RWC Fail Reports: Full Details


Compensation of a RWC match ticket is to be offered to those who did not get  by train to Eden Park for part of or the full Friday opening RWC game.
An Auckland Council committee decided that this afternoon by a vote of 10 to 7 with Cr Cameron Brewer complaining train operator Veolia had not fronted up to the meeting and should be the only one paying compensation not tthe decision to share it between Veolia, the Council and Government.

And Auckland Transport has ordered an independent review into what went wrong, to be delivered by Friday. This was exactly what was called for on this site yesterday.

Transport plan

100 extra buses, 50 at Britomart, for Eden Park and 50 that can be used wherever needed, train loadings running 10% below maximum, more security in carriages, more security around tracks between Britomart and Kingsland, better corralling and better communication all around.
Those are the promises from Auckland Transport from its report into Friday’s transport fail which reveals numbers were grossly under-estimated to cope with a 70% load increase in public transport that day.
In fact the various authorities involved in the day appear to be working on low and different estimates for those who would be coming into the CBD.
Auckland Transport said it was given an estimate of 30,000 -50,000 and ATEED in its report had an estimate of 80,000 coming into the city.
AT said 370,000 people used public transport on the day on rail, bus and ferry.

The reports said at least or more than 200,000 were in town.

Rail numbers were under-estimated.
“Advice provided to Auckland Transport by the event organisers indicated that the anticipated numbers attending the CBD waterfront celebration was 30,000 to 50,000, “said AT’s report.
”Previous experience has been that for events in the CBD around 10%-30% travel in by public transport.
“Given international experience and recent Eden Park usage it was that 30-50% of the crowd would come by public transport. Of the public transport passengers 20% would be by rail, 70% by bus and 10% by ferry.
“Based on the event crowd estimates that would have meant 3000 to 5000 additional rail passengers. Veolia’s operation plan allowed for capacity of 8,000 rail passengers to the CBD to cater for this demand.
The Auckland Transport report does not specifically lay blame at Veolia or itself or other agencies involved – but as called for by AKT, Auckland Transport has commissioned an independent report into what went wrong. That report will be conducted by Chris Moore of Meredith Connell and is due by the end of this week. There will be no hearings but he is asked to take an “inquisitorial approach being free to request information from whomsoever you deem appropriate.”
He is asked to make it clear as to why public transport demands were not met taking into consideration that all operations had to be conducted with safety of paramount importance.
“We failed to communicate to the travelling public that day,” said the Auckland Transport Chief David Warburton.”
It was not well handled and we need to put more into that.”
Commenting on the problems of people trying to get out of carriages because they felt ill in the overcrowding, He said trains had air conditioning and temperatures set low but by restricting numbers in carriages this will ease refrigeration in carriages.”

“We had grave concerns about safety and need to control the numbers entering each carriage as otherwise it leads to overcrowding.”

Compensation for those who missed getting to Eden Park  will be tickets to a probable All Blacks semi-final and for those who arrived late will be given tickets to a probable All Blacks quarter-final.
The estimated compo cost of $50,000 will be shared equally between Veolia, the Government and the Auckland Council Group.
Up to midday 34 people had registered on the AT Hotline that they had missed the match and 400 had missed part of the Eden Park event.
The reports were today presented to a special Council committee meeting ,which voted to apologize to those who had a negative experience on Friday.
Mayor Len Brown, in a veiled reference to yesterday’s Government statements, said this was not a time for grandstanding or making the RWC an election football.
Auckland Council Chief Executive Doug McKay said “Auckland is taking responsibility for this weekend and beyond” and it did not need special Government legislation to close Queen Street. He said Mr McCully’s statement yesterday had come as a surprise.
But Councillor Des Morrison said the reality is “we failed,” and “as a result of the deep learning and initiatives,” he had to ask if “we had now got it sorted.”

Auckland Tourism –which also apologized to those who had a bad time on Friday - in its report suggests closing Quay St from midday Friday but not other streets and using Captain Cook wharf – as stated would happen by RWC Minister Murray McCully in his announcement yesterday that “the Government was taking control of the waterfront.”
The question of ticketing for Queens Wharf –earlier rejected- will be re-examined. It will provide more toilets and consider activating regional fanzines earlier than the quarter- finals as planned and also using Wynyard Quarter’s Silo Park.
Auckland Transport’s report says there will be 100 more buses to complement rail services and marketing in future will emphasise other travel options including walking and using the car.
It’s now expected 50 to 70% Eden Parks patrons will travel by car which means more parking will have to be found.
The reports say more than 200,000 were in the CBD – 80,000 in hospitality places compared to the usual 50,000 and 120 to 150,000 out around the waterfront.
AT’s David Warburton said more RT units had been ordered so the train driver could communicate with the train guards on board –something Auckland Council transport committee chair Mike Lee said the union had been asking for for some time.

