Bikes on our first electric train – today!

Train Unveiling 01Never doubt CAA’s dedication! Eager to join today’s electric train unveiling ceremony at Wiri, we set off by train with our bikes for the Manukau Train Station. On arrival we squeezed with our bikes into the mean little lift to leave the station platform (sadly showing a lack of vision about public demand for PT) and cycled off in steady rain. It felt less than auspicious, as trucks roared past us on hostile Wiri Station Rd, splashing grubby water from road puddles onto us.

But all was forgiven when we arrived to the flash new train depot. A big crowd had gathered to await the dramatic unveiling of the train. A series of officials gave speeches from the podium in front of a vast curtain, dominated by a huge AT logo. Lester Levy was impressive – stating his commitment to Auckland’s public transport VIPs (Very Important Passengers) that the new electric trains will make delays on the train network a distant memory. Finally Mayor Len put an end to the waiting by dropping the curtain to reveal the 3 carriages comprising the train unit.

First impressions were a little underwhelming for those of us who saw the full mock- up last year of one of the carriages sent out from Spain. But as we took in the big windows and sleek lines, our interest was excited. The real impact came when we were allowed to wheel our bikes inside the middle carriage. It has a good sized ‘entry/exit porch’ and lowered floor, providing easy access to the dedicated spaces for wheelchairs, pushchairs and bikes just beside the door.

Christopher Dempsey (from the Waitemata Local Board) also had his bike at the event, so in seconds we had 3 bicycles parked in the cycle space, leaning them against upturned seats marked with cycle symbols. 2 of the bikes had loaded panniers, making them quite bulky. Despite this it was easy to fit the bikes in without constricting the aisle space. 3 simple, strong ties with press-release clips are provided to allow each bike to be quickly secured [Editor’s note: This is something CAA suggested during the discussions we had with AT last year, after seeing similar methods in Germany].

Train Unveiling 02It would also be possible to park about 6 more bikes at the end of the carriage, where a section of seats are mounted parallel to the sides of the train. [Editor’s note: And of course many trains will travel in double configuration with 6 carriages, so doubling the number of bike spaces per train]

These extra seats will not be available for bike parking in peak travel hours, but we have flagged that we don’t not want bikes prohibited from the dedicated spaces in peak hours. We haven’t heard back on this yet.

However, until secure and undercover bike parking is provided at all train stations, it would seem unfair to ban bikes at peak hours.

Two people in wheelchairs were equally keen to test their facilities. Great to see that they could similarly park easily in their dedicated spaces opposite our bikes, without blocking the aisle. Vivian Naylor (fron left lady in the photo) helped in the design workshops for the trains and is a superb advocate for her cause.

Our presence at the event allowed us to demonstrate that bikes are a natural and comfortable fit with the new electric trains. Transport Chair, Councillor Mike Lee and Waitemata Local Board member, Pippa Coom shared our delight, as shown in the photo. AT Board Chair, Lester Levy and CEO David Warburton were equally generous in agreeing that cyclists and their bikes have a role to play in the success of the new trains.

It was a fun day out, but we’re now back at the coalface, working to get those overdue ‘fit for purpose’ bike parking facilities at all train stations…

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