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October Rail Timetable Changes

The new train timetables starting the 15th October are now out. Here is what AT has to say in a press release:

Minor changes to train timetables from 15 October

Auckland Transport and its operator, Veolia Transport, said today new train timetables will come into effect from Monday 15 October. The times of most Monday to Friday services are changing.

The timetables are being amended in response to customer feedback and include:

  • spreading the timing of services better at peak times to help reduce overcrowding of some trains
  • making better allowance for freight trains sharing the tracks with commuter trains to improve the punctuality of passenger services
  • allowing for increased boarding time required at busy stations to improve the punctuality of services
  • four more return trips to Pukekohe each day, the first service leaving half an hour earlier
  • there will be no changes made to weekend timetables given on-going requirements for weekend closures for engineering works as part of the electrification of the network.

Auckland Transport’s Public Transport Manager, Mark Lambert says, “While the times of most Monday to Friday services will be changing, there are no major changes to frequency on any line or to the number of services being offered.

“All midweek services have been reviewed and retimed accordingly to provide a more even spread of service, particularly during the peaks which results in a better service offering and more choice for the majority of customers.

Veolia Transport’s Acting Manager Director, Craig Inger says, “Veolia is focusing on a better customer experience, particularly at peak times. As part of this, new train berthing arrangements have been put in place at Britomart. This means that most trains on each line will berth at a specific platform at peak times which will make it easier and faster for customers heading to catch their train”.

New timetables are available at www.AT.co.nz/timetables  and will be at stations from 15 October. Customers are advised to check online for details relating to their train services.

We first heard mention of this new timetable a while ago we also saw in AT board reports suggestions that the timetable would be recast to address timekeeping issues. With that in mind I decided to have a look through them to see just how many changes there have been.

Starting with the western line as it is the easiest and also the line I use, there has been no time added to the services from what I can see with most times just tweaked and services arriving a minute or two earlier or later although the last services of the day are a bit earlier than they used to be. There are also now 6 less services that run during the weekdays. Previously these ran from Britomart to Henderson only at the end of the morning peak and back from Henderson again at the start of the evening peak. They were positioning runs to send the trains to the stabling yard at Henderson that were put into service along the way.

The Southern and Eastern lines have a few more changes to them though. Like the western line, many times, including running times have been tweaked, but not by much. A trip from Papakura to Britomart via Newmarket is scheduled to take exactly the same amount of time  however the times between some of the stations have changed and the table below shows the differences (e.g. Papakura to Takanini is now scheduled to take 1 minute less). All up not to bad and it will be interesting to see if it actually makes a difference to the performance stats for the eastern line which has lagged behind the other lines in recent months.

As mentioned in the press release above, there are no changes to the weekend timetables which while understandable from the infrastructure works, is still a shame that there hasn’t at least been an extension to Sunday services out west which terminate at Henderson rather than Swanson. If you are a regular user of the trains and like to catch a specific service it would pay to check out the changes www.AT.co.nz/timetables.

On the topic of timetables, the draft Regional Public Transport Plan suggests the frequencies that we will eventually see on the rail network and I was pleasantly surprised, they are listed below:

17 comments to October Rail Timetable Changes

  • Peter M

    Wow 10 min interpeak frequencies on the main lines in 2016. Fantastic!

  • Andrew

    My gripe about current weekend services is I understand they cannot be frequent, but why can they not be pulsed? As an example, a weekend family trip to Rainbow’s End in Manukau from a station on the West line is just unworkable. Going between Manukau and the west on the way home involves a 43-44 minute wait at Britomart on the weekend in each direction.

  • JeffT

    I know I’ve already griped about this today but just looking at the timetables again there’s two minutes seperating the southern line and the Onehunga at the 6,7 & 8 am time periods. There has to be some instances of trains following each other with such a small time difference between them!

  • JeffT

    In fact, instead of just blogging about my timetable concern, I’ve placed it in AT’s PT feedback section that they have provided.

  • Ian M

    Great to hear that plans are in the pipe line to increase the frequency on the Onehunga line. However, hourly services at weekday evenings is still pretty poor. Surely they can at least manage 30min services, especially since the to town is quicker than the bus.

  • Paul in Sydney

    I like the very simple idea of berthing each line on a specific platform, should try and do it all day not just at peak

  • Newnewt

    The link to the timetables is actually at.co.nz/timetables (no www; and it redirects to http://www.maxx.co.nz/timetables).

  • Akarana

    Rumour has it that another minor timetable change will happen early next year to increase weekend frequency and capacity. My guess would be 30 minute frequencies out west among other changes.

  • Steve

    Are there any plans for limited stop or express services to be introduced at peak times?

    • Richard D

      Regarding fast services there isn’t really the capacity in Britomart to have anything more than maybe 1 additional fast service in an hour, and that would likely compromise overall reliability. If the express is a substitution for an all stops service, then the question becomes which stations get their service sacrificed, and what does their frequency then look like, Post CRL though, you can keep the above all stops frequencies and overlay a 20 minute frequency fast service: eg outbound – fast to Wesfield follow a stopping Manukau and then semi-fast to Papakura. That would save 6 minutes to Westfirld and maybe another 4 en route to Papakura – and incidentally save 20 minutes on the units’ round trip when considering the number of units required to work the service.

