Lee Carter. PHOTO/FILE
Despite the promise of additional seating and an improved service, commuters on the Wairarapa line were left frustrated and angry after delays and reduced seating capacity so far this week.
A mixed-carriage system providing an additional 30 seats on the 6.20am and 4.25pm services was supposed to start on Monday before a nine-carriage service is introduced early next year.
But an electrical fault with door systems resulted in three carriages being removed and long delays on the 4.25pm service from Wellington on Monday.
A power outage caused further delays to the services on Tuesday morning, preventing trains from the Wairarapa, Kapiti and Hutt Valley lines entering Wellington.
Rail commuter advocate Greg Kerr of Featherston was frustrated by the lack of communication after waiting 40 minutes in the rain to catch the delayed 4.25pm service from Petone on Monday.
“The attitude to customers and Metlink’s feedback is unacceptable”, he said.
No buses were arranged to pick up stranded commuters and the absence of an alternative left many outraged when a heavily pregnant woman was initially stopped from boarding the train.
She was eventually allowed on after fellow passengers lobbied on her behalf.
“You get on the train and you stand – that’s okay,” Kerr said. At least you get home.”
South Wairarapa douncillor Lee Carter was on the 5.30pm service from Wellington, which also ran 30 minutes late.
She said, “communication was key”, particularly for those living in Wairarapa, allowing them to make alternative plans.
Carter has been commuting on the Wairarapa line for more than 20 years and said that nothing had changed, except for the quality of the carriages and the increased ticket prices.
“The service was substandard to start with. The maiden railway journey to the Wairarapa was six hours late and has set a precedent.”
Kerr and Carter both offered praise for train staff aboard the 5.30pm train which collected the stranded commuters.
A Metlink spokesperson said the mechanical fault had contributed to Monday’s delayed services.
“We apologise for the disruptions to passenger journeys.”
Further detail about what caused the disruptions was uploaded to the Metlink website and an investigation into the power outage on Tuesday morning was under way.