U2 No Train Line On the Horizon Photos


U2 fans tonight flooded AKT’s inbox with angry complaints about tonight’s free trains to the Mt Smart concert.

Hot steamy packed trains were trying to ferry the passengers to Penrose station - but this one above was stopped for an estimated 20 minutes at Ellerslie without explanation leading to tensions on board as people experienced Auckland’s train frustrations for probably the first time.

“No updates, no information & its f *** packed to the rafters. I am smelling armpits - they must be way over the firecode,” said the commuter who sent it.

Commuters stare out of the window of a stopped train wondering where they are

About 10 minutes later, he said the train had moved an inch very slowly and then finally their first onboard message asking them to be patient while they await a “crossing” train. Doors kept opening and closing -but without explanation.

Commuters who emailled AKT were in a panic they would miss the start of the 7.30pm show - and some were sending the messages on a stationary train at 7pm.

Crowds pour of the trains at Penrose tonight

All day at Britomart station, as fans poured in to catch the trains, a scrolling message on the info board had warned that there could be queques for people getting on board from Britomart because of the numbers but no one anticipated the frustrations on the trip many of us experience regularly.
“Good luck with the RWC,” said another commuter to AKT. “This is a massive FAIL!”

Here are some of the many photos fans sent to AKT:

Here is a shot of the Penrose station at 7pm as fans poured out of trains.

Here is the trek to the stadium from the station…

It was a long uncomfortable ride so the first thing guys did when they got off was..

Finally commuters make it and settled down…

During the concert they scrolled names of the miners killed on the giant video screen

Update: Idiot pushing emergency chord caused problems (Good to see the Herald quoting AKT and using one of the photos!)

That is a good lesson in preparation for RWC- but still highlights how the lack of information on board leads to unrest .

But the emergency stop signs on board the trains do not warn of any penalty.

Train, bus details  for tonight’s show here

A train user has sent this video of the stadium:




  1. Nick R says:

    The problem is, do these virgin riders now go off an say “wow we really need to fund our rail system properly to avoid these issues”… or do they say “f&#$k the trains they are crap, we need to build more motorways”.

  2. RR says:

    Re Nick R….. exactly.

  3. OK ARTA its U2 Not Ricky Martin So Why Use A 800 Train?.

  4. Sam says:

    they better do a better job on Sunday. This is tiny in comparison- the Santa Parade apparently attracts 250000 people and they are only running trains at 15 minute intervals on each line…. and west ones stop at Baldwyn ave so we know what that means.

    Hopefully this can be put down to a couple of major factors:
    - having so many people (therefore trains) heading, for the first time, to an unusual place on the network which doesnt have the capacity of Britomart, or even Kingsland
    -this is happening on a week day at peak hour. the trains are normally busy enough without a few dozen thousand extras…most other events are in the weekend.

    Sad- there would have been a lot of new users tonight given the unusual circumstances outlined above- hopefully you only heard from the bad train(s), and the rest were fine. Perhaps a smooth trip home will remedy the situation too- at least there wont be so many other people or trains

  5. Kurt says:

    Crowded trains aside, it is fairly hard to fathom why is there no Mt Smart station given the it will be used for the Warriors and the Ruby World cup and who knows what other events.

  6. LarryH says:

    If only there was something to do at the other end during the wait, taking an earlier train would not be so much of a bother.

  7. strings says:

    Large events like this will always create over crowding on trains, it happens in the Uk and Europe. People just need to deal with it and get on with it

  8. Simon says:

    @strings Exactly. I have attended sports in Japan, Delhi, Milan etc and the trains are always packed to the rafters - I`ve been packed like a sardine numerous times and I dealt with it. It`s just AKLers who are still like little crying babies when it comes to the experience of using trains.

  9. JX says:

    @Simon & Strings - I was on one of these trains and I agree this is the nature of it - packed in like sardines - that wasn’t the problem - people were all really good natured - the problem was the stopping for 25 mins with no update or explanation - which regulars will note is ‘as usual’ for Auckland Train operation - except it was packed to the rafters and people were late to the stadium - that doesn’t cut it in my book and I bet it wouldn’t Japan, Delhi or Milan either!

