Wellington metro rail improvement plans signed

An agreed package of improvements to Wellington’s metropolitan rail network and a change of owner for the metropolitan trains and stations was signed last week.

Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, says the package demonstrates the Council’s and Government’s continued commitment to a high quality, reliable rail service for Wellington.

“This package enables the continuation of much needed rail work following on from all that’s been done over the last three or four years to prepare the network for the new Matangi trains.

“The network has improved out of sight thanks to all that work – and this package means that less disruptive catch-up work, not related directly to the Matangi trains, can be done.

“Greater Wellington’s ownership of the metropolitan trains, maintenance depot and station buildings makes good sense, given our regional public transport responsibilities.

“We have a proven record as a competent owner and manager of rail assets including the Wairarapa trains, the Matangi trains and Waterloo and Petone Stations; this package allows us to continue the good work.”

KiwiRail’s Chief Executive, Jim Quinn, said: “Metro rail is growing in importance for commuters, and we want to ensure that Greater Wellington and KiwiRail are working together to provide a modern, functional and reliable network for Wellingtonians.

“I am confident this package will allow us to do that.”

Key features of the plans include:

  • Greater Wellington Rail Limited (GWRL) takes ownership of the 88-car Ganz Mavag fleet, EMU Maintenance Depot and station buildings (except for Wellington Station)
  • GWRL will fund the $80 million refurbishment of the Ganz Mavag fleet and will continue to fund station maintenance and improvements with support from Government
  • KiwiRail continues as train operator for metropolitan passenger services, although Greater Wellington will have the right to test the market in the future.
  • Greater Wellington and KiwiRail will develop performance based network, operating and rolling stock maintenance agreements
  • The Government retains ownership of the track, signals, power supply etc and will fund an $88 million programme of catch-up renewal work.

Fran Wilde says Greater Wellington has approved, in principle, the refurbishment of the 29-year-old Ganz Mavag fleet.

“We can either replace or refurbish the fleet. Based on our preliminary analysis of the options, refurbishment makes the most economic and practical sense.”

“When the 96 new Matangi cars are all in passenger service, they’ll be able to deliver all off-peak services but more trains will be needed to meet peak hour demand.

“Clearly, if we had unlimited funds another fleet of brand new trains would be ideal but the time taken to build these is also a factor that we need to consider.

“If we are to provide for growing rail passenger numbers we’ll require all the Ganz and Matangi units to operate reliably and deliver a high standard of passenger comfort.”

A prototype refurbished two-car Ganz Mavag unit is running on the Hutt and Kapiti Lines and is about half-way through its in-service evaluation.

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