It’s A Long Way To Timbuktu


Amazing. Even though a reported 18,000 got to Eden Park by train on Saturday night, the media manage to find a negative angle.
TV3 went as far as to say Auckland rail failed the test - because people had to wait after the game for up to an hour to get onboard.

We have come a long way when you acknowledge 18,000 of the 50,000 plus Eden Park fans on Saturday night got moved by trains.

By all accounts and from my view, it happened like a well-oiled army operation - not surprising when you consider the many trial runs leading up to now.
And authorities chose well in appointing Bruce Barnard as the RWC programme Transport Director with his reputation for transport management of big Aussie events like the Commonwealth Games and the Grand Prix in Victoria.

Predictably, some in the Sunday media managed to find some small-town yokels, making their once in a decade trip to the Big Smoke, who complained about having to queue to get on a train.
No doubt, in their little town’s general store, no-one has to queue for groceries.
Sorry folks but the Eden Park experience is a little different from attending a Saturday afternoon Pukekohe High School rugby match.

Lee was unimpressed with his hour-long journey from Eden Park’s exits to Britomart station. “There were too many people going to a little train station. You looked left and there was a bottleneck. You looked right and there was a bottleneck. I’d like to go to the rugby again but after that performance, I’d rather watch it at home.”

Tony and Suzanne said it took 50 minutes to get from the turnstiles to Britomart. “There was a huge queue. It was like being a sheep, getting out of there. Everyone was pushing.”

Diddums.  Auckland is a small city by comparison to many. And when you get out there in the big world beyond small-town, you queue for hours for everything. To climb the Eiffel Tower,visit the Empire State, get into a British museum. Americans have queuing in their DNA and introduced much more professional cordons in places like banks before we followed suit. They developed the task of moving big crowds along into a highly professional art.

To get 18,000 people to Eden Park, you have to queue and let’s not forget these are old trains with only so much rolling stock.

Of course, it’s too much for the mainstream press to acknowledge anything positive about this.

But on one point, one of the moaning fans was right.

Australian visitor Mick Parfitt said the train he caught back from the match “was the slowest train in the world.”

Whenever I return from an overseas train experience and ride the Western Line again, it feels as if it’s barely moving at times. We used to blame the maintenance and constructin work on the Line - but it still feels an eternity to get from Britomart to Kingsland - especially with a 5-minute driver-change-ends stop at Newmarket which thankfully RWC patrons are spared.

I still don’t understand why.

What the RWC madness looked like on Saturday night




  1. Carl says:

    18,000 people is better than 00,000 people.


  2. Giel says:

    Slow because of steep grades, sharpest curves in NZ for heavy rail (maybe even in this part of World) and diesel locomotives never designed for such commuter operations . Electrification with EMU’s should solve last one and alleviate grade issue to some extent but we are stuck with curve issues. CBD loop possibly would solve most of the above and cut time to Kingsland ex Britomart in half. Great achievement though - very impressive.

  3. joust says:

    People I know came to the game on the ferry. Perhaps they left early enough but the trip went fine. No problems with too few ticket clippers. Plus being worried about missing the 10pm sailing and having to wait till 11, were pleasantly surprised at the extra 10:30 ferry.

  4. Liam says:

    Clearly Auckland Transport should’ve organised a teleporting service to get these people home faster…

    But yeah my experience was fine, the lines were a bit chaotic for a while, but it can’t really be helped when there’s 55,000 people leaving at once. They did a perfectly good job.

  5. George D says:

    Not sure I think 60 minutes is quite acceptable, but I did enjoy seeing Graham Sibery on TV trying to defend himself. If they put him on TV every time the trains ran late (or didn’t run at all) I’d be happy. I would have thought that getting most if not all off the platform within 40 minutes would be what you’d aim for. I think that when you have tens of thousands of tourists without cars, the waits could be even longer. But then I have no idea what other events are like. This might be standard.

    Giel, absolutely. Many of the curves can’t be eliminated, due to geography, but there are plenty that could.

    We could fix this if we were prepared to do more than rudimentary work to the network. Buying property, doing earthwork. The line is a remant of the 19th century, and as a consequence goes around almost every bump, rather than cutting through them. This of course would require money, and money would require those with money to value the system - something that will take a while.

    Rolling stock is also an issue, but since we’re about to abandon diesels, I’m not going to complain too much. I’m actually concerned - with continued growth are we going to have enough EMUs on the system? They need to project for growth and buy them now.

  6. Martin says:

    An hour isn’t great to be honest. I’ve been Football stadia (Football, Rugby, NFL) all over North America & Europe by public transport and places like Wembley, the Mile High Stadium, Allianz Arena etc had been cleared out within 30 mins barring the stragglers by Trains/Tube/Buses.

    Remembering too that these stadiums make Eden Park look like a back water design and capacity size (Wembley 90k for instance).

  7. George D says:

    Martin, thanks for that confirmation. My experience with Australian stadiums is that they clear onto transit relatively quickly by comparison.

    Surely they could put on a whole bunch of buses too? They’ve got a lot of road to play with, and since its outside peak hours there’s capacity in the bus system.

  8. “50 minutes from the turnstile to Britomart” means they waited less than 30 minutes for the train. Bunch of crybabies.

  9. Carl says:

    So of these “idiots” that are complaining should try going to twickers and then waiting after that to get a train.

    or maybe some of them should try going to the olympics.

    Once again for the size of firstly the population of the city and then secondly the country…

    moving 18,000 people and doing it in close to an hour or so is pretty dam good.

    although, some rapid bus trips to say the likes papakura (for people south and surrounding who could park and ride) might be a good idea in future.

    and the only way it will keep working long after the world cup is gone, is to fully intergrate game ticket and train/bus ticket for up to 3 hours either side of the game.

    and provide services to the likes of Pukekohe / Papakura in the south, out west and over to the shore.

    if about 18,000 is the true number, bloody good show for a first “real” test run.

  10. Mark says:

    The original stadium design had more of a concourse/waiting area on site - ASB down to Sandringham Rd. That would have allowed better entertainment eg tv screens/replays etc.

    You can’t get 18,000 people onto trains in 10min! but they do need to keep them entertained while they wait.

    I was amazed at the 18,000 total - given that we didn’t have the RWC tourists based in the CBD.

  11. penfold says:

    It’s a much bigger event, but I seem to remember waiting the best part of 45 minutes to get on a tram after the Melbourne Grand Prix a couple of years ago.
    @Martin - in the US and Europe they design their stadia very well and often with PT in mind. Wellington does an excellent job with the cake tin as they have the trains all lined up and ready to go along with buses to the CBD.

  12. Ian M says:

    Went to a Champions League game at Ibrox, Glasgow last year. Mostly serviced by one small subway. Crowd took over an hr to clear but everyone waited orderly in a line (or kept in line by police) and no one complained……maybe because Rangers actually won for once!

  13. Martin says:

    @ Penfold

    I agree with you but in 2006/7 we decided to stick with Eden park and upgrade it. Public transport solutions should have been a primary consideration given Eden Park’s rubbish location & clearly its only been looked at as an after thought.

    The stadiums I’ve mentioned there are all older then the overhauled (poorly) Eden Park.

    The Cake Tin though is a different story and is great and the Ibrox example isn’t great as its an old stadium and Glaswegians have a reputation for “kicking off” so is slowed down by the police controlling the crowd.


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