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EMU delays

There’s been comment on it already in my post from this morning on the EMU launch but I just wanted to address the issue of the delays to the Electric train this morning. The herald were quick to jump on it.

Auckland’s gleaming new electric trains launched into business at 5.48am today – and quickly experienced delays.

Much fuss was made this morning as the first trains to enter passenger service headed out of Onehunga with regular commuters outnumbered by transport officials, politicians and journalists on the 72-metre train.

However a combination of driver nerves and possible problems with the retraction of the door steps meant trains were running up to 25 minutes late this morning.

Special ambassadors on board the train told passengers they were sorry for the delays but there were a few teething problems.

They then reportedly asked passengers for their patience while the drivers got used to the new trains.

One official at the Onehunga station told the Herald the delays were due to a problem with the automatic steps which were not retracting properly.

A press release from Transdev at 9.30 confirmed some Southern & Onehunga lines are experiencing some minor delays.

In many ways this isn’t surprising and there always seem to be these kinds of teething issues that crop up when something so new happens. It’s happened after signalling and track upgrades and after station upgrades. For example there was a huge problem a in early 2010 the day the new Newmarket Station opened. The reality is that while these teething problems are a pain and very disappointing, they do tend to be very temporary and limited to the first day or two. If we are still having problems in a few days then we need to be getting concerned.

40 comments to EMU delays

  • Luke C

    good points. Guess point of my tweets, which made it to herald online, was to shift blame to Transdev, rather than blame going on Auckland Transport who have managed this very well. Looks like on-board staff training may have been a bit rushed, but they look like issues that will iron themselves out in a few days.

  • Richard C

    Well I enjoyed a pleasant ride out to Onehunga. Yes the train left approx 10 mins late but that was no problem. Coming back the train left on time. Got some photos. The ride was smooth and the acceleration was impressive.

    • Luke E

      I agree, the ride is so much smoother, corners are much better, and it’s almost eerily quiet, since today there weren’t the same kind of excited crowds as yesterday. Most people were pretty happy with them though, it seemed

      • Greg N

        My trip from Onehunga to Britomart today was full of young kids with their mums (or grandparents), and all were very excited to be on the new trains making lots of noise and enjoying the ride.
        Good to get the young’uns hooked on the joys of PT and they were all enjoying it :-) thats for sure and plus makes for a good safe school holiday outing.

        As for the delays today, not ideal, but forseeable. Definitely a much better acceleration profile coming into and pulling away from each station.
        The speed the EMUs enter the station platform area is impressive and they pull up pretty quick, and pulling away at Ellerslie seemed the train was nearly up to speed by the time it passed the end of the platform.
        But for now, the trip to/from Onehunga won’t improve much, due to the many low speed areas and speed restrictions on the line (Train never exceed 80kph the whole trip, and never got to 60kph on the Onehunga line – which are all current limits).

        Look forward to being on an EMU racing across Hobson Bay or into GI station from Meadowbank direction. And the sooner the better.

        • Pim

          Does anyone have a map of the maximum speeds on the auckland rail network? It would make it much easier to visualise and would make it easier to do calculations for hypothetical timetabling and such things :)

  • c

    How long have the drivers been in training? Seems a bit odd.

    System/signal problems is one thing, but I’d have expected them to be quite used to the trains by now – especially having done live tests with ‘passengers’.

  • Bryce P

    As I mentioned on twitter, training in a training environment can often be quite different to ‘game day’. I think this will be sorted very quickly.

    • Simon C

      Exactly Bryce P. My large employer is continually implementing new projects. It goes without saying that hardly ever does a new project go live without some kind of issue popping up despite having been tested for 6-12 months. The words “work around” are two of the most common amongst myself and my colleagues :-) Frankly, anyone who expects the go live for anything to be plain sailing without hiccups is naive. I was on the significantly-delayed 7.10 service to town this morning and Herald reporter Matthew Dearnaley was looking out the window checking how late the train was at each stop and noting down…I knew right then the delay would feature in their report. At least he did talk to some pax who gave a good account.

      • jonno1

        Agreed, although perhaps the door step problem could have been foreseen. But overall, any major project will have teething problems despite exhaustive testing. At least there were no traction issues, considering that the permanent energisation was pretty much down to the wire. Although I think this was mainly due to getting all the safety signage in place at Britomart for public safety purposes, rather than for technical reasons.

