In the last post we looked at the current Wellington rail network and its more recent upgrades, in this post we are going to look into the future upgrades. Wellington has submitted budget bids for around $200 million with the new Government in line with Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Wellington Regional Rail Plan 2010-2035.

As a reminder, here’s a diagram of the Wellington rail network:

Track Improvements:

  • Double-tracking Trentham to Upper Hutt. At current it is only single tracked between Trentham and Upper Hutt, which drastically affects reliability and capacity to Upper Hutt station. By double-tracking this section, which was estimated at only around $7 million, these problems will be solved increasing capacity. Given how cheap this is, I’m amazed it hasn’t happened sooner.
  • Plimmerton Station turnback and Porirua Station third platform. Building a turnback will allow more peak overlay capacity to be run from Plimmerton without having to run services all the way to the end. This is the same logic behind what we are doing at Otahuhu and Henderson. The third platform at Porirua allows the same as above but also allows through running thus acting as extra resilience if a track or train fault occurs. At the same time, power upgrades would also occur on the outer Kapiti line allowing longer trains to be run.
  • Fourth track into Wellington Station. This will provide resilience as well as capacity increase as Johnsonville line trains will no longer need to share tracks with the other lines. This will remove a flat junction movement and freeing up space for more trains for the other lines.

The councils says these upgrades will increase peak-time capacity on the Kapiti Line by 43 per cent and on the Hutt Valley Line by 33 per cent.

Wairarapa Upgrades:

Around half the $200 million investment is for the troubled Wairarapa line. A lack of funding means that this line has fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years, with services often cancelled, late or just plain slow. $90 million has been requested for bringing the line back up to standard.

I wonder if the Regional Development Fund would be perfect for this as this would be an investment in regional rail and something that would be ready to go. This would mean that normal crown rail capital allocation can go to other rail projects KiwiRail desperately needs.

Wairarapa Train

Getting the most of out these improvements to the Wairarapa Line’s track infrastructure requires complementary upgrades to rolling stock and better stations.

New Rolling Stock and Better Stations

The Government should also consider replacing the locomotive hauled old carriages with either new or second-hand diesel multiple units. The current trains are having trouble keeping up with the heat and replacing them which is now being considered.

These could be more comfortable, have higher capacity, potentially faster as well as be easier to operate from an operational point of view as they are bi-ended so can work in a simple turnback without needing two locomotives or carriages built for push/pull like the old Auckland carriages were. Getting the most out of these new trains would also mean running more off peak services, including trains at the weekend .

Fixing the Stations

The line has a weird mix of stations with many being in the wrong place which exists for historical reasons which no make absolutely no sense now, some stations there is about zero catchment with nothing around it. Having unnecessary stations slows down the service for users for little gain, while stations in the wrong place mean the service is not as usable as it could be.

There are also opportunities to add stations which could increase catchment and the usefulness of the line.

  1. By adding a small branch line through non-built up area you could bring rail right into the heart of Masterton via a new terminus station while also better serving Lansdowne.

    Masterton Spur
  2. Solway station is a little close to Renall Street station maybe moving the station a little further down the line may be worth looking into;
  3. Remove stop at Matarawa as it has no catchment whatsoever;

    Matarawa Station
  4. Doing an investigation into Woodside station and whether it would be better to simply have more frequent buses like the 200 connecting Carterton, Greytown, and Featherston;
  5. Consider if Maymorn station is needed and whether a Maoribank and/or Clouston Park stations would be much more useful.

    Maymorn Station

All in all the upgrades Wellington needs are not overly expensive but could make a massive difference to the network. There is also the opportunity to seriously improve the Wairarapa Line service for that region.

The next post will have more ideas how we can improve further on the Wellington train network.

Share this

128 comments

  1. Regarding the Wairarapa Line issues – here are my opinions to your suggestions (as a commuter)

    1. Cool idea, but I could imagine it creating signalling issues at Masterton Station. Also the route you a proposing is currently there as a river flood protection bank – not necessarily the best place to put a railway!

    2. I’d prefer Renall St to be moved/altered over Solway. Renall St’s location is a bit awkward and has no car parking. Currently Solway is incredibly easier to use than Renall St, other than people who live close to Renall St. Although Solway looks more desolate, it serves a big proportion of Masterton.

    3. GWRC tried to do that a few years ago. The huge outcry from the catchment it does have resulted in it staying. It is currently a request stop (along with Maymorn).

    4. Could be possible. Kinda like the idea. Woodside Station is a lot more popular than it probably appears currently.

    5. So many houses have been built recently in the Maymorn valley due to the railway station. I do like the idea of a Maoribank/Northern Upper Hutt station.

    1. Maymorn is probably worth keeping due to future development.

      Matarawa should have been closed – and would have if GW had a spine. Caved into a handful of locals using the service (<15 per day, IIRC). Wasted money on building a platform that would have been better spent elsewhere.

    2. #1 aerial ropeway gondolas?

      (Gets popcorn and waits for the backlash to unleash as a supposedly progressive group expresses extremely conservative views on viable modes)

      1. Looks like C- grade concern trolling (passable, but could be more creative).
        On the off chance you’re serious, where and why would such a niche mode be justified?

        The suspicion of people proposing untried/untested or very niche modes is well founded as this has be used time and again to hinder progress and improvements.

        For example: PRT will solve all your PT problems (this was proposed for J’ville line some years back). Driverless cars meaning we don’t need PT is the latest version …

        1. While it’s likely trolling, London has this between North Greenwich and the docklands/London city airport area.

          Could be a way to get to Wainuiomata!

          1. The Boris Dangleway is an example of a niche application. But proposing it in the context of Masterton (station to town centre) …

            Wainuiomata needs a decent frequent bus service. Current setup of two routes running over the hill often at exactly the same time is poor IMO. I’d wonder about having one frequent route covering most of Wainui with a second feeder route covering the rest (and continuing over the hill during peak hours as additional capacity).

          2. @Martin – the Emirates “Air Line” (or Boris Dangleway as gk calls it) was a novelty joke when it was put up, and now is unused by Londoners – the most underused route of all routes in London apparently.

            Wainuiomata is approachable only via ca or bus the one road up and over the hill. A tunnel would be really good for rail transport there – but there needs to be a bigger cherry to pick. Flat land for another 40,000 people up the valley? Now you’re talking….

    3. From my observations as a former Wairarapa commuter, and on subsequent occasional visits to Masterton, Renall Street station users that didn’t walk to the station just parked their cars down Renall Street or in nearby College Street. Parking didn’t seem to be a problem. However, with the recently announced residential development (https://times-age.co.nz/70m-housing-boost/) on the other side of Ngaumutawa Road, which of all Masterton’s stations will be closest to Renall Street station, it will be interesting to see how the new commuters that move into Renall Street station’s catchment affect issues like parking at that station.

  2. Maratawa looks like it never should have been. But it would be interesting to see if there could be potential to put a Kiwi build growth area in there. Leverage the already existing infrastructure.

    1. If you were going to build a greenfields town based round an existing station, Wooside would be a better bet, IMO. Much more substantial, and more used station.

