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Where to now for our train stations?

Pip Stokes has sold train tickets at Featherston for more than a decade. PHOTO/GEORGE SHIERS

After more than 100 years, Wairarapa’s train ticket offices will close their doors for good.

However, confusion abounds over the future of the buildings and whether they will be boarded up.

Featherston station manager Pip Stokes said that although the official last day for selling tickets would be December 31, lack of business could see doors shut sooner.

“It’s going to be the end of an era.

“There’s a lot of people that are really upset about not having anywhere to come in out of the cold and the wind in the winter.”

The ticket offices at Featherston, Carterton and Masterton, which employed a combined six ticket agents plus a cleaner, would be affected.

Stokes said their last opening day would be Christmas Eve unless ticket sales dried up after Snapper was introduced on November 27.

“If everyone is buying Snapper and we’re not getting enough money then we’d close.

“I’d tell them ‘get the contract to me I’m closing next week or the week after’.”

Stokes said the first she knew of the changes was when a Times-Age article about Snapper cards coming to Wairarapa was published on April 30, 2022.

She said on October 5 she received an email saying tickets would no longer be sold at retail outlets from December 31.

Carterton Railway Museum president Don Hodge said the closure would be a loss.

“We’re a bit different because the museum operates within the station. So we’ll still be open on Sundays.

“It will definitely be a loss – it was a social meeting place for passengers. Some came in to use the toilets in the morning and they meet here.”

Hodge said the Carterton station building had been closed before while the building was derelict, with people having to walk into town to buy tickets until it was restored and reopened in the 1990s.

However, Metlink general manager Samantha Gain said they were looking at ways to keep to facilities open.

“Metlink understands the importance of station facilities to its local rail customers – particularly for services during the morning peak. We are currently reviewing how to maintain these facilities with the introduction of electronic ticketing on the rail network.

“Provided we are able to manage health, safety and security of customers and buildings, the intent is to keep facilities open, particularly toilet facilities, during their current hours.”

Gain said work would be undertaken in the next two months to increase fire safety and security systems at these station facilities.

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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