Wellington Scoop

National promises electric trains to Ōtaki, and four lanes to Levin

collins at otaki
Photo: Gwynn Compton via Twitter

News from NZ National Party
National will unlock the economic potential of Horowhenua and Kāpiti by connecting Ōtaki to Wellington’s electric commuter train network and fast-tracking construction of a four-lane expressway between Ōtaki and Levin, National Party Leader Judith Collins has announced.

Ms Collins and National’s Ōtaki candidate Tim Costley announced details of National’s $330 million transport plan for Horowhenua and the Kāpiti Coast at Ōtaki Railway Station today.

National is committed to:

· Electrifying and double-tracking the rail line between Wellington and Ōtaki

· Building a full expressway interchange at Peka Peka

· Completing the Horowhenua Expressway (Ōtaki to Levin)

New spending for these projects will be funded from National’s record $31 billion transport infrastructure plan.

“This is a significant investment in the future of Horowhenua and Kāpiti,” Ms Collins says. “These projects will generate hundreds of jobs for years to come, giving the local economy the boost it needs to bounce back from the economic crisis that has already seen 212,000 New Zealanders end up on unemployment benefits.

“These world-class road and rail links will free people from the tyranny of congestion and save lives while opening up even more job and growth opportunities by bringing the coast closer to Wellington.”

The previous National-led Government electrified the rail line and extended Wellington’s metro rail network to Waikanae. Now is the time to take the next step and back this rapidly-growing region by extending that network north to Ōtaki, Ms Collins says.

This will allow people living in Manakau, Ōtaki and Te Horo to easily travel to Wellington, rather than relying on the once-a-day Capital Connection service from Palmerston North.

“In time, we will look to electrify and double-track the line to Levin, expanding even further the pool of commuters able to use the service,” Ms Collins says.

Bringing forward construction of the Horowhenua Expressway – one of National’s first-generation Roads of National Significance – will rectify the shameful actions of the Labour-led Government, which cut $5 billion from the state highway budget in 2018 and delayed the progress that had been made on this project under the last National Government.

“National’s Ōtaki candidate Tim Costley and local MP Nathan Guy fought hard to resurrect this highway from the dead, and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with supporters from Horowhenua and the Kāpiti Coast, they made it happen,” Ms Collins says. “Two years of development have been lost and even now, construction is not slated to begin until 2025. National won’t muck around, we will start construction in our first term.”

Adding a full interchange to the Kāpiti Expressway at Peka Peka will allow traffic from Te Horo, Peka Peka and Waikanae to enter and exit the expressway both north and south.

“It was a short-sighted decision to not include an interchange at this fast-growing area,” Ms Collins says. “This is a sensible change that can be done at minimal expense.”

Today’s commitments form part of National’s wider Transport Plan for the Wellington and Lower North Island regions. Further details of this plan will be released on Wednesday.


  1. Marion Leader, 3. August 2020, 16:49

    Electric is definitely the way to go.

  2. Bee, 3. August 2020, 16:57

    They have to be trying to take the piss?

  3. Gwynn Compton, 3. August 2020, 17:02

    Electrification and double tracking to Ōtaki ($300m), Peka Peka interchange ($30m), Horowhenua Expressway ($817m).
    Big win for the Kāpiti-Horowhenua Commuter Rail Campaign! [via twitter]

  4. Guy M, 3. August 2020, 17:16

    By the angle of the photo in the pic above, I think we can probably safely say that there was a very small crowd present at National’s Otaki launchpad. It truly is a sign of our particularly weird times that National are now proposing electric trains on the main trunk line to Otaki – having sneered at that possibility the whole time they were in power under Key and English.

    The Bishop and Crusher combo know full well that they haven’t got a snowflake’s chance in hell of getting into power this time round, and Collins will be ousted after her attempt at unseating Ardern, so I don’t think we need to actually think that this might actually happen. What WOULD be good is if Labour and the Greens committed to it.

  5. Marion Leader, 3. August 2020, 17:52

    Yes, I agree that it “would be good .. if Labour and the Greens committed to it.” Why the delay?

  6. David from Wellington, 3. August 2020, 21:04

    I informed the National Party several times over a year that they had Levin in the wrong place on their RoNS extension policy document from last election – they were advocating a Levin to Sanson RoNS amongst 10 all up I recollect. I opine mediocracy rules across the board.

  7. Ross Clark, 4. August 2020, 1:07

    I am not convinced that extending the electric network to Otaki would make any real difference, and likewise four-laning the road (which means that any demand generated by improved rail would be then lost back to road).

  8. Jeremy Baker, 4. August 2020, 10:31

    Be great to have cross-party consensus on the need for greater rail electrification along the Kāpiti – Horowhenua coast. [via twitter]

  9. Roger Kemp, 4. August 2020, 11:15

    They decreased investment in rail and spent the money increasing the size of trucks on the roads causing greater damage and harm to nzers all to pay back the road freight industry who have been large cash supporters to the nat party for years and still are.

