Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Wellington trains delayed - but back running

Trains into Wellington have been delayed by up to 15 minutes as services resumed this morning for the first time since the rail network was crippled in last week's storm.

Services on the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa lines were back in operation this morning after the tracks from Petone to Wellington were closed last week due to damage in the storm.

KiwiRail said the damaged tracks along the foreshore had been restored, but a 40km/h speed restriction was in place along the 3km stretch where repairs had been carried out.

A spokeswoman said the speed restriction was causing some delays this morning, while a mechanical fault had led to reduced seating on two services between Upper Hutt and Wellington.

"But the delays are no more than 15 minutes, and probably around 10."

Services were expected to operate as normal for the evening commute.

New Zealand Transport Agency central operations manager Mark Owen yesterday said the resumption of normal rail services was likely to mean a reduction in the peak hour delays that had disrupted highways since the storm.

"We now expect many travellers to return to using trains, easing pressure on the highways between the Hutt and Wellington."

Wellingtonians had responded admirably and planned their journeys in advance to reduce delays on the roads, Mr Owen said.

About 380 households in Wellington remain without power since last Thursday's storm, which caused widespread damage as winds of up to 200km/h battered the capital.

A Wellington Electricity spokesman said crews had been working in the hardest-hit areas since Sunday, and had found the damage to the electricity network was far worse than originally expected.

"Unfortunately, many of the repairs that are needed are extensive and take a tremendous amount of technical work to repair small numbers of customers at a time.

"Our repair crews are making good progress and all indications are that restoration of power supply to all customers will be completed before next week."

About 150 extra staff had been brought in from outside the region to help restore power.


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