The surprise $44 million for Wellington regional rail announced in the Coalition Government’s Wellbeing Budget would be an ideal opportunity to get work underway on extending commuter rail north to Ōtaki says Kāpiti Coast mayoral candidate Gwynn Compton.
“With $193 million already being spent on improving the rail network in the Wellington region, mostly outside of Kāpiti, this bonus $44 million from the government that not even Greater Wellington Regional Council knew about is an ideal opportunity to get work started on the extension of commuter rail services to Ōtaki,” says Mr Compton.
“Double tracking and electrifying the rail network between Waikanae and Ōtaki is needed to meet the growing population of Kāpiti and ensure that public transport remains a timely and accessible option once both Transmission Gully and the Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway open.
“Extending commuter rail to Ōtaki will make a big difference for the local community, especially with the town having been poorly served by public transport for a number of years. Likewise, there will be a significant benefit for commuters further north, such as those from Manakau, Ōhau, and Levin, who currently only have the limited options of the Capital Connection train or driving into Wellington.”
Gwynn Compton says that while investment in roading infrastructure over the past decade will still benefit the region through providing a more resilient transport network once completed, it’s vital commuter rail services keep up with the rapidly growing population.
“We can’t just rely on roads to meet the transport needs of Kāpiti’s commuters. We need to make forward looking investments now in extending commuter rail to Ōtaki to ensure that public transport remains accessible, frequent, and fast,” says Mr Compton.
“While $44m may only be a third of the estimated cost of extending commuter rail to Ōtaki, using it as an initial investment in the project would allow planning and land purchases to be undertaken for the route, as well as work to be done on upgrading the Matangi train design for the new units that would be required to service the longer commute.”