Rail en­ter­ing a new golden era

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By SHAWN MCAVINUE

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.