Wellington’s Rail Network has been seeing some good growth over the last few years with usage rising from just over 12.1 million in October 2015 to just under 14.5 million in October this year.

To help see that trend increase, last year the government announced a $193 million package of works to upgrade and replaces parts of the Wellington network and yesterday they celebrated the start of construction of a key project within that upgrade.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford today announced construction is underway on Wellington commuter rail upgrades which will mean more frequent services and fewer breakdowns.

The upgrades include converting the Trentham to Upper Hutt single track section to a double track, with a new signalling system, upgraded stations and level crossings, and a pedestrian underpass.

….

The 2.7km track between Trentham and Upper Hutt is a major bottle neck at an important point where commuter services and freight trains interact. These upgrades will help freight services to keep on time despite increased passenger services.

Phil Twyford said the Government is getting rail back on track after years of neglect.

“Our $196 million Wellington rail package also includes important upgrades for the Wairarapa line, without them, the line would have deteriorated with more and more disruptions to services.

This project is long overdue but now it’s underway is expected to take about 18 months to complete the double tracking.

The wider package of works is expected to take till 2026 to complete and contains a number of upgrades, as shown below.

It is good to see these upgrades occurring but back in Auckland it does raise questions about our much needed track upgrades, specifically the 3rd main and electrification to Pukekohe, both of which the two main parties promised at the last election – they both also promised the Wellington upgrades above. The last we’d heard the business case is still stuck somewhere inside the NZTA.

The track upgrades aren’t the only thing the regional council are seeking in order to upgrade the rail network, they also want new trains for their long distance services.

Wellington’s rail network will be stretched to breaking point within a few years unless an urgent $415 million upgrade receives government backing.

Greater Wellington Regional Council has put together a case for acquiring a new fleet of 15 electric hybrid trains to operate on the Manawatū and Wairarapa lines, increasing the overall number of passengers the network can accommodate.

The council says without the investment, which will provide bigger and more frequent trains on long-distance routes, commuters across the region will be “packed in like sardines” by 2025.

“The increase in train users both within and beyond the metro network shows an urgent need to fund a modern fleet,” regional council chairman Daran Ponter said.

“With long procurement and manufacture lead-in times, and ever-increasing demand, we must secure funding by 2020 if we hope to deliver by 2024 and avoid commuters being packed in like sardines on a daily basis.”

The updated fleet would allow the council to rearrange its other services, providing more room and more frequent services across the network.

However, it has asked the Government for a significant handout to fund the upgrades, and wants an answer by June next year.

The council wants central government to contribute 90 per cent towards buying the new trains, and fully fund the infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate them.

It has also asked the agency to fund 51 per cent of ongoing maintenance and operating costs.

What’s most interesting about this proposal is that Wellington are looking for dual mode trains. These trains would make a lot of sense on those longer distance routes where it is hard to justify extending electrification but where we want to make use of the electrification infrastructure that exists where we can.

Hopefully the investigation will also include battery trains to avoid the need for diesel whatsoever and more train manufacturers seem to be starting to provide these. When Auckland Transport was looking at the technology a few years ago for Pukekohe services the range was limited but already that is expanding and companies are promising trains that can do 140km/h and cover 100km before needing to be recharged – which can take just 7-10 minutes. That would be ideal not just for these Wellington services but also for future Auckland to Hamilton services.

While Upper and Lower North Island trains would need to be designed to handle different electrical power supplies there would surely be some advantages from having an otherwise identical fleet – there are even some trains out there which can handle both voltages.

So how about it Phil, a co-ordinated regional rail services strategy.

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89 comments

  1. This is excellent news for the Wellington region – and those Wairarapa trains are so urgently needed. Commuters on the Wairarapa line are fed up with having to use severely out-dated and ancient old rolling stock that breaks down all the time. Really hope that the hybrid trains get funding soon.

    1. As I understand it: The GRWC is still trying to secure funding for the replacement rolling stock so it’s not even at the tender stage yet. The last I heard; these are expected to enter service in 2025: A lot time from now.

      I understood that the biggest problem with the Wairarapa connection is the condition of much of the line in the South Wairarapa. Money just hasn’t been spent on its maintenance.

      1. The Wairarapa line between Upper Hutt and Masteron is still a ‘freight’ line and is not designed for frequent passenger train services.

