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The Government’s Transport Agency should pull its head out of the sand and start working with KiwiRail and Tranz Metro to find a way to keep the Capital Connection commuter rail service operating, says Labour.
Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway and Labour Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford said the two rail operators and NZTA should be working together to promote rail as an efficient, sustainable commuter service rather than letting the service die.
“The extension of Wellington’s Tranz Metro service to Waikanae has undermined the profitability of KiwiRail’s Capital Connection with some Kapiti Coast passengers opting not to use the Capital Connection,” Phil Twyford said.
“Surely it is not beyond these two train operators to manage their timetables so that Capital Connection keeps its Kapiti Coast passengers by not running two train services on the same line within minutes of each other.
“NZTA needs to think outside the square and support the train operators to come to a co-operative solution. Instead it’s telling train commuters to catch a bus.
“Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee should be directing NZTA and Kiwirail to work together with others to keep the service open. Instead he has washed his hands of any responsibility while two rail operators, the NZ Transport Agency, and two regional councils flail around trying to come up with a solution,” said Phil Twford.
Mr Lees-Galloway said rail commuting, with laptop connectivity and increasingly with wifi, is a more desirable and productive option than a bus trip.
“NZTA should be working overtime to keep the Capital Connection operating. Its refusal to invest in the service was astonishing given its support for commuter rail elsewhere and its investment of billions of dollars on gold plated motorways with poor economic return.
“The Capital Connection is the only commuter rail service in New Zealand that is expected to run on a purely commercial model. The NZTA works with regional councils to fund every other commuter train in the country. Why is it leaving the Capital Connection out in the cold?”