AT HOP for trains on board on Saturday
Last reviewed: 25/10/2012 3:59 p.m.
Media release: 25 October 2012
In the next phase of one of the most significant transport technology projects in the history of Auckland, AT HOP for trains goes live this Saturday, 27 October.
One hundred and forty five AT HOP card readers, 60 Ticket &Top-up machines and 29 gates are now spread across Auckland’s rail network.
Auckland Transport Chief Operating Officer, Greg Edmonds say; “This is a project based on sophisticated technology which has been implemented in 40 cities around the world.
Mr Edmonds says, “AT HOP will be your one smart card for travel on public transport around Auckland. It is a convenient, re-useable smart card that stores value, either as money, or as a rail monthly pass. An AT HOP card operates via a simple tag on / tag off system when you board and disembark.
“Tag on at the start of every trip by placing your AT HOP card flat and still to the reader or electronic gate. A simple beep and green light will show that you have tagged on successfully.
“Don’t forget to tag off at the end of every trip to ensure you get the appropriate discounted fare. If you don’t tag off you will be charged the penalty fare for that trip the next time you tag on.
“To tag off place your AT HOP card flat and still to the reader. A single beep and green light will show that you have tagged off successfully. The fare charged will appear on the screen, as will your remaining HOP money balance or Monthly Pass expiry date.
”We also advise you to register your AT HOP card. Registering gives you benefits such as the ability to better protect your card from unauthorised use should it be lost or stolen only after advising AT of the loss. It also protects the balance you have stored on your card and allows it to be transferred to a new card.
“AT HOP cards can be topped up at Ticket & Top-Up machines or Ticket Offices on the rail network. From 27 October you will also be able to top up your card online. AT HOP cards are currently available for half price at a limited time, special introductory offer of five dollars at Britomart, Newmarket, Papakura and New Lynn offices and from mobile sales representatives at stations. Information can be found at http://www.AT.co.nz
Mr Edmonds says, “The next phase in the integrated ticketing project is AT HOP on ferries by the end of November with AT HOP rolling out on buses next year. For a few months NZ Bus users who also use trains will use both the HOP/Snapper card and an AT HOP card. The HOP/Snapper card will be phased out next year”.
The Mayor is describing the extension of the use of the AT HOP card to trains as another milestone towards the creation of a fully integrated transport system in Auckland.
“Having one card that Aucklanders can use across the transport system will be a huge bonus for Aucklanders,” says Len Brown “Many of us will have experienced the benefits of integrated ticketing in other international cities. This event brings that day one step closer in Auckland.
“I look forward to the time Aucklanders can use one card to take a bus, catch a ferry and then board one of our new trains through the City Rail Link to get from point A to point B quickly, comfortably and efficiently.”
Mr Edmonds says Auckland Transport thanks both the New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Council for their financial support towards Auckland’s Integrated Ticketing Project, which will be New Zealand’s first full multi-modal integrated ticketing system.
Barriers go up at Auckland's two busiest railway stations tomorrow as an upgraded version of the electronic Hop card is finally introduced to trains.
Passengers will have to either swipe new cards for the barriers to be lifted before they can enter or leave platforms at Britomart and Newmarket, or buy paper tickets beforehand to show station staff on duty at manually operated gates.
Those boarding trains elsewhere without Hop cards must pay first at platform ticketing machines, or risk being caught by roving "revenue protection" officers armed with wand-like reading devices.
Train operator Veolia is employing 55 revenue staff, although Auckland Transport is waiting for new legislation next year to fine non-payers. Veolia's only power till then will be to ask offenders to get off at the next stop, but Auckland Transport chief operating officer Greg Edmonds says police can issue two-year trespass notices.
It is not known what fines will be but fare evaders in Sydney and Melbourne pay at least $250.
Of 43,000 daily passenger trips on Auckland trains, Mr Edmonds says 70 per cent will begin or end at gated stations and he is confident the new system will reduce revenue loss estimated at 6 per cent from fare evasion or other "leakage".
Holders of Hop cards will also have to remember to tag off at machines at the end of trips or face a penalty deduction of $5.04.
Mr Edmonds said no major errors had been found in a trial with about 400 people and he was confident everything would run smoothly.
That will be the hope of taxpayers and ratepayers footing a $98 million bill for introducing Hop cards on most of Auckland's transport network and bus firms paying $12 million for new ticket-reading machines next year.
Trial participant Louis Olsen said he was finding the new system "ridiculously easy" apart from a small "hiccup" on Wednesday, when he tagged on at a machine at Grafton Station but, after deciding not to wait for a late-running train, could not tag back off.
Auckland Transport spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said that although passengers would have up to 20 minutes to change their minds without fares being deducted, they should wait for about 20 seconds for tagging off to work.
On the web Holders of old cards should register for free replacements at AThopsignup.co.nz
(Mark II) introduction
Ferries: November 30
Buses: from April
Auckland Transport chose the path of least resistance for its first big test of Hop cards on trains yesterday - by leaving most new electronic gates open to avoid any passenger crush.
Barriers were kept across only three of 15 electronic gates at peak travel times at Britomart's main entrance to train platforms, as most passengers were ushered off platforms clutching paper tickets.
They were mainly sent in a relatively free flow through alternative manually operated gates while an estimated 15 per cent with new rail-enabled Hop cards were shown how to tag off through ticket readers on the open electronic gates.
At the only other gated station on Auckland's rail network, Newmarket, it was deemed quiet enough for all barriers to operate.
One young man was escorted to the ticket office to pay a fare after an alarm told Veolia staff he had tried to escape charge by tailgating another passenger through the gate.
Despite a small army of Auckland Transport ambassadors passing around word of the new system, the man pleaded ignorance to the Herald.
But Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton said only a handful of the estimated 70 per cent of rail passengers starting or ending their trips at gated stations were caught not paying, and he believed the new system would help to stem revenue losses.
Although most of Veolia's "revenue protection" staff were concentrated at the two stations yesterday, risking losses among the other 30 per cent, Dr Warburton said more would be sent out to patrol other parts of the network once passengers became used to the system.
"The public have been most supportive - we need to be careful we don't gear the system on assuming that everybody is dishonest," he said.
Auckland Transport has sold about 16,000 rail-enabled Hop cards since early last week, making Dr Warburton confident all the electronic gates would be operating full-time within about 10 days.
AT Hop card
Trains - already in place.
Ferries - from November 30.
Buses - between April and June (when early version Hop cards will be phased out)
Auckland Transport insists it is processing online payments for its new Hop train cards within 24 hours, despite complaints from passengers of delays of three days or more.
The Herald received emails yesterday from two passengers saying large payments made on Saturday were not showing on the council transport agency's Hop card website.
Len Thomson said he loaded $150 on to his new card on Saturday, but although he had been able to tag on and off for a train trip on Monday, his online account was still showing a negative balance at 7am yesterday.
He reported later in the morning that the balance had turned up in his account, but he remained dissatisfied with the system's sluggish response.
Fellow passenger Terry Sawyer said he was still waiting for $100 to appear in his account, 84 hours after trying to top up his Hop card.
That was even longer than a warning on the Hop website that it may take up to 72 hours for funds to be transferred to rail cards.
"Please ensure you have sufficient funds to cover your intended travel during this time," the site says.
The warning appears to contradict a pamphlet distributed by Auckland Transport to new cardholders saying that after they have completed transactions "it may take 24 hours for the funds to load on to your card".
But Auckland Transport spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said last night that the 72-hour warning was simply to give passengers notice of the worst-case scenario while the organisation was trying to process of top-ups for holders of more than 16,000 cards issued in little more than a week.
She said the card processing centre had assured her the processing time had since been pared back to within 24 hours.
‘Quiet zone’ trial may reduce train horn use
Auckland residents near Newmarket’s busy train station may enjoy more peace and quiet over coming weeks following the introduction of a "quiet zone" which should lead to a decrease in train horn usage through the area.
A change in the operating rules aiming to reduce the use of train horns has been developed and is being trialled in the Newmarket station limits area in response to requests from local residents.
The station is the second busiest on the Auckland network. It sits at a junction with a level crossing and a tunnel nearby, and neighbouring residents have been complaining for many years about disturbance caused by the high incidence of train horns.
The trial, which began last Saturday, means that KiwiRail operating rules requiring the routine use of train horns for a number of operating scenarios will not apply in the "quiet zone", explains the Project Manager, Phil McQueen.
Ultimately the use of the train horn still remains at the discretion of drivers to ensure that a warning of an approaching train is provided when necessary.
However horns will no longer be required on a routine basis as commuter trains approach and depart the platforms, approach the junction, or approach the southern portal of the Parnell tunnel, he says.
"Train horns are an important part of our operating environment to provide a warning to people close to the track," says Phil McQueen. "However they can also be a nuisance for people living close to the corridor, particularly in areas like Newmarket where there is a high number of triggers for the horn to be sounded."
The introduction of other means of communication both on board and at stations, means we can review the use of horns so that nuisance is minimised, without compromising on safety, he says.
A four-day survey of horn usage prior to the introduction of the trial, was carried to provide a baseline and further surveys will be carried out over the coming weeks, so the impact of the rule change can be measured.
Staff and local residents are being asked to give their feedback on the trial and further surveys will be held to measure the effect of the change in rules.
The future of free afternoon public transport for Auckland's seniors could be decided this week.
Auckland Council's Transport Committee will decide whether or not Super Gold Card holders can use public transport in the afternoon peak period from 3pm-7pm.
As it stands Auckland is the only city in the country which offers free trips at this time of the day, and New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is concerned it is the only region it has to assist with funding for the service.
Afternoon peak hour travel for Super Gold Card holders costs $2.4 million a year, which is split around 50/50 between the Auckland Council and NZTA.
NZTA has previously described the Auckland deal as unaffordable and said it fell outside its responsibilities.
Joshua Arbury, the principal transport planner for the council, said in a report to the committee that keeping the service in the afternoon peak period would have a number of benefits.
"These include removing any operational challenges and confusion for passengers that may arise from the card switching from being valid to invalid repeatedly and the additional socio-economic benefits to senior citizens arising from having free public transport available to them."
Arbury said it would be a problem if NZTA withdrew its part-funding of the peak period.
He proposed several options for the council to keep the service alive.
One was to advocate to the NZTA and Auckland Transport the council's desire to keep the service running in the afternoons.
Albury said the council could suggest Auckland Transport prioritises funding for it, or even to consider the merits of giving Auckland Transport more money.
If NZTA was to withdraw its funding, Auckland Council would have to front up with $1.2 million a year to retain the service.
Albury said this figure would grow over time with a growing and ageing population.
Auckland Transport plans to review all passenger concessions.
A spokesman said they hoped to continue the free travel for over-65s if funding was cut, but it was not known where that money would come from.
"That hasn't been talked about in detail yet but it is something we're looking at."
The organisation was also reviewing the amount and eligibility of tertiary student discounts on public transport.
Auckland Council transport leader Mike Lee says correspondence released by the Beehive confirms government responsibility for the debacle of having two separate electronic passenger cards called Hop.
"We are having to clean up a mess here because of political interference at the highest level," he said yesterday, after the correspondence emerged from documents released under the Official Information Act.
"The reason we have got two separate Hop cards is a direct result of government interference."
