The first new Matangi train has left on a ship from South Korea and is expected to arrive in Wellington in about three or four weeks. The train is the first of 48 being built by Hyundai Rotem Mitsui for Metlink, Greater Wellington’s public transport network.
The Matangi trains have a modern, stainless steel exterior. Inside, they are air-conditioned, spacious, and are equipped with high quality passenger information systems. The trailer car of each two-car unit has a low floor area designed especially to give greater access to people in wheelchairs and passengers with buggies.
Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, says the imminent arrival of the first train is a momentous occasion. “It’s hard to believe that all the years of planning and hard work are actually coming to fruition. Obviously we are very excited about this milestone, but there is still much to be done before we have a fully operational new train fleet.”
The trains are a key part of a $500m-plus package of improvements to Wellington’s regional rail network, the result of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s successful business case for the rail programme several years ago.
As well as the new trains, the programme, a joint initiative of Greater Wellington and KiwiRail, includes:
“Once the improvements are completed next year, rail passengers will have a reliable, comfortable and modern travel experience. They’ve had to put up with significantly difficult train travel for the last few years, but soon they should start to get some gain from the pain,” Fran Wilde said.
But she warned that even with the half billion dollars of improvements, the rail network will not be perfect. “There will still be quite a bit of track work to be done, and we will continue to need the thirty-year-old Ganz Mavag fleet to meet demand for peak-time services.”
Greater Wellington will decide early next year whether to refurbish or replace the Ganz Mavag trains.
The first Matangi train will be taken to KiwiRail’s new depot at Kaiwharawhara where it will undergo rigorous testing, as part of the commissioning process. Over the next few months it will be able to be seen along the Hutt Valley and Kāpiti lines. It is expected to begin revenue service by December.
The new trains will begin arriving regularly from October.
The first trains will run on the Upper Hutt Line, followed by Johnsonville from April 2011, then Kāpiti from the middle of the year.no