        The $96 million the government has given to Kiwirail is to upgrade to passenger services, with more passing loops to increase train frequencies.

  2. At Otahuhu station a third line is being installed alongside the unused first platform. This should have happened when the station was first built. There are 3 platforms and at the moment only platforms 2 and 3 are in use. The first platform is closest to the road and will allow people the easy walk through to it. It will save people the long walk over to another platform half the time.
    But I hope they will open it soon rather than in 4 years for the CRL

    1. “This should have happened when the station was first built.”
      Otahuhu station was built in 1875, during the Victorian era of steam trains and when Auckland looked like some large town.

    2. There is no reason for the new platform 1 at Otahuhu to open as its main function is for the future purple line and the western end of this line, the third platform and siding/loop at Henderson has not yet started construction.
      So it’s very likely it will remain finished but idle until CRL opens. This is typical of CRL related projects as we have completed Albert St tunnels also unused for at least the next five years.

      1. There will be crossover tracks (points) before and after Otahuhu and trains from the Eastern line could easily use platform 1. Users would appreciate the easy walk from the street without the long climb half the time.

        1. The station is gated perhaps passengers will still need to up anyway, unless an additional gate line is being installed?

      1. Last I heard was 2023, but I wasn’t told whether that was the start date
        or the finish date. (Or both, though I doubt that considering the length
        of time it takes to complete projects in this country).

        1. Yeah I heard my neighbour’s cousins’ uncle’s dog was writing the business case. Fingers crossed for 2050 so i can use my Gold Card to ride on it for free.

        2. No Arramis,
          They would never get to write any business case as they would be too cost effective.
          Instead preparing the business case has passed to the, “Association Sourced Income Streams”, otherwise known as As Is, who are tasked keep things as is for as long as possible.

  3. It is interesting to see that Wallaceville Station will become a two platform station rather then the Island design that was allowed for in it’s original 1950’s construction as indicated by the curved deviation east of the straight line. I presume that this change simplifies construction and minimises disruption. I do though wonder at the ommision of a grade separated pedestrian access to the southbound platform at Wallaceville.

    1. As I understand it: Island platforms are generally avoided in new railway construction.

      I’m not sure if pedestrian access to the future Wallaceville station needs to be grade-separated. But I don’t understand why they’re removing the pedestrian crossing north of the station (which a lot of local people use to get across the tracks)

      1. Is there any reason for this? I would have thought that island platforms are superior as there is less need to duplicate platform space and shelter.

        The CRL seems to still be going with island platforms at the new stations. Also Williams Landing on the Werribee line, which opened in 2013 is an island platform.

        As an aside, for anyone who thinks the cost of the new Puhinui Station is excessive, have a look at what they dropped on building this station!

        1. I guess that it’s because trains can maintain high speeds on straight sections of track so freight trains and non-alighting express trains don’t have to slow down as much. That’s not going to be any issue with the CRL. Most Island platforms are essentially (at least) double the width of single platforms and shelters aren’t a big part of the expenditure.
          Of course; they’ll still build more Island platforms if it’s more practical in certain situations.

        2. That’s a good point about the curve. I look at my local station Panmure and think how much better it would have been as an island platform. It would have allowed sharing of escalators, stairs and hop card readers.

          At the moment it gets quite crowded on the narrow southbound platform in the evening peaks when passengers disembark, while the larger northbound platform is nearly empty. This will only get worse once the Eastern Busway opens.

          You are probably right about the cost of shelters but it doesn’t appear to stop authorities skimping on them at many stations.

        3. Except Wallaceville station already has the track curving around the platform to the East of the straight between Upper Hutt and Trentham stations. It now looks as if this will be a double track curve rather then having a new single track curve to the west to create the originally designed, but not built, island platform.
          The rendered graphic shows this curve on the otherwise straight track.

        4. An important advantage of side platforms is that, if properly designed, half your entries/exits can be step-free.

        5. @Don Robertson
          The information provided so far isn’t very informative. Maybe they’re actually going to demolish the existing Wallaceville platform & realign?

        6. For underground or grade separated tracks then island stations are better. You need smaller tunnels and viaducts. Also shared escalators / stairs are more easily able to manage the tidal flow of commuters. A single lift can serve the platform.

          Due to the tidal nature of much commuting the total area of the platform can be reduced – side platforms require the minimum size for the peak time.

