Desperate Times


If I write about every breakdown occurring on the Auckland rail network at the moment, especially the Western line, this site will look like a bad Microsoft day with nothing but error messages.

There are so many ‘outages,’ a breakdown or delay is no longer news.

When my train stopped at Kingdon St, last night, and didn’t seemed to want to continue, I couldn’t work out what was happening.

I wondered if this was some sort of memorial ceremony to the demolition of this one-time Newmarket West stop, bowled over by demolition crews against ARC Chair Mike Lee’s wishes at Christmas with little warning?

KINGDON: The Christmas demolition

I put my iPod on to drown out any inevitable apology message over the intercom.

It was just another long signal fault apparently.

Today, I have to go cross town and was looking forward to supporting public transport and prove anything is possible by using two train lines to get there followed by a 15 minute walk on a Walk2Work day.

But I can’t risk being late for the appointment - and sitting at a train stop, not knowing if it will turn up on time or at all is too stressful and when it doesn’t come, you are left fretting how to meet your deadline.

So I’m celebrating Walk2Work day in a way I would prefer not to and something I haven’t done for about five years.

I have taken the car into the morning rush hour traffic. While there will be traffic jams, at least I am in control of trying to get there.

If the experiment works for me, contrasted with weeks of endless frustrating train delays, I hope it doesn’t make me wonder if that method should become the norm for a whbile.




  1. Anne says:

    Jon, yesterday I drove into work. It was hellish, and the road rage nearly killed me, but at least I got to work on time (after being 45 min late the day before).

    Really unfortunate that MAXX launched their “new way of doing things” marketing campaign when their new way of doing things looks remarkably like the old way of doing things.

    One thing that is different, they are much better at communicating with passengers about the many many delays. Too bad that the Sunnyvale intercom system only works on the west bound side. (It was working properly Monday morning, but then I saw workers fumbling at the cabinet Monday evening and now … well…. it’s called testing, I don’t understand why this is such an issue for ARTA/KiwiRail/MAXX/whatever)

  2. Matt L says:

    I was stuck on probably the same train as you Jon. We waited for about 3/4 of an hour at Kingdon St after delays at Britomart and Newmart. I ened up getting home an hour late.

    The thing that annoys me the most is not the fault but the fact that because we have so many bodies involved ARTA/Veolia/Kiwirail and no-one takes responsibility. In Wellington they get free days travel after just a couple of delays, in Auckland we have been suffering for years and haven’t had anything but people passing the buck.

  3. Jon C says:

    @Matt L There were more signal issues out west today. The reasons have been well canvassed and we know we have to go through pain but like you I worry about the numbers of people giving up and the fact no one steps forward and gives any assurance any immediate solvable problems are being looked at. is Newmarket signalling sorted now? Is New Lynn causing teething problems since the underground?

    @Anne I drove today but didn’t enjoy the traffic jams. The communication thing is basic, isn’t it . It is better but that seems to depend on who is on at Britomart making the announcements and how enthusiast and diligent they are . The announcement is sometimes too general and not station specific. The fact a train is 18 minutes late doesn’t always give you much confidence another one will eventually emerge or when that one finally comes, it sometimes goes straight through because it’s already overflowing. Sign. None of this is easy.

  4. Matt L says:

    Newmarket seems to be sorted now and in general the end changes are usually fairly consistent averaging 2-2:30. The problems now seem to be Grafton and Avondale. I think one of the reasons we had less problems last year was due to all the major projects being in the middle of construction so they weren’t affecting the lines. Now that they are to the stage where they are about to add the new lines into the network there seems to be more issues. Perhaps it doesn’t take much to knock the system out while they are being replaced.

  5. Kurt says:

    I completely agree that there is no longer a public voice to demand answers and action to sort this mess out especially as patronage is declining so noticeably.

    The media for one seem ignorant of the on going problems.

    Previously (that is before the super city) we heard from the likes of Mike Lee of the ARC who used to berate service providers and get action. But now nothing but silence.

  6. Jon C says:

    @Kurt Not sure ignorant so much as more interested in thinking only sex sells so chasing cricketers who have precious stripper girlfriends instead of investigating why Aucklanders have trouble getting to work each day LOL

  7. Geoff says:

    “bowled over by demolition crews against ARC Chair Mike Lee’s wishes at Christmas with little warning?”

    Hmmm, it was clearly stated on the Project DART website from about December 2007 onwards that the temporary station would be demolished between Dec 26th 2009 and Jan 18th 2010. I wouldn’t call two years “little warning”!

  8. max says:

    Indeed, Geoff. Plus ARTA had a lot of logical reasons too. It may be a similar case of the decision being out of the hands of Mike Lee just as it would be in the future - but it was neither unannounced nor done in secret.


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