  10. Graeme Brown, 4. August 2020, 11:22

    Moooooore roads encourages more cars into Wellington. What will be done to fit all the cars in? CRUSH them?
    Extending rail to Otaki (or Levin) goes well over the 1 hour travel time needing new trains with toilets and more comfy seats. Better than extending the present service would be more frequent ‘Capital Connection’, say 6 times a day to PN, with dual-mode (electric/diesel-electric) 3 or 4 car multiple units. OH lines and duplication not needed until justified by increased traffic. Trains could also be used on Wairarapa line.

  11. Kara, 4. August 2020, 12:45

    Double tracking and electrifying the rail would be much better than wasting millions of dollars on a 4 lane highway. High time the Nats started researching how to decrease emissions.

  12. Casey, 4. August 2020, 12:47

    Otaki electric rail link will require $90 million just for the overhead wiring installation, but for how many passengers each way per day ? Autonomous battery buses to/from Waikanae – Otaki offering more frequent services would be far more sensible for the next decade or so. The announcement seems like window dressing from a party that hasn’t a hope of gaining the Treasury benches this year.

    If they were really concerned about this region, then Wellington City is crying out for a plan involving mass transit to boost the economy of this city, and to clean up the dirty emissions from old diesel buses. Instead candidates Bishop and Willis see a duplicate Mt. Victoria Tunnel but without any idea of the connecting infrastructure through Te Aro. They also advocate Bus Rapid Transit which needs more lanes than there is room for.

  13. Dave B, 4. August 2020, 13:10

    “The previous National-led Government electrified the rail line and extended Wellington’s metro rail network to Waikanae”.

    Very misleading. The only part National had in making this happen was not to cancel it after the previous Labour Govt allocated the funding to it, circa 2007. This was very much the initiative of Michael Cullen during the final term of the Clark-Cullen Labour government. The fact that the work was actually done during National’s tenure does not mean they initiated it.

  14. Dave B, 4. August 2020, 13:20

    Credit where credit is due. National did have a part in the continuing upgrade of Wellington’s rail system. They allocated a further sum for the on-going renewal of worn-out electrification equipment (~$90m), and they also supported the double-tracking Trentham-Upper Hutt which is now taking place under Labour. They may also have contributed to the second tranche of Matangi trains purchased by the Regional Council. Hard to remember exactly who did what.

  15. Guy M, 4. August 2020, 15:22

    We probably need to be looking at the bigger picture here. I wrote in an article on Greater Auckland how little there is remaining of the Main Trunk Line that needs to be electrified: just 80km out the south end and only 81 km at the north end, from Pukekohe to Te Rapa. A fully electrified track from Auckland to Wellington surely has to be the ultimate aim of any sensible-thinking New Zealander, and it is tantalisingly within reach. The North Island Main Trunk line (NIMT) has 411km of electrified line running at 25kV at 50 Hz AC power – and although the 95km of Wellington’s tracks are all DC power running at 1.5kV, the ensuing discussion proved (256 comments) that it was possible to get electric trains running the full length of the North Island.

    So, while it is easy to dismiss Collins’ announcement as a silly election stunt (as I have done above), it is none the less a decent target to aim for. Far from KiwiRail deciding to ditch all its electric locos as they were proposing to do at the time (January 2017), KiwiRail have turned their ship around (so to speak) and are now upgrading their electric locos instead of ditching them. Furthermore, additional Government funding for the “Future of Rail” project has been secured so that electric hauling on the NIMT is secured for the future.

    We all know that National really doesn’t have a chance of getting in – even its loyal farmer-voter background are not going to be kicking out half of the Jacinda and Ashley show – a worldwide hit that is the envy of the world. But it is really important to keep on banging the drum for this infrastructure project – if we electrify to Otaki then that leaves just 67km to Palmerston, where the country’s biggest logistics hub is being built. Wellington needs to link to that – not by 4 lane highway, but by electrified rail.

  16. Andy Mellon, 4. August 2020, 17:16

    @Guy M – I was a little surprised (and disappointed) that bridging the electrification gaps wasn’t one of the initiatives funded in the COVID response infrastructure spend up. As it seems that (based on the pricing indicated) that Waikanae – Palmy could be done (with trains and station upgrades) for a not dissimilar price to the 4-laning of Otaki – Levin, I’m really surprised this hasn’t happened already.

    Pukekohe to Hamilton will again surely happen if the Auckland-Hamilton rail is a success. Then, passengers wouldn’t need to change trains in South Auckland just to get to the CBD.

  17. Jill, 4. August 2020, 19:52

    I would prefer our politicians to sort out water pipe issues, rubbish and getting prepared for climate change (and a larger population) over more roads. More of the same from National: roads, roads, roads.

  18. Dave B, 4. August 2020, 22:47

    @ Casey (12:47 above). A major reason for extending the regional rail service to Otaki is to assist the two currently overloaded stations at Waikanae and Paraparaumu – at least in terms of car-parks for park-and-ride. Currently these are the only two access-points to the metro rail system for the whole of the growing Kapiti-Coast catchment. And with the best will in the world, the precedent for feeder-buses significantly reducing park-and-ride demand is not good. The rail service needs extending so that Otaki-area commuters can board the train there and not have to add to the crowds at Waikanae.