More space for bikes on trains recommended

By Emily Norman -
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ROOM: Improved bike storage on Wairarapa trains may be on the cards.
ROOM: Improved bike storage on Wairarapa trains may be on the cards.

Cyclists will have improved bike storage on the Wairarapa Line if Greater Wellington Regional Council agrees to carry out an engineer's recommendations.

A report has been put to GWRC's sustainable transport committee for a decision on Thursday, outlining options to increase the bike storing capacity on rail services.

These recommendations include using the service's AG-class luggage and generator carriage as a storage car and possibly removing the servery area on some carriages on the Wairarapa Line.

Fleet engineer Hamish Burns who wrote the report said the AG wagon should be used on all weekend services including Friday night and Monday morning, as soon as practicable because "cyclists are regularly turned away from services".

He said the costs "should fit within the current operating budget" and would be a "relatively straightforward" solution. There is only one AG wagon servicing the line and it acts as the spare generator for some carriages.

It is used occasionally but only when a high demand for bike storage is known in advance through the booking service.

Wellington cyclist Wayne Holland, who visited Wairarapa a few weeks ago with 14 other cyclists, booked to use the AG wagon for storage and thought it was a "brilliant idea" for GWRC to approve the use of the AG wagon more regularly. "From our point of view, cycling is such a great way of seeing Wairarapa," he said.

"We've done this trip a few times in the past and it's always been a bit of an issue to get the wagon on."

Mr Holland said if the AG wagon was used for all weekend services, more people would use the train, resulting in "good things for Wairarapa's economy".

"If we knew for sure that the wagon was going to be there every weekend, especially during the summer months, we'd definitely take advantage of that, and a lot of other people would as well," he said.

"We normally stop in Greytown for morning tea, then we bike down to Martinborough, have a nice lunch down there, and then back to Carterton for a nice afternoon tea, and catch the train back at 5pm.

"It's a nice way of spending a Sunday in Wairarapa, enjoying a bit of hospitality from the locals," Mr Holland said.

"And I'm sure the locals don't mind an extra number of people buying lunches and morning teas and things like that."

Another recommended option to increase storage capacity on the Wairarapa Line was to remove the servery area on the SWS carriages, which have never been utilised, and re-establish that space as a luggage storage area.

This would cost about $90,000 total for the three SWS carriages but this has not been recommended as urgently as utilising the AG wagon.

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