He was referring to the supply of a Hop card by Snapper Services to NZ Bus passengers more than a year before Auckland Transport was able to roll out its own ticket under the same name on trains a week and a half ago under a scheme expected to cost ratepayers, taxpayers and bus operators $110 million.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has denied a claim by Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford that he misled Parliament in saying there was no ministerial involvement in a decision to include Snapper in Auckland's integrated ticketing scheme.
"Mr Twyford is engaged in a creative cut-and-paste exercise of the information released under the OIA, but I don't believe his claims have any validity," he said on Sunday night.
But the Labour MP said yesterday that nowhere in hundreds of pages of released documents was there any correction by Mr Brownlee's ministerial predecessor, Steven Joyce, of a letter which Snapper chief executive Miki Szikszai sent to Mr Joyce before the company received permission in 2010 to join the Auckland scheme.
Mr Szikszai wrote to the minister that he understood from a meeting with Mr Joyce that his "expectations" were that fellow Infratil subsidiary NZ Bus should be free to install Snapper machines in its 650 Auckland buses.
Mr Joyce's office said he was leaving any response on the issue to Mr Brownlee, as the minister now responsible for transport.
Mr Twyford said he intended writing to the Auditor-General whose office is conducting a "low-level" inquiry into the ticketing scheme.
Work on the main building is progressing well - watch the progress in the timelapse video alongside - and tracks are being laid to the depot.
Depot update: October 2012 (PDF 1.78 MB)
Councillors want fairness for all suburbs.
New fare zones are to be reconsidered to ensure southern and western suburbs are not disadvantaged. Photo / APN
Auckland Council transport politicians want proposed new fare zones common to buses and trains reconsidered to ensure southern and western suburbs are not disadvantaged.
Although they supported a new regional public transport plan at a committee meeting yesterday, they accepted a staff suggestion that the number of zones and their boundaries be reviewed "to ensure they are fair and do not lead to significant changes from current fare levels".
The plan, created by the council-controlled Auckland Transport, includes a revamp of bus routes and a new fare system by about the end of 2014 in which there will be no extra charge for swapping between different bus or rail services within each of seven zones.
Principal council transport planner Josh Arbury said the overhaul of services over the next three years to include an extensive network of high frequency routes of buses at least once every 15 minutes from 7am until 7pm on every day of the week - and more at peak times - would deliver "a vast improvement on now".
"The council strongly supports the regional public transport plan as a whole. This is a key implementation of the Auckland Plan, wanting to radically improve public transport," he told the committee.
But he said adjustments to the proposed fare zones would provide greater equity between different parts of Auckland.
Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford, who is the MP for Te Atatu, raised concerns last month, saying it would be cheaper to travel 20km from Long Bay to central Auckland than 10km from New Lynn or Onehunga under the existing proposal.
But Mr Arbury said there were possible alternatives, some of which he understood Auckland Transport had looked at.
Public submissions closed this week but the council and local boards have been given extra time to respond to it.
Automatic Route Setting – the technicalities explained
For those interested in a more technical description of Automatic Route Setting, Network Operations Manager Carl Mills explains.
Automatic Route Setting works within the following way: a computer database holds the master timetable for the Auckland network. The data includes train numbers, train types, all stop times, platform allocations and routes.
Operational Planners then programme pre-set "commands" and "check conditions" to set points and clear signals.
These commands are saved as "triggers" and associated to a particular location on the track. When a train is detected at that track location, the computer identifies the train number, and therefore its route.
The logic then looks at the "check conditions" (such as making sure other trains have passed or the train crew have operated a train-ready device) and if they comply, it will clear the relevant signals for the correct path. All this happens in seconds
If the conditions for a particular command are not met, then the system will retry for up to five minutes before alerting the Train Controller that the route will not clear.
Over time, more and more trigger locations will be set throughout the network.
For example, a southbound train arriving at Ellerslie will trigger a command to set the route at Penrose to go to or from Westfield. Those signals will be set by the computer if it sees no other trains in the way.
If there is another train present, the train will trigger another request when it reached a second trigger closer to Penrose Junction. If there is still another train in the way, that command will keep trying until the track is free or five minutes expires.
This means the train is getting the correct route as quickly as possible after the track is free.
Automated signalling in Auckland Train Control ‘turning point’
The introduction of automated signalling on the Auckland network is a turning point in the way the National Train Control Centre controls rail traffic, says Manager Network Operations Carl Mills.
Train Control and the international signalling firm Invensys have been working on configuring new software for the Auckland network that automatically signals trains.
"It went live from 15 October, but that really was the day we started a journey that will take about 12 months to complete.
Known as Automatic Route Signalling (ARS), it’s the first advanced train control technology to be introduced in New Zealand.
"While it’s not something many people will see for themselves or be directly aware of, it’s a turning point in the way Train Control functions," says Carl Mills.
"For the better part of a century, controllers have used paper graphs to plot the progress of trains and for a similar length of time, people have pulled levers to move trains from one track to another – now there are times controllers don’t even need to touch a mouse"
Auckland network controllers in the past have controlled signals and points by moving a computerised mouse for every train movement. The new software removes the need for the controller to actively intervene, once the software has been pre-programmed correctly.
Carl Mills says that as a result, controllers will have more time to plan, monitor performance and deal more proactively with issues without the constant need to change points and signals.
He says ARS will also reduce the chance of human error such as setting wrong routes.
But he warns that ARS is unlikely to be introduced to Wellington or any part of the freight network in the near future.
"Auckland is the ideal New Zealand location for such a system," he says. "Traffic has grown considerably in recent years and this will continue as the population expands and new electric trains make train travel more attractive.
"The hub-and-spoke nature of Auckland lends itself to such a system. There are five significant junctions on the Auckland network compared with a single junction in Wellington where individual lines extent north without intersecting."
