The government’s multi-million dollar investment in Wellington’s regional rail network will make passenger trains more reliable and allow for future growth, KiwiRail Acting Chief Executive David Gordon says.
“Today Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced that NZTA will be investing $96 million in track upgrades to support the Wairarapa commuter train, as part of a $196m investment in renewing track infrastructure and improving capacity across the Wellington Metro Rail Network.
“About 18,000 people catch trains to and from Wellington during weekday peaks and it’s crucial that these services are efficient and reliable.
“The network is aging and parts of it are nearing the end of their useful life, which means there have to be speed restrictions and more likelihood of delays. This funding will allow KiwiRail to get the network up to standard and make improvements that will allow for more and longer trains.
“A major focus is on the Wairarapa Line, which will see tracks, sleepers and bridges renewed to remove speed restrictions and increase reliability, and the rail line between Trentham and Upper Hutt will be double tracked – helping minimise delays on this busy section of line.
“Work will also be done renewing parts of the Kapiti and Johnsonville lines – including stabilising higher-risk slopes, to improve safety and reduce the risk of slips that cause delays.
“The number of people using the train during morning and evening peaks has increased by more than 13 per cent over the last three years and is expected to keep growing. To meet this need KiwiRail will be upgrading the power system across the network to allow longer trains and improving signals and track layouts in the approach to Wellington Station, which is a pinch point in the system.
“Passenger rail is environmentally sustainable and plays an important role reducing congestion and improving safety on the region’s roads. This substantial investment is great news and will make sure that the Wellington rail network delivers for people across the region.”
NZTA funding of $193m, through the National Land Transport Fund, supports two business cases – to renew existing rail infrastructure and upgrade the network to allow for future growth – put forward by KiwiRail and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. The council is committing a further $3m to improve stations as part of the Trentham - Upper Hutt double tracking.
Meanwhile work to replace the ageing overhead traction masts and wires which power Wellington’s commuter trains on the Hutt Line is making good progress.
KiwiRail and Greater Wellington Regional Council are already working together on a $98.4 million four-year project funded from Central Government.
“Altogether 1274 aging timber poles and 38 kilometres of overhead wires are being replaced. As part of the project, the system that supplies power to the signals on the Hutt line will be replaced and put underground at the same time,” David Gordon says.
“Our project team is making really good progress and has already installed 100 out of the 140 new mast foundations along the Hutt line.”