          For interconnections on bigger networks an island platform is better as Line A north could be on one side and Line B north on the other. On another level or beside it Line B south and Line A south could share a platform. This means commuters can just walk from one side to the other. On the next station the interchange can be different. Line A north shares with Line B south on one level, and Line A south shares with Line B north.

          This is the case in Hong Kong for Mong Kok Station and Prince Edward Station.

          But it’s possible to use an island platform as an interchange like with only one station where different lines alternate on the same track. This is common in Japan.

          Side platforms are really only useful if you’ve got constrained track alignment. The ease of access half the time only applies for at grade stations and that is minor compared with the advantages. Side platforms should be regarded as an unfortunate necessity not a preferred option.

        7. Two buildings obstruct part of the originally reserved rail corridor to the west of the current half island.
          I’m guessing they chose the cheapest option…

  4. I have always thought that hybrid battery/OHE trains would make sense in NZ for our freight rail (North Island anyway). Some containerised batterys on a wagon behind the loco, and the electrification gaps between Pukekohe and Te Rapa, and Palmy North and Waikanae would be able to be overcome. Electrify some of the passing loops as well and they can probably get to Tauranga.

  5. There is no mention of NZTA being involved in the Wellington rail double tracking from Trentham to Upper Hutt does that mean it only Auckland that has to put up with their delaying tactics when it comes to rail projects. NZTA was involved with the Hamilton Papakura train though so maybe the just don’t like Auckland. The other thing is if Shane Jones want to advance money from the Provincial Growth Fund to rail projects there doesn’t seem to have to be any sort of scrutiny from either the Ministry of Transport or NZTA. Finally is it the intention of the Labour Party part of the coalition to not provide any update on progress of any of its Auckland heavy or light rail promises in the belief that this will piss of their supporters, it sort of looks that way. Why do these projects need to be surrounded by so much secrecy. it just makes them the minister look stupid and incompetent.

    1. The double tracking of the Wallaceville to Trentham has nothing to do with NZTA, as it is infrastructure project not a public transport procurement issue. The money was given to Kiwirail who will be working in association with the GWRC.

  6. I’m intrigued by the proposal for longer more frequent trains on the Kapiti and Hutt Valley lines. I can’t see much scope for increasing frequency with the current running pattern, are they planning on getting rid of the express services? That will go down like a lead balloon!

    1. Ditching expresses needs to happen, go for frequency to minimize wait time, improve connections, etc.
      Time savings were minimal when I was a rail commuter & often lost in longer wait time

    2. Exactly what I was thinking. This is what we need on the Melling (Lower Hutt) line particularly. The express line seems to be more a perception then actual significant saving on time when it comes to the Hutt Valley line. Hopeful the Wellington line upgrades are done with the commuters best interest at heart.

      1. I’m not sure if the Melling line currently gets that much patronage to justify more services.
        Of course this would change if the Lower Hutt city council pulled their heads from their bottoms and got more apartments and people living in the Lower Hutt CBD. It could then get more services and become a useful link between the two.

        1. The Lower Hutt Riverlink proposal includes moving Melling station a short distance south and building a footbridge direct to the CBD – that would help. The new station is also said to be designed so as not to preclude extension to the north at some future date.

        2. The proposed new site for the Melling Terminus would be about 200m further back (and redundantly close to the Western Hutt station), not sure how you can call that a “short distance”.
          The current Station and Melling Bridge already gives direct pedestrian access to pretty much the centre of the Lower Hutt CBD.

          I can’t see how the line can be extended further with the proposals for an intersection offered that I’ve seen.

        3. 200m is hardly a long distance, and it’ll still be 1,5 km from Western Hutt, with a very different catchment – hardly “redundantly close”.

          The bridge should give a clear, direct route to the station from the CBD, unlike the current tortuous unintuitive route on the city side, ending up north of the central bit of the CBD.

        4. “200m is hardly a long distance, and it’ll still be 1,5 km from Western Hutt, with a very different catchment – hardly “redundantly close”.”
          My entire point is that if the Lower Hutt council finally woke up and had people living in Apartments in the Lower Hutts’ CBD; they would be a catchment for Melling Station.
          Currently, Western Hutt and Mellinbg are about 1200m apart, so if they’re 1km apart there’s a crossover in catchments.

