ATs rail assets and costs

Occasionally Auckland Transport will publish reports that originally went to their closed after they’re no longer deemed to be confidential. One of these released recently was a deep dive into ATs rail infrastructure and contained quite a bit of interesting but somewhat wonky information, particularly around rail related assets AT have.

With rail, Kiwirail own the tracks, signalling and overhead lines while AT own the trains, stations and other amenities associated with providing rail service.

The paper only looks at the AT aspects. In total, there are 57 electric trains, 10 diesel trains (for the Papakura to Pukekohe services), 40 stations across the network with 55 individual ticket gates across four of them and AT say there are 34 more on order. In total AT’s rail assets are valued at just under $1 billion and a breakdown of that is below.


In an age where multi-hundred dollar and even billion plus transport projects are now common, it seems almost quaint to remember that Britomart only cost a few hundred million to build. It would be interesting to see how the project would have stacked up under the current economic assessment criteria given what we know has happened since it was completed.

On the stations, they say as most are relatively new/recently upgraded as part of improvement works, they have a somewhat artificial “as new” state. Although interestingly they also say that while they’re functional, they “lack the amenity value expected of modern platforms. In particular, there is limited protection from the weather on or approaching most stations“. This is an issue I raised the other day. They also say

Renewals begin from 2021. Station cost for older stations is limited to cleaning and minor maintenance (approximately $150,000 pa) while platforms containing escalators / lifts, glass finishes and on-platform amenities (such as Panmure) rise to approximately $750,000 pa. Total station maintenance cost is approx. $3 million pa.

Below is their forecast for the condition of rail assets out to 2028.


For the trains, the purchase agreement will see the manufacturer CAF responsible for maintaining them based on a rate per train/ kilometre. AT say the cost for the EMUs last year was $12 million and is expected to be $13.5 million for the 2016/17 year due to the increase in services. The document also points out that the trains ran 3.8 million km last year.

On top of these maintenance costs, AT say the annual depreciation is $42.5 million

As mentioned earlier, Kiwirail are responsible for the tracks, signals and overhead lines. AT pay Kiwirail a track access fee to cover their portion of the costs of running the network. For the first time the details of how it is determined how much AT pay is available. This is shown below.

  • Track use split – based on kilometres per annum, changed to 89.5% AT / 10.5% KiwiRail (was previously 88% / 12%)
  • Track maintenance split – based on gross tonne kilometres per annum, changed to 66.3% AT / 33.7% KiwiRail (was previously 56% / 44%)
  • Overhead Lines Maintenance – 100% AT, KiwiRail do not operate electric locomotives in Auckland

While we don’t know the exact figures for these costs, the total amount AT have paid since 2013 along with the budget for the year to June are shown below.


Given the general state of the tracks, clearly a lot more investment is needed. It would be interesting to know how much more Kiwirail would need to spend to get the tracks up to a decent condition

Seemingly in addition to the tracks, the ongoing costs to support the ETCS (European Train Control System) are expected to be about $1 million per year.

AT don’t say how much it costs to run things like CCTV or the HOP infrastructure at stations but do say the OPEX of gating stations is about $500,000 per year primarily due to needing to man the gates.

Looking forward, the report notes that ATAP suggests up to $3 billion of investment will be needed over the next 30 years and includes up to 63 more trains, a second depot, level crossing removal and of course a third and even fourth main in the south. The ATAP table describing this is below.


The major issue though is that other than the CRL, currently only around $150 million has been budgeted in the Council’s Long Term Plan. This along with the investment since AT took over in 2010 is shown below. As you can see, AT spent $737 million from November 2010 to June 2016 but if you exclude the EMU related costs, it equates to $164 million.



All up an interesting paper, if you’re interested in some of the behind the scenes costs for rail in Auckland.

Where’s the Shelter

Yesterday my train to town had door problems at Avondale station, ultimately resulting in the service being cancelled and all passengers forced to disembark and wait for the next train. Along with all the other issues and frustration that usually go along with faults on the rail network, this episode had the added bonus of it pouring with rain as hundreds of people were kicked off. This once again highlights one of the big bugbears I have with our rail stations, an almost complete lack of shelter at most of them. This resulted in a sea of umbrellas as people tried to shield themselves from the elements.


Hopefully no-one lost an eye

Many stations only have 10-15m of shelter so improving on this would have several benefits, including:

  • It would improve customer satisfaction
  • When it rains, passengers tends to huddle together under the meagre canopy. Larger canopies would also help spread passengers out along the platform.

So what’s the story AT, will we ever get some decent shelter at stations?



New Station Graphics

If you’ve caught a train recently you may have noticed a change to the shelters at most stations, the glass on the shelter walls has a new look to it.

Station Glass Graphic 1

Station Glass Graphic 2

These have replaced the motifs that previously adorned many stations.

Sturges Shelter 2

Sturges Shelter 1

From what I’ve seen  the new design seems to let in more light which is good and the company behind it say the pattern allows for better camera vision and that it does an excellent job of hiding scratch tags. However I’ve also seen complaints from some readers that it still makes it hard to read real time display boards at some stations.

Have you seen the changes and what do you think of them?

New AT Station Signs

As part of Auckland Transport’s trial around platform markings they are also updating other signage at stations. I need to get out and have a look at them in more detail but one of the most obvious changes is in the station name signs. Below you can see what it looks like at Fruitvale Rd.

Station Name Signs - New - Fruitvale Rd

There’s a couple of interesting features:

I like that they seem to using W in a green circle to indicate the line. Although Western Line is listed in the top left corner under the AT Metro logo, perhaps the prominence of the W suggests AT are thinking of moving to a single letter system for the train or Rapid Transit lines. This would likely tie in with new route numbering that is being rolled out as part of the new network which sees frequent bus routes have one or two digit numbers with less frequent routes having three digit numbers. If I’m correct it will be interesting to see how they’ll treat stations served by multiple lines e.g. Otahuhu.

I also like that they’ve added the next and previous station information on them, it’s little things like this that add to usability. At Fruitvale at least they’ve taken this further with a list of upcoming stations printed on to the screen stuff that covers the glass to prevent damage (don’t have a photo sorry).

Many of the old MAXX signs these replace had been scratched and vandalised – as far as I’m aware the signs only appeared on Tuesday and had already been vandalised by that night. Hopefully these signs are cheaper and easier to replace when that happens. Speaking of the old signs, I personally think these new ones look much better than the signs they replaced, an example of which is below.

Station Name Signs - Old - Glen Eden

What do you think, an improvement or what would you have done differently?

Panmure Public Piano

Brilliantly someone at AT has thought to install a piano at Panmure Station. Passing through in the afternoon lull it was really great to hear random members of the public bashing out tunes. Some were really good too. No one attempted Rach 3, and there were a few repeats of Chopsticks and wonky versions of Fur Elise, but there were also a couple pretty handy players. And the acoustics turn out to be great.





So if you have the skills why not head over to Panmure on the weekend and give the people a little love….? Or better still entertain the troops at rush hour.