Auckland Electrification Thread

 
Topic moved from NZ and Oceania by bevans on 05 Feb 2015 19:39
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Auckland is poised to join the world of modern rail transport.
The NZ Herald reports the first of a 57-strong fleet of electric trains has been undergoing closed-track trials at nights and weekends on the city's southern line.
They will be ready to start taking passengers between Onehunga and Britomart by the end of April.
Trials are also progressing on a second train, which will also be joined by a third, which arrived in the country from Spain last week.
That's enabled Auckland Transport to confirm an expectation that all the new trains will be running on all railway lines by July 2015.

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  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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It would appear that a fourth emu has just arrived in Auckland, currently sitting in the port area.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
At the old Auckland Railway Station near Britomart, there appear to be new electric pylons going up, and there are new paint markings on the platform as if this station is going to be used again. What are the plans for this site? Jonty Victor, Auckland.
This is all part of the electrification of Auckland's railway lines in preparation for the introduction of new electric trains, which begins in April. A major part of the rail upgrade is in the section between Britomart and Quay Park, which includes the old railway station, now decommissioned.
At present the track is set up so that trains coming from around the waterfront can access three platforms, and trains coming from Newmarket (the majority of the traffic) can only access the other two. Once completed, the new track layout will allow trains from both main lines to access all platforms and run on either of the two tracks in and out of Britomart. This will provide greater flexibility in train movements by allowing for:

Faster recovery from operating incidents such as a train breakdown or signalling outages.
Fewer delays as trains will not have to wait to get into the station.
Timetable improvements as it will increase the number of trains in and out of the station every hour.
I can find no information to suggest that the old Auckland Railway Station will be reopened for passengers.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11192788
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Three more CAF emu's have been unloaded at Auckland harbour making a total of 7 now in the NZ.Laughing
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
4. Rail electrification

First electric rail passenger services will start end-April between Onehunga and Britomart. Photo / NZ HeraldCost: $1.14 billion
Developer: KiwiRail and Auckland Transport
Completion: July 2015
What it is: Electrification and re-signalling of 85km of Auckland's rail network between Britomart and Papakura in the south, and Swanson in the west - $500m (KiwiRail). Purchase of 57 new three-car electric trains and construction of a $100m depot for a 12-year maintenance contract to Spanish train-builder Cas - $641m (Auckland Transport).

What has been done
• A new computerised signalling system has been completed, with automatic train protection to override drivers if they are travelling too fast towards red lights or exceeding aspeed limit of 110km/h.
• 460km of wiring (82 per cent of a required 561km) has been strung above the tracks to supply trains with 25,000 volts of electricity through two substations.
• 3,060 masts (of a required 3,173) have been erected across the network, and cantilevered conductor rails laid inside Britomart (over Christmas).
• The electric trains' maintenance depot has opened and is operating in Wiri.
• Seven trains (including three last week) have arrived from Spain and several have been tested between Wiri, Newmarket and Onehunga, in one case to a top speed of 122.6km/h.
What's happening this year
• First electric rail passenger services to start at the end of April between Onehunga and Britomart. Six trains to be ready for duty by then.
• Next round of passenger services to start in August or September, between Manukau and Britomart via the eastern railway line through Panmure and Glen Innes.
• More trains to be tested and overhead wires to be registered for electric trains to start running between Papakura and Britomart early next year, and on the western line in autumn 2015.
• Auckland Transport board to consider a $113m extension of the electrification project to Pukekohe, instead of facing extra operating costs from running diesel shuttle services from that growing centre to Papakura.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11193923
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
EMU Programme



Official track testing is now well advanced and scheduled to conclude mid-February 2014.

The testing of the on-board signalling system has been completed with the passenger

information systems (PA announcements, and passenger information displays) remaining to

conclude testing.

Four trains are now capable of mainline running and fleet kilometres during testing are in

excess of 15,000. The trains continue to perform well under tests on the electrified main

lines which now extend from Wiri to Newmarket and also on the Onehunga Branch Line.

