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First Matangi train is taking its first paying passengers

The first Matangi train is taking its first paying passengers on the Upper Hutt Line today tomorrow (Thursday 23 December).

The new train will provide the 9.05am service from Wellington to Upper Hutt and the 10am return service.

“We aimed to have the first new train taking paying passengers before Christmas and I’m delighted that everyone involved has pulled out all stops to make this happen,” says Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council.

During January, the train will be removed from service for multi-unit testing, involving two or three two-car units being coupled together.

“When that testing is complete, we hope to be able to run a six-car Matangi train on some of the peak hour Hutt Valley services in late February.”

Matangi trains will replace all of the English Electric trains on the Johnsonville Line in May 2011 and they will start running on the Kapiti Line by July or August next year. All 48 new trains will be here this time next year.

Fran Wilde says the rigorous and intensive testing process has gone well. The new trains have now run on most of the Wellington metropolitan network – they will be tested on the extension to Waikanae in February – and have been tested to the worst conditions.

“The testing team, along with other rail staff, have been very impressed with the performance of these new trains particularly on the Johnsonville Line which has the steepest grades and tightest tunnels of all the lines in the region. And they have run at speeds of up to 119kph on the Kapiti Line.”

The sleek, stainless steel trains are air-conditioned, have manually operated doors, electronic information displays and high quality public address systems.

Every second car of a two-car train has a low-floor area designed especially for passengers in wheelchairs and those with buggies and bicycles. In this area there is no step up at the doors, providing easier access for less able-bodied people. One entrance to this area, identified by bright green doors, has an inbuilt wheelchair ramp which folds out onto the platform.

“These pre-Christmas Matangi trips will give people a taste of the modern, comfortable train travel that’s in store for them in 2011.”

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