World Cup warning two years ago

The Government was told more than two years ago that Auckland's infrastructure was not up to scratch for the Rugby World Cup.

Yesterday Labour slammed what it called an "embarrassing shambles" that left thousands stranded on Auckland trains ahead of the world cup opening ceremony, but Prime Minister John Key refused to accept responsibility.

"I am more than happy to apologise to those individuals involved, but at the end of the day, the responsibility rests with the delivery agent that is in Auckland," Mr Key said.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce will meet officials and Auckland Mayor Len Brown today as train operator Veolia Transport scrambles to produce a report on the failure, expected tomorrow.

Mr Joyce has already received an interim report on the problems and revealed yesterday that there were "a number" of preventable mistakes contained in that report.

"In terms of the operation, I have no more control than the man on the street. But obviously, it's of significant importance to the Government, so I have some moral suasion in that regard.

"I have a number of questions for them. Some of them they've already been asking themselves and I have probably a couple more."

But Labour says the Government must accept at least some of the blame, because it had received a report from the Auckland Regional Transport Authority on Rugby World Cup transport planning in July 2009.

The report, obtained by Fairfax, said at that time there was "an attitude of `this is a small increase in business as usual'."

"The impression is that the level of public transport required for RWC2011 is a little above normal. The levels of patron movement and operational standard [needed for the RWC] are in reality significantly above what is currently delivered."

The Queens Wharf fan zone would "create a number of transport challenges given its close proximity to the Ferry Terminal, Queen Street and Britomart", the report said. "For an event of this scale, Auckland may not always be able to deliver ultra-high levels of event public transport for all spectators as well as providing normal scheduled public transport."

Labour MP Phil Twyford said Mr Joyce had failed to heed the official advice in the report, which had "left Auckland exposed in front of a global audience".

"It is simply not good enough for government ministers to blame the Auckland Council. The Rugby World Cup is a project of national importance that has been micro-managed from the Beehive. Now is the time to show some accountability," Mr Twyford said.

But Mr Joyce said all the recommendations in the ARTA report had been acted upon and new unexpected problems like the unprecedented level of demand had caused difficulties.

"There are some things you could do ... I'm confident they have all the motivation and impetus to act on the things they'll need to act on by the weekend."

RWC 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said in a written statement that there had been "exceptional circumstances with unprecedented pressure" on the public transport system.

"We have no doubt that public transport will continue to be an important part of the plan to move people efficiently into and out of Eden Park."

But Auckland Council's RWC 2011 transport director, Bruce Barnard, refused to guarantee similar transport problems would not arise for future Eden Park matches. "We've done the planning, we had the trains, we had the service, we had the buses, we had everything in place to deliver the service," he said.

"We need to go back and find out from Veolia what the issues were and address those."

Mr Brown announced that a website had been set up for people who did not make it to Friday's game because of transport issues to report their problem. He refused to give details on a possible compensation package for fans who missed the match.