Carl Mills says the ARS technology is widely used internationally, but so far has not been needed in New Zealand because the network has not had signalling equipment sufficiently sophisticated or the volume of traffic needed to justify it.
The sophistication of the new signalling equipment installed by Invensys as part of electrification of the Auckland network recognises the more challenging operating conditions that will apply.
Carl Mills says that locomotive engineers will notice very little difference. "The only thing they may notice is that they get their signal a little earlier than they’ve been used to because they won’t be waiting for the controller to change the signal or the points."
A team of Australian and Spanish ARS specialists has been working in Wellington on commissioning the system in the Control Centre during October.
Carl Mills says it’s important to realise that commissioning is not a "flick of the switch" event. "It will take the better part of a year to complete the programming at the various stations – so it will be a progressive implementation rather than an instant one.
"The new system is proving its worth," he says. "Given the time it’ll take to complete the job and the inevitability of a few gremlins along the way, we’re doing pretty well."
Auckland Transport will be asked by its council parent to give high priority to a south-facing rail link from Manukau while also considering the cost of electrifying trains to Pukekohe.
The council's transport committee this week heard the organisation's board is to consider electrification costs to Pukekohe at its next meeting in a fortnight.
But after the Franklin and Papakura local boards urged a more direct rail link with Manukau, the committee also decided to ask Auckland Transport to give that high priority before electric trains start running in 2014.
Although the Government's existing $500 million electrification project is to stop at Papakura, committee member Christine Fletcher said an extension to Pukekohe was "the next logical step".
Mrs Fletcher, who is also a council appointee to the transport board, believed an existing order of 57 electric trains being built in Spain should be extended.
Although the cost of electrifying rail to Papakura was estimated at $115 million in 2008, and would normally be seen as the Government's responsibility, committee chairman Mike Lee noted that he and Mrs Fletcher had persuaded the transport board last month to save $50 million by scaling down the upgrade of Dominion Rd.
"So it's a matter of priority," he said.
The committee also decided council staff should do their own study, although in consultation with Auckland Transport and the local boards, on the costs and benefits of a south-facing link from Manukau in relation to other rail projects.
Councillor George Wood said an $81 million north-facing line to Manukau, built to feed into a new Manukau Institute of Technology campus, was not "giving anywhere near the level of service it could do to people living to the south"
Rail commuters in Auckland are facing significant delays tonight after a signal failure brought services to standstill during rush hour.
All services in the city are running again after being halted for about 40 minutes after a signal failure about 6.30pm.
Auckland Transport said rail commuters should expect significant delays.
Angry commuters, some of whom were forced to catch buses or taxis, vented their frustration on Twitter.
Passengers even appeared to have been stuck on stranded train near Auckland's main railway station.
At 6.40pm, @jerro70 tweeted: "Stuck on broken train just outside Britomart. Staff do not appear to know what is going on."
Rail network operator Veolia Transport could not be immediately reached for comment.
In April, after a signal failure in Wellington left Auckland commuters waiting for over an hour Auckland Mayor Len Brown demanded answers as to why back up systems failed.
An investigation by KiwiRail in April found a faulty "uninterruptable power supply" which feeds the Auckland network control desk caused the outage.
It was immediately removed and a replacement was installed.
- An earlier version of this story reported that the signal failure which affected Auckland trains tonight was in Wellington. KiwiRail says the signal fault occurred in Auckland
Have you been affected by the delay? Email the Herald Newsdesk
Hundreds of commuters have been stranded at Britomart tonight due to a system failure. Photo / File
Auckland train services are starting to move again after hundreds of Auckland train commuters were left stranded at Britomart Station.
An announcement was made about 6.25pm that no trains were running due to a signal failure in Auckland. The failure was originally reported as being in Wellington.
By 7pm, Auckland Transport said signals were now operational, but passengers should still expect "significant delays".
Western Line trains between Newmarket and Swanson are operating, although they are also subject to delays.
At the news, people poured out of Britomart in their hundreds, seeking buses and taxis.
The 'twitterverse' witnessed angry Auckland commuters venting about their change in plans.
Neala Killalea asked whether Auckland Transport would refund her ticket. "Britomart is empty, half an hour after my train was supposed to leave" Fellow commuter Faith-Ashleigh Wong was also unimpressed with the technical issues. "So annoying that we're stuck at Britomart about 2 minutes from the platform.
So close yet so far."
But Twitter user 'jerro70' is unlucky enough to be stuck on a train just outside of Britomart station when the signals failed and has been there for over 30 minutes. "Staff do not appear to know what is going on," he tweeted from within the carriage.
In April, the Auckland region's entire rail network was crippled and all trains on the network were ordered to a halt after signals and radio communications between KiwiRail's national control centre in the capital and Auckland were cut.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown is asking for an explanation from KiwiRail following two serious rail outages in the city in the past 24-hours.
A broken communications cable caused major delays on Auckland's southern and eastern train networks this morning.
They came after hundreds of Auckland commuters were held up getting home last night after a signal failure cut stopped trains and left passengers stranded at Britomart Station.
KiwiRail has apologised for the disruption and launched investigations into the two unrelated incidents.
Auckland Len Brown said he wants an explanation as to how the outages occurred and an assurance that everything is being done to prevent a reoccurrence.
"Aucklanders are taking to public transport like never before," Mr Brown said.
"We need assurances from KiwiRail that they are doing everything they can to ensure there is no repeat of this disruption.
"As Aucklanders look forward to electrification and the arrival of our new train fleet, they need confidence that train services are reliable and on time."
Auckland rail operator Veolia Transport said a cable was cut overnight, affecting all train services between Pukekohe and Puhinui this morning.
"As a result limited services are running on this section of track and major delays are likely to be experienced as the peak travel period approaches," Veolia said in a statement.
