Boost to bike room on Wairarapa trains

By Hayley Gastmeier hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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More bikes will soon be accommodated on the Wairarapa line on weekends and public holidays for visiting cyclists wanting to explore the region. PHOTO/LEE CARTER
More bikes will soon be accommodated on the Wairarapa line on weekends and public holidays for visiting cyclists wanting to explore the region. PHOTO/LEE CARTER

Room for 25 more bikes will be soon available on weekend and public holiday train services on the Wairarapa line.

A recommendation to increase capacity for bikes on the Wairarapa line was approved by Greater Wellington Regional Council's Sustainable Transport Committee last week.

This comes after a "notable increase in demand" from people wanting to take their bikes on trains, said committee chairman Paul Swain.

"It's great that more people are wanting to use public transport, particularly at weekends on Wairarapa train services so staff have explored how we can make more room for bikes on trains.

"We'll be adding another wagon to Wairarapa weekend trains that will enable about 25 more bikes to be carried."

In January, Featherston Community Board chairwoman Lee Carter witnessed commuters with bikes unable to board the train because the storage carriage was full.

Since then Mrs Carter, who has commuted on the Wairarapa line for nearly two decades, has been collating data on instances where it has happened again.

The Featherston Community Board wrote to the committee in February highlighting the capacity issue, and asked them to consider a dedicated luggage carriage to alleviate the problem.

A report by the Sustainable Transport Committee said an AG wagon, which acts as a generator car and has luggage storage capability, would be on all weekend Wairarapa line train services.

The wagon would also be on a Friday night and Monday morning service, as well as on public holidays.

Mrs Carter said the extra space on Friday afternoons will benefit the Wairarapa area "in terms of bikes, tourism and our economic growth, and will be a small relief to commuters as well".

But she also thought "the wasted space of the servery" that had been "unused for nine years" could be utilised with self-serve luggage racks, freeing up space for more bikes during the weekdays.

"Another quick-win solution is to build into the existing luggage carriage a luggage rack that stores upwards and not just on ground level."

Mrs Carter recorded three bikes being turned away in February and 19 bikes turned away in March, including an 11-year-old boy travelling from the Hutt to Featherston.

She said all these instances had occurred on days Monday to Thursday.

The Sustainable Transport Committee would be updating GWRC at today's full council meeting as to when the service will be properly implemented.

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