          “The bridge should give a clear, direct route to the station from the CBD, unlike the current tortuous unintuitive route on the city side, ending up north of the central bit of the CBD.”
          I don’t to be rude, but what are you talking about?
          How is the current situation of simply crossing a rarely used driveway, waling up to the bridge, crossing the bridge and ending up on Rutherford St in any way “tortuous? and/or unintuitive? It’s nothing!
          And the Lower Hutt CBD ends at the end of Rutherford St/Melling Rd. and the rest of the Lower Hut CBD is within a 1km walking distance of Melling station.

          This whole idea of moving the station is tied-in with this completely un-needed Melling interchange which is nothing more than a political football issue drummed up that turd Chris Bishop (and jumped on by that bumbling clown Ray Wallace) to give him a profile. I wouldn’t expect it to ever actually happen, it has a very low BCR.

        5. This would be a Lower Hutt where you’ve never actually walked from Melling station to the CBD? Where you drive around the CBD as much as possible?

          If you want to maintain this: At least try and elaborate to me how merely crossing a not even heavily-used driveway and then walking across a bridge and then Down Rutherford St. is “tortuous” and/or “unintuitive”.
          I mean plenty of school kids from the hills in Harbour view walk and ride their bikes across that bridge

          I’m talking about this dead dysfunctional city revitalising itself by having people living in it and making more usage of the Melling line and station to commute to Wellington. I don’t know why you’ve even brought up moving the station to begin with let alone keep continuing to argue whatever point with me.

        6. No, I’m in the realm of reality here.
          There’s nothing wrong with the pedestrian access to Lower Hutt from Melling station. You just walk across the adjacent Melling bridge. It’s no different to how you can walk (or ride yer bike) across the Ewen bridge.

          Now, are you going to get on topic?

        7. Just out of interest does the Lower Hutt district plan actually forbid apartments in the CBD or is it just no-one actually wants to live in an apartment in Lower Hutt.

        8. I don’t know. I doubt there’s anything legal preventing it because an Australian consultancy recently recommended it.

          I suspect it’s just something nobody ever thought of.

        9. You’re right, Jezza: people have certainly been thinking about apartments, bit the economics haven’t stacked up. But if NZTA, GWRC and HCC Riverlink plans come to fruition that will change – see, for example, the riverside apartments shown on the map on p3 of https://www.nzta.govt.nz/assets/projects/melling-transport-improvements/riverlink-community-engagement-guide-201805.pdf

          That document also shows why the current pedestrian facilities, including the link to Melling station, are substandard (as those of us who walk it well know). The map shows how much shorter and more direct the proposed bridge to a new station, relocated a short distance away, would make the walk – the marked “slow traffic area” is the heart of Lower Hutt’s CAZ (Central Activity Zone).

          Not shown on that map is the proposed expansion of the Melling park and ride, an important function that the station performs (whether having such a facility in such an urban environment is appropriate is another matter, but at least the GWRC chair has indicated that charging for parking is on its agenda). Western Hutt station, over a kilometre away from the new site, will continue to have the local walk-up function: it’s not feasible for one station to have the functions of both.

          As has been noted, central to the Riverlink project are road capacity increases at the Melling interchange. It’s unfortunate that improvements to rail still seem to have to hang on road’s coat tails, but at https://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/riverlink/news_feed/shift-in-government-transport-priorities-prompts-fresh-look-at-melling-transport-improvements it is at least acknowledged that new GPS requires some rethinking of the project.

        10. @Jezza:

          Well, given that this is nothing new:
          https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/109325445/lack-of-housing-supply-makes-renting-in-wellington-as-expensive-as-auckland
          https://www.reuters.com/article/us-newzealand-economy-budget/left-behind-why-boomtown-new-zealand-has-a-homelessness-crisis-idUSKCN1IL0UG

          And given that existing housing in the immediate proximity of the Lower Hutt CBD is so overvalued; I think your doubts are slightly off. Why is it impossible for it to merely be beyond the square of developers (and councilors)? In New Zealand: They’re often not actually the most brilliant people (just the most cunning and cut-throat).

          Besides; it’s what’s been recommended by a consultant and the new Mayor seems keen to get the ball rolling.

