Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Terrorists handed the Sydney rail service

So much for Australia's multi-billion dollar anti-terrorism measures amid fears Sydney is next for a terrorist attack.
So much for talk of the need for an ID card for everyone and the placing of security guards on train platforms and even the Sydney harbour bridge this week.
Can you believe one readily available key unlocks all of Sydney's train service.
And all that was needed was for someone to grab the key.
SECURITY on Sydney's rail network is in tatters after two criminals stole a train driver's set of keys, giving them access to every train in the metropolitan area.
The theft has revealed a "basic flaw" in rail security, given that just one key can not only give access to all trains but also start them, one terrorism expert said yesterday.

And while a RailCorp spokesman said it was taking the matter "very seriously", it will not change the locks on its trains.

Instead, as of last night, it had increased security around its sidings with more patrols by private security guards and transit officers.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The latest Metro printed my letter!

It was a great honour for my humble Auckland train blog SlowTrainComin (slowtraincomin.blogspot.com) to be listed in your famous Hot column. As a young person, I live in a world where always things work in an instant. I can send emails and texts instantly to friends over the world, chat on an internet Skype phone free to people anywhere over my computer and take digital photos and see them instantly. Trying to use Auckland trains service has been like my old school trip to Motat especially on a day the trams aren't running there.

I'm also of a generation that cares about our future environment. I'm sick of breathing in Auckland's pollution (a brief time cycling to uni made me sick) and in my youthful innocence believe that taking one car off the congested roads may make a difference.

I was about to give up the train service when I bought a recent Metro hoping it would last me a week's journey but I read it in full that night on the train. This was because the signals failed and we were stuck, literally for hours, as the signals are controlled from Wellington; something I assume harks back to some 1950s (?) bureaucratic period when my uncle told me everything north of Wellington had to be controlled or checked by "head office" The Metro I read was a scary piece about Auckland's failing infrastructure, of which public transport is part. That weekend, my flat missed out seeing a crucial rugby game as the electricity went off in our area. When I spotted the power company dude up the ladder, I asked him the problem and in less eloquent language than in the Metro article, he told me the system was old and stuffed and I had better get in some candles as failures were going to become more regular over the next few years. I not only went out and got some candles but introduced some power saving measures to the flat, again to do my small part.

Metro is to be congratulated on that very important article that had a life changing impact on me (for example, I am still battling to use the trains despite the madness) but are any officials listening? Please keep revisiting that article with regular updates. Like many young people, I have options of moving offshore but I love Auckland. Auckland's future depends on passionate people like the Metro writers to ensure the city continues to thrive.



Sunday, August 28, 2005

Why rail travel makes you sick

RAIL TRAVEL IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH: I thought it was the opposite - less stress, fewer petrol fumes,power walking. But you're trapped in a carriage with every current virus going. Thanks to the guy who coughed all over me on Thursday I've been crook since with the same cold-thingy. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Thanks Connex!

Great news that trains are coming on Sundays as well as some later night services.
Thanks Connex!

Off the Rails coming to DVD

Marcus Lush's eccentric recent Off the Rails TVNZ series on a rail trip throughout NZ was a welcome respite from the reality show crap that drenches free to air TV. Instead of manufactured coked-up celebrities, real people in ordinary towns were shown living interesting lives. It also shocked with the proof of how rail was so important to NZ's history especially in linking towns in the country's difficult terrain but has been so sadly neglected by successive governments and now lies completely run down.
The good news is that this series is out on DVD on August 25 ($39-95). Buy it and let's hope it encourages another rail-inspired series.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Why the western line trains need to stop at Motat!

The trains should stop at Motat on the way to the Brit for a tuneup each journey.
I caught an early train this morning so missed the excitement.
Thanks to an email from one of the regulars we can share the story:
Pulled up just before the Newmarket junction, sat there for a good ten minutes (the usual ticket people and Maori warden guy rushing backwards and forwards without telling us anything) then finally some news... the tracks were not working properly, the guard had to "wind them by hand" - sitting there for at least 20 minutes.. Then told there would be another delay once we got to Newmarket.
The guard (real old-school looking one, with the big GUARD retro-style badge on his hat, looks like a character from one of those "Carry On...." movies) then came down the carriage wielding an antique looking crank-handle gadget thing - possibly lifted from a Motat 'Rails of The Past' display. - That's what he uses to wind the tracks apparently.
I think he had to do this twice... once to get into Newmarket, then again to get out of Newmarket and head to Britomart. I guess all the trains behind were similarly delayed...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Let's all chant: I'm ON THE TRAIN!