Trains five, six and seven are

at Wiri undergoing reassembly

and tests. Trains eight and

nine have left Spain and are

due in New Zealand in early

March.

In preparation for the launch of

the new electric trains,

communication has continued

to draw attention to safety

around the trains and

overhead wires. Cinema

advertising ran in blockbuster

movies throughout the summer

holiday period.

A letter and information pack has been sent to Principals of all primary and secondary

schools in Auckland asking for their assistance in spreading the safety message. The pack

contained;


a letter signed by Auckland Transport, KiwiRail and Transdev,

USB with copies of the rail safety video and overhead wires video

copies of advertising material for use in school newsletters,

copies of posters and flyers.



AT’s Community Transport division and Transdev have also offered to provide workshops

and presentations to schools in the region. Safety messages have also started to appear on

Railway Stations on the Onehunga Line.

http://at.govt.nz/media/338762/Item-8-Business-Report-Master-collated.pdf
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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3. Rail Electrification




Mid-2013: Depot

Apr 2014: Onehunga




Line services



Sep 2014: Manukau




via Eastern Line

services



Mar 2015: Southern




Line services



Jul 2015: Western




Line services



The Auckland Electrification Programme (AEP) had a beneficial



Christmas Block of Line with gains of one week against programme.


Seven EMU Units are now stabled at the Wiri Depot.

Testing and Commissioning is being undertaken between Puhinui and



Newmarket including the Onehunga line with EMU Units 1 to 4.


Testing of the Newmarket Branch Line for EMU operations to commence



from 28th February.


Final electric service timetable modelling is progressing with KiwiRail to



confirm full electric service timetable specifications and timing, aligning

rolling stock availability, diesel/electric mix frequency restrictions and

infrastructure completion.


Platform interface testing is scheduled for the East NIMT on Sunday 9th



February 2014.


Open day planning for the EMU launch is underway and work is



progressing on a coordinated launch event, ongoing electrification safety

campaign and customer awareness campaign for the new electric train

services.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Auckland's rail lines were electrified today, but a chap from Wellington was given the honours of making the switch.
Politicians gathered at Britomart Transport Centre in Auckland to launch the city's new electrified rail line.
However, with the control system based in the capital city, a Wellington transport worker named Bryan had his finger on the on switch.
The $500 million project will result in electric trains replacing Auckland's ageing diesel fleet from April 28.
Prime Minister John Key said the new electrified lines would encourage more Aucklanders to use the trains.
"There's nothing magical about Aucklanders using public transport," Key said.
"If it's there and it's efficient they will use it."
Rail commuters made almost 11 million trips across Auckland in the past year.
Auckland Rail chairman Lester Levy said the painful delays of public transport were becoming a thing of the past.
"Travel in Auckland has sometimes been a form of torture," Levy said.
"We are, however, on the cusp of changing all that. So this is a real landmark time."
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said upgrading the train system meant 10-minute peak frequencies for passengers.
"This will play a big part in tackling congestion, and will also substantially increase the size of the rail fleet, providing spare capacity for future growth."
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Promotional video of new emu's



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OejJf5TujMY
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
First EMU to Britomart The first AM Class EMU test train completed a successful run from Wiri through to Britomart Station commencing late evening on Wednesday 19 March.




The electric trains have taken seamlessly to the newly installed infrastructure and Wednesday’s tests on both the Newmarket and Britomart Station Up and Down Mains all went well and further planned tests for the following two nights were un-necessary.


"The EMU test runs are an essential part of planning for the start of passenger services and so far everything is going to schedule. The KiwiRail and Transdev teams have done a great job. This is a huge milestone," says Allan Neilson, Manager Traction and Electrical Engineering.



On 1 April, KiwiRail will be hosting an event at Britomart where the Prime Minister will permanently ‘switch on’ electricity into Britomart. The first electric train passenger services will operate along the Onehunga Branch Line into the city from 28 April.




