Improving the Wairarapa Line
We apologise for the recent spate of breakdowns that have resulted in significant delays and discomfort for passengers on the Wairarapa line.
We’re sorry our service isn’t up to standard and for the effect it is having on you, your work and your families. This is unacceptable and we are determined to make things better. We are commissioning an independent investigation into recent mechanical failures.
In addition, we are offering a discount on selected Wairarapa fares in February 2018 in recognition of the poor service you have been receiving.
All February monthly passes, and 10-trip tickets for journeys to or from the Wairarapa purchased in February, will be reduced by 30%.
This discount will be applied when you purchase your February monthly pass after Tuesday 23rd January 2018, or 10-trip ticket during February 2018, from your usual Metlink ticket outlets where Wairarapa tickets are sold.
Metlink and KiwiRail have been working together to ensure that performance on the Wairarapa line is improved as fast as possible. Over the last couple of years we have increased the funding on the line by nearly $4 million. We have been introducing new carriages to carry more passengers. Plus there is currently a business case with the government for crown funding of $100m to make long overdue improvements to the track infrastructure on the Wairarapa Line that will improve its reliability.
As well as these changes, KiwiRail is “doubleheading” all Wairarapa services where possible until Christmas to ensure locomotive failures do not affect the services. Doubleheading means two locomotives instead of one will pull the carriages.
This means that should one locomotive fail the journey will still be able to be completed. KiwiRail has also set up a team to review recent locomotive failures and make recommendations for longer-term changes to improve reliability.
We know there have been a number of failures and lengthy delays on the Wairarapa line recently, and while a minority of those can be attributed to locomotive failure, we are working with KiwiRail to take all the steps we can to ensure the service runs as smoothly as possible.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we work towards providing you with improved service.
Recent Events : (as at December 2017)
There have been many unrelated incidents recently which have affected the Wairarapa line services. The causes of disruption have varied widely and many of these have been out of our control.
After any major disruption, we hold an operational debrief to learn from the event and identify any improvements.
We thank you for your flexibility and patience.
Building flexibility with train configuration
All carriages require regular maintenance. At the moment, we lose seating while carriages are taken out for maintenance.
In early 2018, we're looking to make some carriages currently used on the line compatible between the two carriage types (SE and SW). This means that carriage maintenance will not impact the number of seats available.
These carriage configuration changes will provide more flexibility and allow us to add more seats at peak times, keeping in mind the maximum number of carriages able to run on one service is eight. The changes will also ensure we can always include a wheelchair accessible carriage.
Along with the speed restrictions on the line, Wairarapa services have also been affected by inconsistent running times of services and congestion once the services arrive on the Hutt Valley line. To help with the reliability of the services, we have implemented a few changes to the timetable, with further changes to the Hutt Valley timetable expected next year.
This year’s timetable changes have focused on slight changes to running times. Our new timetables have more realistic running times. In the past, the running time of services was often longer than scheduled, for example, trains would arrive 15 minutes after arrival times shown on the timetable, due to speed restrictions or other factors holding services up. Time has now been added to particular spots where services have been losing time due to speed restrictions, plus we've been making travel times through certain sections more realistic.
This will also allow Wairarapa services to better slot into allocated spaces between services south of Upper Hutt, reducing conflict with Hutt Valley line services.
We are now in the summer season when hot weather will also cause delays to trains. The hotter weather may see speed restrictions in place if tracks become heated and there is a risk that they are out of alignment. The rail network is monitored by a remote system, which measures the temperature of the track and the air temperature. When these reach a certain point, usually 40°C, heat inspections are carried out. Temporary speed restrictions are introduced in selected locations as a precautionary measure.
Speed restrictions mean that arrival times are later than scheduled. To find out more about how heat affects rail, visit our What Delays Trains page.
Keeping up to date
Keep an eye on this page for regular progress updates. We will also post updates on Twitter @metlinkwgtn (external link) , GWRC facebook (external link) and the Wairarapa Commuters facebook (external link) pages. Send us your contact details and we will can also keep you up to date via email.
Also watch our Service Updates page for line-specific information.