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.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we work towards providing you with improved service.
Potential for 64 more seats coming on some peak services
We are looking at running a trial to provide an additional 64 seats by adding an additional carriage to key peak Wairarapa services.
One of the problems we face with putting on additional carriages is the length of platforms along the line meaning the train new carriage will overhang key stations, so we need your help to shape what you want from this trial. We have posted a poll to capture the thoughts of Wairarapa commuters.
Of the stations on the Wairarapa Line, only Masterton, Upper Hutt and Wellington are long enough to fit the additional ninth carriage. Some platforms (Renall Street, Solway, Matarawa, Maymorn) are only able to fit three carriages so, as with the current service, only the front three carriages will open at these stops.
This means we have to explore some different scenarios around what stations we stop at. As such, we are looking for Wairarapa commuters to guide us as to what you would like us to trial. If you are a Wairarapa commuter please fill out the poll and tell us what your ideas are to make sure any potential addition to capacity is fit for purpose. You can help us to make decisions around your commute.
As you know, nothing happens overnight in rail and before going ahead with the trails we would need to work all the operational details through in detail so no new risks are introduced on the network. However, your views on what stations to stop at will shape this next phase of work for the trial.
We understand the frustrations being faced by Wairarapa commuters and are awaiting news from two business cases submitted to the government to provide an addition $200 million (total) to upgrade the network. We are currently working with government officials and hope to have some news about these business cases in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Metlink and KiwiRail continue to work 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 thank you for your patience, while we continue to look for solutions to make your commute more reliable and comfortable.
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 reliability, we have implemented a few changes to the timetable, with further changes to the Hutt Valley timetable expected soon.
Our 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.
While the air conditioning on the Wairarapa services is functioning as designed, we accept it is not proving effective in dealing with Wellington's latest heatwave, especially on busy services. We are working to improve comfort levels. The air conditioning system is turned on hours in advance of journeys and curtains are being closed to reduce sun exposure. We are also trialling changes on some carriages to improve the system’s air flow. If successful, we will make these changes across the fleet. We also have an international expert in rail air conditioning systems here to advise on other improvements we can make.
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.