    I don’t think getting to a RWC game after kick-off will cut it either for the fans or NZ’s event rep.

  10. Andrew says:

    Abd it was all caused by a silly passenger pulling the tap when they shouldn’t have. Not Veolia’s fault.

  11. rtc says:

    Seems like it was someone pulling the emergency cord:


  12. James B says:

    I hope they find whoever did that and fine them heavily.
    BTW: Gratz on being famous enough to be mentioned in the herald.

  13. GJA says:

    Is this now the standard? So if there is a big event in Auckland that people will travel on the trains for free? Or will this be reviewed when we get our electric trains and / or integrated ticketing?

    We are losing a lot of revenue and with all these events we might be able to fund some of the $30m shortfall ;-)

  14. damian says:


    Not sure if this will be regular, but in my mind it makes sense to offer free public transport to events like this simply as it can show people how good the train can be.

    Hopefully next time they can place massive road blocks to prevent people driving in and encourage more train use

  15. Mark in Onehunga says:

    I got stuck at Te Papapa last night for over 50 minutes waiting for the train to arrive to go back home in Auckland CBD, finally got so tired of no trains arriving I rang the Maxx hotline out of pure frustration to be told “as far as I know there is no problems with the train timetable this evening sir!!!!” I told the twat on the phone “I’ve been here for over 50 minutes and there’s no trains coming, find out whats going on” He eventually checked with his supervisor after great hesitation and reported back to me that there was no more trains running last night to Onehunga. My comments must of sparked his brain into action as immediately the PA system at Te Papapa burst into life announcing the obvious….. “that no more trains would be running this evening and all services had been cancelled” (we the public understand that mechanical machines will occasionally break down, but to leave the general public uninformed of any delays and/or cancellations for over 50 minutes is totally unacceptable)
    I asked “what alternative forms of transport are available to me at Te Papapa?” his reply was “You’ll have to find your own way home as the train service was not affiliated or associated with Maxx”
    Come on guys….. I like the trains but please can someone get the call centre at Maxx on the same page as the rest of us…… If the train break-down, USE the PA system and tell us !!!!

  16. nuku says:

    @ Nick R - precisely, but it won’t happen unfortunately!

    Why wasn’t this idiot knocked the #$%* out?? Everyone just standing around with their thumbs up their bum obviously. Funny how you all can run over a cyclist with no qualms but you can’t stop one idiot from holding up everyone else!!

  17. Rene says:

    I had the mis fortune of attempting to use our train system to catch a train back to Baldwin Ave. The concert concluded around 11.45 and after a leisurely stroll down Station Road we were confronted with a massive (and I mean massive) queue of punters waiting to be sqeezed onto a narrow overbridge onto the train platforms.

    From my perspective there seemed to be plenty of trains backed up to cope, but the layout of Penrose is simply not condusive to large crowd movements. They really need to thik about this and consider using the platform from the Onehunga line as well.

    I thought that in order to get to Baldwin Ave I would transfer to the western line at Newmarket. We were informed at about 100m before the station that people wanting to go West had to travel to Britomart and transfer there. Certainly not optimal at 12.45am in the morning but fuck it I have no other choice.

    We get to Britomart at just after 1.00am and was told the next train going West wouldnt leave until 1.45am.


    Had I hung around and taken ths train (and not catch a $27 taxi home from downtown) it would have taken me about 2 and a half hours to travel home to Mt Albert from walking out of Mt Smarts gates using the trains.

    I could have walked home faster and saved a taxi fare. Seriously not good enough.

  18. Matt L says:

    GJA - Most big events have free travel as it would be impossible to try and have people issuing tickets to thousands of passengers, I think the event is charged for it so it is part of the ticket.

    I was on one of those packed trains that kept stopping and it was frustrating but at least I had a seat. The herald article indicates that they couldn’t find the culprit as there were just to many people onboard, they might need to have staff at each door in future if this is what was happening (not ideal)

  19. damian says:


    Crowding will always be an issue no matter what way you look at it and there is not much you can do about it and queing will be part of the process.