"This affects all Southern Line passengers and delays and full capacity carriages are expected on the Manukau/Eastern Lines. These services will be running as they can and not on the published timetable. Western and Onehunga Line services are not affected and are running to timetable."
Commuters were advised to seek alternative transport.
Veolia said some taxi shuttles were operating between Pukekohe and Papakura but customers travelling between these two stations were advised to seek alternative transport where possible, while rail replacement buses were being arranged from Papakura towards the city.
Last night's fault in Auckland happened about 6.30pm at the end of peak-hour traffic, causing people to pour out of the station searching for buses and taxis. An announcement at Britomart said services had been stopped due to a signal failure in Wellington.
However, Kiwirail said it was an Auckland-based problem and not a repeat of the debacle in April which crippled Auckland's rail network.
Kiwirail spokeswoman Kimberley Brady said the technical fault happened on the Auckland rail network system and an investigation had begun into what caused it. She said Kiwirail was happy the system was restored within half-an-hour, "but we'll obviously investigate the cause to try and make sure it doesn't happen again".
A spokeswoman for Veolia said train control asked them to halt all services while the problem was fixed.
"Passengers that were waiting at stations were advised they could use their AT Hopcards and rail tickets on normal bus services. Obviously, due to the time of day we couldn't organise rail replacement buses."
The outage affected the southern and eastern lines, while western line trains were operating, although with delays.
KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said his organisation had launched investigations into both incidents.
"We understand how much frustration this disruption will have caused people who rely on the trains, and we sincerely apologise for that."
Work was underway to repair the fibre optics cable damaged near Papakura as quickly as possible, so normal rail services could be restored.
Mr Quinn said KiwiRail would be working to understand how the incident occurred while works was being done on installing the overhead masts and wires required to power Auckland's new electric trains.
Technical teams were also working to understand the cause of last night's signalling fault, Mr Quinn said.
"It was a local Auckland fault, and with complex equipment such as that it can take some time to pinpoint the cause."
- with NZ Herald, nzherald.co.nz, APNZ
It's been gutted and refurbished and now the historic Papakura train station is ready to open its doors.
The building, which opens on Monday, now houses a cafe, small museum, ticket depot and toilets.
It's been boarded up for years so before the opening the building will be blessed with a small karakia ceremony this week.
Papakura Local Board members toured the construction site last week and were impressed with the upgrade.
Local board transport portfolio holder Brent Catchpole says he's particularly enamoured of the ticket office and museum where the historic manual operation system has been preserved as a wall display.
A photo display that will capture the station's history "gives people something to go and have a look at when they arrive here from out of town", he says.
He hopes the information stands will encourage people to visit the town centre and "spend a bit of money while they're here" instead of just passing through.
The renovations are part of a major upgrade of the Papakura train station, a joint project between KiwiRail and Auckland Transport which is being undertaken by Hawkins Construction.
The platforms are being widened to cater for an eventual increase in services and the tracks have been reconfigured as part of the network electrification which ends at Papakura.
Other plans include the reconfiguration of Railway St West so buses can approach the station as part of a transport interchange.
Platform 3 will reopen on Monday and Platform 2 will close, with all services running from Platform 1 and 3.
The Platform 2 phase of construction is expected to finish around Christmas.
Information displays and station announcements will keep passengers informed.
Two incidents disrupt Auckland suburban services
Two unrelated incidents on the Auckland rail network in the past 24 hours have disrupted suburban passenger services.
Commuters experienced delays this morning after a telecommunication cable was damaged overnight by contractors working on the rail electrification project.
Yesterday evening a fault in the Auckland signalling system halted trains for around 40 minutes until the system was restored.
Chief Executive Jim Quinn says KiwiRail is investigating both incidents.
"We understand how much frustration this disruption will have caused people who rely on the trains, and we sincerely apologise for that," he said.
Jim Quinn says KiwiRail would be working to understand how the incident occurred while work was being done on installing the overhead masts and wires required to power Auckland's new electric trains.
Technical teams were also working to understand the cause of last night’s signalling fault, Jim Quinn said.
"It was a local Auckland fault, and with complex equipment such as that it can take some time to pinpoint the cause.
Papakura improvements made ahead of electrification
Building a rail network is mostly about trains and tracks, but there are times when more peripheral elements take centre stage.
This was evident in Papakura south of Auckland this week when the historic Papakura ticket office building was opened to the public on Monday, following the weekend's block of line activities.
Along with the ticketing office, new track and signalling was commissioned and a rebuilt 200m long, Platform 3 reopened. This platform joins Platform 4 which will act as a diesel dock for services between Papakura and Pukekohe once the electric trains are brought into service.
Local board members received a preview of the new facility last week and were excited to see their vision coming a step closer to reality. The building contains the antique Westinghouse signalling equipment and a photo gallery that documents the station's history, facilities for train staff, and space for a future public café.
The public have been very impressed with the display of the signal lever box and relay cabinet, says KiwiRail's Project Manager, Aiman Grace.
The KiwiRail team is now working on upgrading half of the central island platform and the track, and this will reopen after the Christmas shutdown. The wider platforms will cater to an expected increase in passenger flows.
In the final stage, beginning January 2013, a permanent down-main and up-main will be built to the east of the island platform, creating a bypass for freight and non-stopping services. This stage is scheduled for completion at Easter 2013.
As Auckland's third busiest station, Papakura is expected to play a crucial role in managing demand for passenger and freight services.
The upgrade aims at improving track, signalling and platform arrangements in conjunction with electrification and prior to the arrival of the new EMU fleet, says KiwiRail Project Director, Rob French..
Auckland Transport is considering adding two more trains to its order for a 57-strong electric fleet from Spain, for a $113 million extension of rail electrification, from Papakura to Pukekohe.