  7. Hmm at Trentham:
    “New Platform and Shelter will be built”.
    Did whoever GWRC got to do that graphic bother even looking at Trentham station? It’s always had a second platform that’s used on major race days (and as a passing loop in the past) and it’s always been double track at the Camp street crossing.
    Albeit; they’ll have to completely re-lay the asphalt on the other platform (and possibly have to raise it). It’s great that they’re going to build shelters, but as it’s going to be the platform that commuters into Wellington use every morning; I’m hoping they will be quite substantial. As for the pedestrian underpass: If that’s built then I only hope it’s future-proofed to allow for future electronic gated entry.

    Wallaceville’s new platform should also have a substantial shelter given that it will be used by both the southbound commuters into Wellington and the kids from Heretaunga college just down the road. Certainly anything bigger and better than the cinder block monstrosity already on the existing platform. I’m not sure and can’t fathom why they’re removing the pedestrian crossing at the northern end of the Wallaceville Station platform, I’m not aware of there ever being an accident there and it gets heavy usage.

    But overall; this is great news.

    Of course; I can’t help but suspect that this might all be in anticipation for an eventual extension of rail services north of Upper Hutt to Cruickshank Road, Maoribank, Timberlea, etc (and hip hooray for when that finally happens).

  8. ‘The council wants central government to contribute 90 per cent towards buying the new trains, and fully fund the infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate them.’

    Would be lovely for Cent Gov to 90% fund some Auckland rail upgrades

    1. Well, what’s the funding breakdown of the CRL, the Manukau Branch, the electrification to Pukekohe, the EMU’s, the improvement to the NAL (which Auckland WILL benefit from), etc.

      1. CRL = 50%, Manukau about 50%, EMU’s about 50%.
        Pukekohe electrification doesn’t appear to be designed or costed yet so not funded. Assume AT will be on the hook for 50% of bridge and station costs.
        The described improvements to the NAL are all outside the Auckland Urban area. If the tunnels before Kumeu get day-lighted perhaps electrification and services might get extended to there, in which case AT will have some costs. Again this is many years away, no designs, no costs, noo plans.
        Hamilton service is yet to happen, and any tilt trains or services that might operate with attractive running times are just a dream.

        1. “and any tilt trains or services that might operate with attractive running times”
          Hmm, why would you mention tilt-trains when they’ve never been part of any plan? Why would they run them between Auckland-Hamilton when it’s a busy corridor and trains have little likelihood of reaching the velocities where Pendolino trains offer any advantages?

          Do you have any sources to back anything you’ve posted up?

        2. Okay the CRL is a 50/50 split.

          I understand the funding for the EMU’s to have been a long-term loan from the government. Except the NZTA grants Auckland transport a considerable, yet annually decreasing amount of the loan repayment.

          The Manukau branch was paid for by project DART, which was funded by the taxpayer. The ARTA paid for the station and bus interchange building, the origin of much that money as I understand it came from Transfund and/or Infrastructure Auckland, which was also ultimately from taxation.

          The upgrade to the NAL will almost certainly include enlargening the Waitakere tunnel and other improvements to the line which could make services beyond Swanson more feasible. A service to Helensville could become a success and eventually could see an extension of electrification and services from Auckland EMU’s.
          And perhaps even beyond.
          These are after-all within the Auckland region. and it could help spur some development out that way to make them commuter towns.
          And as far as I’m aware; the NAL upgrade is being funded by the government.

          I perhaps should’ve asked who paid for the various motorway upgrades around Auckland over the last 20 years. Or where the money from transfund and Infrastructure Auckland that helped the Auckland council pay for Britomart ultimately came from. Or most of the funding for the northern busway.

          At the end of the day: I have no issue with government money being paid for transport projects as it’s usually for the greater good. Generally speaking; the funding is to the more needing and benefitting projects. The rail network in Wellington needs these works to help meet increases in patronage. What would you rather the money got spent on? That un-needed grade separation of the western line? Or the unrealistic light rail to Massey?

        3. The ‘unrealistic light rail to Massey’ being rapid transit to an area taking on almost ten thousand new houses in the next ten years? A commuter service to Helensville will provide precisely zero catchment to the Westgate area. There is no rapid transit in this area. There is no alternative to driving.

          As for the Busway: ARTA, North Shore Council, Auckland Council and some money from NZTA.

          NAL: Remedial work. Nothing to actually develop the line to be the main freight arterial for the region. The expensive tunnel stuff was put on the back burner until the Port ‘report’ was completed and adopted by cabinet. Even then it will facilitate the moving of the port (billions), a cost which Aucklanders will help cover through way of contribution to the consolidated fund. Lucky us.

