot day, more than half the passengers got of the train, and since the train was late, another 2 empty carriages joined up with the others but about half hour later the train closed it’s doors and took off without warning. leaving most of the passengers on the platform with no “all stops” trains left for over an hour.


  30. joust says:

    I thought it was a condition of concession fares that they give up seats to full-fare pax…?


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>