Over the next six months, KiwiRail will progressively complete and commission other parts of the network to coincide with Auckland Transport’s planned rollout of electric passenger services.



"We have been very pleased with how the infrastructure has been accommodating the new trains both into Britomart and on other parts of the network where testing has taken place. This augurs well for the future and we are looking forward to seeing the new electric passenger services in full operation later in the year," says Nick French, Project Director, Electrification.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Auckland rail ready for electric train passenger services
Tuesday, 1 April 2014, 3:55 pm
Press Release: KiwiRail
Media Release
1 April, 2014
Auckland rail network ready for first electric train passenger services
The $500 million project to electrify Auckland’s rail network reached its most significant milestone moments ago when the Prime Minister and KiwiRail staff officially energised electric rail infrastructure into Britomart, New Zealand’s busiest transport centre.
The move will enable the first electric train passenger services to operate between Onehunga and the city later this month and marks a major step forward for rail in Auckland.
“Today symbolises a step change for Auckland’s integrated transport network,” says KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy. “What we have achieved through world-class engineering, construction capabilities and the deployment of new technology is a modern electrified network that will improve journey times, reliability and ultimately encourage more people out of their cars and onto trains.”
The installation of overhead lines involved 650,000 hours’ worth of construction activity, the installation of 3,500 masts, carrying 560km of 25kv overhead wires across 175km of railway tracks.
“The complexity and scale of this project is comparable to recent rail upgrades in some of the world’s largest cities,” says Mr Reidy. “Some of the equipment on the network had not been upgraded since the 1960’s so we have achieved a giant leap forward.”
KiwiRail also placed significant emphasis towards deploying state of the art technology that will enable greater levels of automation, communications and safety across the network.





This includes the implementation of a new train control system that overrides drivers if they are travelling too fast towards red signal lights and advanced automated signalling equipment that is a ‘world-first’ for New Zealand and replaces equipment that has not been upgraded for more than fifty years.
“The government has invested $1.7 billion in the upgrade of Auckland’s metro rail network and new electric trains, delivering a reliable network with frequent services. This is providing a viable alternative mode of transport for many Aucklanders and will achieve increases in rail patronage also playing a part in reducing congestion,” said Prime Minister Hon. John Key.
Over the next six months KiwiRail will progressively complete and commission other parts of the network to coincide with Auckland Transport’s planned rollout of electric passenger services.
Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive, David Warburton says, “The introduction of electric trains marks the start of a new era in public transport for Auckland. We are on target as we count down the days until we introduce modern trains to Auckland, line by line until we have all 57 trains in place near the end of 2015. With such an attractive mode of transport, we are looking forward to increasing numbers of Aucklanders making the choice to leave their cars and get on board”.
The first electric trains passenger services will run along the Onehunga Branch Line on 28 April.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Auckland rail network ready for first electric train passenger services
1 April 2014

The $500 million project to electrify Auckland’s rail network reached its most significant milestone moments ago when the Prime Minister and KiwiRail staff officially energised electric rail infrastructure into Britomart, New Zealand’s busiest transport centre.


