Rail Service Chaos

1a cars sat waik stationA Commuter Dream in Tatters

By Hilary Hudson

The extension of the Wellington rail commuter network to Waikanae initially caused widespread happiness — but now the dream is in tatters.

At first the ‘dream’ promised easier car parking for Paraparaumu commuters; a fast convenient link to Wellington for Waikanae people; and, for Otaki/Te Horo commuters, 15- minute access to the rail.

Now — the reality!

Waikanae is being strangled with parked cars. Elizabeth Street, the one road crossing the rail line to the east, is a major bottleneck. Lives are risked daily.

But there are simple solutions:

Short term

In the short term, the introduction of ticket interchangeability for the Capital Connection and Trans Metro units , plus a 6am-to-9pm Otaki-Waikanae hourly loop bus would solve many of the problems.

This would preserve the train service and lighten the evening peak bottleneck on the Elizabeth Street /SH1 intersection.

The Otaki Railway Station has more than adequate parking for local commuters travelling to Wellington, but the Capital Connection offers just one return trip.

So public servants and business people, who make up the bulk of the Otaki/Te Horo commuters and are subject to occasional early or late meetings, and are now using the Waikanae link for flexibility.

Bus services to the Waikanae Station from the beach and garden area of Waikanae meet all units in the peak morning and afternoon periods and offer an hourly service during the day and later into the evening.

No such feeder commuter service exists from Otaki/Te Horo.

Before the Greater Wellington Regional Council was given the Trans Metro service, tickets on the Capital Connection were valid on the units for the same destination, but this no longer applies. Now those wanting to use a monthly pass and flexibility must choose the unit or pay twice.

As Kiwi Rail operates Trans Metro on behalf of GWRC, as well as KiwiRail Scenic, it must be possible to provide a similar ticketing system to that of the gold card.Who in Wellington who would welcome the killing of the Otaki, Waikanae and Paraparaumu use of the Capital Connection?

Otaki and Te Horo households pay rates to the GWRC on the same basis as all other Kapiti ratepayers, but, denied local transport services, they overload Waikanae.

Long term

First, the rail planners should move the Waikanae platform and parking south of Elizabeth Street.  As things are now, the demand generated by 800 new houses in Waikanae North will see Waikanae CBD and local streets become one big commuter car park.

Secondly, the planners should extend Waikanae’s Huia Street to Octavius Road for emergency access north.

Thirdly, the rail line should be electrified from Waikanae north to at least Otaki.

In the meantime, a (diesel) rail service 2 or 3 times a day between Palmerston North and Waikanae could be worth looking into.

More diesel rail service will not even gather the amount of passengers to pay for the service. The Capital Connection is already running at a loss and you proposing more diesel trains? This will all come at the tax payers expense. Not worth it. Even electrifying the line to Otaki will come at a huge expense and it makes o economic sense to do it. If the issue here is parking then there is really a simple solution. Build a car park.

Slight reordering of the priorities.
The rail line should be electrified from Waikanae north to at least Otaki with a station at Te Horo.