AT is committed to running reliable peak services and achieving this through the introduction of a world class all-electric fleet.
In order to address the recent decrease in reliability and performance, the decommissioning of the diesel fleet has been brought forward to July from a planned August / September date. This will remove one variable of on-time performance – aging diesel train breakdowns that have seen a spike in recent months.
As with any timetable change, the most recent being on 8 December with a +22% increase in services, tweaks are required following introduction. The 3 minute earlier departure times on the Western Line are needed to support the 8 December increased services while diesel and electric trains share the network, to ensure time slots at Newmarket junction and Britomart are met.
As part of the original electric train rollout plan and in accordance with that plan, run-times of the electric trains on the Western Line are being tested and optimised currently prior to introduction in July as part of the existing timetable. Continuous improvements in run times, signalling and track testing to optimise electric train run times are a priority and further run-time testing and optimisation will follow the bedding in of full electric train operations from July, leading to more timetable improvements later in 2015. This work involves looking at reducing dwell times and optimising the ETCS (European Train Control System) safety feature on the electric trains.
AT is committed to providing the peak 10 minute frequency on the Western Line as early as possible and will be dependent on progress over coming months.
The historic run times relate to when run times were increased to accommodate the SA train sets. To place this in context, the improvements on the rail network since 2003:
I think it would be good for AT to actually specify exactly what the impediments are to faster and more frequent services and what steps they are taking i.e. how much do they need to reduce dwell times, what are the changes that need to occur for 10 minute frequencies etc.
As often happens when AT release data like above it manages to highlight a couple of other important points. In this case that a few things I noticed:
- Patronage has increased well above the increase in the number of services per week. This is a good things and shows suggests we’re not only getting better services but also more utilisation out of them.
- At 30 arrivals at Britomart over a two hour period it highlights just how much more capacity the CRL has the potential to contribute. Although first a quick count suggests the actual number of AM Peak (7am-9am) arrivals is 36 trains which would go to 40 if the western line moved to 10 minute frequencies. My understanding is the CRL allows for up to 48 trains an hour (24 trains per direction) so that’s up to 96 over a two hour window. In other words the CRL more than doubles the capacity of the rail network.
- Back in early March AT said that on average weekdays in February there were 51,500 trips. For March that has increased to almost 60,000 per weekday