    That said it is a little disappointing to hear that you had to wait at Britomart for a connection

  20. rtc says:

    @GJA there’s no 30 million shortfall, it’s a figure made up by Joyce to try and slow rail development in Auckland. It’s becoming too popular and he’s looking for ways to make it go away.

  21. Commuter says:

    Sadly, Veolia’s response to the problem, apparently caused in this instance by a single pest passenger, is characteristic of their operation of the passenger rail system here (and in Melbourne and South East England where they’ve now lost their contracts). There appears to be an absolute lack of both contingency planning and emergency response measures. This failing manifests itself as a systemic inability to inform passengers and would-be passengers of delays and cancellations in an informative and timely manner along with a reluctance to provide back up services in case of cancellations and extended delays of and to scheduled services. The sad part of the equation is that passengers and would-be passengers suffer. Unfortunately, it would appear that the contract Veolia have with ARTA/AT prevents the latter from being able to adequately respond to the failings of the former. Veolia’s prime interest is in profit not the satisfaction of passengers; they will provide enough of a service to ensure that they meet basic contractual standards, but nothing more.

  22. LucyJH says:

    If they had told people that the delays were being caused by one person pushing the “emergency stop” button I wonder whether the crowd would have a) located the person and b) beaten them up/

    I think the risk that they would might be a little bit high to chance it…but perhaps i’m wrong.

  23. Rene says:


    I have no problem queuing as I fully understand its part and parcel of going to a major event.

    I’ve been to Homebush stadium on many occasions and have seen how a better platform and layout can improve queuing times by speeding up the boarding process. Trains were taking 5-10 minutes to fill up before departing. Once you accessed the actual overbridge you were sweet. Its just that it took 40 odd minutes to get there. It was a case of trying to stuff an elephant into a mini.

    The issue for Mt Smart is that the large queues overflow onto Station Road blocking traffic movements and that a more accessible platform (on the Onehunga branch line side of Penrose Station) was not utilised.

    Also the access to the platform from the Great South Road entry was virtually empty meaning people crowded one entry point instead of the two available. In hindsight would have walked around to the Gt Sth Road entry and strolled on and saved myself 30 minutes.

  24. Claire says:

    The company needs to follow the example of UK trains and put signs next to every emergency button that say the equivalent of “50pounds for improper use” (probably $100 or $150) and make sure they can identify the culprit.

  25. mike says:


    ummm, mark did you bother to look at the timetables for after the concert? All trains depart from Mt Smart/Penrose. Not Tepapapa! No wonder no train ever came.

  26. Mark in Onehunga says:

    Sorry forgot to mention that the time of last nights incident was before the concert at approx. 6:35pm

  27. Spencer says:

    Good luck with the RWC
    You have 10 months to prepare and dont make NZ a laughing stock..

  28. Rob says:

    Disaster. The crowds weren’t controlled , heaps too many people were allowed onto unventilated carriages, the whole thing was an embarrasement to the people of New Zealand.
    Sure blame one idiot but get real it started way before that.
    You counted the people getting off the carriages - NOT onto it !!The train although over full stopped at every staion on the way.
    Sort it , do the job properly , if you need the money - charge for the service but provide a real service- people don’t mind paying but that was a nonsense and until you address the real issues rather than blaming the idiot you won’t go forward.
    I have lived in Sydney for 10 years and the whinge about their rail service , they would revolt with this one it makes the Indian Rail service look good and uncrowded.

  29. Kristian says:

    If they had a big stadium on the waterfront we wouldn’t have this problem

  30. Claire says:

    Ha! Ha! U2 sux!

  31. damian says:


    one muppet pushing the emergency stop button is hardly a disaster.
    Given the pictures I saw, the carriages were not even that full considering the event.

    Toughen up a bit

  32. damian says:


    People would still moan because then more people would be using the train.