The problems followed by the subsequent recommendations in the reports before the Council today are:

Auckland Transport:

  • Inappropriate use of emergency stop buttons on trains – Security staff to have a presence on each carriage
  • Overcrowding at Britomart and other stations – Enhanced security presence at Britomart, better crowd management/corralling techniques, station managers with crowd management responsibility, security presence at level crossings
  • Inadequate communication to crowds and train passengers – Clear accountability, on board communications capability, use of social media, greater use of MAXX ambassadors at key stations
  • Poor on-board environment particularly over heating – Specific processes to ensure air-conditioning working and set to lowest at Britomart and Westfield stations, limit loads onto stations and trains, re-direct excess to other transport modes, ensure other modes are available to pick up excess
  • Operations not aligned to contingency plan – ensure bus operators are aligned to excess load contingency plan
  • Inadequate bus services available to pick up passengers train network unable to cope with – Increased contingency service linked to lines and stations, buses positioned close to stations. Britomart to Eden Park bus service introduced.

Waterfront issues –and actions to be taken

  • The site footprint explansion plan for the waterfront did not work with the failure of 2 big screens on the Eastern end pushing he crowds west – Big screens will be tested in situ, crowds to be restricted until operation confirmed
  • Impact on Ferry Terminal operations – enhanced protection of egress pathways from the ferry terminal
  • Inadequate number of portaloos (262 were in place) and rubbish receptacles – Increased provision of toilets, cleaning and signage throughout Quay St and adjorning areas
  • Queens Wharf numbers not restricted due to no ticketing of this area- expansion onto Captain Cook wharf if required
  • Number of people all coming into the waterfront area exceeds capacity – Considering opening regional fanzones earlier than the quarter finals weekend and using Silo Park.

Ferries had carried 34,000 passengers over the day which was higher than a normal Friday (12,000) but the Quay St crush caused ferries to close for a couple of hours because people cold not dis-embark.
Auckland Transport does not expect the problems with ferries in future as egress will be allowed instead of the area in front of the terminal being used as a fan zone.
Across the bus network, numbers were 17% higher. 31 standby buses were brought in but this could not clear the rail back log.
Auckland Tourism said its 4 main areas of concern were:
1. Crowd management on Quay St and outside Queen Wharf
2. 2. Insufficient provision of services for numbers attending
3. Positioning of the main screen gantry in close proximity to the Ferry building
4. Technical failure of big screens (caused by one screen failure and the other by a fibre optic issue)
Its report said there were a number of external independent reviews before the event including an Auckland Council commissioned independent review of preparations undertaken by Coffey Consulting Group. There were “no recommendations made on operational improvements required to the Auckland Opening Celebration.”

What happened on the trains according to Veolia logs

Auckland Transport said most people using public transport behaved but there were a number of incidents.
It says people did push the emergency button for legitimate reasons because of distress from overheating in carriages.
There was only one small mechanical issue on the night which did not affect services.

The report documents disruption caused by people walking on tracks, unruly behavior including fighting and fire extinguishers and emergency stop buttons being pressed.
This led to trains being held up for more than an hour.
“It is clear from reports provided by Veolia and KiwiRail that some of these incidents included passengers legitimately seeking help for people who needed medical or other assistance. The delays throughout the the network including time delays loading and unloading at Britomart meant that passengers on some services were left in some stationary carriages for unacceptably long periods.
“In isolation a single incident may have caused minor delays but the cumulative effect of numerous incidents impacted exponentially across the entire rail network.”

Here are the incident logs for the day:

13:44 Person on track at Greenlane. Driver reports near miss, police called, train stopped until train cleared

14:19 Passenger collapses on train at Newmarket. Ambulance calle. Train held at station until passenger safely moved onto platform to await ambulance

15:00 As a result of heavily loaded services entering Britomart, Veolia instigated the plan to exit all customers through Takutai Square earlier than intended. Signage and barriers not set up so Veolia staff set up area and introduce plan.

15:03 Passengers attempt to board moving train at Henderson after doors had been closed. Train stopped, space made and the customers on board. No one injured.

15:09 Driver of train 2243 reports children on tracks at Te Mahia. Police called.

15:40 Passenger faints on board due to crowding. The customer was assisted off the train at Middlemore and taken to hospital by an ambulance which met the train at the station. Train delayed 12 minutes.

16:20 Emergency brake butons activated on board at Panmure , causing emergency brakes to be applied. Train stopped and driver investigates before resetting system. A 35 minute delay caused knock on effects.

