10 Sep 2011

Police won't put officers on all Rugby World Cup trains

6:16 pm on 10 September 2011

Police in Auckland say they will not put officers on every train during future Rugby World Cup matches.

Trains to Eden Park were considerably delayed by unruly passengers on Friday night.

A crowd now estimated at 200,000 swamped the waterfront, to get a view of the opening celebrations for the Rugby World Cup.

But 2000 people did not make it to Eden Park for the opening match because of delays on the rail network.

Veolia Transport says 60,000 people tried to board trains into the city on Friday night - double the expected number - for the official opening of the Cup and the first match at Eden Park.

It says delays were mainly caused by unruly passenger behaviour, including setting off fire extinguishers, pressing emergency stop buttons and walking on the railway tracks.

Assistant Commissioner Allan Boreham says some officers were aboard the trains, but the potential risk does not warrant extending that to all trains for future games.

He says there were more than 500 staff between Eden Park and the fanzone across the night.

Mr Boreham says that's a significantly high number of staff and police were able to respond to the events as they came up.

But he says it was quite an unprecedented event in terms of the crowd size so it took some time to move people across, but police believe they responded well.

The delays caused All Black number eight Kieran Read's mother to miss the opening ceremony and the first half of the 41-10 win over Tonga.

Halfback Piri Weepu says she couldn't get from the packed Viaduct Basin area to Eden Park until halftime, and suggested the transport company have a back-up plan in place in case something similar happens again.

Veolia apologises

Veolia has apologised to those who were late getting to Eden Park.

Managing director Graham Sibery says the trains were running by the time the game ended.

Mayor Len Brown says the lengthy public transport delays on Friday night were unsatisfactory and must be fixed.

Mr Brown says the system was severely constrained. He has asked for an urgent review of the train network.

Assistant Commissioner Allan Boreham says overall, the rugby crowd was well behaved and in good humour.

Fifty people were arrested in the central city. Fourteen people were evicted at Eden Park. One arrest was made there.

Earlier, it was estimated that up to 120,000 were in the waterfront and central city areas.

Crowd control lacking

A spectator who was caught in crowds in Quay Street is furious at a lack of crowd control by the police.

Michael Crossan, who lives in Auckland, saw no police controlling crowds.

He says the experience was dangerous and frightening, with thousands of people in a confined space with no exits.

Although he is six feet tall and of a decent build, he felt his chest being crushed as the crowd surged after one of the big screens failed.

Mr Crossan says parents were visibly upset as their children started to panic, others had panic attacks and elderly people were becoming exhausted and upset.

He says it was a very poorly organised, unsafe situation.

But another spectator in Quay Street says she enjoyed the experience.

Wendy Adams, who's from Henderson, was at the Maritime Museum to meet family at 2.30pm and was able to get close enough to watch the waka arrive and hear a mass haka.

However, Ms Adams says one-way roped off areas would have helped reduce the congestion.

She says it took about 20 minutes to walk 200 metres around the area where the haka was being set up between the Viaduct Basin and the Maritime Museum.

Ms Adams says she saw police officers, but volunteers controlling the crowds appeared to be overwhelmed.