Com­muter rail on track for sweep­ing changes

The Horowhenua Mail - - OUT & ABOUT - DAMIAN GE­ORGE

Sweep­ing changes have been pro­posed for the Welling­ton re­gion’s com­muter rail ser­vices, with pas­sen­gers who use the Wairarapa’s no­to­ri­ously lat­erun­ning trains set to be the main ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

Some­time af­ter Easter 2018, off­peak trains are set to be­gin run­ning every 20 min­utes, rather than every half hour, on the John­sonville, Kapiti and Hutt Val­ley lines.

Peak-time ser­vices will also be ad­justed to im­prove spac­ing be­tween trains.

Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil is also pon­der­ing in­creas­ing the pre­mium that Hutt Val­ley com­muters pay to use Wairara­pabound trains in­stead of Hutt trains, which share the same track. The aim would be to have fewer Wairarapa trains stop­ping in the Hutt Val­ley.

The Wairarapa line, which runs be­tween Welling­ton and Master­ton, has be­come so bad that only 64 per cent of trains ar­rived on time be­tween July and May, a de­crease of 18 per­cent­age points over the pre­vi­ous 12 months.

While the track will ul­ti­mately need an es­ti­mated $60 mil­lion

up­grade to fix its prob­lems, a num­ber of short-term so­lu­tions have been pro­posed to re­duce de­lays and dis­rup­tions in the mean­time.

They in­clude run­ning ex­tra trains dur­ing peak times, pos­si­bly by bring­ing in sur­plus diesel trains from Auck­land, as well as ad­just­ing ca­pac­ity to meet de­mand.

Timetable changes are also be­ing con­sid­ered to pre­vent Wairarapa trains, with few sched­uled stops in the Hutt Val­ley, get­ting stuck be­hind fre­quentlystop­ping Hutt trains.

Low-cost track im­prove­ments are also be­ing looked at.

The sug­ges­tions for the Wairarapa line come af­ter re­gional coun­cil­lors re­quested an ex­pla­na­tion for the line’s poor per­for­mance, and that sub­se­quent ur­gent im­prove­ments be made.

The age­ing track mean Wairarapa trains are sub­ject to speed re­stric­tions, and the coun­cil is hop­ing fund­ing for re­pairs will be al­lo­cated in next year’s Bud­get.

Public trans­port gen­eral man­ager Wayne Hastie said it was un­clear when the pro­posed changes would come into ef­fect.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.