The move will enable the first electric train passenger services to operate between Onehunga and the city later this month and marks a major step forward for rail in Auckland.  
“Today symbolises a step change for Auckland’s integrated transport network,” says KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy. “What we have achieved through world-class engineering, construction capabilities and the deployment of new technology is a modern electrified network that will improve journey times, reliability and ultimately encourage more people out of their cars and onto trains.”
The installation of overhead lines involved 650,000 hours’ worth of construction activity, the installation of 3,500 masts, carrying 560km of 25kv overhead wires across 175km of railway tracks.
“The complexity and scale of this project is comparable to recent rail upgrades in some of the world’s largest cities,” says Mr Reidy. “Some of the equipment on the network had not been upgraded since the 1960’s so we have achieved a giant leap forward.”
KiwiRail also placed significant emphasis towards deploying state of the art technology that will enable greater levels of automation, communications and safety across the network.
This includes the implementation of a new train control system that overrides drivers if they are travelling too fast towards red signal lights and advanced automated signalling equipment that is a ‘world-first’ for New Zealand and replaces equipment that has not been upgraded for more than fifty years.
“The government has invested $1.7 billion in the upgrade of Auckland’s metro rail network and new electric trains, delivering a reliable network with frequent services. This is providing a viable alternative mode of transport for many Aucklanders and will achieve increases in rail patronage also playing a part in reducing congestion,” said Prime Minister Hon. John Key.
Over the next six months KiwiRail will progressively complete and commission other parts of the network to coincide with Auckland Transport’s planned rollout of electric passenger services.
Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive, David Warburton says, “The introduction of electric trains marks the start of a new era in public transport for Auckland. We are on target as we count down the days until we introduce modern trains to Auckland, line by line until we have all 57 trains in place near the end of 2015. With such an attractive mode of transport, we are looking forward to increasing numbers of Aucklanders making the choice to leave their cars and get on board”.
The first electric trains passenger services will run along the Onehunga Branch Line on 28 April.
ENDS
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
$560m for 500kms of electrification overhead and associated works and commissioning and control.

Let's roll these guys onto the Stony Point and Geelong line.

Regards
Brian
  Boss Chief Commissioner

Location: Caulfield Line
$560m for 500kms of electrification overhead and associated works and commissioning and control.

Let's roll these guys onto the Stony Point and Geelong line.

Regards
Brian
bevans

Here here
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Some of the guy's working on wiring Auckland were brought across from Australia so your wish may be easier to implement than you think.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Some of the guy's working on wiring Auckland were brought across from Australia so your wish may be easier to implement than you think.
wanderer53


There is always the way but never the WILL in Victoria.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
PM gives the signal — Britomart goes live Shimmering, capacious, the vaulted hall echoed to the countdown.




Linked by live video, Prime Minister John Key gave the signal and back in Wellington Train Controller, Brian Green, hit the switch and energised the lines into Britomart Station.



With that simple action, the $500 million project to electrify Auckland’s rail network reached its most significant milestone.




The Prime Minister was quick to seize the moment. "The Government," he declared, "has invested $1.7 billion in the upgrade of Auckland’s metro rail network and new electric trains, delivering a reliable network with frequent services. This is providing a viable alternative mode of transport for many Aucklanders, will achieve increases in rail patronage and play a part in reducing congestion."



The move will enable the first electric train passenger services to operate between Onehunga and the city later this month and marks a major step forward for rail in Auckland.


KiwiRail CEO, Peter Reidy, emphasised the complexity and scale of this project which he said was comparable with recent rail upgrades in some of the world’s largest cities. "Today symbolises a step change for Auckland’s integrated transport network. What we have achieved through world-class engineering, construction capabilities and the deployment of new technology is a modern electrified network that will improve journey times and reliability and ultimately encourage more people out of their cars and onto trains."




He praised the commitment and expertise of the teams involved and made special mention of Rick Van Barneveld, Murray Hood and Nick French for the engineering expertise and leadership they had demonstrated in delivering such a highly complex and challenging project.


The project has an impressive safety and environmental record. In the more than 650,000 hours worked there were zero environmental issues and just two minor lost time injuries. "It is one thing completing complex projects such as these, but another entirely to do so while maintaining a proud safety and environmental record," said Peter
With safety and efficiency gains in mind, KiwiRail has also deployed state-of-the-art technology that will provide greater levels of automation and improve communications and safety across the network well into the future.


This includes the implementation of a new train control system that overrides drivers if they are travelling too fast towards red signal lights, and, advanced automated signalling equipment that is a ‘world-first’ for New Zealand and replaces equipment not upgraded for more than fifty years.


Around 80 people attended the official ceremony including the Prime Minister, Transport Minister, Gerry Brownlee, the Mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, the Chair of Auckland Transport, Lester Levy, and representatives of Transdev and construction consortium Hilor.