Reading is one of the joys of train travelling but rail operators are now cracking down on the use of mobiles on the train. I always laugh everytime a mobile goes off. The first line shouted down the mobile above the train noise is always stating the obvious: "I'm on the train." It is never heard at the other end so we hear the line again but much much louder: "I am ON THE TRAIN!" Thanks for that. We really wanted to share it.
Anyway, Washington's Metrorail system has put up signs discouraging inconsiderate talkers. "Yes, we're all very interested in what you're having for dinner tonight," reads one sign, accompanied by a picture of a wide-mouthed Metro rider yelling into a mobile phone. The second line says, "Please keep your phone conversations to yourself." Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 18, 2005

IT'S RAINING MAXX! The Brit's ceiling is still leaking water on to the platform. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Please fix the blinking problem!

The trains have been late every morning this week (30 minutes today). When one finally arrived, the front was blinking (its flashing electronic sign) at us “Papakura via Newmarket.”
So quick decision: is a train heading on the Western Line towards the Brit actually going to South Auckland? It’s possible. The train could side shuffle at Newmarket and then head the other way.
I tried to imagine I was a space station-bound astronaut walking to board the shuttle Discovery only to see a blinking light on the outside saying it actually was the Orbiter going to Mars. It could have happened. That flight had errors also. Do they take it just in case the sign is wrong?
The regulars on the train platform quickly nodded to each other and dived in. It had been cold and miserable waiting for ages so better to be inside a cramped over-heated over-full smelly carriage than outside. Maybe.
At Newmarket, the soothing music of Royksopp on my Ipod made me forget the dilemma of whether we were landing at Kennedy Space Centre or the Edwards Air Force Base. Thankfully we did reach Queen St –although isn’t there a Queen St in Papakura? I have never been there. Maybe their Queen St looks like the central city Queen St.
Who cares. It’s too confusing at that time of morning. Can someone please fix the destination signs that are clearly on the blink before this sends us over the brink?

There is nowhere to hang on to when you're standing so if you're tall enough, it's handsup as you cling to the roof of the carriage. Isn't the lack of straps /hand rails an OSH-type issue? Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A new buzz term: slowtraincomin

It's sad that Auckland's train service has now become an accepted metaphor for things that are slow.
Today's rugby test report here in the Herald on Sunday starts:
Like a train ride into Britomart, this 30-13 All Black victory against Australia last night arrived late and was largely uncomfortable but was ultimately satisfying that it at least arrived at the correct destination.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Even in Los Angeles..

Auckland's traffic gridlock is often compared to the Los Angeles situation where public transport is apparently woeful.
Take heart pro-railers with today's LA Times report that says:
AMID ALL THE PAIN inflicted by skyrocketing oil prices, there is a silver lining for Los Angeles. The agony of paying from $40 to $60 for a tank of gas is prompting more people to take public transportation. That holds true not just for the overcrowded bus system, but for the underutilized subway and light-rail lines. For the fiscal year ending in June, ridership on Metropolitan Transportation Authority-operated buses was up nearly 23% to more than 361 million boardings. The Red Line subway was up nearly 30%, and even the troubled Gold Line to Pasadena saw a 28% jump, according to the MTA.

