Auckland train commuters face three weeks of misery after the Rail and Maritime Trade Union warned of industrial action coinciding with March Madness.

In a press release last night, Auckland Transport warned peak services on the Southern, Western and Eastern lines would be affected by the industrial action, which the union had told the council's transport arm would start on Monday and continue until March 16.

The peak month for Auckland's roads and public transport is March, known as March Madness, when 100,000 university students join the city's commute.

Auckland Transport and Transdev said tonight a temporary timetable had been developed to minimise disruption and provide consistent rail services on these lines during the industrial action.


"Customers can expect Southern, Western and Eastern line weekday peak train services at 20-minute intervals, with inter-peak and off-peak services running as normal.

"Many trains on these services will run with six cars, which can hold 900 passengers, to help reduce impact."

Services on the affected lines usually run at 10 minute intervals during peak hours.

Onehunga and Pukekohe weekday train services and weekend train services across all lines will remain on their usual timetable, they said.

Ferry and bus services are unaffected by the disruption.

Auckland Transport chief transport services officer Mark Lambert said trains would be fuller than usual and other options, such as travelling outside of peak hours, carpooling, walking or cycling, were being encouraged.

Staff would be at some busy locations to help travellers with information and advice, and daily service updates would be provided on the station information boards and Auckland Transport's website, Twitter and Facebook.

Rail workers in Auckland have been in collective bargaining with French-owned multi-national Transdev since May, and are against plans to do away with train managers and operate driver-only trains.


The union has previously argued solo crew commuter trains would risk lives and a day-long train strike took place in December.

In their statement tonight, Auckland Transport said they wanted to transfer responsibility for opening and closing train doors from train managers to train drivers, with specific safety controls, and to replace train managers with a larger team of roving transport operators.

The move was dependant on safety case approval from independent rail regulator, the New Zealand Transport Agency.

"Currently, Train Managers are not encouraged to intervene in incidents and cannot leave a train service to manage antisocial behaviour off board.

"Transport Officers have warranted powers for fare enforcement and can also be deployed in larger patrols to focus on trains that need additional assistance."

The officers were trained to manage anti-social behaviour, security and medical incidents, and could move anti-social behaviour onto platforms, so services were not affected.

Other measures are also planned, including an intensive gating programme that means 90 per cent of all passengers must pass through an electronic gates, the said.

More than 30,000 people travel by train around Auckland on an average weekday.