          And again: Almost third of the country lives and works in the Auckland region. If we’re getting money from the Government, a decent swag of that is being generated by Aucklanders to begin with. There is no “Government OR Auckland” funding debate. You can’t have one without the other.

        1. So it’s basically mostly government-funded?
          And I’m not complaining about that. I want there to be a successful rail service between Auckland and Hamilton even if I’ve got little chance of ever directly benefitting from it let alone using it.

    2. The irony being of course that Aucklanders will be funding a significant portion of any contribution from the government coffers to begin with… and that’s of the stuff they actually get around to building.

  9. If the two clowns Twyford and Joyce had not both promised Pukekohe electrification we could have had battery electric electric trains coming in too service right now. Sometimes I think they conspired to stop this dangerous experiment. I posted this once before and was told I was a nutty conspiracy person by Patrick. R. I am glad he doesn’t post here any more. However if anybody wants too they can call me nuts but the amount of time this is taking would try the oppatience of Mother Teresa. I wonder if we should just ban politicians from making promises. Is there anyway they can be held to account.

    1. Yes, don’t vote for them. Problem is there are always more clowns waiting to replace them. Lying with straight face is a major qualification needed for political career.
      Ardern’s promise for LR to mt roskill in 4 years was apparently not a lie as she made it as Labour leader which meant it didn’t apply when she became PM.
      She must think we are all easily fooled like the rest of the clowns do.

  10. “On 24 July 1955 the electrification was completed to Upper Hutt and diesel-hauled suburban passenger trains north of Taita ceased.”

    So it’s only taken 64 years and counting to finally get the last 2.7km of the Hutt Valley line double tracked. And we wonder why NZ has a problem with low productivity.

    1. By the time it looked like double-tracking might be needed in the mid-late 1970s; NZ was in an economic crisis that led to a long recession until the mid-1990s.
      And the mid-1990s was a time when economic liberalism and pro-Automobile attitudes were the norm’ across the developed world.

    2. Zippo – Wellington, like with the other 14 regions in NZ, have been neglected, as the the meager funds that have been available have gone to Auckland.

      1. LOL – the Auckland network wasn’t even electrified until 2015, I’m not sure which meagre funds were being diverted to Auckland.

  11. So where is the promised footpath from Wallaceville Estate to Wallaceville Station? It was supposed to follow the railway line to give easy access to the station. It was included in the ITA but Kiwirail told the developer to leave it and they would address it as part of the double tracking.

  12. there would surely be some advantages from having an otherwise identical fleet

    While its an admiral idea, in reality the compromises needed to meet the different specs of the Auckland and Wellington networks would make it unworkable,

    e,g The current Wellington EMUs are designed to be totally walk through to allow emergency egress via the forward and rear emergency drivers doors, due to a number of old narrow single track tunnels that make it impossible to exit through the side doors,

    Auckland on the other hand has tunnels that will allow emergency egress via the side doors,

    Auckland’s EMUs are significantly longer and taller than the Wellington ones also due to the more generous tunnels in Auckland….

    I am sure there are also specifics of the Auckland network that Wellington units would not meet either…

    It was for similar reasons that Wellington’s trams were narrow gauge, while Auckland’s were standard guage…

    1. Are Wellington’s narrow tunnels on the two intercity routes, or just local ones like the J-ville line? Cos here we’re talking about intercity EMUs, or hopefully BEMUs, not replacements for the Matangis, using the Kapiti and Wairarapa lines. Side only access would be preferable.

      1. No, the tunnel restriction is only on the Johnsonville line.
        So the new rolling stock for the Wairarapa and Manawatu/Horowhenua will not have the front cab doors that the Matangis have.
        They’ll probably have the same tubular body shape and similar car lengths, etc.

        1. The Tunnels at North/South Junction between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki are single track and are pretty tight too

        2. Best improvement they could do is reduce that single line section (or eliminate it altogether). Would vastly improve reliability. Especially if they want to push the metro services to Otaki.

        3. “Best improvement they could do is reduce that single line section (or eliminate it altogether).”
          Eliminate the line? How do you propose they do that?
          This is the only railroad route.