Former railways minister wakes up after 30 years to tell us: I had a dream

Just what do Ministers do all day while earning megabucks and waiting until the next election?
The Herald’s main letter to the editor today is from a Ron Bailey, who proudly describes himself as Minister of Railways 1972-75. It’s a wise letter which says in part:
Late in 1975 the Auckland Regional Authority laid out a detailed plan for an extensive rail system for Auckland which, I am delighted to find, is similar to the one now put forward by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority. Had the $140 million project gone ahead at that time, we would be enjoying this much-needed service now.
So true. But if this guy was Minister of Railways in a Labour government, what did he do to make it happen? If my naive reading of NZ political history is correct (the Internet doesn’t seem to go back to Mr Bailey’s day) , Labour continued to run down the railways so they could eventually be sold off by another Labour government to greedy wealthy multi-millionaire Aucklanders who used the profits to spend more on their selfish America’s Cup ventures.
There is a constant wave of nostalgia about a wise old Auckland mayor called Robbie whom it is said could have solved Auckland’s transport woes if only people had listened to him. Such statements are trotted out as if the chance for such things is long past. Pity we missed the opportunity, these people say shaking their heads adding we just have to grin and bear the traffic gridlock because these days such plans would be impossible – too much capital needed, too much hassling with the resource management act, the need to consider swamp-dwelling taniwha and goodness knows what else .
But good on Mr Bailey for apparently coming to his senses. Just a pity it is decades on from the time he was in a position to set something in motion. And his plan is brilliant:
Let’s also look to the north. With the North Shore and Rodney districts growing rapidly, the motorway at times can not cope. Rail seems a much better solution through to Orewa. There would need to be a second harbour crossing.”
And for this first-time voter, what potential government can I rely on to make a difference rail-wise this time around?
Well, National and Act say train enthusiasts are nutters and when they get in, they’ll build lots and lots of motorways because everyone in their MP-salaried household now owns a gas-guzzling SUV and they selfishly want to drive it everywhere, to hell with the environment.
Labour says it will build more motorways, announcing such plans only just before each election when its polling shows Auckland voters see the gridlock as a major issue. Because it needs the Greens for a coalition, Labour may throw $50 to them to have another cycleway and mutter politically correct niceties about “integrated transport” (like have a bike rack on your SUV). Yet the massive petrol tax continues to go to…anything but transport.
Is it too late to ask Mr Bailey to stand again for Labour?

How come this massive piece of graffiti remains on this beautiful Brit building for weeks? Can we at least make it useful by changing the wording to say "Don't hurry,trains are late." Or does this sign mean the Brit is still a "work in progress?" By the way, that clock has been stuck now for two weeks. Is there a clock repairer in the city who could spare 30 minutes to fix it please?  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Breaking news:National NO to rail for Auckland

On Sky News TV Talkback show Williams upfront tonight, I asked National's transport spokesperson, former transport minister Maurice Williamson by email:
Are National's policies all pro-road or will it do anything for Auckland's passenger rail network, which is attracting more and more passengers but desperately in need of moderninising?

Asked by Larry Williams to confirm that he is anti-trains, Mr Williamson did adding:
" I think trains are terribly expensive. We have said we'll complete the projects currently underway - the double tracking in the West and so on. But if you try to show me the economics of any new (train) service, it doesn't stack up, the cost of building new rail. The only place public transport works -apart from Wellington - is with buses and buses work on something called roads. You have to build roads.
Also on the programme was current transport minister, Labour's Pete Hodgson
He said: "You can't use motorway-only to get yourself out of trouble. ..Even Los Angeles has started building trains."
But he made it clear that while the Greens could influence Labour's transport policy if the two were involved in a coalition after the forthcoming election, the Greens anti-motorway options would not be given the green light as you still had to have more motorways.

A New Lynn commuter writes...

I received this funny email from a New Lynn commuter this morning. Thanks for the kind feedback and your story. My friends are convinced I make all this up so it's nice to know I am not just having nightmares!
Love the blog... thanks very much.
I have been catching the School Boy Special lately-- crammed with kids,
getting on at New Lynn around 8.20 or so. Yesterday the destination board
said Westfield, today it's apparently Henderson. The new Maori warden (woman, mid 20s, hair pulled back in a ponytail ) was quite something this morning. Black leather gloves. Black uniform. A prime candidate for any casting director looking for someone to play a train guard on any movie involving late 1930s Germany railways.
She is very tough on telling people to get out of the doorways ("Only I can
stand in doorways" she joked to one of the people she had just ordered down
into the congested aisle) One student ordered out of the doorway and sent down the aisle said to her "but there's no room!..." - Yes there is, down there... she barked... Yikes.
And always reassuring to see St John's ambulance waiting with a stretcher
and oxygen tanks when I get off the train at Britomart.Cheers and thanks again for the blog. I'm enjoying it v. much.

A new twist to the plot

At last, a new drama on board.
This morning , the train driver had an accident.

