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Rail Campaign Launched To Get Kāpiti And Horowhenua Commuters Back On Track

Kāpiti Coast commuter rail advocate Gwynn Compton has launched the Kāpiti-Horowhenua Commuter Rail Campaign, which has the goal of getting the Government and regional councils to invest in an ambitious and accelerated plan to extend and expand the range of commuter rail services available to people living in Kāpiti, Horowhenua, and eventually Manawatu as well.

“We’re experiencing rapid population growth in Kāpiti and Horowhenua, but the key piece of public transport infrastructure - our commuter rail network - isn’t keeping pace with that growth. Having access to public transport services like commuter rail is vital to underpin the economic, social, and environmental wellbeing of our growing towns,” says Mr Compton.

“Making the daily commute to Wellington for work is always going to be a reality for a large number of people living in Kāpiti and Horowhenua. If the Government is truly serious about reducing congestion, tackling climate change, and looking after the wellbeing of our communities, then it needs to be making ambitious investments in public transport that will enable more people to catch fast, frequent, reliable, and climate friendly commuter rail services into Wellington and leave their cars at home.”

The Kāpiti-Horowhenua Commuter Rail Campaign outlines an ambitious but achievable plan through to 2050 that will enable additional services, extra capacity, and the progressive extension of the commuter rail network north right through to Palmerston North.

The Kāpiti-Horowhenua Commuter Rail Campaign’s plan is split into four phases:

Phase one: From 2025 - purchase new electro-diesel hybrid units to secure the long-term future of the Capital Connection route as well as provide additional capacity and extra services north of Waikanae.

Phase two: By 2030 or earlier - Electrify and double track the rail network between Waikanae and Ōtaki and purchase upgraded Matangi units to fully extend commuter rail services to Ōtaki.

Phase three: By 2040 or earlier - Electrify and double track the rail network between Ōtaki and Levin, purchasing additional upgraded Matangi units as required to fully extend commuter rail services to Horowhenua.

Phase four: By 2050 - Electrify and double track the rail network to Palmerston North to enable rapid rail services between the Manawatu and Wellington.

“With population growth in Kāpiti and Horowhenua already outpacing estimates, the Government needs to commit urgently to funding the commuter rail services our communities need. For example, it’s simply not good enough to expect the people of Ōtaki to wait at least another two decades until electrification and double tracking to their town is set to be considered. Likewise, the recently announced refurbishment of old Auckland Transport carriages for the Capital Connection are of the same age and design as the existing rolling stock, and this service needs a commitment for new hybrid trains rather than just another stopgap measure.

“The Government still has $4 billion up their sleeves from their New Zealand Upgrade Programme. If they want to live up to their rhetoric about providing world-class public transport and leading the world in tackling climate change, then funding needs to be made available for the ambitious and accelerated commuter rail plan outlined by the Kāpiti-Horowhenua Commuter Rail Campaign.

“What’s more, this plan could easily be built on to aid future expansion of regional passenger rail networks. The same hybrid trains being proposed for the Capital Connection service would also be ideal to bring back into service passenger railway routes such as Whanganui, Feilding, Marton, and Napier.”

The Kāpiti-Horowhenua Commuter Rail Campaign builds on the work of Gwynn Compton's Ōtaki commuter rail petition, which will continue to run and be presented to candidates of all parties at this year's general election. More details on the campaign, its four stage plan, and indicative timelines and costs can be found at www.kapitihorowhenuarail.co.nz

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