  3. Harriet, units for Wairarapa service (& CapCon) already being considered by GW.

    From last month’s Sustainable Transport Committee meeting:

    Electro/Diesel Multiple Units
    The concept at this stage is to replace GWRC’s aging Wairarapa fleet and KiwiRail’s Capital Connection fleets with modern Electro/Diesel Multiple (E/DMU) units, similar to Auckland and Wellington Electric Multiple Unit trains, but with the ability to run on electricity in the metro area and switch to diesel propulsion outside of the electrified network. These versatile, longer distance trains, operated under GWRC’s Metlink brand, would provide enhanced levels of service and capacity on existing routes and invigorate regional development opportunities across the lower north island. As a minimum, the new fleet will allow additional services from Masterton and Palmerston North and provide additional capacity and flexibility on the electrified metro networks. A separate business case for this proposal is being developed by GWRC (again with support from NZTA, Horizons Regional Council and Wairarapa councils) as indicated in the Capital Connection business which was recently presented to the Government.
    http://www.gw.govt.nz/committee-meetings-calendar/detail/7445

    1. “Electro/Diesel Multiple Units”
      *groans and shakes head*

      Oh no. Pushing E/DMU’s is well-meaning but ultimately will not have positive outcomes.

      EDMU’s are an irregular type of train, and that alone will push their price up, let alone for what will be a small (20 units or less) order to begin with. The GWRC is not exactly swimming in funding.

      EDMU’s do not exactly offer any real benefits to the Wairarapa line anyway as well over half the line is not electrified, I believe it’s about 58.5 km’s of 91km’s in total. This means that the Diesel traction will have to contend with the effects of dual-redundancy (dragging a redundant electric power source) for that 58.km’s. So that alone will negate any benefits both environmental and economic from including the electric traction (which will also drag the redundant Diesel power source for the rest of the journey).

      Provided they’re well-patronised (which the Wairarapa connection is) good old regular DMU’s have a very small carbon footprint. Sorry but whoever in this “Sustainable Transport Committee meeting” is advocating for this has clearly NOT done their homework.

      Plus two different traction sets will use-up valuable space on the units, which is already restricted by a not exactly generous loading-gauge.

      This is simply a TERRIBLE idea. The money wasted on purchasing and operating EDMU’s for the Wairarapa connection could be far better used on far more effective sustainability projects. And even considering it only wastes time in drafting up a tender. Can people who live in the Wellington region PLEASE try and get this Mickey-Mouse idea halted?

      1. For a real-world example of the use of both types of rolling stock on the same line, there are the services between Brisbane and Cairns in Queensland, Australia. They have the Tilt Train, using tilting EMU stock, between Brisbane and Rockhampton; and the Spirit of Queensland, using tilting DMU stock, between Brisbane and Cairns. Obviously, Queensland Rail decided it wasn’t worth the bother to go with HMU (E/D MU) stock for the Spirit of Queensland service just so they could run from the overhead electric on the southern portion of the route, and in fact had to scale back their plans for the service during the development phase.

        1. Well the situation on the Hutt Line is already one of “both types”: EMU’s ruining suburban Wellington services and diesel locomotives running the freight services and Wairarapa connection.

  4. Fourth track into Wellington Station isn’t a completely new line – involves using the J’ville line.

    Presumably a new connection from J’ville line near motorway to Hutt/Wairarapa up line (northbound) at Wellington Junction, allowing it to be used for Hutt northbound and bidirectional J’ville.
    Likely to increase performance pollution between lines. J’ville is currently separate from Hutt and Kaipiti lines and during peak uses a dedicated platform.

    Also no grade separation involved AFAIK.

    1. @ gk: My understanding too.

      The Johnsonville line currently operates separately from the other lines (except for movements to and from the yard which have to cross it). The ‘fourth main’ concept would link it to the present NIMT up-main before the climb up the hill begins, so that Kapiti or Hutt Valley trains could use this section of it. I believe it would be of limited use only, because it would have to re-merge with the up-main before Distant Junction (where Kapiti and Hutt lines diverge) so would not provide a completely separate route to this point.

      I believe it would only be used for Kapiti/Hutt services in the event of some blockage occurring on the normal main. I can’t see it being used for scheduled non-Johnsonville services. So it would be there for resilience-improvement only, rather than capacity-improvement.

      And I know of no “flat junction movement” that it would eliminate. As things stand, it could only be used in the outbound direction as there are currently no crossovers that would enable inbound trains to reach it.

      I am interested to see if any further plans for this emerge.

      1. as far as I can tell the main benefit in the changes is a down service from jvil would not have to wait for 4 min at wadestown during the peak for the up service to depart and the crossing would take place by the EMU depot.

        1. @ luke, theoretically you are right, but this would require outbound Johnsonville trains to head out on the NIMT up-main then cross over to the Jville line. The only plans I have seen so far show the new crossovers going the other way (i.e. for Kapiti/Hutt trains to head out on the Jville line then cross over to the up-main).
          I think we need to see how the thinking develops around this.

          1. Dave, is there anything online in the way of plans and/or diagrams? I’ve only seen occasional mention in GW reports that are vague on detail. Unhelpfully, GWRC & KR are keeping all the business case stuff secret.

          2. It was also my impression that ability to cross jville trains somewhere around the bottom of the hill would make for a much more efficient 15 minute timetable

  5. there is currently no efficent way to cross wairarapa services north of trentham, for a decent timetable that will need to change. There is a fairly obvious capacity constraint for the kapiti line between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki with 3-4km of single track, shared with a pile of kiwirail freight trains. It seems to have been put in the to hard basket for years. Maybe when Transmission Gully opens they can do some serious earthworks above whats currently SH1.

    There is also a potential pinchpoint south of Waikanae where the double line ends before the old SH1 (Thanks to the kapiti expresway no longer Sh1)overbridge.

    1. Going to get busier too – I understand the Kapiti line moves to a 20min inter-peak service with the July timetable changes.

      Pukerua-Paekakariki: first step should be to reduce the length of single track. Move South Junction north – as close to Tunnel 3 as possible. Then move North Junction South (daylight Tunnel 7 if that bluff is stable enough). Finally the middle bit (more difficult & expensive).

      Waikanae: single platform on the main line is probably more of a constraint than single line road & river bridges. Having to tip out and then shuffle unit off to a siding to let a following through train pass doesn’t do anything for capacity…

      1. I wonder if once Trasnmission Gully is open itd be viable to close the coastal road for a few weeks to carry out some major earthworks on the rail line above.

    2. My opinion would be that the best solution to crossing trains north of UPPE and the tunnel is a second platform on the loop at FEAT – the alternative would be to reinstate Rimutaka crossing loop at the north portal of the tunnel (or building an entirely new loop somewhere on the straight, but that would require earthworks).

    3. There has been real talk of extending double-tracking from Trentham to Upper Hutt. And that would allow all the crossing that would ever be needed.

  6. I’d been wondering about a radically different solution for the North-South junction to bring Kapiti closer to Wellington, as well as take out a lot of climbing for freight trains: a ~9km tunnel from near Paekak (possibly relocating the station slightly North) to existing lines north of Plimmerton, and replace Pukerua Bay services with bus feed to Plimmerton.

    1. Hard to imagine a 9Km double-track rail tunnel being built for this purpose in New Zealand. If this was Switzerland they would ‘just do it’, and they would keep the old route open as a scenic line also!

    2. One of the original W&MR tunnels (#12 I think?) on the North/South Junction section had to be abandoned (circumvented) because of the geologically unstable land in that area. Could add significantly to the cost of such a project.

      1. They tunneled through an old landslide. Uneven pressure slowly squeezed/deformed the tunnel. New replacement route was cut into the hillside (& tunnel later collapsed). Curves around the old tunnel was realigned/eased a few years ago to increase speed (40 to 60, IIRC). The formation is reasonably wide as a result (may even be wide enough for double track).