He twisted his ankle. Badly. He had to be stretchered off.
I hope he is OK. Train drivers are in short supply.
All in all, a very puzzling trip. No-one clipped our tickets. At the station I had sat next to what I had thought was a rain puddle on the seat and turned out to be where someone had relieved themselves. Charming.
And although we finally got to our destination, the Brit,the electronic in-board sign kept saying our destination was Henderson.

Maybe the driver thought he was going that way and when he turned around to change, he twisted himself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Is the Brit leaking? For weeks, when it rains, these yellow boards appear on the platform with wet patches nearby. Is the rain coming in from the roof? Now it's happening in the concourse leading to the Downtown centre. Posted by Picasa

My reply to Connex email about train guards

Dear Connex
Your reference: Resolve case 2005/ 00899
Thank you for your detailed comments re staff attitude on board the Western line trains and it deserves a more detailed response from me. I trust these comments will be taken as helpful and constructive.
The job of train guard – or Connex train ambassador as one of them corrected us the other day when making an announcement – is far from easy. I couldn’t do it. You need an excellent memory to remember who gets on at each station, you need homing skills to find those people on a crowded carriage to collect their fares, you need to multi-task and you need the equivalent of mountaineering skills to navigate your way through a very crowded standing room only carriage of people.
You have people you should be very proud of. Although you have now given them name tags, I wish I had taken notice of their names. People like the deaf man with the big sign around his neck asking people not to shout at him; the short middle aged European woman who always welcomes people on board; the 30ish-something Indian woman; the Indian man who offered his mobile for us to ring people when we were literally stuck for hours one night because of a signal failure; the bubbly Maori girl who mentioned she looks after her sister’s baby some days.
Likewise, we –the regular users – are a tolerant lot. A senior local body politician emailed me recently to say he is surprised there is not a riot on board because we put up with almost daily delays and inconveniences. We do it because we believe in the rail system for Auckland, understand it has teething problems and want to support it through thick and thin. Connex has made welcome improvements already and we thought, seemed to be over the worse until yesterday’s signal failure.
As regulars, we bond together, talk together and help each other in time of need as sometimes it really does feel like an Outward Bound survival course such as during yesterday morning’s hold up when we tried to lip read the guards to work out what was going on and debated whether to leave and share a taxi or bus or stick it out hoping the technical fault would come right.
All we ask is to be treated gently. In recent months we have all see TV footage of what happens when trains stop unexpectedly overseas. Trust me, it has made us all a little nervous. Some of us also remember the morning the train caught on fire. When a train does run into a problem, we sometimes are left in the dark about what is happening. The guards tend to rush into the driver’s cab and then – if the train has stopped- get into a huddle at the back of the train or go outside on the platform as we strain to pick up the odd word of what they’re saying.
Here are some suggestions:
1. It is imperative we get an intercom on board for safety reasons. The other morning I never saw a guard and my ticket was not clipped. If there had been an emergency and we needed to get out of the train, would a guard have appeared and would we have heard in time of the need to evacuate? This has to be a priority.
2. Almost everyone on the train has a story about getting out at the wrong station. When the train is crowded with standing bodies, you can not see in the winter dark, where you are. The trains that now carry an electronic sign on board are great in principle but again with all the bodies you can not see the sign. We need an intercom announcement or simply the guards to announce as they go to open the doors. The other day some poor woman told us she got off at the wrong station, got lost in the dark and the rain as she did not know where she was and got extremely frightened until she found a dairy and got a taxi ordered.
3. Please teach all your train ambassadors to relax and smile. If need be, ask Air NZ how they teach their in-flight crew to do it. As I have noted, there are a few who made a difficult cramped journey even more unpleasant. As I have reported, a few remind me of an old black and white war movie I saw one afternoon on Prime TV in which Jews were being sent on a train to the gas chambers. If they want to quiz us about whether we are really getting off at the station we bought a concession ticket for or are trying to cheat the system, ask nicely, not grill us as if we have actually committed the crime. Most people are honest.
4. The Maori wardens obviously do a job none of us would want to go near. The school kids should be standing for adults. Good on the wardens for making this happen. But again please don’t shout at the kids. I have yet to see a school kid misbehave on board. A “please” teaches them manners. Having them yell at the kids only creates hostility and makes for a tense atmosphere on board.
5. People get told off –especially by the wardens- for standing too near the doors. Understandable, if there are safety issues. But on most trains there is nothing to hold on to if you’re standing halfway down the carriage, unlike a bus – no straps, rails or chrome bits at the end of seats. You have the horrible politically incorrect experience of almost clinging up against some other human body or clinging on to the coat of a seated passenger. For safety reasons, we need some sort of hang rails. That is why we congregate near the doors where there is something to hang on to.
I trust these comments are helpful and again congratulate you on your efforts to make Auckland’s rail service better. I really want it to succeed as it is the future for Auckland’s transport woes.
Again thanks for your thoughtful response.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Connex email about my blog posting

