Again? Why are brand new Auckland trains breaking down so much?

by Daniel Woo via Twitter

by Daniel Woo via Twitter

Auckland commuters are once more experiencing problems getting in and out of the city’s main train station during the breakfast rush hour.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said some train services were stopping at Newmarket and passengers were being ferried by bus to the downtown Britomart station.

Multiple services across the rail network were now cancelled or finishing at Newmarket or The Strand.

Auckland Transport said all trains on the Onehunga Line had been suspended. Some trains had been cancelled on the Eastern Line.

Commuters were advised to take the bus or travel by train to Penrose on the still operating section of the Southern Line then transfer on to a shuttle bus to get into the city.

This is just absurd. It has all the hallmarks of a service that’s been cobbled together and doesn’t actually work properly.

Auckland Transport said the delays were caused by a track fault, which occurred at 6.40am

A track fault.

From British Rail:

The rail network is divided into sections with each forming a separate electric circuit which provides a vital function: they allow signallers to “see” where the train is.

They use this to make sure trains keep a safe distance apart. When a track circuit fails we have to stop trains until alternative signalling arrangements are introduced or the problem is fixed.

Track circuits can fail for many reasons, from flood water causing a short circuit to a layer of crushed leaves insulating the wheels from the track, preventing the axle from completing the circuit, effectively making the train invisible to the signaller.

So basically put, the train operators go blind and they can’t afford for anything to move on their tracks because it risks trains crashing into things – like other trains.

Another fine mess you got us into there, Len.

And you want more money to make even more of this sort of reliable public transport, I take it?


– Network Rail, Twitter, NZ Herald


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  • Justme

    Have they ever thought about using GPS instead?
    Even with tunnels, they would still have a better idea of where they are.

    • Not Clinically Insane

      “Moving block” signal technology does. However its still in its infancy and isnt mature enough yet for ‘heavy rail’ operations

  • Kiwi Sapper

    You do know that the signals system , which controls the entire Auckland rail system is located in in Wellington and operated from there?

    Need I say more apart from making the point that surely the controllers should be in Auckland before any “expansion” of the network is even contemplated.

    • jonno1

      In all fairness it doesn’t matter where the control room is located, the controllers can’t do anything about a failure in the field.

      • Kiwi Sapper

        Perhaps, but if tree leaves on the track can bring the entire network to a halt, what are the chances of a communication system over 600 km’s away having faults. Consider how many times the failures to dte have been described as “signal failures”

        • jonno1

          There is built-in communications redundancy, however the KR Control Room controls Auckland Metro, NIMT and Wellington Metro. This is both a strength and a weakness I suppose.

          • Kiwi Sapper

            Yup, we know all about it, it’s called Lascivious Len.

  • Quinton Hogg

    Aucklands trains. reliably unreliable. and i get asked why i wont use them to get to work.

    • Aucky

      I honestly tried last week to use the train if for no other reason than to use my pristine, brand new HOP Card. Well, the card is still unused. I walked to the railway station and waited and waited and waited. You’ve guessed it – a ‘signal fault’ had halted all trains between Newmarket and the CBD. How many times did I hear that excuse in London? Walked home, got in the car and drove into the CBD. Where do they get these clowns from at AT?

  • Hard1

    I was never allowed to be late for work, working for Shell Oil.

    Do employers now have a built in ‘late for work’ clause meaning you go home late to make up the difference?

    • jonno1

      That reminds me of when I worked at the Otahuhu Railway Workshops in a former life, which was served by a special workers’ train. If the morning train was late you still got paid from your normal start time. Didn’t work as well going home…

  • Red_NZ

    waiting to hear someone complain that “this never would have happened if the trains had been made in Dunedin, rather than overseas”…. wouldn’t find that on here, but I’m sure it’ll show up on a few other sites if this even makes it onto them…

    • Michelle

      Seems like it could be a track/signalling fault not a train fault

      • Red_NZ

        I know, but you know how easily these things get “connected”.

  • Aucky

    We have an excellent bus service and a bus stop 150 meters away. Services every ten minutes at commute time including non-stop Flyer services into the CBD. Hourly well-patronised services during the day. A guarantee one would think for continuation & expansion into the future. Oh no says Auckland Transport, in 2017 this service is being totally cancelled and replaced with a shuttle service (bus stop 800 meters away) to Ellerslie railway station 15 minutes away (more during rush hour) where we will wait (and wait) for a train into the CBD. AT is leaving no stone unturned to feed the rail service.

    • Not Clinically Insane

      That is patently absurd!

      • Aucky

        It’s not only happening to our route. It seems that it’s happening anywhere that they can bulldoze commuters on to the trains.

  • Not Clinically Insane

    Pont of order: every at rail level (track, signals, etc) is owned by KiwiRail, not AT. AT pays a fee for track access, and in turn KR has obligations it has to meet

    • Aucky

      I don’t care NCI, that’s not our problem. AT is happy to rob the ratepayers blind for a service for which they patently have not done their homework.

      How would you feel about paying for Air New Zealand services that did not operate because Auckland Airport’s runway was dysfunctional? Exactly the same.

      • Not Clinically Insane

        My point was that if blame is to be assigned – and it should be – then that sits with KR as provider of the infrastructure

        • old school

          I believe that the one who you complain to is the one you pay the money to for the service, which is AT. They can then complain to whoever they purchase services from.

  • EpochNZ

    A “Track Fault” will be a problem caused by an issue with the physical track itself (broken rail etc). A problem with the detection systems (whether it be blocks or axle counters) will be a “Signalling Fault”.

  • Disinfectant

    When British Rail blamed “leaves on the track” all hell let loose.
    They made sure it was never going to be used as an excuse again.

  • Muffin

    One anagram ‘GPS’

  • Mike Glover

    LOL… three words; Made in Spain!