Rail entering a new golden era
Wellington rail is entering an exciting new era. That’s the view of Wellington rail historian and author David Parson, who has just published Wellington Railways – Colonial Steam to Matangi.
The Tawa train enthusiast said investment in rail during the past five years was paying dividends.
‘‘New buildings [are] being built, platforms are being lengthened and generally the system is being tarted up,’’ Mr Parsons said.
He said that though the 1950s and 60s were more interesting decades than the present one for train enthusiasts, under government ownership rail was heading towards a new golden age.
‘‘We are heading into it with better trains and improved services,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s doing its job and it’s doing it very well. You need an organisation taking the long view and working in the best interests of the wider community.’’
He said private ownership of rail had a poor track record.
‘‘It concerns me a little bit what might happen in the next few years, particularly if a National Government, strongly supported by ACT, got back in. I think they’d probably try to sell it off again. That would be a mistake.’’
It took Mr Pearson six years to produce the book, which covers Wellington suburban rail history from 1874 to today. Publishing had been unexpectedly delayed by the speed of rail improvements.
‘‘I was ready to publish a year ago. We knew at that stage the Matangis weren’t too far away so we pushed the pause button rather than having pictures of artists’ impressions of what the Matangis would look like.
‘‘I think there’d be more egg on Tranz Metro’s or the council’s face if they shoved them out and they kept breaking down, or causing problems, or opening people’s garage doors as they went past.’’
He did not understand why commuters complained.
‘‘People who complain about the trains need to get a life,’’ Mr Parsons said. ‘‘Have they never been on an Air New Zealand flight and it’s been cancelled? Have they never been stuck in a traffic jam in peak hour?
‘‘Do people ever complain about that? No, railways are a nice soft target that they can have a good dig at.’’
Wellington Railways – Colonial Steam to Matangi is available from the railway station Metro New World, Capital Books, Mack’s Track in Plimmerton, Silverstream Railway Museum and Cable Car Museum.
All aboard: David Parson’s new book takes readers on a journey from old suburban rails past into what he believes is a current golden age.