The continuation of the Capital Connection train service, announced today, is a great result but it's imperative that more people literally get on board, says Fran Wilde, Chair of Wellington Regional Council.
"The Capital Connection daily service between Palmerston North and Wellington is an important link between the Manawatu, northwestern parts of the Wellington region and our Capital city.
"I'm delighted with the decision made by KiwiRail today and strongly support their call for more people to use it, if they want the service kept for the long term. I would particularly urge people in and north of Otaki to show how much they value this service and want it to remain by using it regularly. Once communities lose these services they very rarely get them back. Access to a train service is an important draw card for smaller towns."
Fran Wilde says the continuation of the Capital Connection makes good productive and environmental sense. "Many Capital Connection commuters use their train travel time to deal with emails and catch up on work-related reading. This is not nearly as easy or as comfortable to do on a bus so one of our concerns was that people would simply choose to drive all the way to Wellington if they couldn't use that time productively. This would increase congestion on the roads to and within Wellington City, so the continuation of the train service is a sound decision."
Chairman of Horizons Regional Council Bruce Gordon is also pleased with today's announcement, describing the commuter train as a vital link for those travelling between the Manawatu and Wellington.
"The Capital Connection serves multiple communities in its journey between Palmerston North and Wellington. Its continuation undoubtedly benefits our region and this decision is consistent with the approach taken to similar services.
"I'd like to thank the public for their support throughout the process and the considerable effort put in by Horizons and Greater Wellington staff who presented the business case to Government. The decision will come as a huge relief for regular users who were having to consider whether to move or find new jobs due to uncertainty around the train's future," he said.
Fran Wilde says she appreciates the challenge KiwiRail faced with the continuation of the service and the need for a fare increase. "I'm sure Capital Connection customers would much prefer paying a bit more for the service rather than not having it at all. But, ultimately, the future of the service depends on more people using it every day.
"It's great that the Capital Connection has won a reprieve, but now we need to secure its long-term future by getting more people on board every day."