Students from Newmarket Primary School — one of the first schools in the country to start using the New Zealand Transport Agency’s new rail safety curriculum resources — attended as representatives of TrackSAFE NZ. The students performed a waiata and were also involved in starting the countdown towards switching the power on into Britomart.




Special thanks are also due to staff who volunteered to help on the day, from ushering and welcoming guests to assisting with the set up. Without their commitment the day would not have been the success that it was.


Over the next six months KiwiRail will progressively complete and commission other parts of the network to coincide with Auckland Transport’s planned rollout of electric passenger services.



The first electric train passenger services will run along the Onehunga Branch Line on 28 April.




The remainder of the network will be progressively commissioned over the next six months and Auckland Transport plans to roll out all 57 electric train units by the end of 2015.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Auckland Electrification — Key Facts


  1. Significant improvements to safety across the entire network.

  2. Installation of 3,500 foundations and masts, carrying 560km of overhead lines across 175km of railway tracks.

  3. Design and build of a SCADA control system and an upgrade to Traction Control Centre in Wellington.

  4. First network in the world to use automated signalling infrastructure.

  5. New signalling allows bi-directional operation and Automatic Route Setting — improved train movements and minimised delays. Automatic train protection overrides drivers if they are travelling too fast towards red lights or exceeding speed limits.

  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Engineers working on reducing constant hum to maximise passenger comfort before next week's rollout.

Train driver John Keenan going through training on Auckland Transport's new electric commuter trains. Photo / Richard Robinson
Acoustic engineers have been trying to soften the air-conditioning noise on Auckland's new electric trains with a week to go before they are rolled out for commuter use.
A constant air-conditioning hum overlaid the gentle whirring of electric motors and clickety-clack of rail tracks as the Herald joined trainee drivers on a test run of one of five trains being readied to carry passengers between Onehunga and Britomart next week.
Auckland Transport, which is importing 57 three-car trains from Spain for about $540 million in a cost-sharing purchase and maintenance deal with the Government, insists their air-con units already meet noise and efficiency specification limits for both heating and cooling.
That follows considerable design work and the installation of noise-reducing material, said a spokesman for the council body.
But he acknowledged engineers were still fine-tuning the systems to maximise passenger comfort.

He suggested it would be unfair to represent the air-conditioning noise of an empty train heading out of its depot into humid outside conditions as typical of what passengers should expect from next Monday.
"The air-con would have been working very fast until the train reached normal temperature."
He also believed it would have been more noticeable in an empty carriage with little background noise.
Informal noise sampling by the Herald measured the highest level inside electric multiple unit (EMU) number 129 at 72.9 decibels, compared with 83.6dB reached inside a locomotive-hauled train and 92dB in a diesel multiple unit between Puhinui and Homai stations on Auckland's southern railway line.
With just the air-con switched on before the electric motors kicked in, the top level was 69dB.
Watch: City Rail Link, connecting Aucklanders

[img]http://media.nzherald.co.nz/webcontent/image/jpg/201347/Aucklanders2_460x230.jpeg[/img]VideoA rule of thumb is that every increase of 10 decibels represents a doubling of noise, meaning a jet aircraft taking off at 100dB is roughly eight times as loud as a passenger car clocking 70dB at 105km/h.
Differences were even more pronounced outside the various trains, where the electric was at least four times quieter than diesels accelerating out of stations.
It reached a top count of 77dB when pulling out of its Wiri depot, compared with a high of 99.6dB for the DMU and 101.6dB for a loco-hauled train thundering away from Puhinui Station.
But being far quieter than the trains they will be replacing in a line-by-line rollout to mid-2015 presents a serious new challenge for the electrics, as they will be harder for pedestrians to hear coming.
That means rail operator Transdev is asking its drivers to take extra care to sound warning alarms when approaching level-crossings.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

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Countdown to Auckland's electric trains21/04/2014 11:32:38 p.m.
The countdown is on to the launch of Auckland’s new trains….just 5 days to go.
The trains are publicly launched on Sunday.
The first public services start on Monday morning on the Onehunga line and will progressively rolled out on the Auckland Rail Network during the next 15 months.
Read about the new electric trains
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Aucklanders reminded to take care around trains on eve of electric train services
24 April 2014

With Monday heralding a new era of electric train services for Auckland, KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ are reminding Aucklanders to stay alert and vigilant around level crossings and train tracks.