        1. I think that there has been little realignment of the North-South Junction stretch recently. The major work done recently in the North-South Junction stretch has been increasing clearances rather than realignment. Lowering the tunnel floors and (I think) putting in lower-profile rail has both allowed tall containers to get through and permitted higher (I think the increase was from 40 to 70km/h rather than 60) speeds.

          Unfortunately, this welcome increase in speeds reduces the benefit of replacing or duplicating the tunnels.

    3. That was on the agenda back in the early 1980s. It was primarily pushed by the MWD, who wished to keep their tunnelling expertise intact after the completion of the Porootarao tunnel, rather than by NZR/NZRC who would have had to somehow recover the cost. Then, along came Rogernomics.

  7. This is so many benefits for so little money! Just do it.
    Could someone tell Shane Jones that it will take customers off Air NZ or something? That might do it.

  8. I think that the Capital Connection and Wairarapa Line should be transferred to a new entity that would also run the Regional Rapid Rail services in the Golden Triangle. New Tilt Train rolling Stock should be ordered for the Wairarapa and Capital Connection, to replace the existing carriage trains. The only difference that would need to exist between the Northern Tilt Trains and the Wellington Tilt Trains would be the voltage they operate on.

    By having all Regional Rail services operated by the same entity using the same or similar trains, significant savings in maintenance and overhead should be made.

    1. I suspect tilt trains would be overkill for these routes. There are significant amounts of straight track between Wellington-Palmerston Nth and Wellington-Masterton where higher-speed conventional rolling stock (capable of say, say 140Km/h) could make a difference.

      It may also be possible to give dispensation for new passenger trains to take curves slightly faster – say by 10-15%. It is my understanding that curve speeds are set a) for limitation of wheel/rail wear by freight trains, and b) for reasons of “passenger comfort” in passenger trains. Currently there is no distinction between freight and passenger trains as far as curve-speeds are concerned. And note that a big safety-margin is built in before any actual danger-point is reached.

      As far as passenger-comfort goes, the sideways force (or ‘cant deficiency’) experienced by passengers during curving can be far greater in a bus than in a train, and no-one suggests limiting bus curving-speeds for this reason. I am suggesting that passenger-train curving-speeds could be a little less conservative with new rolling stock.

      The biggest detriment to passenger-comfort in rail vehicles comes from sudden jerks or lurches and this can be minimised by appropriate bogie-design and by a high standard of track-maintenance. This would apply to tilt-trains as well.

      I may be wrong, but I’m just not convinced that tilt-trains would be worth it.

      1. Tilt trains would be of very little benefit. They would save 4 minutes on the Auckland-Hamilton route, so what’s the point? A few curve easements would achieve the same time saving but benefit all trains, so that would be a better option.

    2. Pendelino trains?

      I don’t mean to be rude here but there would literally be no point whatsoever in giving any trains anywhere in NZ Pendelino capability as no railway lines in NZ allow anywhere near the sort of speeds that Pendelino trains allow.

      NZ’s railways are built to cape gauge, and the fastest service speed any train on this gauge anywhere in the world has ever achieved is just over 160km/h.
      With NZ’s alignments; the maximum allowed speeds (and only on some limited sections) is about 120km/h. But I could have that wrong and am open to be corrected on that.

      Pendelino’s only start offering their benefits at speeds above 140 km/h. I don’t think any Pendelinos have ever been built for any cape gauge railways anywhere in the world, not even in Japan.

      1. What was proposed on this site for the “Regional Rapid Rail” project was a package of measures, including new tilting MU passenger stock, but also an upgrade of certain lines to allow for the running of passenger services at speeds of up to 160 km/h. The proposal focussed mainly on services in the north of the North Island where there is probably the greatest concentration of potential customers for such services. Tilting passenger stock on the Capital Connection and Wairarapa Connection routes would be a waste of money for various reasons and there are more effective ways to achieve improvements for these services.

        The official rail speed record for New Zealand is 125 km/h, set using a Vulcan railcar in 1940. Just because the currently allowed maximum speed on New Zealand’s rail network is around 120 km/h doesn’t mean certain lines couldn’t be upgraded to allow for running up to 160 km/h, if there was a desire to spend the money necessary.

        There do exist tilting passenger stock running on Cape gauge track, in Queensland, Australia. Queensland Rail run tilting EMU stock between Brisbane and Cairns that does run up to 160 km/h. I’ve been on this train myself.

        1. Okay I stand corrected. Queensland rail with cape gauge have 2 Pendolino EMU’s and 3 Pendolino DMU’s.

          While it would technically be possible for some sections of the network to be upgraded to possible 160km/h for passenger trains; it would be very expensive.

        2. Oops, the tilting EMU runs between Brisbane and Rockhampton at up to 160 km/h. There’s a tilting DMU that runs between Brisbane and Cairns.

    1. This was actually proposed in the De Leuw Cather report as required by 1980:- the plan laid out there was to run a branch from Kaiwharawhara via Thorndon Qy, then a tunnel under the Terrace (with an underground station serving Kelburn and VUW) and terminating down where Cable Street now meets Oriental Pde.

      1. Every time public consultation has been offered by Greater Wellington or its earlier incarnations, I have put in a submission calling for consideration of extending the existing rail system. Every time it has fallen on deaf ears with nobody even vaguely curious to follow up on it.

        When oral submissions have been invited I have made repeated and sometimes impassioned pleas for the 1960’s reports to be dusted off and given some new consideration. I have tried and tried to convey the massive benefits that could be achieved if rail was extended. I have read out extracts from these reports, shown Power-points, presented logical arguments etc, but all have been ignored.

        Up to now council minds have been totally closed to anything involving the letters R, A, I, and L, and this includes light rail as well as heavy. They haven’t wanted a bar of it and have simply gone through the motions of public consultation with no interest in actually listening.
        Indeed at one of the hearings it looked like chairperson Fran Wilde was asleep while I was speaking!

        But maybe now that we have a new government which hopefully sets a new direction from above, things will change in this regard.

        1. Talk to regional councillor Penny Gaylor who seems strongly pro-rail (she represents Kapiti- commuter rail country) the next time you consider making a submission. It always helps if at least one of the elected reps knows you are coming.

      2. At that time way back in 1963, it could have been done but the opportunities have now been lost.

        For the LR fan boys, in 1963, trams operated along Thorndon Quay as part of the Thorndon to Newtown Park Zoo Route 11 service. There was a 3 road tram barn and terminus near the intersection of Tinakori Road and Thorndon Quay. Had this route had been kept, would have been the basis for the city to Newtown Zoo LR system.

        1. What are your suggestions for improving public transport to and through the city? (Ones not involving large spend up on “more roads” first).

          You always seem to be quick to explain why things can’t be done…

          1. Its easy, Wellington has to have a fully integrated bus/train/ferry fare and electronic payment system like Myki in Melbourne, the Oyster Card in Sydney and lessor extent HOP card in Auckland or better still, allow Visa and Mastercard debit credit or travel card ‘tap n Go’ payments for all bus, train and local ferries, allowing the traveler ease to move from one form of transport to the other without paying multiple fares.

            I believe that the new Metlink train passes will allow transfer from to bus free of charge as long as the transfer is no more than hours. The new Metlink bus fares will allow a free 1 hour bus to bus transfer. This suppose to take effect from 1 July 18.

            Like with Auckland, Wellingtonians have a fixation with their cars due to 35 years of un-cordinated mish mash of bus, train and local ferry services and lack of long term urban planning. To get people out of their cars and onto public transport, there needs to an efficient affordable and reliable public transport system that the public can use.