Dear Miles
We have remarked that a posting on your website (http://slowtraincomin.biogspot.com/)
notes a problem with a staff member's attitude onboard your train on the 8"' of August 2005. In addition, you have mentioned that there were no staff announcements made onboard your train today (gth August 2005) regarding the delay due to a signal fault at Newmarket Station.
We thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and regret any inconvenience it may have caused you.
Connex takes any complaint regarding employees and their behaviour very seriously and ail cases are subject to thorough investigation. As we investigate all incidents such as those described on your blog, it would be much appreciated if, in future, you could please contact us directly by phone or email with your train number or station and timetabled time of departure. This will ensure that your feedback is logged in our system and used to help provide an improved service to rail patrons.
Connex staff members undergo comprehensive Customer Services training and must adhere
to strict protocols regarding customer service and employee behaviour. Connex wiil follow due process and take the necessary disciplinary action against any employee that is found not adhering to these.
Connex wishes to apologize for any inconvenience this incident may have caused. Please donot hesitate to contact us should you have any further enquiries.
Yours faithfully
Helen Williams
Human Resources Manager
Connex Auckiand Ltd
Tel: +64 9 969 7777
Fax: +64 9 969 7700
Email: info@connexauckland.co.nz
Connex Auckland Limited
Level 7, Citibank Centre, 23 Customs Street East
PO Box 105-355, Auckiand
Tel +64 9 969 7777 Fax +64 9 969 7700

Nightmare on Newmarket Ave

The signals failed again in peak rush time this morning - leaving at least seven trains stranded out of Newmarket in the middle of nowhere. We were trapped on a closed train for at least 30 minutes, trying to work out if it would be quicker to walk but we were not allowed to leave.
As usual no information (there is no intercom on board, the guards have no idea what is happening). Scores of passengers again reached for their mobile to try to explain to their boss why they were late yet again.
Sighed one :" My boss does not believe me anymore. In 2005, how can anyone believe in Auckland that a train would be broken down once again for an hour."

Monday, August 08, 2005

Meet the new Connex train guard. Posted by Picasa

Passport checks on trains next?

Tomorrow, I will be taking two forms of ID plus my passport on the train.
Tonight, a super-efficient guard (read super-officious) not only clipped our tickets but to everyone demanded to know where they were getting off.
In other words, did you buy a one-section ticket and plan to go all the way to Swanson you bunch of crooks?
He didn't ask politely but, towering over us, barked at us all in a most over-bearing fashion. He looked like a 6ft something police trainee wannabe (read failed police recuit who is sitting for a security guard certificate and passing the time by being a train guard instead thinking it's just another form of guarding people).
Mate, a job as a train guard does not mean guarding us as if we are bunch of crooks in prison.
What next? When Winston gets in will the immigration squad appear for a "dawn raid" on the first train out of Swanson?
First the Maori wardens acting like police, now this.
The regulars just looked at each other across the carriage thinking this was the last straw in unfriendliness. Here we are in an cramped crowded smelly train with not even hand rails to hang on to and expected to keep smiling and not complaining. Isn't that enough punishment?
If Connex is so keen on the money, why did no guard ever appear this morning to clip my ticket. I held it out. No-one came so I rode free.
There are some really nice guards on the train - especially some of the women. One is as nice and warm as my Mum. But the introduction of "prison guards" is not a good look.

Greens promises to build modern rail

The Greens released their Auckland transport policy today and advocated the building of a modern rail network with regular and frequent services and increased capacity .
Full details here at the Greens site.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Be there for the Greens

The Greens release their transport policy at The Brit at 11am Monday. Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons and Keith Locke.
Be there!