TrackSAFE NZ Manager Megan Drayton says “electric trains are quiet and this means there will be an even greater need for people to stay focused around railway tracks.”
“We would encourage everyone to make sure they have removed headphones when around level crossings, always look both ways for trains and to cross tracks only when the lights and bells are not operating.”
Ms Drayton also says people also need to remember that the only legal place they are allowed to cross the railway is at designated level crossings.
KiwiRail’s Acting Chief Executive Iain Hill says “We advise motorists and pedestrians to take extra care looking for trains at stations and level crossings, to obey the warning signs when approaching level crossings and to always ensure there is space for their vehicle on the other side before driving over the crossing.”
Nationwide, there have been 18 collisions involving vehicles at level crossings last year, three of which were fatal. This compares to 16 collisions in 2012.
Mr Hill has also reinforced the need for extra care and responsible behaviour around newly installed overhead electricity wires along the Auckland rail corridor.
“We have seen fatalities and injuries on overhead wires in other parts of New Zealand and elsewhere in the world,’” says Mr Hill. “We do not want to have an incident in Auckland so we ask that people stay well clear of these wires at all times.”
Electric train services will commence along the Onehunga Branch Line from Monday with services being progressively added to other parts of the network in stages over the next eighteen months.
Earlier in the month, the Prime Minister officially ‘switched on’ the electric train wires that will enable new services to commence operation on Monday.
ENDS
Important safety messages for Aucklanders:

  • Always stay behind the yellow lines at train stations

  • Take care around overhead wires – do not carry tall objects, fly kites or attempt to climb masts carrying wires

  • Do not trespass on the rail corridor – it is illegal and dangerous (KiwiRail have reported 145 ‘near misses last year)

  • Pedestrians should only cross tracks at designated pedestrian crossings


For media enquiries, please contact Matt Poland on 027 602 2050 or Megan Drayton on 0274 727002.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
People are being warned to take extra care as electric train services are introduced in Auckland.
The new quiet trains begin along the Onehunga Branch Line on Monday.
TrackSAFE NZ manager Megan Drayton said people need to stay focused around railway tracks with the introduction of the electric trains.
"We would encourage everyone to make sure they have removed headphones when around level crossings, always look both ways for trains and to cross tracks only when the lights and bells are not operating.''
Ms Drayton said people needed to remember it was illegal to cross a railway line at any other place than a designated level crossing.
KiwiRail reported 145 near-misses in the last year of people trespassing in the rail corridor.
Acting chief executive Iain Hill said extra care needed to be taken around the newly installed overhead electricity wires along the Auckland railway lines.

"We have seen fatalities and injuries on overhead wires in other parts of New Zealand and elsewhere in the world.
"We do not want to have an incident in Auckland so we ask that people stay well clear of these wires at all times.''
Last year there were 18 collisions with vehicles at level crossing, three of them were fatal.
In 2012 there were 16 collisions.
**********
Safety messages for Aucklanders: Always stay behind the yellow lines at train stations Take care around overhead wires, do not carry tall objects, fly kites or attempt to climb masts carrying wires Do not trespass on the rail corridor. It is illegal and dangerous Pedestrians should cross tracks only at designated pedestrian crossings.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

A 1907 traffic medley of electric trams, horse drawn buses and a solitary motor car (parked beside the righthand curb) share Lower Queen St together. File photo / NZ Herald ArchiveNext Monday will be a historic day for transport in Auckland as for the first time the city will have electric trains carrying fare-paying passengers. Electrifying the rail network is something that has been talked about for 90 years, mostly in conjunction with a version of the City Rail Link. While Britomart was undoubtedly a turning point for rail in Auckland it wouldn't have been possible without some key events and a whole pile of luck that occurred just over a decade earlier, without which it is unlikely we would have a rail system today. One man was at the centre of it all and this is the story of how he saved rail in Auckland.
The story starts in the late 80s when the Auckland rail network is in serious decline. The trains were being run under the name of City Line which was part of NZ Rail Ltd and also ran a number of bus services.

