Labour Switches To ‘Off’ For Rail Electrification To Help Commuters

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.”

Twyford’s solution — ‘catch a bus’

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.

Not everyone is blessed with your capacious bladder, Mr Churchman. My first stop in Wellington is Wellington station’s grotty toilets.
Is this the same National party whose previous stint in government ran Railways into the ground and sold off Paraparaumu airport to ‘developers’

Mr Brown, perhaps your complaint about the Wellington Station toilets should be directed to those in charge of that building? You could always go to the McDonalds directly across Bunny Street instead if you find them insalubrious. I’ve not noticed very many cinema goers in my years the heading off to the loo during the movie, and the occasions I’ve gone there myself after the movie is rarely amidst a throng.

I’ve sat through lots of movies in cinemas over two hours and never once felt the need to run off to the loo that I can remember; so I I don’t buy the 60 minute journey max withour an onboard loo argument. The extra distance from Waikanae with double track would only add 12 minutes more from Wellington so I don’t buy the argument that the present trains are uncomfortable and need to be more luxurious argument either. The volume of passenger increase over the last few years to and from Waikanae justifies extension of the overhead wires,

Train journeys over 60 minutes require on board toilets and more comfortable seating with tables. The present units are not suitable so it is not just a case of extending the wires. If new rolling stock is built we need to think more about the shape of the service and suitable traction. Some plans have been made for new units for longer distance services out of Wellington. Hybrid traction taking power off the wires as far as Waikanae (and Upper Hutt for the Wairarapa line) and battery with auxiliary diesel or hydrogen generator for the rest to Palmerston North, Masterton or wherever they terminate. Would replace The Capital Connection but provide service throughout the day. Extend the wires as the service develops.

Short term solution would be a rail bus service between Otaki and Paraparaumu connecting with electric trains to Wellington given the limited number of commuters currently involved.

Still amazed at National’s apparent epiphany over public transport provision not to mention actually siding with the Green Party!!! unheard of…coupled to the continuing promises of tax cuts (without increasing taxes), but spending Covid 19 emergency fund, cutting Kiwisaver contributions etc. and expenditure on infrastructure, hospital schools and anything else they can think of….just keeps adding up to disbelief in anything that National puts forward…just not credible…SHOW US THE MONEY!!..just does not add up.
Most of current Government’s Covid 19 support package has gone to maintaining PRIVATE businesses…talk about corporate welfare.
Nationals current leaders represent old thinking…we need fresh views about dealing with current issues like Climate Change, increasing disparity in wealth, increasing housing issues etc…not the same old tired policies of trickle down.


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