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A high powered delegation of local government chairs, mayors and chief executives met with Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee last night in an attempt to keep the wheels turning on the commuter train service between Palmerston North and Wellington.
Greater Wellington and Horizons Regional Councils are pursuing a joint funding proposal between themselves and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to continue the Capital Connection rail service.
Business case for Capital Connection
The service has been struggling since the extension of the Metro rail service to Waikanae in 2011 and needs an estimated $435 000, to be shared between the three parties if it is to continue.
Chair of Horizons Regional Council Bruce Gordon said he was encouraged by the meeting with the Minister and remained optimistic a solution will be found.
“I am satisfied that the Minister has listened to our concerns and understood the implications for our communities if this service does not continue,” said Mr Gordon.
“I am committed to ensuring the options are investigated and carefully considered by all parties and remain hopeful that this vital link between the two cities will be retained.”
Peter Glensor, deputy chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council, says the Capital Connection is valued by both regions. "It's important that we retain and develop rail services north of Waikanae and we have emphasised that to the Minister.
"The service could be incorporated into our current rail operating contract and planned upgrades of the track between Waikanae and Palmerston North could shave 15-20 minutes off the two hour journey. That's about the same length as the Wellington to Masterton service and would make it more attractive to people.”