Capital Connection buffet carriage to be removed from 2 March

17 February 2015 4:04PM

KiwiRail will be withdrawing the buffet car from Monday 2 March 2015 as it is due for significant maintenance work.

The work, which is expected to take three months to complete, will be deferred pending a decision on the Capital Connection’s future.

There will still be enough capacity with the remaining carriages to accommodate customers, says KiwiRail Scenic Journey’s Manager Gavin Rutherford.

“There will be enough seating for customers but with no compatible replacement buffet cars available for us to use as a replacement, we will need to change the way we do some things on the service.”

As the buffet car currently provides disabled access to the train, one of the existing carriages will be re-configured, to enable customers using a wheelchair to safely board and exit the train.

“We do have some occasional users of the service who are wheelchair bound and are endeavouring to make contact with them so we can ensure we are able to cater to their needs when they next travel with us.”

Mr Rutherford says that KiwiRail appreciates that the lack of buffet carriage will be an inconvenience to passengers.

“We appreciate that people will not be able to get hot drinks or food while on-board, as they are used to and we are looking at ways in which some refreshments can be served, particularly on a Friday evening.”

KiwiRail signalled two years ago that the future of this service was under review and that a decision would be made in 2015. 

The service does not receive any external subsidy (as the Auckland and Wellington metro services do) and runs at a loss. KiwiRail signalled alternative funding would need to be identified if the service were to continue beyond 2015.

With that in mind, it makes sense for KiwiRail to defer the work to the carriage, which is expected to cost approximately $130,000 until a decision has been made regarding the future of the Capital Connection, Mr Rutherford says.

“KiwiRail has not made any decisions about the long-term future of the service yet although we expect we will do so in the coming months.

“We will consider business cases and proposals for external funding or subsidies in regard to keeping the Capital Connection running beyond the middle of this year, and had signalled that to interested parties.” Mr Rutherford said.  

The Capital Connection posted a loss of just over $400,000, with a drop in patronage of 4.4 per cent for 2013-14, and is forecast to lose $584,000 for this financial year.

“We thank our customers for their continued support of the Capital Connection and will do everything we can to keep them fully informed on upcoming decisions,” says Mr Rutherford.

Any disabled passenger wishing to use the Capital Connection can contact KiwiRail so we can explain the changes that were being made.  

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