The council-controlled organisation estimates that patronage growth - from a sector picked to more than treble its population by 2041 to almost 80,000 residents - would offer an economic pay-off of $2.10 for each dollar invested.
That would depend on building new stations with park-and-ride facilities at Drury and at Paerata, to the north of Pukekohe, to coax commuters from their cars.
Simply extending electrification to Pukekohe without the intermediate stations would provide a return of just 90c for each dollar invested, according to an Auckland Transport staff report to its board.
The project has come under consideration at an advanced stage of the Government's $500 million electrification of Auckland's rail network from Britomart to Pukekohe and Swanson, which is due to be complete by August.
Upgrades to Papakura and Pukekohe stations have already been provided for in Auckland Transport's long-term budget at a cost of $18.6 million, leaving $83.6 million to be found from elsewhere.
Staff have been asked to report back to their board early next year on possible funding options
6.30am start 'poor customer experience'.
Mt Albert railway station. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Contractors proved too keen to start work on a $9 million upgrade of Mt Albert's run-down railway station for the comfort of neighbours woken rudely on Saturday morning.
"It is an extremely poor customer experience to be woken by extremely noisy demolition works at 6.30am on a Saturday morning," apartment resident Nicola Bond wrote in an email to Auckland Mayor Len Brown's office.
Although appreciating that the upgrade needed to occur while trains were not running, she said the station was in front of a block of 40 townhouses called Willcott Mews, many of them home to young children.
"Works such as concrete cutting should wait until 8am or 9am in the morning on the weekend," she told the mayor's staff.
Ms Bond, a resident of Willcott Mews next to a walkway to the railway station, said she was also angry at not being contacted by the works project team and having the entrance to the townhouses blocked by contractors' trucks.
Auckland Transport spokeswoman Sharon Hunter, whose organisation received subsidy approval only last month from the Government's Transport Agency for the $8.8 million upgrade, said last night the contractors would be told not to block driveways.
The project, due to be completed by the end of summer, will include upgrading the station's platform with canopies and replacing its main foot-bridge entrance from Carrington Rd with a new structure including a lift and stairs.
It is understood the structure has been future-proofed to connect with a potential new pedestrian plaza over the railway tracks to join New North Rd as part of a wider urban renewal project.
But an underpass further to the west from New North Rd will be upgraded later in the project, after serving as the station's temporary main entrance until the footbridge from Carrington Rd is replaced.
Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes said he understood the "third world" station was the last of the 40 or so on Auckland's railway network to be upgraded, and the project could not come soon enough.
He was disappointed only that it was not more ambitious.
Award successes mean rail standards rank with the best
KiwiRail’s success in winning or being named finalists in external awards is a reminder that our professional standards rank with the best, says Chief Executive Jim Quinn.
He was commenting on three separate successes in the course of the week.
The New Lynn trench project, managed by KiwiRail as part of the Auckland DART suite of projects, won the supreme award at this week’s New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards. Two other KiwiRail projects, the North-South Junction tunnel lowering on the North Island Main Trunk and extension of double tracking and electrification to Waikanae, were also finalists.
KiwiRail’s General Manager, Corporate & Finance, David Walsh was one of three finalists in the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) Leadership Awards competition to find Public Sector Chief Financial Officer of the Year.
In Wellington, Tranz Metro Customer Representative Carl Sayer was voted Cycle Awareness Wellington’s Most Cycle Friendly Public Transport Personality.
"Awards are great to hang on the wall and put on CVs," says Jim Quinn. "But their significance lies mostly in their endorsement of high professional standards and the satisfaction of seeing communities enhanced."
A joint project between KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and Waitakare City Council, the New Lynn Rail Trench and Station project won the New Zealand Engineering Excellence Supreme Award for contractors, Fletcher Construction and Beca,
It involved the duplication and lowering of the stretch of track through New Lynn into an 860m-long, 8 m-deep rail trench.
The trench eliminated two busy level crossings and added two brand new bridges to make getting around the busy New Lynn town centre much easier and safer.
KiwiRail’s DART Project Manager, Rob French, said the win was well-deserved.
"This was an ambitious undertaking which was achieved successfully and to budget. Although commuters experienced some disruption, this was minimal, given the complexity of the project."
"We congratulate Fletcher Construction and Beca on their award, which recognised a major contribution to Project DART (Developing Auckland’s Rail Transport). In fact, this was the largest in the suite of DART projects and a critical part of the Western line double-tracking operation."
Mr French says a pleasing aspect to the project was the cooperation between the three contracting parties: KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and Waitakere City Council. "We worked very collaboratively to enhance amenities for the local area."
Auckland rail project achieves recognition for engineering excellence
10 December 2012
A project which transformed New Lynn’s rail infrastructure has received the Supreme Award for New Zealand Engineering Excellence.
A joint project between KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and Waitakare City Council, the New Lynn Rail Trench and Station, involved the duplication and lowering of the stretch of track through New Lynn into an 860m-long, 8 m-deep rail trench.
The trench eliminated two busy level crossings and added two brand new bridges to make getting around the busy New Lynn town centre much easier and safer.
KiwiRail’s DART Project Manager, Rob French, said the win by contractors, Fletcher Construction and Beca,was well-deserved.
“This was an ambitious undertaking which was achieved successfully and to budget. Although commuters experienced some disruption, this was minimal, given the complexity of the project.”
“We congratulate Fletcher Construction and Beca on their award, which recognised a major contribution to Project DART (Developing Auckland’s Rail Transport). In fact, this was the largest in the suite of DART projects and a critical part of the Western line double-tracking operation.”
Mr French says a pleasing aspect to the project was the cooperation between the three contracting parties: KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and Waitakere City Council. “We worked very collaboratively to enhance amenities for the local area.”