            In Wellington’s case, to get public transport working efficiently, get the cars out of the central city, deflect traffic away from going through the central city by complete the missing section between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels and connect Adelaide Road directly with Cambridge and Kent Terraces to remove the congestion around the Basin Reserve as per the De Leuw Cather 1963 and 1966 Reports and the 1980 Burrell Report.

            Due to Wellington topography, the region is not car friendly but is more public transport friendly. Wellington city and its mediate suburbs is very public transport, walking and cycling friendly.

            LR from the railway station to Courtenay Place, Hospital and Newtown Zoo or to the airport is not going to resolve Wellington’s congestion nor is underground heavy rail to Courtenay Place. The cost of these projects out weight the benefits.

          2. Just a correction to Kris’s comments about free transfers that will be introduced in mid July:
            a) for rail monthly passes, there will be free bus/train transfers at the suburban end (only), with no time limit (there’s no way of knowing when a rail pass has been used, so a time limit is not possible);
            b) bus-bus transfers will be free on Snapper (which will cover all buses) if the transfer is within 30 minutes and the alighting and boarding zones are the same.

          3. Good point about Myki: by contrast, at least while it is restricted to NZ Bus services, Snapper has cost the ratepayer/taxpayer precisely nothing. (I imagine that will have changed with the extension to other operators.)

          1. Simple, in 1963 most of the CBD was old 2-4 floor unenforced brick constructed buildings, with some buildings higher than 4 floors which could allowed for under ground tunneling using ‘cut and cover’ tunneling from the railway station to Courtney Place for an under ground for a heavy rail extension. Whilst the concept is great, the cost was very expensive at most of the CBD sets on reclaim land (Lambton Quay and Wakefield Street was the original shoreline) meaning extensive engineering to preventive liquid faction and possible land rising in a major earth quake. From the early 1970’s onwards, nearly all of older 2-4 floor buildings in the CBD, were demolished to make way to the high rise buildings that the CBD has today. Most of the high rise buildings have their foundations in the sea bed rock if built on reclaim land. If Auckland’s CRL is costing, at this stage, $3.4 billion for 4.3kms, what would the cost be for 1km of underground heavy rail extension in Wellington it built now? If people in Auckland are moaning about the CRL disruption, could you imagination what the business and traffic disruption with be like in Wellington if attempt to build a underground heavy rail extension.

            As you know, there was a heavy line from the old Lambton Railway Station, that was located on the western side of the current station to Courtenay Place where the current Museum Hotel and Monument Apartments is now located. Despite pleas of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce to have it retained it as a purely goods only line, the line was closed in 1917 due to the competition of the city’s trams which also tram freight services.

            With regards to LR from the the railway station to Courtenay Place, Hospital and Newtown Zoo, had the Thorndon Quay to Newtown tram route had been retained, as the public wanted it, would have been the basis for the LR route. This tram route was will used and made money for the city council. The route had 2 tram depots – 3 road depot at Thorndon and the original main 8 road Newtown depot that had 8 road on Adelaide Road near the Zoo. Both of these depots have since been demolished. The Newtown depot is now a fire station and Thorndon deport are is commercial office space and shops.

            The biggest supporter of retaining the Thorndon to Newtown Zoo tram route, was a Wellington business man – Saul Goldsmith, who campaigned hard to to retain the route, citing the benefits that the route was already integrated into the council’s own trolley/diesel bus network and had good passenger loads especially commuters who where traveling by train into the city and took the trams to their work.

            Using the 1963, De Leuw Cather report that would have deflect inbound and out bound road traffic away from the CBD, Saul wanted the CBD to be vehicle free, so the CBD was a ‘city mall’ accessible by trams, buses and service vehicles. He also advocated that the city council and NZ Railways Department should have a integrated train/tram/bus fare and pass to Courtenay Place.

            Saul Goldsmith with a visionary, the public supported his vision, the city council was fixated on buses and that trams were obsolete and the railways department though a combined train/tram/bus fare and pass was dumb idea. 65 years later, we are still talking about it.

            That is why I said that opportunities have now been lost.

          2. Given that any rail extension into Wellington would be a cut-and cover tunnel mostly built under existing roads; exactly how are the foundations of post-1970 high-rise buildings even of any relevance? The tunnels would mostly go under the roads (and maybe some low-rise buildings, not under high-rise buildings.

            The current tunnel into Britomart in Auckland was built into reclaimed land, I’ve never heard of the cost of that being escalated. Earthquakes only happen once every few hundred years, somehow I think that the amount of economic benefit from operating the tunnel would outweigh any possible damage from a possible Earthquake.
            The reason why the Auckland CRL is so expensive is because of the depth of the stations (especially Karanagahape road) and the fact that it needs deep-bored tunnels on an incline. That’s no reason to assume that a CBD tunnel in Wellington would be of the same price.

            And as I’ve already pointed out in the other article; ANY extensive infrastructure works in Wellington, whether it be roads, light rail or heavy rail, will result in considerable disruption. Remember when they built the inner city bypass? Look at the problems with building trams and other light railways in urban areas around the world.

            Without meaning to be rude; I honestly don’t know why you’re talking about Saul Goldsmith’s failed campaign from over 50 years ago. Yeah keeping the trams would’ve made things easier now, but that in no way means that trams can never ever possibly return to Wellington. In all honesty; It’s as though you’re living in the past instead of living in the present and looking forward to the future.

            While I usually try and keep things away from personal in debates; I have to say that I’m not the only one who detects a continual negativity towards any ideas of improvements in Wellington transport infrastructure from you. It’s though you look for any reason to oppose any sort of improvement and then inflate its impact to justify ruling it out entirely.

          3. Kris, you make good points about the difficulty and cost of constructing rail in urban Wellington, but then to say that the opportunity for doing that has been lost because we didn’t do it years ago is stretching it too far.

            That we can’t build a light rail system because we closed a tram system 50+ years ago and have sold off the depots, or a heavy rail line because a single line through the streets closed over 100 years ago, is frankly ludicrous. Just visit Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Croydon in the UK alone for evidence that your take on light rail is wrong – they all had tram systems that closed in the 1940s/50s.

            And far from the Chamber of Commerce wanting to retain the Te Aro branch as a goods line, they actively campaigned to have the line closed because of the congestion it was alleged to cause – at least, that’s what both of the Chamber’s histories say. Have you a better source?

          4. Kris, any cut-and-cover tunnel would likely largely follow a street route as they do in other parts of the world so building height is largely irrelevant.

            Mexico City’s subway is build in an old lake bed and largely survived the 1985 earthquake, this is not a problem unique to Wellington.

            Any underground railway in Wellington will not require a deep underground station, such as that planned for K Rd in Auckland, this is adding a significant cost to the CRL.

            I agree an underground rail tunnel is probably beyond a city the size of Wellington, as it a road tunnel in the vicinity of the Basin Reserve.

    2. That was discussed in the comments section of the part 1 article last week, along with various schemes of extending heavy rail further into the Wellington CBD. In my opinion: While much of the discussion was quite interesting it was also for the most part very off-topic and fantastical. And it’s also my opinion that it revealed a lot of ignorance from some people.

      In my opinion: Wellington airport is nowhere near needing a heavy rail connection. It simply gets nowhere near the number of boardings to justify one.
      It does however get enough boardings to justify any dedicated light rail station on the way to Miramar.

  9. You seem to be judging stations by walk up catchment, but this line is supported mostly by park ‘n ride, including Masterton. Users come from all over the region, using rail to avoid the drive over the hill.