16:30 Emergency services called to attend Mt Eden area just east of the station as customers force train doors open and disembark onto tracks. All trains stopped until tracks clear.

16:40 Customer collapses on train and is moved to Platform 4 at Britomart for emergency medical treatment including CPR. Platform closed for 30 minutes. Emergency services arrive 20 minutes after called.

16:50 Reports of 2 people riding on the outside of locomotive between Glen Innes and Meadowbanlk Train stopped at Meadowbank and police called to investigate before train continues to Britomart.

17:45 Emergency brake buttons activated on multiple occasions whilst train stopped at Newmarket. Passengers disembark. All trains stopped in the vicinity for safety reasons. A second train is called to take passengers. Incident brings South and West line to a standstill until it is established the lines were clear of evacuating passengers.

17:53 As result of above, Train 3254 is stopped near the Strand for about 15 minutes. Customers force doors open and evacuate causing immediate suspension of services in and out of Britomart because of safety concerns.

18: 23 Passengers repeatedly activate emergency buttons on train north of Parnell tunnel. All trains were stopped for safety reasons until the system reset (takes longer when trains fully loaded with standing passengers). Emergency services were called and assisted staff with a controlled evacuation.

18:30 Customers evacuate train between Remuera and Greenlane – forced to stop because of Newmarket incident. Customers force train doors open in response to heat, and long delays caused by the earlier incidents. Veolia staff and emergency services help remaining customers to safely disembark onto tracks.’

18:45 Security staff lose control of Takutai square entrance as a result of sheer number of people exiting the station. Barriers pushed aside by unruly crowds which mean people entering the station could not access or egress. Control regained at about 20:00

19:30 A fire extinguisher used on a train at Kingsland station, Customers evacuated onto platform whilst train crew establish whether any fire occurred. Services delayed for 30 minutes

20:10 Fighting reported on a train at Sylvia Park. Train delayedwhile police attend.

22:31 Train driver reports possibly intoxicated female fallen onto tracks at Otahuhu. All trains stopped on that line while ambulance attended.

00:18 Passengers fighting on train 2274 results in injury. All trains stopped from entering Birotmart to allow passage of this train into Britomart where it is met by emergency services.

Other notes in the log:
• Numerous reports form staff through the day of instances of verbal and physical assault and general disorder on trains
• Reports of Veolia staff being assaulted verbally and physically on full trains
• Escalators at Britomart stop working because of overloading. This slowed the exit from the platforms via the Takutai end as it was taking between 10 and 15 minutes o clear them via narrow steps, stopping tains being loaded quickly.
• Trains delayed at Britomart as they could not depart safely because of the large numbers exiting




  1. Andrew says:

    That’s a LOT of emergency buttons and evacuated trains. Looks like when crowds are intense, they should hold trains at station platforms until it’s clear to proceed all the way to the next station platform, should be achievable wherever signalling has been upgraded. That would avoid passengers evacuating onto tracks.

    I would also suggest crowd control at EVERY station, limiting the number of people on the platform and boarding the train. This may even be a more effective deployment of security and crowd control compared to having someone at each train door, and would facilitate filling the train up in a controlled fashion, such as carriage by carriage to ensure there’s room for those waiting down the line.

    It would certainly be slower than normal operations, but should stop things grinding to a complete halt.

  2. joust says:

    I can’t believe that guards and drivers have had no immediate means of communication until now. No wonder guards have always lacked information about what was going on.

  3. ChrisW says:

    “AT said 370,000 people used public transport on the day on rail, bus and ferry.” How would they know - not a lot of ticket collecting going on.

  4. James Pole says:

    Wow, what a lot for Veloia to cope with within such a short time frame. I agree Veolia could do more to communicate but then again I think the public need to do their bit as well. Frankly I don’t think Veolia should be held 100% accountable as at the end of the day they just provide whatever service was specified by Auckland Transport. Auckland Transport planning for train services were not good enough due to bad informaiton from Auckland Council. Really everyone should accept a share of the blame and not blame a single entity.

  5. ChrisW says:

    Auckland Tourism said “there were a number of external independent reviews before the event including an Auckland Council commissioned independent review of preparations undertaken by Coffey Consulting Group” The old use consultants arse covering strategy

  6. Andrew says:

    It still seems to boil down to crowd control.

    What I meant to say above that having security at every station or at every train door, combined with an ordered means of filling the train up (and not overfilling it), and a means in place to have trains wait at stations until they were clear to proceed to the next one, would have helped avoid this.

    Overcrowding led to each incidence of the emergency button being pushed. They need to have effective crowd control for the trains to prevent that level of overcrowding by people not used to it.

