Council to commission investigation into Wairarapa rail service issues

Greater Wellington Regional Council is apologising to customers on the Wairarapa line for a recent spate of breakdowns that have resulted in significant delays and discomfort for customers.

“We’re sorry the service isn’t up to standard and for the effect it is having on passengers, their work and their families,” says Sustainable Transport Committee Chair Barbara Donaldson. “Monday’s issue was caused by a locomotive breakdown however the overall number of mechanical failures in recent months is unacceptable. The council is determined to make things better.

“To get a better understanding of these mechanical faults, we are commissioning an independent investigation into them. This will work with our business partners to see what the causes are, if there are any common issues, and come up with ways to prevent them.

“In addition, we are offering a discount on Wairarapa fares in February, in recognition of the poor service customers have been receiving. All February 2018 monthly passes and 10-trip tickets for journeys to or from the Wairarapa purchased in February 2018 will be reduced by 30%.

“The service issues we are seeing often have a fairly minor mechanical cause. This is very frustrating to everyone involved in managing the service, as well as customers, as the impact of a small fault can be quite significant.

“Wairarapa customers know that many of the issues on the line are longstanding and go back to the age and condition of the track. It’s in need of significant investment to bring it up to a reasonable standard. With KiwiRail, we’ve put in a $100m long term investment plan to Government to upgrade the track. This will increase the punctuality, reliability and resilience of the Wairarapa service.

“We need government support because the cost of our proposals is much higher than passengers and local ratepayers can afford,” says Councillor Donaldson. “We will have to compete for cash against other proposals in Wellington that carry a lot more people every day, as well as new services planned in other parts of the country.

“We think that investing in a line that has a proven and long term customer base is sensible, as it will help it to grow and is lower risk than new services for which there is untested demand. It could also prove a model for how to develop new services in other parts of the country. Without investment, Wairarapa passenger numbers will stagnate and it will be hard to improve performance. We’re working with local councils and politicians to present a strong investment case.”

 Learn more about the measures that are being taken to improve the Wairarapa line here(external link)



For media information, please call: Clayton Anderson, Council Communications, tel: 027 272 1370