  • MrV

    What are the ‘door steps’, is this a retractavle step for the driver/conductor or is this refering to the wheelchair accessible ramp, or something else?

  • Simon

    Train delays all over the place today (Tues). At times I’m actually surprised that anyone uses these services.

      • Simon W

        Train from Glen Eden to the city, delayed late into Britomart by 10mins. Transferred to Sth bound train at Britomart to get to GI, sitting on train for 10 mins, told to change to another train, departed 35 mins later (9:40).

        Last night too: Britomart to Glen Eden, delayed. Stopped at every station for between 5-10mins, told at Morningside that services will be terminated at New Lynn, told at Mt Albert, services will in fact be continuing to Swanson. Apparently a signalling problem.

        I feel like they want it to be hard for people!

        • Last night wasn’t a signaling issue. A lady was hit by a train in Henderson. No idea what she was doing on the tracks as was next to a ped over bridge.

          • simon

            Cool, train manager announced signaling- having to he done manually. Made sense to me as signals were not working when I got off at glen eden. Train had to wait before crossing road.

    • What were the delays today?

      I checked how well services were running last night. 17:41 to Onehunga departed at 17:55 last night, 14 minutes late. Train arrived late at 17:48 (no reason given – not sure if impacted by incident on Western line?).

      The electric trains are great, but they need to run on time. And by on time I mean within a minute of scheduled time. Are penalty payments built into the Transdev contract?

    • Gary Young

      “Train delays all over the place today”

      Delays specifically related to, caused by or as a consequence of the new electric trains or just the routine everyday delays that have been occuring around the network since, well….. since forever.

    • Sailor Boy

      Just been down to Onehunga and back for a coffee and a geez, trains were mostly running on time. The Onehunga bound train was delayed at Britomart while I was going to Britomart, but was able to make up a lot of time due to the better acceleration and shorter dwell times allowed, approx 2 minutes per station judging by the announcements.

      Almost felt like I was in Melbourne or Sydney with the quiet electric trains humming through the suburbs and people getting on and off at every stop along the way. Onehunga line stations I noticed can only handle 3 car sets. Seems like this is something that could need improving shortly, and especially when rail goes across the Harbour to the south (Onehunga will need to be rebuilt anyway). Onehunga town centre looks nice, a lot of run down semi industrial building around station could be made into very nicely located apartments, hopefully some developers can see this. Ultimate opportunity is probably to build on the park and ride site, over the carparks if they absolutely must remain.

      Also of note; there is an error on our train may. Stations have an icon for airport transfers, Mt Eden Britomart and Papatoetoe all have one, but they are missing from Manukau Onehunga and Puhinui.

      • Part of the CRL work will be double-tracking the Onehunga Line and, I believe, extending the platforms for six-car sets. The existing platforms were used when the line was re-opened since extending them would have meant a lot more administrative work and quite a bit more cost, and that couldn’t be justified for a line which doesn’t need six-car sets.

        • Sailor Boy

          Doesn’t it? Will add a lot of capacity from inner isthmus to britomart if we can get some 6 car sets going.

          • The “additional capacity” would be for precisely four stations: Penrose, Ellerslie, Greenlane, and Remuera. Newmarket already has every Western Line service as well as Southern and Onehunga Line services, it doesn’t need more cars. The Onehunga Line doesn’t fill a three-car set. By the time a standing-room-only Onehunga service from Britomart reaches Penrose, it’s got every passenger seated and plenty of seats to spare.
            Six-car sets would deliver no usable benefit to the Onehunga Line stations because there simply aren’t the passengers to fill those additional cars. It’s not like there are passengers left standing on the platform for lack of Southern Line capacity, either.

          • Sailor Boy

            Oh, wasn’t aware that those four stations weren’t that busy.

          • Greg N

            In fact longer term, I think getting the Onehunga trains off the Southern Line (i.e. so they do not come via Newmarket) may be required – until at least the CRL is built.

            To implement that change there would be a requirement to run Onehunga trains southe from Penrose via the Eastern line this would need a South to Eastbound link be built where the Eastern Line joins the NIMT near Westfield. There is a south facing link at Penrose for the Onehunga line (which needs to be linked to the NIMT directly), and then Penrose 3 station would need to be moved to the southern to NIMT link to allow for that (Penrose 4 platform?).

