Train Fail Report A Fail?


Why isn’t an independent expert running the inquiry into what went so wrong inn Auckland on Friday with transport and the Quay St crush?

The very people who insisted up to the event they had it in hand and could cope with anything are the ones doing the navel gazing.
This would be like having Pike River’s Peter Whittall run the Royal Commission into the mining disaster.

People who lived and breathed this for years and thought they had it right are simply too close to it.

For years this site has complained about the lack of communication from Veolia when things go wrong on the Auckland rail network - often a complete wall of silence.
And last November when U2 concert goers were trapped in crowded carriages and pushed the emergency button, one Australian commented on the post that it was a “total fail -good luck with the RWC.” No lessons were learnt from that event. period.
With Auckland Transport and Veolia cobbling together the report for the Auckland Council tonight, the inquest can only be a once over lightly stating the obvious and not touching the deeper issues that must be answered by someone.
The Government, trying to distance itself madly from any fallout a few months from the election, is anxious to be seen to point the finger entirely at Auckland authorities even though RWC MInister Murray McCully pushed through Queens Wharf being the so-called Party Central and parking any more debate about whether suburban Eden Park, not the city, was the suitable place for the matches to be held.

Long queues on Friday going nowhere

So the report will conclude more buses are needed, Veolia should do better with communication and train overcrowding limits should be enforced instead of cramming on as many people are they could.
But what of the other issues:

  • Why did Auckland Transport market the night saying every Aucklander needed a “Game Plan” to get into and out of the city, leaving their car behind and taking trains and buses, assuring people there were additional trains and late night services. There was not a mention in the marketing to expect long delays or realise you might not get a train.
  • Yet their planning expected there could be up to 200,000 people in the CBD
  • Why was there no routine crowd control measures such as cordons for people to get in and out of the Ferry terminal when the event was happening around Quay St, and easy egress out of the waterfront areas when people needed to leave or felt claustrophobic?
  • What were security staff doing throughout this whole event? I saw a few standing around being staunch but not helpful.
  • Why were their no cordons outside the Britomart terminal rather than the rugby scrum that gathered for people trying to get in and why were there no announcements?
  • Why was the alarm not rung in people’s heads when trains were packed from early on in the day and it was obvious everyone had heeded the call to go and party and watch the fireworks?
  • Why was near anarchy allowed to develop in Queen St and adjacent streets when people flowed on to the road in between the traffic including the over excited Tongan supporters parading up and down the street? Where were the cops? All at Party central and Eden Park no doubt.
  • Why was only Quay St considered to be needed to be closed instead the whole of the waterfront adjacent area in the way Eden Park’s surrounding streets were closed? Queen St should have been off limits to vehicles all night.

Madness developed in Queen St

  • Why did anyone reading this site over the past four years which has been reporting on the weekly breakdowns on the train network not think that trying to push old trains to run a service every 7 minutes to Eden Park was not going to fail in some form especially when there had been a breakdown at Morningside for the last trial run for Eden Park before the RWC? They were luck there wasn’t a mechanical failure that night but probably only because the trains stopped.
  • This site has been campaigning against overcrowding on trains and it still occurs for regular commuters although that has eased with the introducti of six-car trains. Why are overcrowding limits allowed to be exceeded?
  • People waiting anxiously at Britomart had no idea there were buses also leaving for the park but way up by the Civic. Why weren’t there more buses and the nformation about the buses better known to those waiting for a train on the night?
  • Why did the whole of the event occur right at the bottom of Queen St with people trying to get to vantage points colliding with commuters trying to get into a downtown train station?
  • Why were people urged to try out the amazing new Queens Wharf where the entertainment and action was when buried in the message and lost of everyone I spoke to was the fact only 12,000 people could get in?
  • Why did the expensive TV screens fail and by the way who ended up paying for these?
  • Wasn’t the Strand train stop in Parnell recreated as an emergency station that was out of the immediate waterfront location if something was going wrong? Why was that brought into service from early on?
  • In retrospect should Auckland authorities have agreed to a waterfront stadium and the Government forced their hand?
  • Would it have better to wait until Auckland got its long talked about electric trains which at one point were hoped for in time for the RWC -  the tender to even build them is still a few weeks away from being signed!
  • And doesn’t a CBD link where trains can go in the other direction to Kingsland as well make sense now?
  • Is anyone going to trust trains again and how will authorities cope with the massive numbers of cars that will now drive th future Eden Park games. Where will they park?