    Matarawa station has been upgraded, including provision of a platform. Would be a bit silly to close it now. Hard to believe, but until the mid 2000’s, Matarawa didn’t have a platform at all. Passengers had to climb up from ground level.

    It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the RMTU accept DMUs on the line. They don’t tend to like anything on that line without a locomotive on the front.

    1. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Matarawa close at some point if the station doesn’t “pay its way”. However, consider that the primary reason for closing Muri and Kaiwharawhara was that it wasn’t worth the expense to upgrade the stations to a suitable standard. In the case of Matarawa, that upgrade has already happened (IIRC $150,000 worth when the station was rebuilt in 2007, I don’t have time to hunt for confirmation of this figure) so they may as well “get their money’s worth” out of it before considering closing the station again. It would be unfortunate to end up with another case like Huapai and Waimauku where new stations were built but were in revenue service for less than 2 years.

  10. Before anything else on the Wellington network gets considered: Get the timber traction poles across the Wellington network replaced!

    But yes once that get’s paid for; funding for extending the double tracking from Trentham to Upper Hutt should be the next thing organised.

    And about now is also when the requirements for a tender for future DMU’s or diesel railcars (with coupling) for the Wairarapa line should be getting drafted, along with funding for them getting organised, so they can be introduced sometime around 2021-2. Because those Diesel locomotives that are moving the current Wairarapa connection are getting too long in the tooth and have reliability issues.
    With the popularity of the Wairarapa connection (which is likely to increase); 15-20 two-car DMU’s should be the ideal next step. Make sure they include toilets (as the journey to Masterton will be in excess of 60 minutes) and decent air-conditioning & heating in the tender along with overhead luggage racks and make them capable of a top speed of 120km/hr.

  11. I think you retain Featherston and Carterton with no stops in between.
    Greytown is serviced by buses running Featherston – north and Carterton – south timed to arrive 15min before the trains arrive and to leave 5min after the trains have left these stations.
    Keep Solway, Renall and Masterton stations and keep the line running over the river to Mahunga Golf course as it already does.
    Run the rail spur east parallel to Miro St with a station at Opaki Rd.

    Mothball Maymorn for the future as required and add a station at Maoribank / Timberlea.
    I think Maoribank at Moeraki Rd; easy bus access to SH2 and the northern Upper Hutt suburbs and TOD potential on the south and east sides of the rail.
    In the future the Hutt line will be extended to Maoribank / Timberlea with possibly a station added at Clouston Park which has really good TOD opportunity too.

    Phase 1 Mothball Maymorn, Woodside and Matarawa.
    Phase 2a Rail spur to Opaki Rd/SH2 Lansdowne.
    Phase 2b Hutt Line extn to Moeraki Rd Maoribank plus Clouston Park station.
    Phase 3 Reopen Maymorn with future development or extn to Hutt Line.

    1. Featherston and Carterton are considerably further away from Greytown than Woodside is. What would be the point in eliminating Woodside? Why not just run buses from… …Woodside (and not close it)?

      And why “mothball” Maymorn?

    2. With new, zippier DEMU’s there is no need to close any stations. Rail planners make a mistake by assuming smaller, lesser-used stations are expendable. Like the taxi driver who refuses a short-distance fare and in so doing, alienates a customer who would have booked him for a $100 trip the next day.

      Rail should be out for all the business it can get, unless there is a much bigger reason against it than what we are seeing here. Of course the ideal is to offer both express and stopping services, but hard to see that working in the Wairarapa.

      But telling ‘minority customers’ “Hey, you’re not important enough for us so go by bus instead” is foot-shooting stuff.

      1. When KiwiRail replaced the Overlander with the Northern Explorer, they also (and have since) cut a bunch of stations from the route, and in so doing got the Wellington/Auckland journey times down to ~10½ hours. Some of those station closures seem questionable from an outsiders perspective, but I don’t have access to the data KiwiRail does internally, and they are obviously motivated to do what is best for the company commercially.

        To be fair, since GWRC was formed in the early 1990s, only 3 stations on the Wellington suburban passenger rail network have closed. Unlike in Auckland, where AT and its predecessors have closed more than that.

        1. Re the Overlander/Northern Explorer

          I have a Tranz Scenic timetable dated Oct 2000. The Overlander timings were as follows:

          AKD 8:30am -> WLG 7:27pm (10h 57m)
          WLG 8:45am -> AKD 7:35pm (10h 50m)

          Intermediate stops were: Middlemore, Papakura, Pukekohe, Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Otorohanga, Te Kuiti, Taumarunui, National Park, Ohakune, Waiouru, Taihape, Marton, Feilding, Palmerston Nth, Levin, Paraparaumu, Porirua.

          And this included locomotive-changes from diesel to electric and vice-versa at Hamilton and Palmerston Nth
          ___________________________________

          Today’s Northern Explorer timetable is:

          AKD 7:45am -> WLG 6:25pm (10h 40m)
          WLG 7:55am -> WLG 6:50pm (10h 55m)

          Intermediate stops are: Papakura, Hamilton, Otorohanga, National Park, Ohakune, Palmerston Nth, Paraparaumu

          No locomotive changes are scheduled. Now it’s diesel all-the-way.

          KiwiRail’s decision to drop all these stations was because of a strategy to market the train as a ‘premium tourist experience’, and absolutely not as a service to local communities. But as can be seen the improvement in end-to-end journey time is pretty-much non-existent (now 5 min slower in the northbound direction!).
          And the number of services was more-than halved, to only 3 return journeys per week.

          The Northern Explorer is reportedly performing well, but I seriously question whether deleting all those stops was necessary, and whether pricing non-“premium” customers away and focussing on the tourist-market only is a good overall strategy. I would love to see a quasi First-and-Second-Class re-introduced, as was provided on the “TranzCoastal” (Christchurch-Picton) service back in Tranz Scenic days. They did this simply by adding an older type carriage to the consist with no at-seat service provided, and marketing it as a “Backpackers’ Carriage” at half-price. It was popular and in no way detracted from the up-market, ‘other-half’ of the train.

          Rail should be after all the business it can get.

          1. I seem to recall reading somewhere that one of the justifications for the more recent round of station removals from the Northern Explorer timetable was to improve journey times. Whether this was true or necessary or not I don’t know, but I do recall that when I travelled on the Overlander in 2006 shortly before the service was due to be cancelled that the trip took around 12 hours. Up to 2004 when the night-time Northerner was cancelled, that service’s rolling stock was also used during the day so when there were delays to its 12-hour schedule, that often had a ripple effect on to the next days services.

            There have been other initiatives to improve the service over the years, such as introducing the Silver Fern railcars to the route, but removing stations is always going to be an “easy win” for shortening the journey time. KiwiRail have been reported in the news media as saying they are open to the idea of restoring stations to the route of the Northern Explorer if a reasonable case can be made.

            I’m not sure if KiwiRail Scenic still sell them, but you used to be able to get 7-day and 14-day rail passes that allowed you to travel at any time during that period on a service, getting on and off at whatever stations along the route you wanted. This is a great option for the more itinerant or adventurous tourists, but not much use if there are hardly any stations to stop at along the way.

          2. I seem to remember there were a couple of disastrous summers with heat-buckling problems and many trains had to be slowed to 40Km/h for large parts of their journey. You can thank the lack of maintenance during the privatised years for this.

            Anyway it played havoc with the Overlander timings and I believe its timetable was slackened to accommodate this, and from memory it stayed like this until the end..

