Sunday, June 19, 2005

Lost in the fog

By Mathew Dearnaley
Rebellious Auckland rail passengers, their patience exhausted by more delays yesterday, forced train staff to give up collecting fares. About six passengers held an impromptu fare strike on the region's troubled western railway line after a double-headed mechanical breakdown halted morning peak-period trains between Waitakere and Henderson.
Connex Auckland general manager Chris White ...said he had not heard about a fares revolt, but did not believe any delays to his services justified any such action. "If you want to fly to Wellington and you are delayed by fog for two hours, do you refuse to pay for the flight?"

Thanks to the Herald reporter
Mathew Dearnaley for a well-written piece. Great to see the Herald following this story - and they tell me they're reading this blog.
Connex boss Chris White is sounding so arrogant and needs a lesson in customer loyalty and PR.
Here are a few of the reasons why we are fed up and it not just about the latest breakdown:
1: Almost every day the trains are late.
2: Trains are so full, they may go by without being to pick up passengers.
3: There are so few carriages, you have to stand in unpleasant crowded carriages. Sure that happens in London and New York but the carriages are small, there are no even enough handrails and you sometimes have to almost cluth on to someone else. Not very pleasant in these PC times.
4: The trains are very old and come from some Australian museum.
5: Breakdowns are common.
6: The signals keep going faulty. One night it took three hours to get home. They are run from Wellington which is crazy.
7: The trains are so late some mornings, some of us spend time on the train trying to think up a new excuse for being late.
8: There have been some unexplained scary moments. Concrete falling down at Britomart and two fires.
9: Communication on board is patchy. There is no intercom between carriages.
10. Guards are either very pleasant under trying circumstances or downright rude. One ordered me to unplug my Ipod in case he needed to talk to me in an emergency.
11: Most trains have no in board information of where you are making it hard to know which station you are at on a dark night.
12: Trains often display the wrong sign of where they're going. Passengers tell of stories of getting a train marked Waitakere on the back and it goes on the Southern line.
13: You can sign up for a text messaging system warning you of problems but the messages give little real explanation and often arrive late by the time they get sent out.
14: Two days last week I gave up waiting after an hour and went home (walk 40 minutes) to get my car and picked people up from the train station on the way.
15: Most station platforms are cold, graffitti-ridden windswept and have no facilities.
Shall I continue?
This is not about fog closing the airport. This is a daily saga of a broken down transport system some of us are trying to support to make a difference to the environment and the traffic gridlock.
Air NZ planes don't catch on fire, fall from the sky, stop for no reason every day.
Look at Friday's txt messages for the Western line as an example of the problems:
Due to heavy passenger loadings the 6.15pm western line service from Britomart has been delayed by approx 12 mins.
Due to a mechanical fault train services in both directions on the western line are delayed approx 30 mins.
Due to heavy passenger loadings train service s in both directions are delayed by approx 12 mins.
Due to heavy passenger loadings train services in both directions on the western line are delayed by approx 20 mins.

So Mr Chris White of Connex, do you still think we are a miserable moaning lot?

We're really fed up. Trust me, it won't take much to push some of us over the edge.


Blogger Charles said...

Well, Perth where most of the units come from isn't exactly a museum. Nor is British Rail. There is one set of 5 cars from a museum in NSW but by all accounts they work just fine - it's a bit demeaning I guess.

7:32 PM  

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