Train Performance Disappoints


Train performance continues to be a little shaky.

In December the average overall punctuality on the lines was 74.6% - only Onehunga being the standout - and in that month, a month shortened by the Christmas work from December 24 there were -

  • Train breakdowns and faults resulting in 64 services being cancelled
  • Track and signalling problems resulting in 179 services being cancelled
  • Other issues resulting in 38 service cancellations during the month

Work being done on the lines around the train service operations always affects services and there is plenty of evidence of that happening in the last few months with the electrification work being done such as installation of cabinets and the upgrades at places like Baldwin.

But then this year has not had a great start -and Waitakere continues to seem to be a special problem.

This email in from yesterday:

“Yet another lousy day on the Western Line to Waitakere. No 7.02am. No reason given. Taxis sent but drivers and taxi control no idea about where the passengers should go.

Return journey. No announcement/customer service made at Britomart. 15.36 still in station just before 16.00. At Avondale train could not proceed because road barriers were not down and traffic was crossing the tracks. Told at Ranui that I would have to get off at Swanson because there were track/signalling problems. Told to get the shuttle bus. Bus drivers said that they had been told the trains were working now but driver took me to Waitakere anyway.
Highest fares on the Western line and absolutely ROTTEN SERVICE!”

December’s breakdowns included:

  • Four network incidents involving points, signalling or CTC issues on 10 December at Takanini, 16 and 23 December outside the Britomart and on 17 December at Newmarket
  • That resulted in a total of 375 services being delayed including 104 cancellations.
  • An emergency services incident at Westfield on  December 8caused delays to 20 services.
  • One train failure on  December 2 caused delays to 16 services including three cancellations.

It is fair to point out safety restrictions while the track work is being done including on the Eastern Line meant slower speeds in areas which contributed to the performance issues.

But as we know, regular breakdowns, cancellations and late trains makes public transport users think twice about the reliability of using the service.




  1. GJA says:

    The train I took (on the Eastern Line) this morning arrived 10 minutes late, I think yesterday’s was about 15 minutes late into Britomart.

    As mentioned in an earlier post, the Train Managers are getting better at apologising - just before we entered the tunnel. As if a daily apology will make any difference.

  2. richard says:

    I catch the train infrequently but decided to go to Remuera today. I arrived at Britomart and found a huge crowd and realised it was the Big Day Out. There was an announcement that the Papakura via Newmarket was leaving from Platform One and the board above the platform indicated the same. It was the service about 10.15am and it had the biggest crowd I have ever seen on a NZ train.

    The TM was selling tickets and I presented my Gold Card and asked for Remuera. She didn’t issue a ticket and wandered off which I thought strange. After the Newmarket stop I fought my way to the door but we sailed past Remuera then Greenlane I saw the TM and said I wanted to get off at Remuera why didn’t we stop. She said it was a special and non stop to Penrose. I became ropeable and told her they had not said that and what were they going to do to which she said I would have to get a train back.

    After waiting 20 minutes I and another couple retraced our steps on another train. I had lost my cool with the supervisor chap trying to collect fares with his mates at Penrose and have now completed a complaint form for MAXX

    This is not on, a special should be listed as such, not just change the stops on a regular service without advising passengers. My trip by bus and train from Glenfield to Remuera station took 1hour 45minutes.
    By car it would take off peak 20-25minutes and if one could cycle over the bridge a cycle ride of about 45minutes maximum

    I seem to recall there was a report that Veolia did this for a previous concert and a passenger who missed their stop as a result pressed the emergency button and this threw the system into chaos.

    Frankly the way I felt today I don’t blame him/her

    Why do Connex call themselves Veolia here is it so they are not associated with their poor record overseas??

  3. James Pole says:

    Veolia is called Veolia everywhere except Melbourne where it’s the exception to the rule.

  4. Finn says:

    I was trainspotting at Glen Eden Station on Wednesday and there was a voice over the loudspeaker - “The 9:51 service to Swanson is cancelled,” and over the over side of the platform little kids were crying because they wanted to go on the train, but it turns out that the train did come - 4 minutes early. Then when I boarded the train to Britomart I got a free ticket because I was filming trains :)

  5. LucyJH says:

    Here’s my story of BDO woe (which am thinking of selling to Women’s Weekly). But anyway…

    We caught train to Penrose in the morning and that all went fine except for the bizzarely ineffecient ticketing. Coming home we got on the train at about 10.15 pm (after a lengthy wait on platform). It was crowded but took us to Newmarket fairly speedily.

    At that point the driver said “Travellers on the Western line get off here and transfer for your train to Waitakere.”

    We got along with others and found ourselves looking at an electronic sign which said the next train to West Auckland was at 11.45 pm. That is, an HOUR after our train had just dropped us off.

    There was one guy on the platform who we questioned but sadly he could hardly speak English and had no idea when the next train was coming or what we were asking.

    One of the girls checked her phone and said “But it says here on the timetable that there will be trains every twenty minutes taking us home.” So we all waited with no train in sight.

    It was cold and wet and people were miserable and really pissed off that they had been told to get off the train at Newmarket and wait for a service that wasn’t coming for an hour. Understandably since they might well have had more luck going into town and getting a late bus from Britomart out West.

    We left about 11.20 as we were lucky enough to live in Kingsland so could get a taxi with minimal cost. But I felt sorry for the 30 people we left behind shivering and sneezing.

  6. mark says:

    7% of all Western Line services did not arrive (at the final destination) at all???

    Gosh, that is way worse than I thought (being only a occassional train user) I know there’s still lots of works going on, but it almost makes you wonder whether higher frequencies are worth it right now, when passengers are so unsure about what will happen (i.e. whether frewer frequencies and more reliability would be better - gettng more buffering time, and being able to maintain trains better, with more downtime).


  7. James Pole says:

    Mark: Better frequencies would be better. At the moment a 15mins freq on the Western Line means a cancellation results in 30mins between services. Better to have a 10min freq which means cancellations will just see that drop to 20mins (much more bearable!).

    A case proving my point: Buses on certain routes have higher frequencies and much worse reliability compared to the trains — such as Dominion Road and Mount Eden Road.

    Usage of buses are very high on these routes despite the shoddy reliability of bus services simply because buses run every 5 mins or so during the peak so a cancellation is hardly noticed.

    I would be very interested to see reliability stats for the buses. I suspect they would make interesting reading, especially if they were broken down by routes. Wouldn’t surprise me if the stats for certain routes were actually worse than the trains!


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