            So that could account for your 12 hour trip in 2006. I’m not sure where things are regarding the track-maintenance backlog now, whether the NIMT is fully caught up or not.

          3. J90 – the 2 types of rail pass ( flexi and fix) sales have been suspended due to the suspension of the Coastal Pacfic train. The Coastal Pacific is expected to resume service some time in Oct 18 for the 2018/2019 summer season.

          4. I did the Overlander in 2006 and it was running to a 12 hour timetable. However, we ran horrendously late through the first part of the day and yet still arrived in Wellington on time, so there must have been a lot of fat in the timetable.

          5. Managed to find the Overlander timetable from my 2006 trip, effective February 2006. For the sake of brevity, I’ve only included the termini.
            Auckland — Wellington
            Train 0201
            Auckland 07:25
            Wellington 19:25

            Wellington — Auckland
            Train 0200
            Wellington 07:25
            Auckland 19:20

        2. “To be fair, since GWRC was formed in the early 1990s, only 3 stations on the Wellington suburban passenger rail network have closed. Unlike in Auckland, where AT and its predecessors have closed more than that” is not being fair to AT and its predecessors: they have also (re)opened/resited/rebuilt a number of stations in that time.

          And I make it two that have closed in Wellington – Kaiwharawhara and Muri.

          1. It is easy to forget, but Waingawa closed to passengers in 1992, just over a year after the regional councils assumed responsibility for public transport in mid-1991.

            And I was referring specifically to station closures, because I also didn’t mention all the stations that GWRC has also upgraded, particularly on the Johnsonville branch and in the Wairarapa. There have also been several station rebuilds/refurbishments in the Hutt Valley, most recently at Upper Hutt.

          2. New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society, Archives Branch. They were able to dig up for me a Wairarapa timetable that included Waingawa, replaced with a new timetable effective Monday, 28 September 1992 that didn’t include Waingawa.

            The 1987 date for Waingawa was when general freight handling was ended. The nearby freezing works remained open until 1989, so presumably workers there made up much of the passenger traffic for the station. I expect that it would have been a request stop by the time it was removed from the timetable, as there wouldn’t have been any other significant sources of patronage in the vicinity after the works closed, even the JNL mill that opened over the road earlier the same year it closed. The station is, of course, still open for specialist freight handling only (JNL and the log transfer facility).

          3. Thanks, J90: do you by any chance have the date of the previous timetable, which presumably included Waingawa?

          4. According to the email response I got from NZR&LS, the preceding timetable in which Waingawa was included as a passenger stop was dated 1 July 1991 (coincidently, the same date the regional councils became responsible for public transport). Apparently, they were also able to locate a reference in the Society’s magazine from around that time to a bunch of other stations also being removed from the timetable (though not specifically Waingawa by name); it would seem that there was a general tidy-up of the timetables to improve service timings.

  12. Awesome post Harriet. One persnickety initial comment: that ain’t no Wairarapa train in the nzrailphotos photo. That’s the rail bridge at Mana – west coast / Main Trunk right there ;-D

      1. It is a non tidal section of the Hutt River flowing below. Therefore either Silverstream or Pomare bridges. The eastern Hutt hills suggests Pomare.

    1. Speaking as a Paremata denizen it certainly isn’t Mana – while the bridge between Paremata and Mana has a footbridge alongside it, it’s non-public (but popular with bridge jumpers) and much more lightly constructed. And the landforms are all wrong.

  13. Another thing that should be noted:
    Masterton isn’t actually a very big place and the location of the station is no barrier of inconvenience for commuters from there.

  14. in todays dom post a john milford piece about needing the de leuw cather plan strangely he completely omits the rail part of said plan. Is like a 60s timewarp here in the capital.

    1. The cost of an under ground rail system for the short distance from the railway station to Courtenay Place as mentioned in the 1963 De Leuw Cather report is expensive and very disrupting to the CBD and its infrastructure for the economical benefits gained. The money spent for that project will pay for the Terrace to Mt Victoria Tunnels missing section.

      I am not sure where there is a group of people that keeps going about heavy and light rail from the railway station to Courtenay Place and/or hospital and possibility to the airport will not solve current Wellington’s traffic congestion. The opportunities for heavy rail to Courtenay Place was lost in 1917 and light rail in 1964 when the last remaining tram route from Thorndon Quay to Newtown Zoo was closed.

      1. Kris in the previous article about improving the Welling network I pointed out to you that ANY money spent on transport infrastructure works in the city of Wellington will cause massive disruption. It’s a moot point.

        The closure of the Te Aro station in 1917 does not in any way prevent heavy rail being extended further into the CBD with a tunnel nor did the closure of the trams in 1964 prevent a Wellington tramway from being installed again. Frankly I fail see how they’re even relevant to each other.

      2. The opportunity for heavy rail may have closed in 1917 (though none of the extension plans since then have proposed using any of the Te Aro branch’s alignment, so that closure as a basis for the contention is at best dubious), but the opportunity for light rail was certainly not lost with the closure of the trams in 1964. That opportunity still exists, and the fact that a legacy system (one with a very rare gauge) disappeared 50+ years ago is irrelevant, as many overseas cities have demonstrated.

        The point about Mitford and De Leuw Cather is that he said we must learn lessons from 1973 (the date of DLC) in terms of roads but said nothing about its rail proposals.

        And it would be good if you gave some supporting evidence for your assertions, and recognised that nothing except economic decline “solves” traffic congestion, but options like light rail provide the opportunity to avoid it.

      3. Daniel Eyre and Mike M – Why do you think that having LR system or a HR extension is going to help in solving Wellington’s traffic congestion.

        To date the LR lobby group hasn’t come with a feasible route that does not involving expensive tunneling nor the costing of building the system and what land will be used for a depot and what the economic and social benefits in building a 1 or 2 route LR system will be? What will be the disruption to CBD in laying track and power distribution system to shop, foot and vehicle traffic in the CBD and Newtown during concentration will be?

        With regards to HR extension what will be the route that does not involving expensive tunneling, that is earthquake resilient, what land will be used and the economic and social benefits will be? What will be the disruption to CBD to business like shops, foot and vehicle traffic in the CBD during the building of the extension?

        As a person who was bought up and lived in Wellington and a former bus driver, I struggle to see the benefits when there is a efficient bus system, which is already operating than an expensive HR extension or a 1 or 2 route LR system. Central Wellington is more denser that it was in 1960’s.

        1. *laughs*

          “An efficient bus system”… …not according to any regular rush-hour passenger!

          ANY improvement to transport infrastructure in Wellington is going to result in a lot of disruption. If they ever make the mistake of going through with this recommended BRT system (from that dodgy report); it’s also going to result in a lot of temporary disruption.
          Oh and BTW; that very same report concluded that this current PT of merely buses (and which at that time still included the electric trolleys) was NOT doing an adequate job.

          With Wellington’s CBD only set to get even more dense in the years to come; there will simply have to be an upgrade. At some stage; the ongoing effects of having an inadequate PT system will outweigh the temporary disruption from actually building a decent one.

          Social benefits of light rail (over buses)? Well there’s the fact that its a much more enjoyable and thus attractive ride. People enjoy riding in trams but I’ve never known of anyone who actually likes taking the bus.

        2. I don’t think anyone who has travelled the Golden Mile in a bus could possibly think Wellington has an efficient bus system.

          Is there an effective road solution that doesn’t require expensive tunneling or a significant impact on the residents that surround it?

