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Wairarapa trains the worst for timing

The reliability and punctuality of rail services in Wairarapa were the worst across the Wellington region for February as well as this financial year so far.

The statistics were tabled in a Metlink performance report that was presented to Greater Wellington Regional Council’s transport committee yesterday. The report measured a range of metrics across bus, ferry, and rail transport. The Hutt Valley, Johnsonville, and Kapiti lines were included in the numbers.

Just 5.8 per cent of Wairarapa trains ran on time during February, and 29 per cent for the year to date [since 1 July 2023]. Across the Wellington region, punctuality for February was 86.9 per cent and 87.5 per cent year to date.

For the same month last year, Wairarapa trains were punctual 57.1 per cent of the time, and for the year ending 30 June 2023, trains were 53 per cent punctual.

“The rail punctuality measure records the percentage of services arriving at key interchange stations and at the final destination within five minutes of the scheduled time,” the report said.

Wairarapa train punctuality was 51.3 per cent worse than in February 2023, and 24 per cent worse than for the year ending 30 June 2023.

“Punctuality continues to be impacted by a high level of speed restrictions across the network, in particular on the Kapiti and Wairarapa lines. Wairarapa services were also severely delayed by a broken-down shunt engine on February 20.”

The numbers showed Wairarapa scored 96 per cent for reliability in February, and 92.8 per cent year to date. Across the Wellington region, rail service reliability was 98.5 per cent in February and 96.6 per cent year to date.

“The rail reliability measure shows the percentage of scheduled services that depart from origin and key stations no earlier than 30 seconds before the scheduled time, meet the consist size for the scheduled service, and stop at all stations timetabled for the service,” the report said.

A spokesperson for Metlink told the committee performance across most metrics for the region as a whole had improved this year.

Councillor Connelly questioned the punctuality figures.

“They’re not great,” she said.

“And we know why that is, because particularly on the Wairarapa line there are a whole bunch of things going down. I had thought … we were going to redo the Wairarapa timetable to reflect the fact the trains didn’t meet the old timetable.”

A Metlink spokesperson

“The level of disruption that is applied to that network and the state that it’s currently in – arguably it’s that question about fit for purpose and it’s had a massive impact, particularly on the Wairarapa line. It’s had a lot of work on it but it’s still some way from really being able to travel any distance at line speed. They’ve got some massive projects ahead in the tunnel.”

The spokesperson said the timetable committee had elected not to make changes at this stage due to uncertainties about how long the temporary speed restrictions will remain in place, or how frequently they’ll get changed, and a range of other factors.


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