            The rationale is that if Newmarket bottles up (which it is known will happen with increased frequencies through it i.e. pre-CRL), then removal of Onehunga services off the southern will free up extra Newmarket slots for Southern and Western trains to use. As Southern trains will be 6 car EMUs (at least at peak), this change won’t impact Remuera, Greenlane or Ellerslie folks too much as they would travel to Penrose then change there for Onehunga line.
            There would be 1 more stop one this route over the existing Onehunga line between Penrose and Britomart (4 for Southern Line, 5 for Eastern), but once the Parnell Station opens the stops would be the same. Overall the distance would be the same.

            The net number of trains in/out of Britomart wouldn’t change overall with this change but you could get more trains down the Eastern line and it would help the frequency of the Eastern Line users between Sylvia Park and Britomart as they’d have extra trains running past in both directions from the Onehunga trains (thats 5 stations).

            Yes, you’d need some track reconfiguration at Penrose and the Eastern Line to NIMT junction, but that latter part is already been suggested as being needed before now as needed anyway longer term for routing efficiency and for managing track issues.

            And you would need a platform on the South NIMT to Onehunga line of the 3 sided triangle – which would impact the “Portacom” people who use the inner triangle at Penrose to store their buildings in and also a link from the branch line at Penrose to the NIMT main track would also be needed (extra sets of points mainly).

            But we’re not talking 10s of millions of dollars here and if CRL is delayed and Newmarket chokes up, this is the probably the easiest way to fix that issue in the short term.

        • Sorry Matt C, not quite right. There were no existing platforms prior to re-opening. They were all built new. What initially happened is Onehunga Station was they only built to a two-car (ADL diesel size) length platform to fit within the existing rail corridor designation and not require resource consent straight away which would have further delayed the line’s re-opening. They then extended it to 3 cars for the EMUs when Resource Consent was granted. Further extensions to fit a 6 car EMU won’t be possible without a realignment – ie, when the extension to the Airport will be built. Prior to that there just isn’t the land available to fit a 6-car platform on the orientation Onehunga Station is on.

          Of course all stations from Penrose north will get 6-car EMUs and currently get 4-6 car diesels from Southern line services. However one thing I’d imagine will skew capacity in the interim is some passengers at Penrose through to Newmarket will favour electric trains over the diesels that also serve those stations, increasing Onehunga line crowding until the diesels in that area are gone next year.

      • Barden

        3 car sets will be the norm, with 2 being the only other option.

      • L.E.

        Sailor boy. You say the EMU was At each platform for 2 mins each time. Is that correct?
        Dwell time is currently 30 seconds.
        Eek if that’s true.

        • I think the cause for the delays is not driver training, it’s Train Manager training, specifically with the door controls. This is why the delays all relate to dwell time.

          By my observation, TMs no longer can see the open/closed status of the doors from the door controls, they must stand outside the train to observe the exterior white lights indicating doors are open, waiting for them to all go out, before they can then close their own door (takes about 6 sec to close) and give the driver right-of-way to move.

          There seemed to be some confusion between just closing the local door (red button, anyone can press it) and the TM signal to close and secure all the other doors.

          • That would explain my morning service’s prolonged stop at Newmarket with lots of on-again-off-again of the TM and another staff member (the Middle Eastern-looking man and European-looking woman pictured in train staff uniform in the launch photos) with doors opening and closing until finally we got underway again.

        • Sailor Boy

          Not what I meant, sorry if that was unclear. The train was behind schedule, but was making up time as it went along, approximately 2 minutes per stop.

  • Kerry Wood

    Is the real problem that there was no money for a driver-training simulator?

  • Barney

    My journey from Britomart to Onehunga & return yesterday (Tuesday) was very comfortable and on time and the train crews were very helpful and so smart in their new uniforms. What was a surprise was the pleasant village atmosphere in the Onehunga Shopping Centre with some great foodie shop and magnificently restored buildings I think that the last time I was there there were trams flying up & down the main street.

  • More delays on the Onehunga Line today. My fiancée just hopped on a Southern Line service after getting to Ellerslie in time to have made the 7:19 Onehunga Line service. “Delayed due to an earlier fault.”

    Not a good look at all.

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