How Could A Container Stop Auckland & The Trains?(Updated)


containSo let me get this right. A first world city, on the verge of hosting the Rugby World Cup, sees 280,000 homes and businesses lose power, with  delays to trains and traffic in the process.

And this was caused by a forklift containing a container hitting a line.

Transpower says a circuit on the Otahuhu to Henderson 220 kV line tripped while the other circuit was out for maintenance, causing loss of supply for North Auckland and Northland (about 280,000 consumers). Their investigations confirmed that a forklift carrying a container hit the line near Otahuhu.

So here are some questions someone in authority should be answering:

  • What does this say about Auckland’s ability to host the RWC?
  • Two months ago today, Transpower boasted it was undertaking an inspection of its Auckland transmission lines with its spokesman saying: “We are committed to ensuring that the National Grid is robust and reliable. These types of programmes allow preventative measures to be undertaken to ensure that the Grid can continue to operate effectively.”  Should taxpayers still be paying these people?
  • How could a container hitting a line cause power to go off to such huge areas without satisfactory backup?
  • We haven’t yet got electric trains but trains were still affected because of signal failures (there were signal failures last night as well, nothing to do with power cuts). Improvements to signals are planned for next year. Isn’t it time to do a “Victoria Viaduct” and accelerate the timetable to make this happen?
  • What backups will we have when the entire train system is electric?
  • Haven’t we heard all this several times before in the last decade as power cuts bring outrage, government promises and assurance? A city can easily  be put out of action by a forklift and Transpower people keep their jobs.

The  power outage this morning affected Western line services with signal failures causing delays.  On one late peak time train, the train manager announced the train had to run extra slow because of heavy capacity caused by the number of students trying to get to school and unable to catch their scheduled service. Some students were fretting about being late for crucial end of year exams.

Buses (and other motorists) were  also affected by traffic delays caused by traffic signals not working.

The PSA national  national secretary, Richard Wagstaff, claims this is a taste of what will happen under the super city as 1.3 million people will become reliant on corporate organisations, that are not answerable to them , for vital services that they rely on.

“This also means that vital services like water and public transport are neatly packaged up for privatisation.

“This power cut is a timely reminder how much we all rely on services like power, water and public transport.”

UPDATE:Transpower Chief Executive Patrick Strange said that a new project planned to be commissioned by 2014 will help to prevent this sort of event occurring in the future.
“The North Auckland and Northland Grid Upgrade project (NAaN project) involves
installing a new underground cable circuit between Pakuranga and Albany. This new
circuit will provide supply diversity from the double circuit transmission line between
Otahuhu and Henderson that was affected by today’s outage.”

This doesn’t give us any assurance for electric trains rolling out in 2013.



  1. Jeremy Harris says:

    I hadn’t thought about power cuts affecting electric trains before…

  2. kb says:

    Well normally there IS a backup - the other circuit which was out for maintenance.

  3. George Darroch says:

    Shouldn’t they be doing that kind of thing only at non-critical times such as late at night, and public holidays?

  4. James says:

    How long had the backup been out for “maintenance”? I’d expect for something as vital as that it should number in the hours? But suspect it might’ve been a fair bit longer and “maintenance” is more like the Escalator at Britomart!

  5. Matt says:

    I’m thinking that it might be a very good thing that we’re not due to get our fabled electric trains until 2013, because apparently it’s going to take that long for the geographically-diverse electrical link through to the Shore to be completed.
    Once that’s in place it’ll be a matter of switching distribution paths to route power over the top and back down through West Auckland, but until then we’re at the mercy of a single link with a huge SPF at the Otahuhu substation.

  6. anthony says:

    we are building tunnels, motorways, improved rail network and yet Auckland still has a falling apart power network,
    if we have a massive failure in 5 years it will be twice the impact.


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