        4. The Tunnels at North/South Junction between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki were able to accommodate the massive GT wagons (now all scrapped), and that was before the tunnel floors were lowered. I am sure the AM-unit profile would fit through these tunnels.

        5. @Dave B.
          It’s not so much whether units can fit through the tunnels, it’s whether there would be enough space for passengers to disembark from the side doors into the tunnel in the case of an emergency.
          The rolling stock that will serve the Wairarapa and Manawatu in the future will probably be built to the same loading gauge as the Matangi’s anyway.

          I suspect that there is enough space in those tunnels for side-door disembarking, tight as they may be, given that locomotive-hauled carriages and diesel railcars have been using them for all of these decades.

    2. I also don’t see the advantages in the two cities having identical fleets given that they’re so far distant geographically. For uniformity, there would need to be uniformity in loading gauge. So either Auckland gets Matangis (and spends lots of money again changing its stations) or lots of money is spent re-doing the Johnsonville line.
      Sure, the two fleets can have a commonality in components used by the EMU’s, so if one supply depot gets short; they can buy spares from the other while waiting for stocks to arrive from overseas. But there is little advantage to having identical fleets let alone enough to justify the big investments needed.

      I don’t know why some people still persist with this “solution” to this imagined “problem”.

  13. Late comment here haha…

    I live in Wellington and frequently use the Wairarapa Line to get to Featherston to see my family, thus I use the Wairarapa Line nearly twice or four times a week. While the service is alright it is obvious that the line beyond Upper Hutt has been neglected for so long, and yet the trains are as crowded as ever and is often only standing space from Wellington all the way to Featherston Station and vice versa, a total of 1 hour. South Wairarapa is now one, if not the fastest growing district in the country and this is despite a 55% punctuality rate and frequent bus replacements during the weekend! Increasing the speed, improving the reliability and frequency will mean boom times for the 3 Wairarapa Districts and the mayors know this, so they are pretty pro train and bus which is a nice change from most other parts of the country!

      1. The proposed alignment at Wallaceville isn’t dumb: it’s perfectly fine for the nature of traffic on the line, and can largely be built on vacant land without disrupting existing services. To straighten out the line would be much more disruptive and much more expensive for little (if any) benefit – now that would be dumb!

        1. Straightening the alignment would allow for faster speeds for freight trains and express services. Especially given how it would make a straight line of track between the bridge north of Upper Hutt station and Heretaunga station.
          Instead; trains not stopping at Wallaceville are going to have to slow down and will have extra and unnecessary wear on their wheels/bogies etc.

          Why do you think Toll NZ got rid of the Island platform at Huntly?

          Building the second platform at Wallaceville will be costly anyway. They may as well spend a bit more and do it properly.

        2. You’re implying that the curvature at Wallaceville is significant, but it’s actually a pretty large radius. I don’t know what the permitted speed through there is, but I would be surprised if it’s much (if any) slower than the line speed.

          On the other hand, having to close and shift the existing line and platform would disrupt all train services for some considerable time, not to mention closing the car park and perhaps demolishing the squash club. A lot of money and disruption – certainly not worth it for a minor improvement in alignment, at a place where nearly all trains stop anyway. It is being done properly, and that money could much better be spent elsewhere.

        3. Freights and passenger express services do not stop at Wallaceville. Surely encouragement of more usage of the railway network by freights is of paramount importance?

          Straightening the Northbound platform could be done in less than a month (maybe even less than a fortnight) and would have no effect whatsoever on either the Squash club (which is in ramshackle condition) nor the car parking area. For what I understand; it’s railway land that the Squash club is sitting on anyway as Wallaceville was intended to be an Island platform (which is why it’s curved in the first place).

          The Curvature on the Wallaceville platform is the same standard curvature on Heretaunga, Silverstream, etc. Go and look at it on a satellite image; it’s more of a curve than you clearly appreciate. To repeat; the Island platform was removed from Huntly station so the trains on the NIMT would run more efficiently so the benefits were clearly worth it.

        4. Huntly was certainly worth it, but Wallaceville is a very different station on a very different line with a very different service pattern. KiwiRail are doing what they think is right, and who am I to disagree?

  14. No, I’m in the realm of reality.
    There’s nothing wrong with the pedestrian access to Lower Hutt from Melling station. You just walk across the bridge. No different to how you can walk (or ride yer bike) across the Ewen bridge.

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