Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
Alerts from weather forecasters that high temperatures are expected to continue next week is prompting Metlink to warn commuters on the Wairarapa service that trains may face delays, and to plan for that.
High temperatures can cause rails to expand, creating a risk of derailment. At such times KiwiRail will impose speed restrictions as a health and safety measure. The Wairarapa line is only a single track so is particularly susceptible to delays when speeds are restricted.
“While decisions around the state of the tracks are the responsibility of KiwiRail, Metlink will quickly update customers if there is any impact on services,” says Barbara Donaldson, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Sustainable Transport Committee. “The best way to find out about service issues on Wellington’s buses, trains and ferries is to create a My Metlink account at www.metlink.org.nz , which can give you access to personalised up to the minute alerts.
“KiwiRail and Metlink have applied to the Government for $100m funding to improve the Wairarapa line, including money to reduce the risk of speed restrictions due to heat. The line’s maintenance has been severely underfunded for decades, and it’s showing. This additional money would help bring the track up to a reasonable level that would allow us to run more reliable services. We are hopeful of a positive response.”
Metlink is also continuing to work on ventilation issues on Wairarapa carriages.
“While the air conditioning on the Wairarapa services is functioning as designed, we accept it is not proving effective in dealing with this heatwave, especially on busy services,” says Barbara Donaldson. “We are working to improve comfort levels. The air conditioning system is turned on hours in advance of journeys and curtains are being closed to reduce sun exposure.
“We are also trialling changes on some carriages to improve the system’s air flow. If successful, we will make these changes across the fleet. We also have an international expert in rail air conditioning systems coming next week who will be able to advise on other improvements we can make.
“We apologise to customers for the discomfort many of you are experiencing. Be assured we are paying attention to your concerns and making practical changes to improve conditions on board. Please remember, as an acknowledgement of the issues our customers have been experiencing, that we have discounted Wairarapa monthly passes and 10-trip tickets in February.”