KiwiRail Urgently Needs Lessons In PR


We may think we get hard done by some days but thank goodness we aren’t suffering the unfriendly non-customer-focused KiwiRail treatment like Wellington commuters.
Listen to this arrogance after a fault forced the cancellation of half the peak hour trains - about 100 services - scheduled to leave Wellington railway station last night. A power failure triggered a signal fault - and do we Auckland commuters know how signal faults screw up rush hour services!

Then a train broke down on the Paraparaumu line , bringing all the scheduled services behind it to a grinding halt and leaving passengers stuck in cramped carriages for a further two hours.
This comes after an earlier run of woes in the last week. Media talked about the issue being a combination of an ageing fleet and ongoing upgrades on the network, issues again familiar to us in Auckland.
Some people refused to pay fares and others told reporters it was the last straw and they wouldn’t use trains again (could be difficult in a city that actually depends a lot on rail).
TVNZ reports this interview from KiwiRail spokesman Kevin Ramshaw who questioned why train commuters are whinging when vehicle commuters could also strike major delays from time to time.

“What would happen if you were stuck in a queue of traffic and you couldn’t move on the roads? Can you tell me what the difference is? Transport is transport. All transport from time to time has its moments when you cannot get to where you want to go.”
Passengers would not be given a refund but “compensation of some kind” would be considered. In the past, KiwiRail has run such things as “Free Fridays” and monthly ticket discounts.
“Obviously that’s something we will consider again. ‘Consider’ is the operative word.”

If that PR guy ever wants to leave KiwiRail, there sure to be a great job going at JetStar which seems to have a similar customer care policy. june
They must have been to the same marketing course. I would welcome Mr Ramshaw commenting on the above but KiwiRail has never returned my nice emails inviting a comment.

Meanwhile our Auckland service has released its June monthly report boasting how wonderfully efficient it has been (right).

Ironically in the past, this is usually released at the end of the following month and a few days before the whole system melts down especially with signal failures so you have been warned.

ACDC fans queuing at Britomart this morning gave some light relief

ACDC fans queuing at Britomart this morning gave some light relief




  1. Chris R says:

    A point which you and other commentators have missed is that the statement by Kevin Ramshaw is absolutely correct. Can you tell us all what is factually wrong with this statement?

    “What would happen if you were stuck in a queue of traffic and you couldn’t move on the roads? Can you tell me what the difference is? Transport is transport. All transport from time to time has its moments when you cannot get to where you want to go.”

  2. Jon C says:

    Sure. Companies have forgotten the word sorry.

  3. Commuter says:

    I see that Mr Ramshaw attended the same school of charm and deportment attended by his predecessor as spokesperson at KiwiRail/Toll/TranzMetro, the ever charming Sue Foley. Ms Foley used to trot out pretty much the same comment – ‘delays are inherent in all forms of transport and (contrary to all appearance) rail is no worse than the others’ – but, every now and then, she’d spice up her commentary by complaining that a lot of the problems were due to ‘customer behaviour’. No, apparently corporate interests are always right in this country so why say sorry?

  4. Brent C says:

    I guess after all this mess, it wont be hard to find a car park at Paraparaumu park and ride tomorrow morning.

  5. William M says:

    I wonder how it is that the Eastern Line always falls behind in punctuality, and why Veolia/Ontrack/Kiwirail have not addressed the underlying issue? Especially as the Eastern Line should be the least likely to have many issues; it doesn’t share Newmarket Junction like the south and west, and have to deal with the works at New Lynn… and whilst I may jinx myself and my fellow southern line passengers, the points at Westfield and Otahuhu have been reliable as late… Maybe I’m missing something…

    Veolia seems to do a good job of cleaning up after everyone else in Auckland. When points/signals fail, Veolia know how to say sorry. Just a pity we cant get Free Fridays like our siblings in the capital.

  6. Sam F says:

    To make things worse the stats are visibly deteriorating from the last lot you posted in March. A 1% drop in punctuality on the southern line, 5% on the eastern and a whopping 11% on the western line.

    Stated drops in service delivery are much lower - only about one percent across the whole network - but then, sometimes it only takes one ‘cancelled’ service to arse up six scheduled runs.

  7. Sam F says:

    As for saying sorry in general: it’s just that most companies don’t want to own their own stuff-ups and apologise for them. It’s easier to smile and say that they regret the inconvenience and your getting hot under the collar, but whoops, life is like that.

    In Veolia’s defence, however, they’re just the French-owned service operators. They don’t own or maintain the crappy infrastructure that keeps breaking down, and they’re certainly not the actual culprits (in Wellington and elsewhere) who’ve been skimming profits and underinvesting in rail for decades.

  8. William M says:

    Amen Sam! As the old saying goes, blame the Government!

  9. Sam F says:

    Well, not only the various governments over the years, but also the people who bought the railways and proceeded to carry on blithely whilst the infrastructure gradually fell to bits.

  10. Ciera says:

    Is there a difference between Ontrack and Kiwirail? I’m pretty sure Mistr Ramshaw belongs to Ontrack, and to be fair to everyone I don’t see how we can blame a KiwiRail clippie or his manager for a signal falure by Ontrack.

  11. Jon C says:

    Ciera, both government owned so he covers both. Kiwirail’s site says: KiwiRail. Media Contacts: Kevin Ramshaw. GM Public Affairs. [email protected] 04 495 9042 (ext: 42342). 0274 507 420


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>