Wellington's trains should be back up and running tomorrow, nearly a week after they were crippled in a storm which battered the capital.
KiwiRail said in a statement it was working to have Hutt Valley and Wairarapa trains back in operation by the morning, should a test train at 10pm successfully make the journey.
All the track was now in place along the foreshore, and a tamper machine had been operating night and day to level it.
"While support from the public has been superb under trying circumstances, we know the disruption to those travelling from the Wairarapa and Hutt Valley over the last few days has been significant. Our focus is to get our services up and running again as quickly as we can to minimise any further disruption and inconvenience,'' KiwiRail said.
There may be a temporary speed restriction of 40km/h in place through the work site when the track re-opened, which could add some time to the journey.
A bus services was on standby should there be any change of plan.
New Zealand Transport Agency central operations manager Mark Owen said the resumption of normal rail services was likely to mean a reduction in the peak hour delays that had disrupted highways since the storm.
"We now expect many travellers to return to using trains, easing pressure on the highways between the Hutt and Wellington.''
Wellingtonians had responded admirably and planned their journeys in advance to reduce delays on the roads, Mr Owen said.
Meanwhile, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown invited residents still without power to use the hot showers at Wellington City Council's recreation centres and swimming pools.
"If your power's still off and you need to warm up, please come and have a hot drink and a chat to staff at one of our community centres. We are also offering free hot showers at our pools and recreation centres. You can also spend time and stay warm at your local library.''
Ms Wade-Brown also encouraged people to check on their neighbours if they were still without electricity, especially the elderly or vulnerable.
Wellington Electricity said about 400 customers remained without power, nearly a week after it went down.
"Unfortunately, many of the repairs that are needed are extensive and take a tremendous amount of technical work to repair small numbers of customers at a time. Our repair crews are making good progress and all indications are that restoration of power supply to all customers will be completed before next week.''
Walking tracks currently closed due to safety concerns, include:
- Parts of the Northern Walkway on Te Ahumairangi (Tinakori Hill)
- Moturoa Stream Walkway in Central Park
- City to Sea Walkway through Finnimore Terrace above Rugby League Park
- Conviction Track in Centennial Reserve, Miramar
- Parts of the lookout and summit walkways on Mt Victoria
- Te Araroa National Walkway through Spicer Forest
- Berhampore Golf Course, which closed due to fallen trees on the fairways.
The four-wheel drive track from Owhiro Bay to Red Rocks would also be closed for the foreseeable future after the roadway was largely destroyed by huge seas hitting the south coast.
Source: Wellington Council.