          1. Part of the problem with busses on Lambton Quay, as I understand it, is that stupid 30 km/h speed limit, put in place for idiot pedestrians that don’t look where they’re going. That’s going to affect any road-based PT solution, bus, light rail, or otherwise.

          2. The Golden Mile is one of the most heavily pedestrianised parts of the country, it is quite reasonable to have a 30kmh speed limit along here. Any bus or LR solution that requires faster travel should go via Customhouse Quay.

            In saying that I don’t think the speed limit is the real problem anyway, it is the sheer number of buses on this route and the lack of indented bus stops in some locations that causes a trip on the Golden Mile to take as long as the trip from Courtenay Place to the Airport.

          3. It’s not just the golden mile (Lambton quay).
            There’s also Willis St (especially the northern, lower end) Courtney place, Kent/Cambridge terrace & the basin reserve, The Terrace, etc….

          4. Absolutely correct, Jezza, and the difference in time between max 30km/h and max 50km/h is minimal, anyway. Much more significant are delays at traffic lights with 2-minute cycles, and regular queues of half-a-dozen buses or more at stops: solid walls of buses are guaranteed to appear very rapidly when there are up to 120 per hour of them. Fewer, larger vehicles will address both of these issues, allowing pre-emption at lights and avoiding buses stopping multiple times at stops.

        3. I don’t know the answers to your detailed questions – they will depend on the particular option(s) chosen for development. Perhaps you aren’t aware, but every one of the many cities in the world that has built a rail system has had to overcome similar obstacles – and have often come back for more!

        4. @ Kris: “With regards to HR extension what will be the route that does not involving expensive tunnelling. . .?”

          Kris I already explained to you, personally, in the comments on Part 1 of this series https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2018/03/13/improving-wellingtons-rail-network-part-1/#comment-266374 , how this might be achieved at least as far as the vicinity of Civic Square, and possibly along other parts of the corridor to the airport.

          You read my comment, and you commented on it yourself. Why then do you continue to ask the same question?

          1. I did read your response but its still tunnelling – even if using cut and cover on reclaim land, along a main arterial route (even if the missing section between the Terrace and Mt Victoria Tunnels is completed) in and out of Wellington being Waterloo and Customhouse Quays, the major arterial intersection at Customhouse Quay, Wakefield Street and Lower Taranaki Street and the Manners Street/Taranaki Street/Courtney Place intersection.

            I am curious where the next station will be after ‘Civic Square’?

            The cost and disruption will huge for the city with little economic gain. The other question is who will pay for it. I don’t see the government paying for it.

            By the way, I was bought up in Wellington and lived there for many years, I know it will never happen in my life time.

          2. Kris, it’s only “tunnelling” if you consider building a box-structure over a railway (which may actually be at ground level and involve no digging at all), to be “tunnelling”.

            Next station after Civic Square I propose Taranaki/Courtenay Place, which most likely would require full-depth cut-and-cover. The alternative is to continue the box-structure further around the waterfront, but I have not looked at this.

            Yes, my suggested scheme involves taking away the Waterfront road route. If this really is unacceptable then full-depth cut-and-cover or else elevated rail are the only HR choices. However it is my belief that the city would be better off without this major traffic artery being where it is, and the aim of extending HR would be to provide a serious alternative to the scary traffic-growth scenarios that we are otherwise faced with. The reality is, no strategy that involves providing more road capacity is going to reduce traffic overall. Extending heavy rail is our best chance of achieving this.

            Won’t happen in your lifetime? Well hang in there because you never know. For decades it looked as though Auckland’s City Rail Link was never going to happen, but now it actually is!

  15. Regarding the suggested Wairarapa Line initiatives, a few thoughts:
    1. I’m just not seeing how such a spur line would be worth the investment. What (existing) problem(s) would it solve? When I was a commuter to Wellington out of Masterton, people that lived in the vicinity of Masterton station simply walked to the station; other users of the station drove there. Most Masterton commuters living north of the river just drove to Masterton station, including, IIRC, a few who lived north of Masterton itself. Though I am no longer a Wairarapa commuter (though still occasional visitor to Masterton), from what I’ve seen this situation seems to work fine. How, exactly, would such a spur improve existing services?

    There is also a lesson to be learnt here from a similar historical situation. The Greytown branch line offered short-haul commuter services to Woodside (using mixed trains) to provide connections with main-line Wairarapa passenger services. It was said that this branch had the ignominious distinction of being the biggest loss-making line in New Zealand before it was closed in the 1950s. Had the similar Martinborough branch line been built, it is highly likely it would have ended up in the same situation.

    2. Historically, what is now Solway station has existed at more than one location. In recent times, with increased residential development of formerly greenfields land south of Solway station, moving the station south could bring it closer to a greater concentration of (potential) users in its catchment. I guess that’d be a case of weighing up the cost of moving the station against the potential for increased patronage and revenue.

    3. It is a bit of a stretch to say Matarawa has “no catchment” — rather, it has a sparsely populated rural catchment and consequently low patronage (comparatively speaking). Most of the users of Matarawa either drive there or are dropped off by family members. As it is a request stop, would closing it save all that much money? If Matarawa were to close, the next nearest station is Carterton which, considering that most Matarawa commuters already drive to Matarawa station, shouldn’t be any great burden to have to instead drive to Carterton. According to Google Maps, the distance between the two is ~10 km, or about 12/14 minutes travel time (depending on route). In that case, Carterton station should probably get improved parking facilities given that at present there doesn’t really seem to be enough room.

    4. Close Woodside? What is the rationale for doing this? First of all, from what I remember as a Wairarapa commuter, cycling to Woodside station seemed to be a popular option, I presume more so now since the Greytown/Woodside rail trail was completed. Bicycles can’t be so easily accommodated on busses. Second, though admittedly unlikely any time soon, if someone were looking to do a major residential development in south Wairarapa, there is a ready-made option around Woodside where the land has already been subdivided for what was supposed to be a new development there in the early 20th century. If you zoom right in on Woodside in Google Maps, you can still see where they surveyed the boundaries of the new roads and residential lots. The existing Woodside station would obviously be useful in this scenario. Third, GWRC must have thought Woodside reasonably important to have given it a long platform when the Wairarapa stations were upgraded c. 2007 for the new rolling stock, vs. the short platforms built for both Maymorn and Matarawa. If it is still important (busy) enough, why close it?

    5. I’d be hesitant to close Maymorn, simply for the potential that valley has for intensification of residential development. If that ever does go ahead, a station at Maymorn is going to be a lot more useful to many more people, and could be a case for extending electrification north of Upper Hutt to Maymorn. The biggest problem at the moment seems to be the NIMBY attitude of the existing residents there that don’t want the character of the valley to change.

    1. I agree with your comments. GWRC has identified that stations needed for the the Wairarapa Line. Greytown is growing and so is Martinborough and both of these towns have bus connections timed to meet the train at Woodside for Greytown and Featherston for Martinborough. Whilst there is population growth in Carterton extentions of the current Greytown to Woodside bus service could be extended to Carterton.

      With regards to Maymon, I agree that the station should remain open due to the planned housing development in the area plus it is the entry point to the Rimutaka Rail Trail. There have been submissions to the GWRC to extend electrification to Maymon.

  16. With line improvements or other initiatives to make a small improvement to journey times (but hopefully also a large improvement to reliability) it would be possible to run an off peak service every two hours between wellington and masterton using two trainsets, With an extra platform (part of the Trentham-Upper Hutt double tracking), these could cross at Upper Hutt or Maymorn. If they operated every two hours, they could replace every fourth Maitangi service between wellington and upper hutt. Two trainsets running Wellington Masterton replacing the current off-peak shuttle and one Maitangi train – in other words a signifcantly imoroved service for very little extra cost.