The New Lynn project also won the Transport Infrastructure category. Mr French says, “of the five projects nominated in this category, three of them were rail developments. The North South Junction tunnel lowering work on the North Island Main Trunk between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay and the extension of electrification and double tracking to Waikanae on the Wellington suburban network were both deserving nominees.”
He says, “it was exciting to see rail so well-represented in this category and for our teams to receive this recognition for excellence.”
Media Contact: Sarah Pomeroy, Senior Communications Advisor, 021 804 906
Note to editors:
Winners of the 2012 New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards were announced on Friday 30 November at the Langham Hotel in Auckland. More than 450 guests attended the gala dinner including the Mayor of Auckland Len Brown, the Honourable Steven Joyce and Sir Peter Gluckman.
Last big Auckland push will benefit freight and metro
The last big summer push for the DART and Auckland Electrification projects during the Christmas block of line in Auckland this year will deliver significant improvements for both freight and commuter traffic in three critical locations on the Auckland network.
A full network closure for two weeks followed by a further two weeks of partial closure will allow for major re-arrangements at Otahuhu junction, and in the tunnel approach to Britomart Station.
Further work will progress the Papakura station and yard upgrade, which is due for full completion at Easter next year.
At the same time the Auckland electrification team will be working to get the overhead masts and wires in place along the busiest part of the network between Westfield and Papakura.
The works at Britomart, Otahuhu and Papakura are the final large elements of the DART project, which began in 2006, says Project Director Rob French.
"This will be our last big summer push," he says. "As with previous years, these are large scale projects being carried out in very tight timeframes so a lot of work has gone into planning for this period, to ensure we finish in time to resume rail services."
All projects will deliver significant operational improvements at critical parts of the network.
When completed, the works at Otahuhu will mean all trains can enter and leave the Westfield yards at much faster speed - reducing congestion and conflicts between freight and passenger services on the main line approaches to the yards.
At the same time the track will be put into its final alignment and re-signalled to allow for the third main between the junction and Massey Rd. Eventually, once funding is sourced, it is anticipated a third main will run south to Wiri.
Traction gantries are being put in place to allow for possible electrification of that track.
In Britomart, the new track arrangements will enable trains from both main lines to access all platforms, and run on either of the two tracks in and out of Britomart.
This will enable much more flexible train movements in and out of the station, faster recovery from operating incidents, fewer delays as trains wait to get into the station and allow for further timetable improvements.
"It is a complex piece of track with very tight tolerances so the team has already assembled the new track components into their final layout at the nearby Vector triangle area to ensure it is right," Rob says.
It will now be disassembled ready to be put in place during the block once the existing track is removed.
At Papakura the block of line will see the completion of a further passenger platform and the completion of the tracks servicing the commuter trains. It will also mark the resumption of normal line speed for non-stopping trains through the station area.
The HILOR traction team, supplemented by some of KiwiRail’s line staff, will be concentrating their efforts on stringing the overhead wires on the NIMT between Papakura and Westfield, which will mean around 60 percent of the network will have wires in place by the end of the block of line.
"This is the busiest part of the network with heavy freight and commuter traffic, so our aim is to get the work done in one big hit and get out of their way," says AEP Project Director Nick French.
Bridges screens and earthing and bonding will also continue to be carried out around the network.
The regional team will also take advantage of the shutdown to carry out a range of maintenance activities around the network.
Other agencies will also be carrying out works, with Auckland Transport redeveloping Mt Albert station, Auckland Council replacing the Point Resolution bridge, and NZTA completing works on the Newmarket Viaduct above the rail tracks at St Marks Rd.
Extracts from AT report:
November punctuality and reliability performance was lower than October, partly due to the impact
of two major signalling failures on 14 and 15 November and three separate incidents involving
persons on the rail network.
The first phase of the rail revenue collection system under the new HOP integrated ticketing system
commenced from 27
th October and in November with the closing of electronic gates at Britomart
and Newmarket Stations. A mobile rail revenue protection team has been mobilised to traverse the
network and inspect both paper tickets and HOP cards for validity. Passengers without valid tickets
are sold a single cash ticket for their journey. From January 2013, the next phase commences with
the withdrawal of on-board cash ticket sales and the introduction of the sale of a maximum 8-stage
cash fare for passengers without a valid ticket to travel.
AT Ambassadors and security staff were deployed across the network to support the HOP card
sales promotion and assist passengers in the use of ticketing and vending machines.
Electrification works continue across the rail network with network closures during November.
Overhead cables on the Onehunga Branch Line were energised and tested over the weekend of 3rd
th November, the first line to be tested as part of the Auckland Electrification Project (AEP).
KiwiRail advises that there were no problems with the testing.
Tender underway by rail operator for on-board train protection solution to reduce near miss
consequence risk including revised risk assessment. Results expected early January 2013.
The five station package is nearing completion with four of the five stations now at practical completion.
The last station, Greenlane is due for completion in early January 2013.
Papakura Station reconfiguration and upgrade works are now focusing on the demolition and rebuild of
the old island platform. Completion of the station is programmed for April 2013. The refurbished
Heritage station building is in use and the adjacent bus stopping zone will be completed over the next
The contract for Mount Albert station has been awarded and the contractor is mobilising in preparation
for the Christmas rail line closure. Final planning and pre-construction communications are in progress
ahead of the first activity of removing the old ramp from the Carrington Road Bridge.
Manukau Rail Station
The Tertiary buildings above the station are almost at full height, and the overall work scope is on
target for completion by mid-2013. The rail station equipment and fit out of the ticketing and operator
areas will commence in the first quarter of 2013.
