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Train commuters fed-up of standing

By Beckie Wilson

[email protected]

Wairarapa train commuters are getting fed up with the growing shortage of seats on the service which is forcing many of them to stand for much of their journeys to and from Wellington.

A Greater Wellington Regional Council spokesperson says they are working to improve the current capacity issues and that will not come soon enough for Featherston resident Gail McKenzie.

Ms McKenzie, who has been travelling on the commuter train for about seven years said she was getting frustrated with the capacity issues.

She pays $350 a month to travel to Waterloo Station and back. More often than not, she has to stand for much of the trip both ways.

“It is a safety concern – generally you end up standing in the middle bit of the carriages, and there’s nowhere to hold on to — you just hope to be able to lean against something.”

As more people move into Wairarapa because of cheaper housing compared to Wellington, there did not appear to be any long-term investment in the train system, she said.

“It’s already too late, because it takes long term planning to get more carriages.”

The regional council owns all the region’s trains and stations. Transdev operates the Metlink rail services with KiwiRail owning the tracks.

Regional council figures show that the number of Wairarapa passengers increased by three per cent this year already, on top of a five per cent increase in 2016.

Up to 1350 passengers using the Wairarapa service during morning peak hours on weekdays.

A Metlink staff member said funds needed to be made available to fix the infrastructure.

“I see it from the passengers’ point of view, however they need to be better informed as to which channel to direct their concerns to in order to make a difference.”

The regional council spokesperson said there are currently 10 minutes of related speed restrictions on the line, which has “biggest impact on performance”.

Each train service in the region costs the council around $90m for the service and network operations, renewal and train maintenance.

The Wairarapa line length coupled with the number of passengers meant that the cost of the Wairarapa service was proportionally higher.

“We’re working on making the two types of train carriages used for the Wairarapa services compatible with each other.

“Then we should be able to run two peak services as eight car trains, whereas currently only one is run as an eight-car train — this will increase capacity for each peak by about 150.”








  1. Here’s a solution add 2 sw carriages to the 2 sw sets and keep the se set as a stand alone set just upgrade it to the sw set standard so you would have a 10 carriage set a 8 carriage set and a 6 carriage set in the interim buy new carriages from Korea and use them for wairarapa services

  2. One soloution could be adding carriages to the 2sw sets making a 10 and 8 car consist and using the se set as a spare set in the intrem then when council gets more carriages make half sw carriages and half se carriages to add capacity to wairarapa services

  3. There have been pregnant women and 60+ year olds including pensioners standing on a regular basis. Just not good enough.
    The fact that it’s hardly even on time just adds to the time you have to stand. All in all you gotta say that with Trans Dev there has been no change.
    Sometimes there are so many people standing that it must be a Health and Safety issue. Theres no room to move, it’s like sardines. Not all the time but regularly. Also it’s not $350 for a monthly pass from featherston to Waterloo as quoted in the article above its only $250.

  4. GWRC have as usual no idea and dont listen. Kiwirail can’t maintain to save themselves. And, Transdev is same people different brand. All of them don’t listen to the passengers. Poor infrastructure decisions, risk aversion, penny pinching, more money from logs than people, we can go round the excuse bush all we like. The plain fact is there are no seats/trains for when services are needed, and those that run are plagued with problems. And I’m sorry but 10 minutes of speed restrictions for low risk tolerance is no excuse for your less than stellar performance. Your lip service and lack of loosening the purse strings or forcing/helping others to do so and recognising we are (for the moment at least) part of the rate paying region not getting value for their rates we pay you is.

  5. Making the two sets of carriages compatible is a band aid on a gaping wound – (TL)2

  6. Surely the correct heading should be “Train commuters fed up with standing” – come on newspaper, what’s with the bad grammar?

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