An independent expert familiar with international event management and transport planning needed to conduct a fast overview and deliver today’s report.

Not people who assured the Government and Council last week all contingencies were in hand.


Minister McCully announces use of  special powers for the government to take over control of the waterfront and provide more space

Steven Joyce blames Labour for why we haven’t electric trains for RWC

Council decisions on Wednesday

Who is to blame? 

John Key says you have to see the Train Fail in some context

Murray McCully won’t apologise

Greens say it’s the Government’s fault 

What actually happened?

Friday night - live blogging as it happened & over 100 comments

What went wrong Thoughts the next day

What happened in Queen St

The craziness that happened in the CBD

What Party central looked like

What’s happened since

North Harbour weekend games have no transport issues

World Reaction
World media ignore the Train Fail apart from the Aussies



  1. Joshua says:

    All excellent questions. Perhaps send them off to councillors so they can ask Veolia/AT these questions at the council meeting on Wednesday?

  2. geoff_184 says:

    I note Veolia shares (the parent body) are down 5.6%.

    Regarding their communication problems, they not only don’t understand how to communicate to customers, they also go to great lengths to deny responsibility for anything that goes wrong, and they never, ever, apologize for poor customer experiences. They always, without exception, pass the buck.

    Is Veolia the right company for running the Auckland rail network? Personally I think customer relations should be top priority. It’s so important for keeping existing customers, and gaining new ones.

  3. Amanda says:

    They cant even cope with everyday service to britomart, what makes them capable of organising transport for the RWC??????

  4. Jon R says:

    McCully still needs to “man up” and apologise.

  5. Geoff Houtman says:

    The expensive tv screens failed too?
    So we’ll be getting a refund for that then?

  6. Bryan says:

    As usual, Auckland missed the opportunity to build a stadium, arena and convention centre on the old railway yards. When the land was returned to Ngati Whatua, the city should have negotiated a lease before the property developers got involved.

    Veolia did a good job of communicating the previous day, when they had to bus around a fatality.

    Veolia and AT don’t seem to be able to allow for flexibility in their plans or operations - for example why were SA6 sets left parked at Henderson when it was clear by midday there were more passengers than trains?

  7. joust says:

    The screens failing contributed to crowds spilling onto ferry wharves and disrupting sailings to and from the shore. So despite the large crowd the main communication channel planners had with that crowd wasn’t working. Actually what that doesn’t mention either is the fact that 2 screens didn’t work at all but for the first hour or so that I saw none of the quay st screens were working properly. It was very frustrating for the crowd.

  8. terry says:

    RWC RWC you catch a train once in a blue moon i catch it everday and its always been like this at least once in a week trains fail like this morning 653am sturges to city cancelled walked to hsn caught a bus and still made to work before the 707am train got to city,. If it hardlly works for regular commuters why should it work for an extra 30 thous

  9. Doloras says:

    Bryan: can you imagine the disaster if the game had been on the waterfront as well? Mass tramplings. Thank God for Eden Park.

  10. arty says:

    i said that new market rail station was a lemon,(a post i put up on this site a while back)should have designed the station around kindom street,cameron and banksie,agreed with the design,(they should be blamed)what a lemon,where in the world do they have train drivers getting out of cab at the first train station to go to the back of the train. and veolia do not know how to run a train set and why weren’t the new electric trains for 2011 scraped and why not put a few of the new chinese disels on the auckland train lines

  11. Ingolfson says:

    “People who lived and breathed this for years and thought they had it right are simply too close to it.”

    That may be true Jon, but the fact is that a report was needed NOW, for political reasons if nothing else (even so, Government simply declared “martial law” so to speak and took away control anyway).

    External people might have had a view with less conflict of interest, but the best an external party could have done in that time was ask the types of questions you did - not answer them.

  12. Cheryl says:

    There is an independent inquiry taking place. It was published in the Herald yesterday, and in Auckland Transport’s report on the opening night. A Partner from Meredith Connell Lawyers is conducting an independent inquiry on AT.


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