    Plus a waterfront stadium would be an eyesore of the greatest order:

  33. Lesley says:

    In Singapore if you deliberately pull the emergency cord or push the emergency button in the underground, on a train or bus you get an instant $5,000.00 fine - no questions asked. It says it pretty plain and clear for the commuter to see. I suggest NZ should follow suit. It is time to get real.

  34. Jon Reeves says:

    I caught trains from Middlemore to and from Penrose - not a single problem. Infact it ran so well it reminded me of catching free transport to concerts in Europe.

    3 thumbs up to Auckland Transport and Veolia.

  35. Jon Reeves says:

    I would not have a problem if there was a $500 penalty for playing with the emergency stop button.

  36. Lisa says:

    Emergency Button mis-use causes Mayhem - Yeah right! Great spin doctoring, because after waiting nearly an hour as overly full trains slid by without stopping, we were told over the PA to find alternative transport because the trains were full even from Britomart - so @ 7.30 we walked back to pick up the car and desparately drove round already crowded streets trying to find parking. Missed Jay-Z. Bloody hopeless - we won’t be trying again!

  37. Jon C says:

    @Lisa What station were you waiting at?

  38. Gerard says:

    I seem to remember the same happened for the Auckland versus the lions rugby game a number of years ago. A number of trains ran late due to the emergency button had been pressed on one of the trains. Is it a game to some people to cause frustration? Fine the person that hits the emergency button without a valid reason.

  39. Sam says:

    They deserve it for being U2 fans

  40. LKSteve says:

    I lived in Auckland for several years up until January of 2008. I have been to many Rugby Matches at Eden Park & delayed only once. We used to get the bus from Narrowneck down to Devonport wharf, get the ferry across to the Viaduct, then hop on a train to the game from Britomart. I have no complaints about the service during my years living in Auckland. Last nights problems were caused by either (a) someone with mental problems, after all who wants to be stuck on a train or (b) there was an electrical malfunction & the emergency stop buttons were tripping (c) the train was so packed that someone was being repeatedly pushed against the button.
    If it was someone mentally troubled, then there is no way to anticipate & stop this apart from having a guard standing by every emergency stop button in every compartment.
    If it was (b) or (c) this is preventable & must be prevented from happening during the RWC. Resources need to be deployed now to sort this out. If it can’t be sorted out in time for the tournament, it’s time to buy 50,000 bicycles, paint them yellow & leave them all over the city so people can get around.

  41. Brad H says:

    Caught the 5pm train from Britomart. All the seats on the train were full with a few people standing. The train back was crush loaded.

    Having lived in Sydney for the last year and being a regular short-distance traveler during rush hour there the Auckland train service last night was on par with Sydney in their handling of things.

    People need to toughen up a little bit.

  42. James B says:

    Just got home from U2 tonight. The trains were great caught the 8:12pm from Britomart out, it was on time and arrived 20 minutes later at Penrose. Coming home it took longer to walk to the station than to get on a train and get to Britomart. Train was full, but not packed. All up a good experience. If they get it working like that for the World Cup then she’ll be sweet as.

  43. colin W says:

    Hi, we are in photo in paper laughing has we exited train.We are from Southland and our experince on train left us woundering why there wasn,t more control at station from gaurds limiting numbers onto train?people on train were in resonable spirits but as train stopped at each station and more overloading continued it was getting quite strained to say the least!And yes if I new at time what that indvidual was doing he mite have had a sore head and not seen concert. We enjoyed concert and people we met on train but trip home on bus was another story!!!!!!

  44. Andrew says:

    We travelled to the concert from Avondale and back again.

    Crowd management at Penrose was pretty good, given the sheer volume of people that arrived all at once.. Amazing how many people you can squeeze on the train!

    I think the co-ordination of trains to the West could have done with improvement. We printed a copy of the timetable and, given that the crowds meant we couldn’t choose which train out of Penrose we could catch, ended up on one that was timetabled to arrive at Newmarket at the same time as a West train left - tight! - and it would arrive at Britomart at the same time as the next train was due to leave there, with nothing for a further 45 mins.

