New rail operator Transdev promises big things, including longer trains

The Wellington rail network will be operated by Transdev from 3am on July 3.
KIWIRAIL

The Wellington rail network will be operated by Transdev from 3am on July 3.

Wellington's new train operator is talking big things for its first day of operation in July, including longer trains and new, smarter uniforms for staff.

Transdev Wellington told Greater Wellington Regional Council's regional transport committee on Tuesday that train users would instantly notice there was a new company in charge on July 3.

Chief operating officer Alan Bannister said that, because of the new Matangi trains, the company had plenty of carriages so it would be looking at putting on longer trains in rush hour.

Trains in Wellington may soon be longer thanks to the new rail operator Transdev.
JARED NICOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Trains in Wellington may soon be longer thanks to the new rail operator Transdev.

He did not go into detail which lines they would run on, or when they would be running.

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"No-one wants to be running empty trains, but where we can run longer trains we will," Bannister told the meeting, made up of mayors and councillors from the wider region.

"We will make sure we are putting the resources where they are needed because we have lots of trains and lots of staff, so we can do it."

That news would be a relief for the 15,000 commuters who use trains each morning to get into Wellington, often having to jam into packed carriages.

Last year the council selected Transdev Australasia, instead of the KiwiRail-owned Tranz Metro, as its preferred operator for the passenger rail network that services Wellington, Hutt Valley, Porirua, Kapiti and Wairarapa.

Transdev is a global transport giant, which runs Auckland's passenger trains as well as transport services in Europe, North America, Asia and the Pacific.

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In Australia and New Zealand it employs about 5700 staff and runs more than 131 million passenger journeys on buses, trains and ferries.

The Wellington contract will partner it with Korean company Hyundai Rotem, which built the city's electric Matangi trains.

Forty days out from when it takes over, Bannister said the company was on track to start on time and well.

It had retained 97 per cent of about 400 KiwiRail staff and would be creating a larger safety team to make sure everything ran according to best practice. 

There would be work done on the timetable, with the potential for more frequent peak-hour trains, better and faster customer service and smarter staff, with new, better uniforms and new smartphones. 

Some staff may also be equipped with body CCTV, which was trialled in Auckland in 2014 to cut down on fare evasion and improve train security.

It would also investigate putting on more trains for special events, such as next year's British and Irish Lions tour, installing wi-fi on carriages and replacing the recorded loudspeaker announcements with a miked staff member on the platforms.

Transdev was also outfitting a new control centre behind the ticket booths at Wellington Railway Station, and would move the rail monitoring centre from Johnsonville into Wellington.

THE PROMISES

* Longer trains and more trains at peak times

* Better, faster customer service

* Smarter uniforms for staff

* New control centre in Wellington

* Smart devices for staff to enable better alerts for faults

* New training facility for all staff

* Possible trial of body CCTV cameras for security

* Work on improvements for the Wairarapa line

BY THE NUMBERS

* 40 days until Transdev takes over Wellington trains at 3am on July 3.

* 15,000 train users each morning

* 97 per cent of the 400 KiwiRail staff retained

* 5700 employed by Transdev Australasia

* NZ$700m a year earned by Transdev Australasia  

* 131.8m journeys on Transdev-operated transport in Australia and New Zealand

 - Stuff

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