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‘Reliably unreliable’: Tracking Wairarapa’s tardy trains

Wairarapa trains are arriving on schedule at their destination only 53.3 per cent of the time, according to Metlink data, causing frustration for the region’s commuters.

Canvassed at Thursday’s Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC] Transport Committee meeting, the data shows that, for the year to date, trains have been arriving at “key interchange stations and the final destination” within five minutes of the schedule only 53.3 per cent of the time – and only 51.8 per cent of the time in April.

Wairarapa trains had the worst punctuality in the region, while the Johnsonville line was the best performer, hitting its schedule 96 per cent of the time in April.

Metlink said that overall punctuality for April was 83.5 per cent, and 79.8 per cent for the year to date.

“The remaining speed restrictions are still impacting punctuality on the Kapiti line – these are due to be removed in May.

“The Wairarapa line continued to be significantly affected by worksite and speed restriction delays – the speed restrictions were in place for KiwiRail upgrade work.”

Metlink issued an alert on Wednesday, warning Wairarapa commuters to “expect significant delays due to speed restrictions during upgrade works on the Wairarapa Line until further notice”.

“Due to KiwiRail upgrade works for the Wellington Metro Upgrade Programme, speed restrictions are in place to keep the workers safe. Expect significant delays of 15 to 25 minutes; seek other transport or work from home where possible.”

Wairarapa commuters are entirely unimpressed about the trains’ obvious lack of punctuality, with many complaining of regularly
being late for work.

“[It’s] not very reliable at all; I was getting to work 20 minutes late, and that is the first train in the morning – my boss said it was nice of me to join them when I eventually got there. Getting home was 20 to 30 minutes late as I had to wait for the southbound train to get through the tunnel before we could go through,” one commuter said.

Another commuter said late trains are an “enormous problem … It’s just wrong to show up for work late all the time. Sloppy and disrespectful, not to mention having to spend six hours a day commuting.”

A third commuter described the service as “reliably unreliable”.

According to Metlink, the reliability measure shows the percentage of scheduled services that depart from the origin and key stations no earlier than 30 seconds before the scheduled time, meet the consistent size for the scheduled service, and stop at all stations timetabled for the service.

This metric was also lowest for Wairarapa, with reliability sitting at 97.4 per cent for April, but 95.8 per cent for the year to date.

By comparison, the Hutt Valley line was the most reliable in April, receiving a score of 98.7 per cent, but only 93 per cent in the year to date.

Meanwhile, Metlink said overall rail complaints for April were 38.9 per cent higher than the same month last year, and 52.5 per cent higher for the year to date – but noted that in April 2022 the nation was in the red and orange levels of the covid-19 Protection Framework, and there were fewer people travelling.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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