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September 10, 2011

Veolia Transport media statement Saturday 10 September

From about midday trains were full and capacity issues began to arise. We had planned for twice the number of customers travelling on a normal day and designed timetables based on the maximum capacity of our train fleet however four times the usual number of customers travelled yesterday. 

We implemented contingency plans at the earliest opportunity and all 31 available back up bus services were brought into service. 
There were no major mechanical, infrastructure or staffing issues yesterday. All delays were either directly or indirectly caused by capacity issues and the consequential problems. 

We recorded five separate incidents of emergency stop buttons being pressed on train services. There were five customers that required emergency medical assistance, some of them serious. Services were delayed while medical treatment was sought for customers, trains made safe and emergency brake systems reset. 

A series of safety incidents occurred - including people riding on the outside of a locomotive, people on the track, customers trying to board moving trains, assaults, fights, and a fire extinguisher was discharged inside a closed carriage. Safely managing these incidents was our principal focus, while maintaining the busy train services. 

The incident that caused the most delay involved the repeated activation of the emergency stop button alarm, which led to the train being taken out of service. We detrained customers onto another service to start trains moving again on the line. There were three trains behind this train service during the busy period before kick off, so it was a priority to get trains into Kingsland as soon as possible. 

Most people still made it to the ground in time but we apologise to those people who did not make it to Eden Park in time for the opening ceremony. We will be following up on this and other matters with Auckland Transport next week. 

Veolia re-established regular train services during the game. We worked quickly to reposition trains and crew ready for travel after full time. All the people travelling after the rugby were cleared from Kingsland station in 70 minutes as planned. Very busy trains continued running to get customers home until about 2.30am. 

At this point we are not aware of any technical issues with the onboard PA systems or the air conditioning. We believe some of the new automatic train announcements may not have been loud enough in some instances due to the large numbers of people celebrating on trains and we are looking at ways to improve communications and temperature control for the games still to come. 

Managing Director, Graham Sibery would like to thank Veolia Transport staff who responded well to the significant number of challenges yesterday. “We are grateful for the dedication and professionalism they showed yesterday,” he says. 

While the next few weeks will be busy, we do not expect the same large numbers of customers to travel to the city and stadium for other Rugby World Cup games. We believe key factors increasing crowds yesterday were the excitement and anticipation of the fabulous Opening Night celebrations, a major home game and normal Friday afternoon customers commuting home. 

We will conduct a full review of our operations on Friday 9 September and work closely with Auckland Transport to improve the train services for the games this weekend and rest of the tournament.


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