The Incredibles

Excellent news to see Mayor Hubbard suggesting a rail station for the Civic carpark as part of the required leaky building repairs. Good forward thinking Sir.
The Herald had a telling chart of the decades of years of talking and reports on rail but never any action. And people wonder we are so cynical things will ever change?
1923: Railways minister Gordon Coates supports city-to-Morningside underground rail link.
1937: Underground rail link briefly raised as a way to relieve unemployment.
1949: Government promises electrification.
1951: City bureaucrats begin pushing a "roads first" policy.
1950s: Politicians join bureaucrats in favour of motorways.
1969: New ASB tower in Queen St future-proofed for underground rail.
1970s: Auckland mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson pushes rapid rail, including a tunnel under Queen St.
1972-1975: Labour government looks at rapid rail.
1976: National government abandons rapid rail.
1998-2001: Auckland mayor Christine Fletcher proposes light rail up Queen St.
2001-2004: Council investigates $500m underground rail loop from Britomart to Kingsland.
2005: ARTA plans 3.5km tunnel from Britomart to Mt Eden.

The Ghost Town. Posted by Picasa

The Brit looks even more like a ghost town. Next to the closed crepes shop, the travel centre has closed. Posted by Picasa

Let's hope it never happens here...

The effects of the attacks in London on the train service are sad:
London's transport system is being shunned by commuters who are choosing to use alternative transport - in many cases bicycles - to get to and from work. Transport for London said that at weekends up to 30 per cent fewer people were using the Tube than average, and on weekdays numbers were down by 15 per cent, a total loss of up to 450,000 journeys a day.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Good on you Greens!

The Greens are applauding draft plans to extend and electrify the Auckland train network and are proposing a postponement of some motorway developments to pay for it.
Read their news release here
The Greens will be launching 'Getting There', their Auckland Transport Plan, at Britomart on Monday

It keeps coming

An extra $500 million in transport funding has been approved by the Land Transport New Zealand Board including
Auckland passenger rail ($50 million).
Details please!

It's too good to believe!

This is too good to believe. We won't be zooming anywhere, not even on the present trains if this report follows the last 2,452 official reports on Auckland's public transport woes. Talk about Indian giver. We always get excited for five minutes and then nothing happens. Local politicians bicker. The government makes noises but never delivers. And we continue to breathe in worse and worse car fumes. Just how polluted is Auckland city's air these days?

We must crank up the heat.
Email the people mentioned in this article and give your support and demand action.
Mike Lee mike.lee@arc.govt.nz
Brian Roche ARTAenquiry@arta.co.nz
and Mayor Dick Hubbard mayor@aucklandcity.govt.nz
If you get a reply let me know (slowtraincomin@gmail.com)
The Herald story is here
The ARTA media release is here

The guts of the Herald story is-
Aucklanders will zoom round on electric trains below city streets if the new transport agency has its way. The Auckland Regional Transport Authority wants to electrify most of the rail network by 2011, and to build a 3.5km tunnel under the central business district from the western end of Britomart to Mt Eden in 10 to 20 years.
Although these plans could cost up to $1.6 billion - if not more - the authority sees them as crucial to keeping rail patronage growing so it is more than six times its current level of 3.8 million trips a year, which is almost double the 2001 total.
The authority is understood to favour buying about 50 electric trains by 2011, to be supplemented by a handful of new diesel units in areas where it would be uneconomic to extend overhead power lines.
Approaches have yet to be made to the Government agencies, and official comment for now is limited to a carefully worded joint statement from authority chairman Brian Roche and his regional council counterpart, Mike Lee.

My parttime job boss used to scold me saying if you can't get the little things right, you can't get the big things. This clock outside TheBrit has been like this all week, a real pain in the ** when you're running for the train and wondering if it has gone! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Connex replies about the bossy Maori wardens (see posting earlier in the week)

A few days ago I complained here about the bossy Maori wardens on the train - their heart in the right place but causing unnecessary tension in a well behaved carriage.
Thanks Connex for the feedback. Just one point. I'm not really a child anymore (see my photo in the posting about terrorists week July 30).

