Rail campaigner Gwynn Compton says he now has proof Labour has turned its back on rail electrification north of Waikanae.
He’s got an Official Information Act reply where Transport Minister Phil Twyford has ruled out support for electrification.
An appeal to Labour to switch tracks
So Mr Compton, who’s also a KCDC councillor, is now calling on Labour to switch back on to electricity.
In his OIA letter, Mr Twyford suggests commuters from Levin could catch a bus to Waikanae, a trip that would take almost twice as long as a train journey.
Mr Compton says this means the growing number of Wellington-bound commuters moving into the region will continue to drive their cars and clog up Waikanae’s commuter carparking, or clog up Wellington’s roads.
Growing numbers of commuters
“We’re seeing a rapid increase in Wellingtonians choosing to call Kāpiti and Horowhenua home while still commuting into Wellington for work,” he says.
“This is why both the National and Green parties have announced they would fast-track rail electrification and double tracking to Ōtaki in the next term of Government.
“Labour now risks getting stranded on the platform if they don’t get onboard with rail electrification soon,” says Mr Compton.
In the four years pre-COVID-19, there were 323,000 more boardings and alightments at Waikanae — a 61 percent increase, he says.
Waikanae’s car parks overflowing each weekday
This increase was reflected in the commuter carparking in Waikanae overflowing each weekday morning as a stream of cars arrived from further north, causing issues for local residents and businesses.
Mr Compton says: “While COVID-19 has brought some temporary relief in terms of capacity, it’s vital we don’t waste this extra time.
“We need Wellington’s commuter rail infrastructure and services to be extended north of Waikanae as quickly as possible.
Electrification and double tracking
“Electrification and double tracking are the best way to ensure the fast growing community of commuters in northern Kāpiti and Horowhenua can easily access fast, frequent, reliable, and climate friendly commuter rail services.”
Phil Twyford’s proposed solution — a bus service from Levin to Waikanae — could take upwards of an hour, nearly twice as long as the same journey by train or car.
As a result, commuters will continue to take their cars and clog up Waikanae’s scarce commuter carparking and Wellington’s already overcrowded roads, as well as creating more fossil fuel emissions.