Capital Growth


While Auckland’s train travel is at a high and growing fast, Wellington is still struggling to see the same sort of growth in public transport.

After years of delays on the network because of tired old trains and then the massive upgrading work, things are now getting so much better but this is yet to be reflected in the patronage stats.

Peak time public transport in the last 12 month financial year rose 8.2% but the increase in train travel was a mere 1.3%.

And off peak public transport for buses and trains apparently fell by a disappointing 5.5%.

The target set for the period was a 4% PT increase for peak time –so that was exceeded but the target for off-peak was 6%.

83.8% of rail services were within 3 minutes of the scheduled time, an increase of 1.8% on the previous year thanks to the rail network upgrade progress and the Matangi.

It was a near perfect score for buses on the Council’s measurement… 99.8% of buses were no more than 10 minutes late, 0.1% more than last year.

But people are still choosing to drive even in the reign of a Greens Mayor who is talking up light rail and dampening NZTA’s Basin reserve motorway plans.

WELLINGTON RAILWAY STATION; Where are all the passengers?

15 two-car Matangi trains were in Wellington by June but only nine were in service. The first 4-car Matangi set ran in peak time in March.

The others of the 48 ordered will arrive “through 2012,” according to the Greater Wellington Regional Council and while there have been delays in delivery, “this should be seen in context of their 35-year life.”

Thank goodness Auckland chose Spanish trains.

In the 2010/11 financial year period, passenger transport accounted for 18.8 million peak period trips. Bus trips accounted for 60% of that and rail 39% (ferry less than 1%).

The Council’s target is 25m peak period trips by 2016.

The Council’s annual report says other highlights of the year was the rail package agreed with KiwiRail and the Government.

The refurbishment of the old Ganz Mavag trains had been postponed until the 11/12 financial year.




  1. Matt L says:

    It hasn’t happened yet but it won’t be far off before there are more train trips in Auckland than in Wellington, that will be an important milestone to pass

  2. James Pole says:

    “It was a near perfect score for buses on the Council’s measurement… 99.8% of buses were no more than 10 minutes late, 0.1% more than last year.”

    How accurate is that though? I know the ARTA used to report using figures self-reported by the bus companies and these figures seemed to be completely at odds with the reality.

    I think the bus stats should be broken up further to show which routes are performing well and which are not. Kind of like how Veolia has to show a break down of performance for each line.

  3. Peter in Sydney says:

    “Thank goodness Auckland chose Spanish trains.”
    I cannot see any reason to make that statement. Unless an order for new trains is for a current design that has already been produced and debugged/bedded in then the time line for introducing them is almost always too short. As I rode the train between Nerang and Brisbanea little over a week ago I thought how appropriate the product I was riding would have been for Auckland. They are already in service in both Queensland and Western Australia. The correct track gauge an supply voltage.

  4. Brent C says:

    The performance of rail in Wellington is getting better and better since the improvements. I have herd a lot of positive talk around the city regarding the performance of the network.
    There are still some major milestones which need to be achieved, such as Matangi’s on Johnsonville and Kapiti lines. Once all the EE’s are replaced, the reliability will only get better.

  5. Railman says:

    I don’t think there is that much political support for PT in Wellington from the top politicians. Even the pro-PT councilors seem to want to take things far too slowly. Mayor Celia has not outlined any major ambitions for Wellington’s rail developments, unlike Len who outlined 3 big infrastructure projects from Day 1. As a result NZTA is rapidly pushing through their Wellington RoNS agenda, and effectively setting the current transport plan for Wellington…not good for rail I might add.

  6. Kris says:

    I agree with Brent C.

    Once the Matangi fleet is fully operational, the EE’s have gone and the main upgrade of the infrastructure is completed, then rail usage will start to raise and customer satisfaction will increase over the next 12 -18 months.

    Here is an article in Stuff -

    I agree with Peter in Sydney - Whilst the Auckland network will be brand new, there will be still teething problems regardless who supplies the EMU’s.

    Wellington problems can not be compared with Auckland. The Wellington network has been operating since 1938 and is being upgraded stilling using 3 distinct types of rolling stock spreading over a 60 years, each with different levels of technology.

    The network is still operating the EE’s with their simple 1940/50′s technology, the Ganz Mavag with their 1980′s and the Matangi’s with their 21 century technology, you are inviting trouble.

    We have to remember that the network has been upgrade to suit the Matangi’s, so there will be problems in operating the EE’s and Ganz Mavag’s. Once the Ganz Mavag’s have been refurbished to the current technology, operating and reliability issues will decrease.

    To operate the EE’s on a infrastructure that has been designed for 21 century technology, is like operating Windows 7 on a 286 PC.

    I can remember when the Ganz Mavag’s were introduced in 1981, there were alot of teething problems, because the Ganz Mavag, like the Matangi’s, where more advance in their technology compared to the EE’s so it took a year to fine tune the network to suit both the EE’s and the Ganz Mavag’s.

    The Auckland network is not replacing old rolling stock and infrastructure technology.

  7. Matt L says:

    Kris - You actually completely wrong about that, the Auckland network was actually in a far worse state than Wellington, has had bigger infrastructure changes and yet is still growing patronage extremely strongly.

    As an example, in the last 5 years we have had constant disruption to services for station upgrades, western line double tracking and other upgrades. We now have electrification which is causing massive works and disruptions. Our signalling system was even more antiquated than Wellingtons and would break down extremely frequently (only a year or two ago we were averaging more than one signal or point failure a day).

    We have 4 different types of rolling stock, DMU’s from the early 60′s, the 80′s and now the SA sets which are rebuilt carriages from the 60′s and 70′s pulled by 40 year old freight locomotives which break down extremely often. We also have far worse on time performance.

    This isn’t to say that Wellington hasn’t had its problems but by comparison the Auckland network has gone through a lot more change.

  8. George D says:

    Why is it not growing? Because they put the prices up every five minutes.

    NZ public transport is some of the most expensive in the world, and operates on high-fare/low-ridership models. We have to change this.

  9. Nigel says:

    @JamesPole. One of the nice things about installing an GPS/RTI system is that this type of “per route” time performance reporting should be easy-peasy (even for a bus company).

  10. Martin says:

    It might also be a case that PT patronage in Wellington is already high per capita compared with the rest of NZ thus % increases will be lower then in places like Auckland where PT had been neglected for a long time.


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