  17. Wellie is lucky to have the bones of a great network. The wins are obvious – double track to Upper Hutt immediately, and on the Kapiti where viable.

    When station upgrades are done, add third tracks/platforms as standard, again where viable. Upper Hutt should have three, for example, and Para/Waikanae too – just to add resilience and flexibility. There may come a time of fairly frequent two-way regional trains as well as intensive metro service and freight to juggle.

    There should be a national DEMU order – they are much better than they have ever been and about to be ubiquitous across much of the UK network. Running under wires where it exists makes sense – and if there is regenerative braking then you can offset hauling the fuel somewhat…

    These 3 car units (to run in pairs as needed) could run to Wairarapa, Palmy and the Auckland Regional network… yes the AC/DC would differ but the rest could be the same. Ironically it might make them too nippy in the metro sections regarding catching up with the metro in front – but that is where loops and tracking come in. Journey times should be much better than ever – and eventually these should be standard frequent routes on the network, rather than named trains and irregular times. Possibly they can evolve from/into the fast suburban trains – who knows, but the should integrate. Hourly/two-hourly to Palmy and Masterton would be justifable in other countries and should be aimed for here. If it is good, people will use it. Maybe one day they can return to Napier, Feilding or the Taranaki – these things might become feasible. But that’s another conversation.

    As is what to do with the network south of Wellington station. My vote is for light rail – from Lower Hutt across to Melling and down, and from Johnsonville, taking over those short branches. And then through the city and with 2-3 branches on the other side, say Island Bay, Miramar and an airport spur. 20tph through the core. Leave the rest of the network at the station – but have seamless transfers from mode to mode, and market/map the LR as a line in the same mould as the railway – just another set of lines.

    1. Admittedly I haven’t done much research into the matter, but on the face of it I’m not convinced that hybrid propulsion MU passenger stock is necessarily the most efficient way to provide passenger services to areas not under the wires. The more flexible the rolling stock is in terms of the types of propulsion and power sources it supports, the more equipment it must have on board, the more that needs to be maintained, increases the complexity and possibility of a break-down, the more dead weight that needs to be hauled around, and therefore the more energy they consume overall. I might be persuaded if there were an objective analysis of the costs and benefits of both battery/overhead electric (as per the recent proposed AT procurement) and diesel/overhead electric vs. straight diesel MU passenger stock, but I’m not aware of any such analysis.

      1. The other option is a small, dedicated fleet of locomotives which can be coupled to standard EMUs to push/pull them over non-electrified sections. This may be more economic than a separate fleet of DEMUs. Needs looking into.

    2. DEMU’s are a bad idea for even just the Auckland or Wellington networks alone. But nationally?
      Are you aware that Auckland and Wellington have different power supplies? And different loading gauges? and that they would only be able to use their electric traction in either one of those networks?
      Why not just order DMU’s and not drag the heavy electric gear around, packed into the limited loading gauges? Oh and most new DMU’s have regenerative breaking too (as these days most are actually diesel-elctrics, powered by a deisel-fulled electric generator).

      How would you get light rail along the Melling alignment between Petone and Wellington? You are aware that light rail can’t meet the regulations to run on the mainline?

  18. c – I agree with most of your comments, especially a national order for DEMUs for regional train services between Auckland. Hamilton and Tauranga, Wellington and Palmerston North and Wellington, Featherston and Masterton.

    I would prefer to see dual voltage (AC/DC) BEMU’s but I am not sure if a BEMU using battery power could operate between Hamilton and Tauranga.

    Supplementing DEMU or BEMUs with the current EMU fleets in Auckland and Wellington would give flexibility of services in the respective city’s networks.

    There is no reason for DEMU or BEMU passenger operation between Auckland and Wellington.

    With regards to the Wellington regional network upgrades, the 2 urgent upgrades that need to happen now, being –

    * Double track the Hutt line between Wallaceville and Trentham to end 50 odd years of deferments to increase frequencies on the line.

    * Upgrade the existing Class 2 freight line from Upper Hutt to Masterton to a Class 1 Passenger line with improve signalling and a good passing loop with dual platform at Featherston – being a bus/train hub for bus services to Martinborough, keeping the existing Rimutaka Loop at the Wairarapa end of the Rimataka Tunnel and a passing loop at Maymon, at the Wellington end of the tunnel. This will increase frequencies on the line.

    I would like to see in the future electrification from Upper Hutt to Masterton, as the Rimataka Tunnel was designed and built for electrification.

    Kiwirail is slowly replacing the existing wooden poles but at a slow pace.

  19. One option in GWRC’s draft 10-year plan, now out for consultation, is acquiring 15 4-car bi-mode EDMUs that can operate in either electric or diesel-electric mode (not DEMUs – they can’t draw power from the overhead wires) to provide four morning and four afternoon services between Masterton and Wellington and two morning and two afternoon services on the Capital Connection line. Details are at https://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/whatmatters/news_feed/choice-1-a-long-term-solution-for-the-wairarapa-rail-line-and-capital-connection .

    1. When we were discussing above I’m pretty sure I was not the only one who as talking about hybrid Units of both electric and diesel traction and not DMU’s that are diesel-electric.

    2. So the preferred proposal is to go from the current 32 passenger vehicles (S/SE*/SW* carriages) across both the Capital Connection and Wairarapa Connection services to a combined pool of 60 vehicles. It looks like this proposal is still at an early stage, but the costs involved in increasing service frequency will go beyond the rolling stock; there’ll likely need to be a not insubstantial amount spent on infrastructure upgrades also.

      I thought it interesting that the Wairarapa passenger stock is referred to as “ageing” since they were only introduced in 2007 after a major refurbishment: is 11 years of service all they’re good for now? Yes, the carriages were built several decades ago, but they replaced 56-foot carriages that must have been around about 60 years old! I guess it makes sense to start planning early for asset EOL and replacement.

      I can just see it now, with all those new trains going to Wellington. Someone will call for new services to be introduced, like reinstating the direct Palmerston North — Masterton services that are just a few months shy of coming up on 30 years gone.

      1. I think this is the way forward for these routes. And 15x 4 car units would easily allow the service levels they mentioned, redundancy and more – assuming not coupled. Weekends and evenings too, and counter peaks (which they may as well do as stabling 6 units in town for the PM runs is silly) – for instance a 6 am from Palmy could be a 9 am back, in turn 1pm back or so, and then form the first afternoon peak return. They could also interwork and head to Masterton for a shorter run – or turn early.

        I’d expect extensions and new routes in time, but it’d need a cultural shift back towards regional rail – which alongside the Auckland push, might permeate through. And of course, the units should be ordered with those too…

  20. Dreams are free, so …

    Yes, do the track maintenance! Yes double-track Trenthham/ Upper Hutt !

    The huge restriction on frequency for Wairarapa is that there is only one loop between Upper Hutt and Masterton, being at Featherston, where there is only one platform. A platform on the Upper Hutt loop and 2 or 3 loops between Upper Hutt and Masterton with platforms on both sides would improve capacity a lot.

    Everything north of Featherston is Track Warrant Territory (train drivers have to radio Train Control for clearance). Masterston itsself has some very interesting signalling – see http://www.valleysignals.org.nz/masterton/masterton.html. The whole thing north of Upper Hutt needs upgrading to a computerised system

    There are plenty of SA carriages going spare, but locos to haul them are a different story …

Leave a Reply