  7. Mark says:

    It wasn’t Veolia who wanted two opening ceremonies. It wasn’t Veolia who told schools to take the day off - and where did they and families head? It wasn’t Veolia who told everyone they’d see the biggest fireworks display ever in NZ…..
    They are just becoming the scapegoat. yes they can do better, but their performance wasn’t the main issues or cause.

  8. Would add a bit more to the picture if Veolia could say how long each of the trains were stationary? Also is Strand an option?

  9. Matt L says:

    Mark - Veolia can control how many people they let on the trains, they can control how access to platforms are managed, they can control how they communicate with passengers and they can impliment things they agreed to but didn’t do much of any of this.

  10. Ingolfson says:

    ChrisW - you don’t exactly show much knowledge of either patronage estimation or consultancy. Your latter statement especially doesn’t even make sense. Unless you mean that you disagree with using consultants to check your work. Well, what else - if you do it inhouse, you a) leave yourself up to accusations of self-bias, and b) you get kicked if something happens because you didn’t even get it reviewed. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Or maybe you just like bashing consultants, but have voted National and/or Labour and/or ACT all your life, while they followed the rest of the world in deregulating as much expertise away from government and Councils until Council NEEDS to give everything to private sector consultants, because, after all, in the capitalist market economy, full-time Council employees are always considered to be lazy, incompetent and a waste of money

    As I said - damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But hey, kick em when they’re down!

  11. Pubilus says:

    Would having ticket turnstiles at each station help? You could then stop people entering the station/platform if things get too crowded.
    Why do people on tracks stop trains? Just go slow instead. I doubt anyone was on the tracks just near them. Slow beats stopped and people won’t jump off then.

  12. Aaron says:

    “15:40 Passenger faints on board due to crowding. The customer was assisted off the train at Middlemore and taken to hospital by an ambulance which met the train at the station. Train delayed 12 minutes.”
    The hospital is right next to the station…

  13. Alex says:

    @Matt L. You say Veolia can control how many people they let on trains. Yes, in the future with proper security and crowd control maybe, but on Friday there were just so many people trying to board services it was beyond all control. Two or three staff per train trying to tell several hundred people pushing their way on that they can’t get on board! On that day many staff feared for their safety, and no-one should have to feel that way at work, or put up with abuse (verbal or physical). Those who did assault Veolia and KiwiRail employees, or anyone for that matter (such as the Waka crews) should be utterly ashamed.

  14. Sam says:

    It seems to me that most delays were caused by trains waiting for emergency services to arrive. Cant they just get the drunk woman off the tracks (takes about 10 seconds), or get the people off the locomotive/ get those fighting onto a platform and keep a few witnesses (train would be delayed just a few minutes), or offload the fainted passenger at Middlemore and keep going (two minutes maybe?). why does the whole affected train, full of people who know nothing about the incident, have to stop for half an hour in each case, delaying thousands more people on following trains?

  15. Alex says:

    @Sam How would u feel if your loved one, who was ill or involved in a fight was just dumped at a train station? I’d guess you wouldn’t be very happy, and would be even more disgusted if the on board staff didn’t give a stuff. As it happens the on board staff do give a stuff and do their very best to make sure everyone who uses the service is safe. It would be providing the worst customer care possible to just dump ill or at risk passengers.

  16. LorenZ says:

    Veolia simply doesnt have enough Resources to cope with Moving Large Crowds in a Short amount of Time as well as Dealing with Emergency Situations like Overcrowding!

  17. geoff_184 says:

    “17:45 Emergency brake buttons activated on multiple occasions whilst train stopped at Newmarket. Passengers disembark. All trains stopped in the vicinity for safety reasons. A second train is called to take passengers”

    They say at Newmarket, but of course it was underneath the motorway. They say the passengers disembarked, but of course it was up an earth bank through a construction site, in the dark. Veolia have clearly sanitised their reports, which from past experience I know they are quite good at.

    Something not mentioned in their report is that some Locomotive Engineers had to walk to Britomart to pick up their train, as whatever trains they were on to get to Britomart in the first place were stopped. This meant getting through the crowds on foot.

    Also not mentioned are the thousands of people left at stations along the Eastern and Southern lines, due to all the citybound trains already being full. 2,000 may not have made it to Eden Park for the Rugby, but thousands more didn’t make it to downtown either.

  18. Evan J says:

    It seems to me that instead of employing security guards, Veolia could be tapping into a supply of people who have good communications skills, have the ability to think on their feet, and can handle emergency situations. I am talking about superannuitants. There are probably a good number of them who would be only too happy to work part time during rush hours and be on call for emergencies, to top up their pensions so they can visit the grand kids in Aus at Christmas. The overall cost wouldn’t be too much more than employing security guards, guys not renowned for communication skills, thinking outside the square, or being able to implement Plan B,C or D in an emergency.


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