Station ceremony marks next stage in rail network upgrade
An event held opposite Trentham Station this morning marks the beginning of the next stage in the $196 million Wellington Metro Upgrade Programme.
The programme, run by Kiwirail, will see the Hutt Valley rail line close over Christmas to allow for an underpass to be built at Threntham Station, with other station upgrades to be made at the same time.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced the work this morning, supported by Kiwirail, local mayors and Greater Wellington officers.
Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter says there will also be a second 2.7 kilometre section of track between Trentham and Upper Hutt expected to be completed within 18 months.
“This work signifies the beginning of a component of a much larger programme or work designed to bring the network up to a standard that allows for frequent services, longer trains and more reliability.
“Metro and Wairarapa commuter trains will be more reliable, and the double tracking will remove a congestion point allowing for more frequency and flexibility,” Cr Ponter says.
Greater Wellington has been leading the preparation of a business case for the purchase of modern, longer distance trains which will boost service levels and regional access for the Wairarapa and Palmerston North lines, as well as provide more capacity on the Wellington metro network.
“Peak patronage over the network is growing at 5 to 6 per cent ahead of the boldest modelled patronage forecasts, with over 14.3 million passenger journeys counted in 2018/19.
“One of the key drivers of the investment is to provide more peak, off-peak and weekend connections, and economic access between the city and the immediately adjacent provincial centres.”
The unexpected distribution of population growth across the region also shows the need for more trains with higher capacity, Cr Ponter says.
“Recent census data shows there has been less growth in Wellington City as affordability continues to push people out of the centre, with a small increase of only 11,000 people against the 14,000 forecast.
“Instead, we have seen much higher growth in other parts of our region with a staggering 23,000 against a forecast of 10,000.”
Kiwirail is also building second platforms and shelters at Trentham and Wallaceville stations as part of the network upgrade, which Greater Wellington will contribute $3 million to.