The Government will invest in a fleet of 18 new hybrid trains for Wairarapa and Kapiti Coast, Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson and Minister of Transport, Michael Wood have announced.
Making the announcement, Minister Robertson said infrastructure will be a key focus in this year’s Budget.
“It builds on previous Budgets where this government has made a long term commitment to improving rail services for New Zealanders,” he said.
“This initiative to co-fund a fleet of 18 four-car trains and upgrade rail tracks will strengthen public transport links for those traveling or working in and out of Wellington from Manawatu or the Wairarapa.”
It will also support growth along these rail corridors as well as boost productivity for the regions and the country as a whole, the Minister said.
“The new trains will operate using a combination of electricity wires, batteries and fuel, lowering our carbon emissions and making New Zealand less reliant on volatile international energy markets.”
Minister Wood said many commuters were familiar with the disruptions associated with the current fleet, so news of the new fleet would be a game charger for these communities.
“Providing viable and attractive public transport alternatives is a critical to busting congestion throughout the Lower North Island,” said Mr Wood.
“The Government is upgrading New Zealand’s transport system to make it safer, greener, and more efficient for now and future generations to come. Rail is a key component of the system and is well suited for efficiently moving large volumes of commuters over long distances.”
The new trains will replace the current 1970s fleet, which is at the end of its useful life.
The new fleet will also support the introduction of express services, which the Ministers say will help to attract additional commuters.
“The regional Wairarapa and Kapiti Coast rail services are a critical part of the broader regional transport network. The new trains will improve the overall resilience of the network and support economic development along the corridors by catering for future growth and will provide a more viable alternative to the susceptible road network,” said Mr Wood.
“Despite challenges with the current service frequency, reliability and punctuality, which are a result of the aging fleet; both lines will have exceeded capacity by 2030. This indicates a indicates significant untapped demand for these services.”
In the interim, the Government has invested in refurbishing carriages for the Capital Connection and improvements to the rail lines, he said.
“Associated network improvements will improve corridor capacity and resilience for both passenger and freight services, and stations will be revitalized to meet modern accessibility and amenity standards.”
“Since 2017, the Government has invested $8.6 billion to build a resilient and reliable network after decades of neglect and decline. This investment has gone into the bread and butter work of replacing tracks, installing new culverts and bridges, and upgrading turnouts, all of which are needed for a safe and effective network,” said Minister Wood.