Unlike Wellington which had just fairly new electric trains, the trains running on the Auckland network were decrepit and consisted of former long distance carriages that had been converted for suburban use. They were originally built in 1936 and had steel frames but the bodies were made from wood. They were also hard to access, requiring customers to climb up into the trains from what were basically oversized kerbs that masqueraded as station platforms. Also note: to change ends there was no driving cab like today, the locomotive had to be uncoupled and moved to the other end of the train at a station with a passing loop.
At the time Auckland had also seen numerous grand plans for new public transport networks but none ever saw the political support needed to actually implement them. At the time the latest idea was convert the western line to light rail using a tram train from Henderson then send it via a tunnel under K Rd before running down the surface of Queen St. The problem was the idea couldn't get political support. The city council didn't want trams on Queen St and the regional council saw it as competition to the Yellow Bus Company, of which they owned 90 per cent. That left Auckland with its near-derelict trains and not much hope for the future.

Auckland was thronged with sightseers the day the first electric tram ran in Queen St in 1902. File photo / NZ Herald Archive
It's now the early 90s and enter Raymond Siddalls. With a year to go before the regional council took over the contracting of services he was in charge of running the suburban fleet. His bosses had also tasked him with shutting the Auckland network down. With an ageing fleet, falling patronage and little political support (both locally or nationally) no one thought it could be made to work. After looking at the operations Raymond was surprised to find that with with a restructure he was be able to cut down the costs and actually have the company start making a profit on the gross contracts it held.
The critical time came in 1991 when a decision was needed on how to move forward. New legislation controlling how public transport services would operate was coming into effect and basically changed everything. No longer could public transport be treated as a social service and the focus was on making it stand up commercially. The legislation also didn't allow for any distinction between rail and bus services which meant bus companies could tender for rail routes.
With the network actually making a profit the operation was kept going and the operating company tendered for the 120 services a day that they were already running (today there are something like 365 services per day). One problem though was each service had to take on the full cost of running the network. They subsequently were able to re-tender for the services as a combined timetable which allowed the costs to be shared across all services.
The councils started to get on board and the company was awarded the contract in the south for three years while in the west it was for four years. They were then able to successfully argue that with a four-year contract on the entire network there was a chance to look at new rolling stock which would boost and the councils agreed to this. The contract was due to start in June 1992.
Around this time it just so happened that one staff member was about to go to Perth to attend a wedding. Perth was just about to finish electrifying their rail network and so the staff member was asked to drop in to find out what they were planning to do with their unneeded DMU's (Diesel Multiple Units - the ones that don't have a locomotive).
It turns out there were no plans for them and so subsequently Raymond flew over to inspect and value the trains. He made a call that there were no other buyers interested in them and so put in an offer for them at scrap value. All up he was aiming for 20 trains and his hunch about no other buyers being interested paid off, managing to secure 19 of them.
With a new fleet of trains seemingly secured it wasn't the end of the problems, though. Perth is flat and the steepest track has a grade of 1:200 while Auckland is far from flat with trains needing to be able to handle grades of 1:36. This meant many needed their engines and transmissions overhauled to be able to handle the Auckland conditions. They also wanted to refurbish the trains by re-upholstering the seats and replacing the floor coverings. Lastly they had to raise the platform heights around the network so that people could actually get on to the trains. To make things even more difficult in Auckland the rail unions were striking trying to reopen the workshops and re-employ some of the staff who had been laid off by the earlier rail restructuring.

