Weekly column by Kāpiti's Greater Wellington Regional Council representative Penny Gaylor.
Greater Wellington Regional councillors, especially my colleague Adrienne Staples representing the Wairarapa and myself representing the Kāpiti Coast, are pleased about last week's announcement that Government is investing $1.3 billion in the national rail network over the next three years.
I echo Adrienne's response that news of this significant investment comes at a crucial time for GWRC as we continue our work preparing the business case for new inter-regional trains.
That business case is for new trains that replace the Capital Connection as well as replacement trains for the Wairarapa's aged fleet.
Last year GWRC and Horizons Regional Council secured $5 million from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to pursue a detailed business case, and commence procurement for regional trains which if delivered would prevent passengers from being packed like sardines within the next five years.
The procurement of the new trains, which are expected to cost approximately $300m, will bring greater capacity and frequency to a creaking inter-regional network.
The options being explored in the business case will align with Greater Wellington's Long Term Plan which will mean fully decarbonised trains for the Capital Connection replacement and for the Wairarapa line.
The investment is a real win for passengers and the environment, and will send a really powerful signal to those looking to invest in our community, whether for future housing projects, or business expansion or relocation to our district.
Investment in rail transport sends an important message about the growth of our community being supported and planned for, and it gives the essential confidence to those considering Ōtaki and further north, as a place to invest in personally and for their business.
I know people in Kāpiti Coast would love to see further connections beyond Waikanae in the future — we've been banging on about it for years; nice to be heard.
In the meantime it's encouraging to see the alignment of government spending with Greater Wellington's clear commitment to the environment and decarbonisation.
How this investment is realised remains to be seen, but with the Government signalling further electrification and Greater Wellington's business case for new battery-enabled trains connecting Wellington to Palmerston North, the future is bright. And sustainable!