27 Sep 2011

Semifinal tickets for hundreds who missed opener

10:17 pm on 27 September 2011

Rugby fans who missed the Rugby World Cup's opening night due to train problems are to be compensated with tickets to some of the big matches.

Thousands of fans on Auckland trains faced delays and about 900 claim they missed all or part of the opening night at Eden Park as the rail system failed to cope.

About 460 people registered claims after train failures affected those en route to the stadium for the first match between the All Blacks and Tonga on 9 September.

Those who missed part or all of the match whose claim can be verified will be offered tickets to the first semifinal on 15 October, likely to feature England or France versus Ireland or Wales.

People who missed all or part of the opening ceremony at Eden Park and whose claim can be verified will be offered tickets to the bronze final between the tournament's third and fourth-placed teams at the stadium on 21 October.

Auckland mayor Len Brown describes the offers as a goodwill gesture. He told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme the cost of the tickets is about $130,000 and people had to register to be eligible.

Mr Brown said the aim was to be as fair as possible, particularly to people who completely missed out.

"Some of them had pretty miserable experiences. Right from the word go, I've taken the position where we are acting in good faith and just trying to be fair."

Mr Brown says the registrations received for compensation relate to 922 tickets. The ticket offers will be posted in the next few days.

Crowds under-estimated, report finds

An independent report into rail disruption before the opening match of blames inaccurate estimates of likely crowds.

The report by solicitor Chris Moore says the estimated 200,000 people attending festivities in downtown Auckland was perhaps double that expected.

It calls for greater accuracy in forecasting numbers for events such as waterfront festivities - a role undertaken by Auckland Council's event agency.

Mr Moore also says the emergency alarm systems on Auckland's trains meant there were long delays in getting stalled trains moving again.

Many of his recommendations on increased staffing on the rail network are already in place and subsequent match weekends have run smoothly. No significant blame has been apportioned.