      As for Onehunga … please keep it at 20 minute frequency – then the whole timetable is of repeating 20 minute patterns. The reason that the current timetable has strange intervals between southern services and Onehunga services is because the Southern service is on a 20 minute pattern and the Onehunga on a 30. Those do not fit well together – you are face with a choice of 1 good fit/1 bad fit or 2 so-so fits with the Onehunga leading one time and the southern leading the other.

  • No change to the shafting of the inner Southern, I see. Still 32 minutes between the 19:38 and 20:10 departures via Newmarket and, worse, 25 minutes between the 17:51 and the 18:16. Longest wait for an Eastern Line train at any point from 16:00 to 21:00 is 30 minutes, and between 17:00 and 19:00 the longest is 21 minutes. Still very, very unimpressed, AT. These gaps don’t encourage people to use the trains, and there’s no sign of any attempt to shuffle service timing between these two lines so that there aren’t long gaps for people travelling north-west of Otahuhu.

    Those proposed changes in the Draft Plan look good, but hourly to Onehunga for evenings? That’s awful. It’s not like there’s insufficient rolling stock to do better, and we can see the line can handle eight services an hour once the EMUs arrive (better than I expected, which was six), so why such abysmal frequencies? I know it’s carrying on the dross that passes for service at present, but really!

  • Ian M

    Also, still see a 1hr 15 wait after the 9.45 service on the Onehunga line, which has been there since the beginning. Surely something can finally be done with that, and adding an extra service between

  • Dave

    @ Ian M – I think you are looking at the existing timetable. The new one (effective 15 Oct) shows departures from Onehunga at 9:16, 9:59, 10:58, 11:58. That 1hr 15m wait has gone, thankfully.

  • Goosoid

    What is happening with the (I think excellent) idea of having trains going straight through from Henderson to Manukau/Pukekohe via Newmarket with no stop at Britomart?

    I have suggested this before on the blog and I still haven’t seen any reason why it can’t happen. The Western line already pulls into Newmarket facing the right way before it “backs” into Britomart. Couldn’t maybe one or two trains an hour go straight through.

    One of the big objections I hear to the CRL is that the train network only serves the CBD. Having the trains go straight through would be a way of showIng that it can also service trips outside the CBD.

    It also sidesteps the capacity issue with Britomart.

    To me there seems to be no downside but would be great to hear any comments on why it won’t work or isn’t a good idea.

    I still think having that as the backbone of the West/South route with shuttling trains between Newmarket and Britomart would hugely increase the capacity of the network. I know that will mean changing at Newmarket for Britomart but I just don’t believe that is a huge problem if the shuttle train has a 3-5 minute frequency (12-14 trains an hour). You could have trains going straight through at peak times but otherwise off peak it would be a massive improvement.

    • Nick R

      The only real argument against it is the fact we don’t have enough trains to add such a service to the timetable, so it would have to replace an existing Western and Southern train. Therefore you’d end up with a messy timetable where 3-4 trains an hour go one way and 1-2 an hour go the other. Plus it is also a case of deciding where more people are going to be headed, Britomart or the other line. At this stage I’d say it’s still all about the CBD.

      You couldn’t shuttle at 3-5 minute frequency across Newmarket junction.

      • Goosoid

        But right now with the new timetable my station, Ellerslie, will have 5 trains an hour. Off peak I think 2. What are the other 3 locomotives doing?

        Also, once the EMUs are on line, won’t we have enough rolling stock for that? Why can’t the Newmarket junction handle that frequency? Isn’t that a massive problem going forward? Or are there plans to rectify that?

        I really think it is the wrong message in Auckland to say the trains are only for the CBD. Because of the awful way transport has been run, we have a very decentralised employment market. How can we say to those people that we want $2.6bn for a system that won’t be of any use to them? Shouldn’t we be saying that one advantage of the trains is you can live in Pukekohe and travel by train to your job at the cool new New Lynn precinct?

        I am a massive advocate for the CRL but we have to convince a majority of people that it is worth the money, not just the minority who work in the CBD. I see the trains bypassing Britomart as one way to do that. Then people will be asking why it is so slow from the West and the reply will be “we need to build the CRL”. Also if the trains are packed, bloody hard for the Luddites in Parliament to claim the CRL is a white elephant, which is what Brownlee always says.

        • Well in the off peak the question you have to ask is whether there would be enough patronage to justify running that additional service, especially if it doesn’t go to downtown.

          Newmarket is a simple flat junction that can only handle so many trains an hour. Yes it is a big problem going forward, especially with the Western Line doubling over the junction in both directions. Luckily most plans for the CRL remove this doubling, streamline routing and free up a lot of junction capacity.

          One thing to note, is that with the EMUs AT is proposing to run ten minute frequencies on the main lines all day long. So the connection at Newmarket becomes very quick and easy. In the meantime, and perhaps afterwards, I think the best idea is to simply timetable the trains so that they pulse at Newmarket. In this case your southbound train and your train from the west would arrive at the same time and open their doors on either side of the same platform. People simply step across the platform to switch. A few minutes later the trains going in opposite directions do the same.

          That is very quick and easy, in fact because the trains are stopping anyway it is exactly the same as running a dedicated west-to-south line… except you don’t have to run the extra trains. You basically get it all ‘free’ just filling up counterpeak or offpeak trains that were running anyway. It also means every single train does the same pattern on each line. So regardless of whether you are headed to Britomart, or you want to go out west, you just hop on the next southern line train that comes along.

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