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Is Rail the Answer? And if so what is the Question?

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Trains - the new Matangi fleet coming


Future Proofing Trains

Trains are our solution to congested roads and clean travelling. We can make it better

Coming from Otaki, I am very aware of the importance of rail simply because we have access to only one service. This restricts our ability to use public transport which is so essential if we are to keep our roads clearer and therefore safer. Greater Wellington – The Regional Council is responsible for our public transport needs. Improvements to the service occurring now should also include Otaki. It makes sense financially, environmentally and resource wise to deal with the upgrade of the train services throughout Kapiti at the same time.

train versus car

Waikanae South has a New Improved Service

Much of Kapiti is better off than Otaki, and Waikanae will soon enjoy the benefits of frequent rail travel to and from Wellington, with double tracking and more frequent trains. The Otaki Community Board suggested to Land Transit New Zealand that the double tracking and electrification of rail should continue to Otaki after the Waikanae lines were finished. The submission stated:

Investment in Rail Services

  1. The Ōtaki Community Board believes the government should be making significant investment in the extension of rail services to Ōtaki as part of the new State Highway or RoNS programme. The town is the only community of any size in the region, apart from Martinborough in the Wairarapa which does not have passenger rail services. It is likely that investment in road capacity to the level envisaged by the government will see increased road traffic. It is important that this is offset as much as possible by investment in passenger rail and services. For a town with a large number of low income households and with a large old and young population, both of which are very reliant on passenger transport services, it is essential that there is a range of services available beyond reliance on private vehicles.

  2. The Board seeks passenger rail services (servicing the local population, staff and customers of destination retail outlets and the 2,000 – 3,000 staff and students at Te Wānanga o Raukawa), to be achieved within the time period for the construction of the bypass.

  3. In addition, the Ōtaki Community Board requires a clear guarantee that the design of any bypass ensures that the potential for Ōtaki to be once again used as a local freight railhead is retained. This requires the new route to be designed in a way that retains the station (even if it moves slightly) and does not compromise the shunting capability that already exists.


I note that OnTrack states that the line north to Otaki ‘could’ be improved alongside the proposed expressway, but not to improve services immediately but to ‘future proof’ them. Electrification and double tracking to Otaki is currently unbudgeted for in the near future. As your Wellington Regional Councillor I would be committed to ensuring that Otaki is more than merely ‘future proofed’ but that we actually receive an enhanced service.

And  What About the Capital Connection?

The Capital Connection has proved to be a useful and critical part of our connection with Wellington for our commuters. I am fearful that once regular commuter services are established from Waikanae, our very efficient only commuter train from Palmerston North will be vulnerable as the numbers catching it from Waikanae and Paraparaumu diminish.  This would further disadvantage Otaki commuters. If that service is indeed vulnerable then other commuter trains to Otaki are vital for our economic recovery and personal convenience.

Otaki has been identified as having the greatest capacity for potential industrial and residential growth in the District, but has very limited access to rail services. On Track have agreed to a 6 month trial after the service to Waikanae has begun. The trial needs to be for 12 months to take account of seasonal variations

Otaki Railway : A Station and Its People

The cover of the book, Otaki Railway: A Station and its People, comments that ‘the station was a meeting place and departure point for the community’s needs and their goods and services, for years the social and economic heart of the district.’

Let us reclaim that for all our communities.

For buses read here: annchap/content/public-transport-buses