Greater Wellington regional council is investigating electrifying the Kapiti rail line up to Otaki, but insists the move has nothing to do with the Capital Connection's fate being on a knife edge.
Extending the electric line from Waikanae up to Otaki would allow Tranz Metro's new fleet of Matangi trains to head further north, increasing the level of service up the Kapiti Coast.
The council is also investigating the merits of a similar move on the Hutt Valley line, extending electrification from Upper Hutt to Timberlea.
Both projects have been long-term goals of the council since its Wellington Regional Rail Plan for 2010 to 2035 was introduced, but they are yet to appear in a works programme.
But with the council preparing to review and "refresh" its rail plan early next year, council staff have been crunching the Otaki and Timberlea numbers over the last few months.
A council committee will meet in Otaki on Tuesday, followed by a public forum where the electrification issue is expected to be debated.
Greater Wellington's economic wellbeing committee chairman Peter Glensor said the Otaki project would cost about $30 million.
"Clearly there is a strong feeling that, in terms of the reach of their [train] service, being able to have the train service continue up to Otaki is a high priority."
Electrification was extended to Waikanae in February last year, causing patronage to drop on the Capital Connection train between Wellington and Palmerston North.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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