Media coverage of delays on KiwiRail's commuter services on a Monday morning seem to be becoming a habit, with yet another story on KiwiRail failing to meet its own targets. Yet again.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. KiwiRail isn't perfect, but it has to catch up on a 20-year backlog of maintenance and improvement, both for the rail network and the trains.
Monday morning seems to be particularly bad, because KiwiRail crews have been working on the new line and infrastructure in the Wellington rail yards, and teething problems from each weekend's work seem to flow over into the Monday morning rush. The Wairarapa train is particularly hard hit with delays.
Here's what KiwiRail could do:
- Widely advertise that delays are possible on Monday morning services into Wellington and suggest that passengers catch an earlier train that morning to avoid being late for meetings, etc.
- Locate a social-media savvy communications (PR) person in the Train Control office during the commuter rush to issue texts, Tweets and radio announcements as soon as a delay looks possible. Lack of information is one of the key reasons for commuter fury.
- Issue meaningful texts. Not just another "delay due to an operational incident." What happened. Why?
- Ensure train staff are fully informed as to the reason for the delay and likely arrival time in Wellington. ( They are often embarrassed by the lack of knowledge as well.) Make sure they keep passengers fully informed.
- Where delays of over half an hour occur, the train staff hand out discount vouchers for passengers to use when purchasing their next ten-trip ticket or monthly pass.
- Using a variety of media, have weekly "show and tell" updates on what work has been completed in the Wellington rail yards (and other infrastructure and rolling stock updates.) It is clear the commuting public doesn't understand the scale of the work involved.
See earlier post KiwiRail in firing line again