A train commuter harrassed for 20 minutes by a drunk passenger says staff on the service were unwilling to help.

Sabrina, who asked that her surname not be published, describes herself as a Fijian Indian and believes there was a racial undertone to the abuse.

The ordeal began after she boarded the 5.23pm from Britomart to Sunnyvale on Auckland's Western Line yesterday, her regular journey home. The man got on a few stops later.

"He sat opposite me ... he started abusing me. [He] kept asking if I can speak English, how do I feel being in Aotearoa and where I am from. This went on for more than 20 minutes."


Sabrina has lived in New Zealand most of her life and had never had other problems on public transport.

Another passenger came to her aid, telling the man everyone had the right to live in New Zealand.

"As soon as the other passenger got up he got more abusive, he said 'F*** that woman' or [something]. It was a bad experience."

Sabrina says she approached the train manager but was told nothing could be done.

"Her response was, 'There was no security on the train stops we have been through and it would delay the train if we get the cops'."

Sabrina said she came forward because there needed to be more help for people who felt unsafe on public transport.

"I think there needs to be an awareness about discrimination because it's very common at the moment. There could be someone else in my shoes and I actually don't want this to happen to anybody.

"I felt helpless and I would like Auckland Transport and the cops to be more involved [in] preventing this happening to another brown girl."


Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said unsociable behaviour on trains or at stations would not be tolerated.

"If customers are subjected to abuse of any kind they should approach staff. If a person ever feels unsafe they should call the police or ask another passenger to call the police."

A March survey showed 96 per cent of rail passengers felt safe, Hannan said, up 1 per cent on the previous year. Auckland Transport had transport officers on the rail network as part of a programme to improve safety.

"They are currently only on some services but were not on this one."

Auckland Transport had asked rail operator Transdev for a full report from the train manager. She had identified the abuser as a man in his late 50s.

"The train manager approached him at Fruitvale [station] and discovered he was heavily intoxicated. He was monitored and got off the train at Henderson."

An onboard CCTV system operated continuously in all train cars, said Hannan.

"This was a six-car train with 32 cameras. We will download the video from those cameras."

Transdev managing director Michael Ladrak said they had reviewed the train manager's report and would work with AT to make "any necessary process improvements".

Transport officers backed by Maori wardens were on all services from 7pm each night.

"With over 20 million passenger journeys a year, safety is increasingly important to us," Ladrak said.

"From time to time our customers and onboard staff experience patrons exhibiting unsociable behaviour, including people who are intoxicated.

"Our onboard staff are trained to provide exceptional customer care in these situations. A constant focus is on customer safety and security."