Council rejects extra Wairarapa trains

By Emily Norman emily.norman@age.co.nz -
2 comments
Wairarapa commuters are pushing for more weekend services to and from Wellington. PHOTO/FILE
Wairarapa commuters are pushing for more weekend services to and from Wellington. PHOTO/FILE

An official information request has revealed Greater Wellington Regional Council is opposed to adding more weekend train services in Wairarapa.

GWRC public transport general manager Wayne Hastie said in reply to an official information request that adding more weekend services to the line was "not justified" and a sufficient number of services are already being provided to meet the demand.

"We do regularly monitor passenger levels and demand on all services including services operating during weekends, and, at the moment, the passenger loading information indicates that provision of additional services is not justified," he said.

Currently the only day-trip travel option to Wellington departs Masterton at 7.50am and returns more than 12 hours later at 8.30pm, "far too long" of a day, according to train users on the Wairarapa Commuters' Facebook group.

"I'd love for there to be more trains on the weekend," stated Robyn Ramsden.

"We don't use it on the weekend because 12 hours in Wellington with two little boys is far too long.

"If there was a mid-morning train and a nearly tea-time train, that would be great."

Green Party candidate for Wairarapa and regular commuter John Hart said the method used by GWRC to determine the demand for weekend services was "interesting".

"There's a quote, you don't judge demand for a bridge by counting how many people swim across the river," he said.

"If there were 1000 people from Wairarapa that wanted to get a lunchtime train to Wellington, how will GWRC know?

"People don't currently take the weekend service because their preferred travel time doesn't exist."

Mr Hart said adding more services would open the window of opportunity for Wellington people to visit Wairarapa.

"I really think there is an opportunity to sell Wairarapa as a destination for people from Wellington," he said.

"If we don't at least explore the options of getting them over the hill easily, we're probably missing out on quite a lot."

Former economic development manager for Masterton District Council Tina Nixon agreed with Mr Hart and said the weekend service "needs to be marketed as a scenic trip".

Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said more frequent trains that are only half or a quarter full will cost ratepayers and train users. "I favour extra trains for specific events in both Wairarapa (eg, A&P shows and fairs) and Wellington (eg, events at Westpac stadium) where the train should be packed full," he said.

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