$168m Wellington rail package signed

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 14:12 05/07/2011
Trains
ANDREW GORRIE/The Dominon Post

Greater Wellington chairwoman Fran Wilde speaks at the signing today.

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An agreement that paves the way for continued upgrade work on Wellington's metro rail network has been rubber stamped at a brief ceremony today.

With a new Matangi train as the backdrop, representatives from Greater Wellington regional council, KiwiRail, and the Government signed the agreement for a funding and ownership package to complete the rebuild of Wellington commuter rail services.

The package commits the Government to $88.4 million worth of upgrades to the network, and Greater Wellington to spend $80m upgrading the Ganz Mavag trains.

Greater Wellington chairwoman Fran Wilde said signing the document came after a tough negotiation process, and gave the region certainty moving into the future.

Previously each piece of work needed for the network had required separate negotiations, she said.

''The biggest thing we get out of this is certainty, we didn't have certainty before ... We know what we can do, we know what other people will do, and I think that's really important for users of the rail system.''

The end result should be ''the best fleet in New Zealand and the most on time trains and the most satisfied commuters''.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the agreement would help ensure the delivery of a ''very, very good commuter system''.

The package sets out work for eight more years. That would seem a long time to commuters who had already been patient, but the worst was hopefully over, he said.

The package includes:

- Government funding of $88.4 million to renew the rest of the signalling and traction assets on the network.
- Greater Wellington retaining ownership of the 48 new Matangi trains.
- Greater Wellington taking over ownership of the Ganz Mavag and English Electric trains from KiwiRail and committing to upgrade the Ganz Mavag units at a cost of $80m.
- Greater Wellington taking over ownership and responsibility for stations (other than Wellington Station), train stabling and the electric train depot.
- The Crown (through KiwiRail) retaining ownership of the metro rail track network, the traction and signalling assets, and responsibility for any further investment in the upgrade of these assets.
- Greater Wellington will pay a track access charge to KiwiRail, partly subsidised by NZTA, that reflects the fair cost of maintaining the tracks and other assets.

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- The Dominion Post

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