Capital Connection – morning protest planned

Tomorrow morning (Thursday 26th July) passengers from the Capital Connection rail service will be driving to Waikanae Station to further highlight the failure of the NZTA to subsidise this vital commuter service from the Manawatu and Horowhenua.

While this drive to Waikanae will show how inadequate the parking is at the station, it will also serve to highlight how the NZTA and the Ministry of Transport has failed to consider the wider implications of their lack of support for this service. These implications being:

1.Loss of income to the region from professional commuters moving from the region to areas that are better served by (subsidised) public transport.

2.People such as retirees, tertiary students, school groups etc who do not have the alternative means of driving to Waikanae will become transport disadvantaged.

3.Overcrowding and unreliable service of the TransMetro trains; if the Capital Connection is cut, the equivalent of an entire train load of passengers will start using the already stretched metro units.

4.Road safety issues concerning driver fatigue will become an issue, with many people expected to drive to and from Palmerston North, Foxton, and Shannon each day, on top of an hour long, uncomfortable, train journey on the Units.

5.Lack of toilet facilities; it is unreasonable to expect people travelling for over two hours to go without toilet facilities the toilets provided at Waikanae Station are currently closed in the afternoons and evenings.

6.Cutting the Capital Connection will put more cars on a road that is already struggling. It will make travelling time less productive since many people work while they travel; this is an impossible task while driving or while taking a metro unit.

7.Commuters who live north of Waikanae will have no rail option left if the Capital Connection is cut. If it is expected those people to drive to Waikanae and take the train from there, where are they expected them to park their cars?

In conclusion:

When compared to the 58 (including 8 weekend services) subsidised rail services between Masterton & Wellington; the people of the Horowhenua/Manawatu are being severely disadvantaged with the NZTA’s contradictorily position of refusing to join with the Wellington Regional and Horizons Councils and subsidise this very important transport link for people living in Shannon, Ōtaki and Levin as well as the two main cities. If it’s good enough for the Wairarapa line, why not the Capital Connection?

Only Gerry Brownlee can require the NZTA and KiwiRail to work with Horizons and Greater Wellington Regional Councils to ensure that this essential rail link between Palmerston North and Wellington is retained.

Bringing the Capital Connection under Trans Metro with funding from the NZTA and regional councils as well as a small fare increase simply brings it into line with every other commuter train in New Zealand.

The time frame for the cancellation of this service is unclear to us, but we fear that it may be as close as the end of this month that is next Tuesday.

Peter Kirby

Capital Connection Commuter