Parnell Rail Station
KiwiRail is looking to progress the signalling works for the station as part of a larger package of work in
the next three months. Progress with Overhead Line Electrification design and installation has been
slow and this is now not expected until after the Christmas break. KiwiRail is communicating with
Mainline Steam to ensure timely relocation of the old tank carriages prior to installation of the
Overhead Line Electrification gantries. The landscaping works are now complete around the
8.2 EMU Projects
EMU Delivery Project
The project is focussed mainly on review of the train final design and this activity has reached a peak
in the past month. The complete design submission from CAF now numbers 691 documents and 90%
of these are now submitted. Each document is reviewed in a structured manner by the project team
and comments are formally returned to CAF for their action. While there is a significant workload, it is
progressing well with much of the submission content requiring no comment. In parallel, design
meetings are being held with CAF in specific areas as needed. These have included the design of the
bogie suspension, which is now resolved and in production, and the completion of the systems
assurance activities which are a key part of the design process.
CAF have manufactured the under frames for the first unit and are moving into production for the fleet.
There have been few problems with the underframe production, with good quality from the outset, and
production of these critical components is on programme. Production of the vehicle body sides is also
proceeding well, with very high quality in both manufacture and finishing. The bodysides are robot
welded which gives repeatable quality and appearance. Production of the bodysides is on programme.
The bodyside Robot Welder
Type testing and first article inspections are continuing with the air conditioning systems inspected and
tested at the end of October and the Door System inspected in late November.
The impact of any delay regarding the overall programme depends on the progress of the assembly
and testing which are on the critical path for the first Unit. CAF and AT are working on opportunities to
de-risk the programme and recover the delay and will continue to do so as the project progresses.
Other aspects of the project are on programme, with a large quantity of material now being delivered
to CAF for the assembly of the first Unit, which is programmed to start in January 2013.
Agenda Item 9
Three Month Look Ahead
The next three months will be dominated by finalising the design detail and completing the
manufacture of the first three vehicles bodies (one complete train). The first fully painted vehicle will
start on the assembly production line in January 2013.
Type testing of the propulsion system and the combined propulsion test are the key tests for the next
three months. The combined propulsion test is a significant exercise which brings together all the main
power and propulsion systems and, using inertia simulation with load machines and demonstrates that
the train equipment, as designed, has the power and capacity to deliver the service performance,
(acceleration, top speed, braking,) that the Auckland operation requires.
EMU Depot Project
Filling is progressing well in the southern part of the quarry and this should finish earlier than
programmed if the fine weather holds.
The structural steelwork in the main building is substantially complete, roof and wall cladding is being
fixed and installation of building services has commenced. Trackwork is being laid and the first works
train entered the site to deliver materials for the stabling yard in November.
View south with floor pits in the foreground and southern steelwork in the background
Three Month Look Ahead
The focus in the next quarter will be ensuring the building is watertight and installation of the
mechanical and electrical services, internal steelwork and partitioning. The floor slab and trenches will
be completed, trackwork (outside the building) will continue and road formation works will be under
8.3 City Rail Link Project
City Centre Future Access Study (CCFAS)
The short list options for the CCFAS were evaluated and a second draft of the CCFAS technical report
prepared by SKM was provided to Central Government officials on 16 November. Workshops were
conducted with Central Government to work through various issues raised by officials. At the time of
writing the CCFAS had not been publically released.
Agenda Item 9
Optimisation and geotechnical investigations advanced during the month.
Value Engineering and Produce Definition preliminary work continued to the minimum extent
necessary to support other key activities.
Further information requests from Council were progressed in November. The Notice of Requirement
documentation was reviewed against ongoing project optimisation outcomes.
The Project Team continued to meet with various directly affected and proximity landowners (largely
proximity landowners along Albert Street) during the month.
Three Month Look Ahead
Progress design/planning initiatives and associated landowner communications in early 2013.
Auckland Transport is resorting to professional help for a strategy on how to stop losing patronage from trains and buses.
Chief operations officer Greg Edmonds has promised to provide his board with a plan early next year on how to staunch bleeding which saw a 17.2 per cent decline in train boardings last month compared with the previous November.
That followed concern raised by Auckland Council transport leader Mike Lee, which was acknowledged by new board chairman Lester Levy, about a need to lift service performance.
Mr Lee said patronage, which was boosted last year by the Rugby World Cup, started "flat-lining" in March and the organisation was starting to see a distinctive downward trajectory.
"I don't think this is sustainable without Auckland Transport intervening in a decisive way," he said.
"One of the measures of quality is punctuality or train performance and, while the price of our services is high, quality tends to be poor consistently."
Mr Lee said the board, on which he is a council appointee, had been assured a new timetable would improve rail performance and that the rollout of the new Hop transport card on trains would combat fare evasion.
But the board heard that train punctuality deteriorated last month to 84.1 per cent of services running to schedule, compared with 87.1 per cent in October, and he said rail staff were having difficulties stopping free-riding passengers.
He had been told of fare evasion as some people were presenting their Hop cards to train staff to avoid paying their way. This did not apply to Britomart or Newmarket, which have become gated stations.
"Busy, harassed train managers trying to collect fares are shown a Hop card and they move on," he said.
"The person may have paid $5 [in a since-expired half-price opening deal] for a card and, according to rail staff, they are using it to evade fares.
"There are electronic checkers but they are slow and cumbersome and there's not enough of them."
Dr Levy said he agreed there was a need for "critical measures" to be adopted and Auckland Transport needed to be far more customer-led in creating a demand for its services.
"From the board's point of view, this won't go away - it's the number one issue," he said.
Mr Edmonds acknowledged that rail punctuality needed to be well over 90 per cent, and the council body was employing professional advisers for a report to the board's first meeting of next year on how to improve performance.
Auckland Transport was also recruiting service managers for each of its three public transport modes - trains, buses and ferries - who would be directly responsible for boosting patronage, although the looming transition to electric trains would present new challenges.
Board member Mike Williams said the Northern Busway was also suffering patronage losses.