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Trains late 40 per cent of the time

PHOTO/FILE

Punctuality problems

KAREN COLTMAN
[email protected]

Wairarapa trains were late 40 per cent of the time from July to December last year.

And commuters should prepare for more disruptions over the next few years as upgrades are made to the line, Greater Wellington Regional Council says.

From July to December last year, trains on the Wairarapa Line were on time 59.9 per cent of the time, compared with a Wellington regional average of 87.6 per cent.

And while punctuality is decreasing, patronage on the Wairarapa Line is on the rise.

In December last year, there were 54,424 passenger boardings, an increase of 4.2 per cent on the same month the year prior.

Regional council rail operations manager Angus Gabara said over the past year Metlink had introduced a longer train for its busiest Wairarapa service and KiwiRail was making ongoing improvements which would “ramp up” with the new investment from the government.

In the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced by the government last month, $211 million was allocated for improvements in the Wellington network. This included work on the Wairarapa line.

“These major upgrade works will cause ongoing disruptions to the network and speed restrictions will be in place in some areas,” Gabara said.

“Once the work is completed, we will need new trains to take full advantage of a rail corridor that is finally fit for purpose.

“Greater Wellington has already submitted a business case to government for new, long distance, hybrid trains which will provide more consistency for our valued Wairarapa customers.”

The Metlink December 2019 performance report said the train service had been affected by major network disruptions including an overhead power fault, flooding and storms.

The report said if network impacts were removed, Wairarapa trains would have been on time 76.4 per cent of the time in December, instead of 62.8 per cent.

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