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$168m deal will make Wellington’s metro rail services reliable, says Joyce

Press release – NZ Government
The Government, the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NZ Transport Agency have agreed in principle a package deal that will complete the rebuild of Wellington commuter rail services.

The package includes a commitment by the government to fund an $88 million renewal of the rest of the signalling and traction assets on the network, and a commitment by GWRC to takeover and refurbish the 30 year old Ganz Mavag units at a cost of $80 million, which will be supported with an operating subsidy from NZTA.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says both the government and GWRC are determined to bring Wellington’s metro rail back up to a high and reliable standard.

“The Wellington rail network has been a considerable and ongoing source of frustration for many commuters. This package, coupled with the previous investments from Government and the Council, including the new Matangi units, will transform the service into a modern reliable public transport option.

“The government and the GWRC have been working together for some time on a rail funding and ownership package that fairly shares the costs and responsibilities for delivering these and any future improvements to Wellington’s rail system.

The funding and ownership package includes:

• The Matangi and Ganz Mavag trains operating on the network will be held in a Rolling Stock Owning Company majority owned by GWRC

• GWRC to take over ownership and responsibility for stations (other than Wellington Station), car parks, train stabling and the electric train depot

• The Crown (through KiwiRail) to retain ownership of the metro rail track network, the traction and signalling assets, and responsibility for ongoing investment in the upgrade of these assets.

• GWRC to pay a track access charge to KiwiRail (with subsidy from the NZ Transport Agency) that reflects the fair cost of maintaining the tracks and other assets.

Mr Joyce says this proposal will complete a substantial upgrade which will improve the efficiency and quality of Wellington’s commuter rail services.

“One of the significant shifts in the package is that GWRC will become the owner of much of the above-track infrastructure, including the rolling stock and most of the stations.

“This change will give GWRC more independence and flexibility into how they configure their services, alongside the NZTA as co-funder.

“NZTA will also be adjusting its funding rates as part of this package to be consistent with their support for other passenger transport services. For the first time they will extend the operational subsidy to include asset depreciation and replacement, with the quid pro quo being a move to a 50% funding rate over ten years starting in 2012 (the rate is currently 60%).

“New trains, double tracking to Waikanae and a third track into the Wellington terminus have been a great start, but there is more that needs to be done to provide a modern network and better services to commuters.

“I am pleased to see KiwiRail Group and the NZ Transport Agency also working together on this proposal and thank them for their ongoing support. This is a very positive step towards ensuring the long-term sustainability of Wellington metro rail.”

Final details of the agreement and the exact level and timing of Crown funding will be confirmed as part of Budget 2011.

Regional Council to increase rates to pay for rail improvements

Press Release – Automobile Association
The AA is impressed with an announcement today about a package to rebuild Wellington commuter rail services.

AA General Manager Motoring Affairs Mike Noon says the investment will be very popular with people living in the Wellington region.

“Confidence in train services is essential for good uptake. People need to know the infrastructure is maintained and they can trust the trains will run to time

“After many months of disruption in the service because of upgrades to the Kapiti line, the announcement today will help to restore some of this trust. Getting this investment will be a relief for Wellingtonians who will look forward to the rail network eventually operating smoothly,” says Mr Noon.

“The announcement is also particularly welcome given people are feeling the pressure of petrol price rises. We know that once petrol goes over $2 per litre it triggers more people to start using public transport.”

The AA believes it is important that commuters have choices for their daily commute to work and looks forward to more details about the announcement in the 2011 Budget.

4 comments:

  1. JC, 10. March 2011, 16:23

    Just out of interest, who will be the ‘minority’ owners of the Rolling Stock Owning Company?

     
  2. Tony, 11. March 2011, 8:51

    I thought the previous $550 million deal “will make Wellington’s metro rail services reliable” ? There is no limit to the amount of money the Wellington rail service will suck up . . . and the service will still suck.

     
  3. erentz, 11. March 2011, 9:22

    What’s up with the AA’s pro-PT statements and recognition of peak oil lately. Did someone with a clue secretly infiltrate them under the guise of being a road nut and then work their way to the top without loosing all of their common sense along the way or something?

     
  4. Tony, 14. March 2011, 11:33

    It is apparently not “Significant” for the Greater Wellington Regional Council to commit $80 and agree to major changes to passenger rail transport funding (including permanently increasing the ratepayer contribution from 40% to 50%) !

    Yes, tomorrow’s (Tuesday 15th March) GWRC Council meeting will not only agree to this additional $multi-million rail package being included in the Annual Plan, but it will not be specifically consulted as a significant decision. They are therefore deciding that an $80million capital commitment is not “a decision to transfer the ownership or control of a strategic asset to or from the local authority”.

    They also seem to believe that a multi-million dollar rates increase or major changes with the government on how Wellington rail transport is funded (including a permanent increase of ratepayers’ share to fund rail from 40% to 50% and increased ONTRACK track access charges) is not “a decision that will, directly or indirectly, significantly affect the capacity of the local authority, or the cost to the local authority, in relation to any activity identified in the long-term council community plan”.

    This information was just put up on the GWRC web site this morning, barely 24 hours before the council meeting starts (and after the council’s own commitment to publish meeting information at least two working days before the meeting). Do you get the feeling this decision is being “railroaded” through . . . I sure do.