When the mayor welcomed the Budget allocation of $50m for Wellington’s commuter trains, there were no details. Today we learnt that $49m of the total is to be spent on the Hutt line – it’s a huge job.
The project, which will see 1274 wooden poles and 38 kilometres of overhead wires replaced, is expected to be completed in 2021. Instead of wooden poles, there’ll be steel masts. And the project will include undergrounding the system that supplies power to the signals.
On Budget day, the Mayor described the money as “catch up” investment to enable sustainable operation of the rail network.
“Thousands of Wellingtonians rely on trains to get to work and to get around the region. Having a reliable train service is absolutely crucial to the health of the capital.”
So that’s how they’re spending $49m. When will they tell us how the last million will be spent?
The Regional Council’s Barbara Donaldson says much more than a million is needed:
“This is a major step forward in improving our rail network infrastructure and ensuring a more reliable and sustainable service to people from the Hutt Valley who make five million journeys each year on the Hutt Line. Significant investment is needed … due to the aging nature of the network and we are hoping for further investment to upgrade the rest of the infrastructure to unlock capacity…”