Decade of positive development ahead for Wellington rail network

Greater Wellington Regional Council chair, Cr Daran Ponter, says intensive work by KiwiRail staff over the holidays shows a real commitment by KiwiRail to improving the Wellington rail network, and represents a step forward on the pathway to better services for rail users.

More than 200 KiwiRail staff worked across 15 different sites over Christmas and the New Year on essential upgrades, installing the foundations for 80 new masts in a programme designed to replace ageing wooden power poles and install new overhead wires.

At the Hutt Valley Line’s Trentham Station, KiwiRail staff and contractors also began work on a new pedestrian underpass, removing rail tracks, disconnecting signal and power systems and completing major earthworks ahead of reopening the line for train services.

“We’d like to give a big thank you to KiwiRail staff on behalf of our regional rail users for working while most of us took a break, and doing so to minimise disruption to travellers.

“What a fantastic effort, and what a start to the year for Wellington rail commuters,” says Cr Ponter.

“Renewing existing infrastructure is fundamental to ensuring service reliability and maintaining confidence in the network.

“Without doubt we are witnessing a new age of rail in the capital, driven by nearly $300 million pledged by the government for modernisation and upgrades, alongside usual annual maintenance.

”We’re looking for more advances over the coming year, and we know KiwiRail is committed to delivering them.

Greater Wellington and KiwiRail are working together to upgrade the rail network to make services more reliable and to enable more people and freight to travel on trains in the future.

In the broader programme of work existing infrastructure will be renewed to ensure services run as smoothly as possible This will involve, across the Wairarapa, Hutt Valley and Porirua lines, work building underpasses, upgrading level crossings and barriers replacing rail and sleepers, and improving slope stability and drainage, along with replacement of overhead power systems and signals power supply.

To increase the network’s capacity, and allow for regional growth, double tracking will go ahead between Trentham and Upper Hutt and improvements will be made to the congested approach to Wellington Railways Station and also to Plimmerton.

“For the Wellington region rail network, 2020 will be the decade of development,” says Cr Ponter, ”the outcome of which will be better and more reliable services.

“What we now need is for government to agree to our $414 million bid for new rolling stock.

“With annual metro rail patronage reaching a high of 14.3 million passengers in June 2019, a rise of 5.7 per cent year on year, we need to build the capacity to deal with growth. New rolling stock is essential to achieving that. Peak patronage rates were even higher, rising 7.3 per cent year-to-date, with our busiest lines being Hutt Valley and Kapiti.”