The Government of New Zealand announced it will provide financing for the acquisition of 18 tri-mode trains to replace the existing rolling stock on the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa commuter rail lines in Wellington.
The new trains will be able to run on electrified lines and on non-electrified they will be powered by batteries and diesel engines reducing the level of CO2 emissions.
The new four-car trains will increase the capacity by 1.5 million trips and will reduce over half a million tonnes of emissions. Time travel will be also cut by up to 15 minutes on the Manawatū line between Wellington and Palmerston North.
The current rolling stock running these lines has been operating since 1970s and is at the end of its useful life. The new tri-mode trains will support the introduction of express services which will attract additional commuters.
The lines are expected to exceed capacity by 2030, despite challenges with the current service frequency, reliability and punctuality, which are a result of the aging fleet. “This indicates a significant untapped demand for these services. In the interim, the Government has invested in refurbishing carriages for the Capital Connection and improvements to the rail line,” the Minister of Transport Michael Wood said.
The acquisition of new trains goes hand in hand with infrastructure modernisation, a key component of “this year’s budget. The initiative to co-fund a fleet of 18 four-car trains and upgrade rail tracks will strengthen public transport links for those traveling or working in and out of Wellington from Manawatu or the Wairarapa. It will also support growth along these rail corridors as well as boost productivity for the regions and the country as a whole,” the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson said.
The electrified Kapiti Coast Line is the southern section of the North Island Main Trunk railway line linking Wellington and Waikanae. Since 2021, Kiwi Rail started upgrade works expected to be completed in 2024. Works include upgraded station facilities, improved signalling, and the installation of a modern overhead power system which will allow longer and faster trains and more services to meet growing commuter demand.
Modernisation works are also carried out on the 170 km Wairarapa Line (connecting Masterton and Wellington) covering track renewal on 35 km, as well as replacing 71,000 sleepers and 25 km of rail between Upper Hutt and Masterton (the last station of the line). Kiwi Rail will also replace the tracks sleepers and ballast in the Maoribank and Remutaka tunnels with the entire project expected to be completed in 2025.