Work on the Kapiti coast's beleaguered rail service could begin as early as this summer, if a recommendation by the Greater Wellington Regional Council passenger transport committee is approved.
The committee today recommended a $70 million plan to double track more than 12km of rail line along the coast go ahead.
If the council approves the plan, and funding from Land Transport New Zealand is confirmed, preliminary work could begin immediately, and construction work could start in summer.
The work would involve double tracking from McKays Crossing to Waikanae Bridge and extending electrification from Paraparaumu to Waikanae.
User groups have been urging improvements to the service, saying it would encourage public transport usage.
Currently, the line suffers regular delays and breakdowns.
Double tracking the entire route would mean more train services could be scheduled.
Ontrack, the owner and manager of New Zealand's railway infrastructure, said if the plans were approved, it anticipated it would be finished before the fleet of brand new trains were brought into service in 2010.
Ontrack, Toll and GWRC will work closely to ensure the work is carried out as efficiently as practical while minimising disruption to passengers and freight services.
Glen Evans, chairman of the passenger transport committee, said laying the extra track was critical to improving the commuter service along the entire length of the Kapiti coast line.
"Kapiti's population is expected to increase by up to a third in the next 20 years so we need to start building in capacity now.
"New trains are arriving in 2010 and we need to ensure the infrastructure can carry them effectively."