One of Auckland's new electric trains. Photo / Dean Purcell
To fund the overhaul, refurbishment and raise the platform heights it was determined that the only way they could make it viable would be if the rail contract was extended to 10 years. Due to the confirmed availability of rolling stock this was considered a good deal. As such the regional council ended up voting unanimously to support the proposal with one person abstaining - the abstention was from a light rail advocate.
In another stroke of luck all of this happened just before the rail network was privatised, something that could have put the whole idea in jeopardy.
At around the time the DMU's were introduced patronage on the rail network reached its lowest point ever of just over 1 million trips per year. Within a couple of years after their introduction, the DMU's were responsible for a reverse in the in the patronage decline that had been witnessed over the previous decades. It then continued to grow and reached about 2.5 million trips before Britomart was opened. It was also that growth that helped give the political courage needed to get Britomart built.
Raymond also happened to table the idea of Britomart all the way back in 1990 and he was instrumental in ensuring that a corridor was left to the site of Britomart as the initial plan had been to sell off the old rail yard land entirely.
Put simply without the actions that Raymond took we almost certainly would not have a rail network today that is about to served by modern electric trains. He has been a hero to public transport in Auckland that I think the city should be eternally thankful for. Thanks Raymond.
  wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
One remembrance encapsulates just how much Auckland is due the electric train service that will finally roll out on the Onehunga line on Monday. It is that of Terry Scott, the managing director of Transdev, Auckland's rail operator.
He recalls catching the city's present diesel trains as a schoolboy in Perth long before the fleet was sold to Auckland in the early 1990s. Subsequently, and for far too long, passengers have had to endure these 60-year-old bone-shaking hand-me-downs. All that changes on Monday, however.
Aucklanders are being assured that they will be very pleasantly surprised by the comfort, quietness and speed of their new trains.
As much should be expected. The 57 Spanish-made trains must justify a $540 million tag, as well as compensate for the inconvenience of the extended shutdowns of rail services as the region's $1.16 billion electrification project was completed. Much also rides on them in terms of the development of the city's public transport network.

The Mayor, Len Brown, expects rail patronage to "rocket". If so, there will be increased pressure for an early start to the city's underground rail link.
There is no reason to suggest passengers will not be delighted by the new three-car trains, which are scheduled to be running on all lines between Papakura, Swanson and Britomart by July next year. They will each carry up to 375 passengers - 40 per cent more than the diesel sets - at a cruising speed of 90km/h. That, allied to the non-juddering acceleration that is a feature of the best European trains, is expected to chop 10 minutes off the existing 53-minute trip between Papakura and Britomart.
They also start operations at a favourable time. Auckland rail patronage is at a record high despite the diesel dinosaurs.
It increased 2 per cent to 10.88 million trips in the 12 months to the end of February before hitting 11 million a month or so later. That takes patronage above even the levels achieved during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. But it is still below the 11.4 million annual figure for Wellington, which received the first of three generations of electric trains in 1938. The go-ahead for Auckland from then Finance Minister Michael Cullen came a mere 70 years later.
Current patronage is, however, far short of demonstrating the ability to reach 20 million by 2020, one of the Government's stipulations for an early start to the rail link. The potential for the electric trains to transform that situation is predicated on what happened in Perth after the same change was made. Patronage there soared from an annual 8 million trips to 63 million last year. But something similar will not happen here just because of the new trains and far better stations such as those at Panmure and Newmarket. There must be other improvements, including better punctuality and a superior weekend timetable. Any temptation to raise fares should also be resisted. Ticketing and pricing options should be made as simple and convenient as possible and, if anything, fares could be reduced to increase patronage.
That is for the future, however. Right now, Aucklanders should celebrate the arrival of their new electric trains. They have been a long time coming. But they offer much not only for those who will use them but, hopefully, for drivers seeking some relief from highway congestion.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Is it me, or do the front & back of these trains look like a character from ur Star Wars? (I think that's the name)

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