Rail milestone for Kāpiti

The recently refurbished Ganz Mavag train will make its first appearance at Waikanae Station next Saturday (19 February), as part of the celebrations of the completion of the double tracking and electrification of the rail from McKays Crossing to Waikanae.

From Sunday 20 February, Waikanae will enjoy a full, regular train service; currently there is only one weekday service, the Capital Connection, which serves Waikanae.

Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington, says a regular commuter service to Waikanae is a one of the biggest milestones in the Wellington regional rail improvement programme, which kicked off in early 2007.

The programme, funded by Greater Wellington and contracted to KiwiRail, includes a brand new fleet of 48 Matangi trains, new signalling systems, a much stronger power supply and new substations, a third line into Wellington Station, a major upgrade of the Johnsonville Line and double tracking and electrification to Waikanae.

“For quite some time, the work on the Kāpiti Line has been very visible but it’s fantastic that commuters can now enjoy the benefits after putting up with inevitable but significant disruptions.”

“We are delighted to be running services for new customers on the first major extension since electrified trains reached Paraparaumu in 1983,” says Deborah Hume, KiwiRail General Manager for Rail Passenger. “As we move closer to completion of the rail upgrade programme and introduce new trains passengers can look forward to improved and expanded services.”

The Ganz Mavag refurbishment includes major mechanical and cosmetic improvements aimed to greatly improve reliability and comfort. After a full assessment of the prototype in the next few months, Greater Wellington will decide whether to refurbish the rest of the Ganz Mavag fleet or replace it.

One of the brand new Matangi trains will also be at Waikanae Station on Saturday. “So people can go on board both trains and compare the two”, says Fran Wilde.

“We’re asking kids on the day to write a few words for us about what they think of the two trains and there’ll be spot prizes given out on the day.”

Those who cycle, walk or take the bus to the celebrations will also have a chance to win prizes donated by local retailers, Metlink and Tranz Metro.

A formal blessing of Waikanae Station will take place at 10am, followed by speeches from the Hon. Steven Joyce, Minister of Transport, Hon. Nathan Guy the MP for Ōtaki and Associate Transport Minister, Chair Wilde and Jim Quinn, chief executive of KiwiRail. The Ministers will carry out a symbolic re-enactment of the driving of the last spike into the rail which will then be displayed in Waikanae.

The trains will be at Waikanae Station until midday and public tours will begin as soon as the formal part of the celebration is over.

The new Matangi trains are targeted to begin running on the Kāpiti Line from around July this year.

Timetables for the new Kāpiti services are available at www.metlink.org.nz or your local Metlink timetable stockist.