3 August 2005
Attn: Miles
Dear Miles
Re: Resolve Case CA/2005/00786
Thank you for your correspondence dated 26 luly 2005 regarding the service your child
received from a Connex Auckland Ltd. ('Connex") staff member. We thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and regret any inconvenience it may have caused you. Your feedback has been logged in our system for future reference and will be used to help provide an improved service to rail patrons.
It is the responsibility of onboard staff to ensure that passengers comply with our conditions of carriage and safety guidelines. Staff members undergo comprehensive Customer Services training and must adhere to strict protocols regarding customer service and employee behavior. Connex takes any complaint regarding employees and their behavior very seriously and all cases are subject to thorough investigation. Connex will follow due process and take the necessary disciplinary action against any employee that is found not adhering to these.
Passenger safety is a priority for Connex Auckland. A group of community-oriented individuals, known locally as Maori Wardens, are present on some Connex services as a way of discouraging disruptive behaviour, especially during the alternoon school rush. The Wardens have been serving the New Zealand community since 1896, working closely with the New Zealand Police to prevent youth crime. The wardens undertake similar tasks to those of law enforcement officers but operate with a strong social and cultural focus. The Wardens have been working with Connex on the Western line since luly 2004 and have recently extended their patrol area to cover the Southern Line.
Connex wishes to apologize for any inconvenience this experience may have caused. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further enquiries.
Yours faithfully

Helen Williams
Human Resources Manager
Connex Auckland Ltd
Tel: 164 9 969 7777
Fax: +64 9 969 7700
Emaii: info@connexauckland.co.nz
Connex Auckland Limited
Level 7, Citibank Centre, 23 Customs Street East
PO Box 105-355, Auckland
Tel +64 9 969 7777 Fax +64 9 969 7700

This is really crucial !

At last there is a way to show we really want rail services in Auckland - by voting in the petition here for an Onehunga rail service.
It's awesome to read here in the Central Leader that support is rolling in for a proposal to bring Onehunga's disused rail line back to life.
This is election time. Here's a chance for us to crank up the pressure to show we want a better bigger rail service.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Don't mess with these dudes if you plan to stand by the door. Posted by Picasa

My class report

Today I went on a high school class trip. It was actually the 8am something on the Western Line (trains were running about 20minutes late so I have no idea which scheduled train it actually was).
But it took me back a couple of years to the school bus.
This bulky Waitakere Maori Warden woman prowled up and down the train carriage bossing us all about. She told people off for clinging onto the rail just inside the door even though, unlike the bus, there were no straps or overhead rails to hang on to.
She kindly bellowed at the high school boys to get out of their seats and let adults sit down (something I was grateful for; yep, those kids these days have no manners! What do they teach them for NCEA for goodness sake?)
The wardens, once volunteers, are now hired by Connex to keep order on the train. In principle a good idea, but the kids have never misbehaved and sit there quietly chatting, listening to their Ipod or catching up on sleep. I have never seen a drunken or troublesome adult – unlike the buses I used to catch after working late at McDonalds in Queen St.
The wardens are big, loud and bossy. They have a kind heart and are obviously there to help sort out the troublesome yoof. Who would welcome their job.
But the constant patrol up and down the carriage is unnerving. I'm not sure if I have to put my hand up to get off at the next stop or whether I will get clipped around the ear if I dare to put my backpack on the empty seat beside me after Newmarket when there are plenty of empty seats.
Please: can they do their job quietly in the background and not turn a pleasant train trip into a military operation?
We have enough punishment "being kept in" at the railway station because the train is late.

I'm a big fan of the Park 'n' Ride concept to encourage people to drive to the station and leave their cars while they catch a train. This dude has the right idea. He spotted a good park. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 01, 2005

Too good to be true?

The Herald reports:
Auckland's new transport agency will receive Government money to fast-track a rail duplication project to Henderson, but remains uncertain about funds for other sorely needed items.

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority will brief Auckland Regional Council members at a workshop today on its long-term vision for rail, believed to include electric rather than diesel trains and a possible extension of the Britomart station to a tunnel under Albert St.

Looping past underground stations near Wellesley St and Pitt St en route to Mt Eden, a tunnel would remove operating constraints at Britomart, allowing a much better circulation of trains around central Auckland and to the western rail line - at a cost of at least $700 million.

But this remains on the distant horizon and the authority, an ARC subsidiary, is still waiting for decisions from Land Transport New Zealand on how much unallocated budget will be available this year for Auckland's more immediate needs.

It is pinning hope on a share of the extra $500 million the Government has promised for transport, details of which will be announced this month.