    We made the Newmarket one by chance.

    I think to improve they should have split the running One thing they should have done differently - they should have directed all passengers wanting to alight at Newmarket-Ellerslie to the same door the train manager was working from to ensure they got off.

    It’s now been revealed that the Emergency Stop button-pusher was someone wanting to get off at Ellerslie on a train that failed to stop at Remuera and Greenlane. Story here.

  45. Andrew says:

    Oops, forgot to delete “I think to improve they should have split the running” as I changed my mind while typing. That sentence should start as “One [other] thing that they should have done differently…”

  46. Nick says:

    I was on the train that had the emergency brake pulled on Thursday night. We got on at Newmarket and the station PA announced that the train was a U2 Special train and would not be stopping again before Penrose. Sure enough we passed through Remuera and Greenlane without stopping. Just as we were passing through Ellerslie the train came to a halt and the driver appeared from the cab asking who had pulled the emergency brake. While the driver and train manager were trying to locate and reset the pulled switch (which was complicated by the number of passengers on board), a rather loud and bolshy guy with a Sylvia Park security pass pushed his way through the crowd and banged on the cab door demanding to be let off and complaining that they’d almost missed his station (Ellerslie presumably). Several people pointed out to him that this train was announced as going non-stop to the stadium but he claimed that he had not been told that. He pushed past the driver - still urgently trying to reset the emergency brake - and leaped out onto the platform. As he scurried away he turned back long enough to give those of us still stuck 500m from our stop the finger and a grin. It seems quite likely to me that he was the person who pulled the emergency brake and instigated the whole incident.

    Shortly after that, the driver and train manager managed to get everything reset and we were underway again, however we stopped for about thirty seconds at the signal underneath the Penrose motorway overbridge to wait for a north-bound train. Once that had passed we crossed over onto the Onehunga line and pulled into the new Penrose platform. From there it was only ten minutes walk to the stadium, and there was still easily half an hour until Jay-Z arrived onstage at 7:30pm.
    From what I saw the train crew did a really good job given the circumstances. If it hadn’t been for the brake being pulled, the ride would have gone off without a hitch: even after the delay at Ellerslie, the mood in the car I was in was upbeat and I saw several people thanking the train crew as they left.

    It really wasn’t the chaotic disaster that the media perhaps would have liked it to have been.

    People who were on later trains and who struggled to make it to the stadium in time simply paid the price for not allowing enough time for the trip: by the time our train came to its halt, there had already been several hours of extra train services, and to assume that you’re going to do the trip from town to Penrose in quarter of an hour on a day when there’s over 50,000 people in the house is asking for trouble. Written in bold letters all over the U2 timetable and the MAXX website was advice that people should travel early.

    My only really negative observation would be that there was some confusion about whether or not the train was going non-stop from Newmarket: it was clearly announced to everyone on the platform there, but I can’t speak to what people boarding at Britomart were told, and the Veolia spokesman in the Herald today doesn’t seem to be aware of it. But that said, I’ve been packed onto more crowded and just as interrupted mass transit trains in other countries: there didn’t seem to be anything that shameful or embarrassing to us as a nation going on.

    Oh, and for the record, I got a lift back into town after the concert, and it took us over an hour: some of our neighbours stuck with the train and were home in forty-five minutes, so for all of the histrionics and complaining in the paper and online, I suspect the truth is that the train system worked out just fine for a large chunk of those who took it.

  47. Carl says:

    Auckland, get over yourself. Try living in Perth when its 35.6c and your packed in the trains at 5:30pm straight after work.

    boohhoo cause your going to a concert on evening night.

    boohooo cause you where packed in for all of maybe an hour max.

    boohoo cause it happened once.

    seriously have a cup of cement and harden the f*ck up.

    be thankful firstly it was of no charge, and secondly there even was a train.

    some people need to get in the real world.

    we don’t have enough trains and we don’t have enough stuff. yet when people start using a system they haven’t used before, its amazing how they all think they are experts on how it should.

    New Zealand is such a joke when it comes to PT. man up or get taxi.


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