A petition from Kāpiti Coast mayoral candidate Gwynn Compton is calling on the government and Greater Wellington Regional Council to make extending commuter rail to Ōtaki a priority, and for them to commit to funding and starting work on it as soon as possible to enable public transport to keep pace with Kāpiti’s rapid growth.
“The opening of Transmission Gully is just around the corner, and we’re already feeling the effects of it. There’s worsening housing affordability, more cars commuting into Wellington, and peak time patronage on the Kāpiti train line is already up 7 percent on 2018,” says Gwynn Compton.
“While roading projects like Transmission Gully will help improve Kāpiti’s connectivity with Wellington, it’s vital public transport infrastructure also keeps pace with the rapid growth the district is experiencing. This is why I’m calling for the government and Greater Wellington Regional Council to make the electrification and double tracking of the rail line to Ōtaki a priority so proper commuter rail can be extended there as soon as possible.”
Previous estimates of the cost of extending commuter rail north, including the need for upgraded Matangi train units to provide appropriate facilities for the longer journey, ranged between $115 million to $135 million, and Gwynn Compton says it would be money well spent by the government, with communities from Waikanae to Levin set to benefit from the investment.
“Extending commuter rail to Ōtaki provides a wide range of benefits to a number of communities. It will take pressure off Waikanae’s commuter car parking and local roads, it will give people in Te Horo and Ōtaki much better connections to important services as well as jobs and opportunities in Wellington, and further north the increasing number of commuters from Manakau, Ōhau, and Levin will be that much closer to a fast, reliable, and more frequent rail service than is currently the case for them, meaning they won’t drive into Wellington and add to their traffic woes.
“What’s more, with the government looking for ways to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, investing in public transport - especially commuter rail extension - is one of the easiest ways to achieve the reductions required and ensure that coming improvements to Wellington City’s public transport network under the Let’s Get Wellington Moving plan aren’t undone by replacing their cars with those of commuters from further north”
With so much focus on the recent Let’s Get Wellington Moving announcement, Gwynn Compton says the government and Greater Wellington Regional Council need to remember that there’s more to the Wellington region than just Wellington’s CBD.
“The announcement of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport plan did confirm there is $4 billion in funding available for regional transport projects, but there was disappointingly little information about what initiatives this money might fund or time frames around when any projects may happen,” says Mr Compton.
“We know from experience both here in Kāpiti, when commuter rail was extended to Waikanae, and in Auckland when they’ve improved their rail services, that new patronage ends up beating everyone’s expectations. Reason’s like these are why funding and getting started on extending commuter rail to Ōtaki should be at the top of Transport Minister Phil Twyford and GWRC Chair Chris Laidlaw’s lists for that $4 billion in regional funding - not to mention there’s $300 million available from the Provincial Growth Fund to support regional rail projects too!”
Those wishing to support the petition can add their name at www.gwynncompton.co.nz/otakirail