The current debate regarding the Capital Connections seems to be focussed on cutting it, because it is too expensive, is not fully funded, and therefore makes a loss.
Somehow expecting 150 commuters to all drive down to Waikanae to catch a suburban train is completely unrealistic. Will there be an additional 150 to 200 carparks? Will there be an extra four carriages to carry the 150 passengers? The reality is that many will simply keep driving.
Perhaps some lateral thinking is needed. If a couple of two-carriage [light-rail] railcars ran twice daily from Palmerston North to Waikanae, connecting to a suburban train running direct through to Wellington (or stopping maybe at Paraparaumu and Porirua), might the problem be solved? If railcars truly are not an option, then several good- quality coaches could interchange with suburban trains at Waikanae.
Ohau, Manakau, and Te Horo are all areas of residential growth, largely due to lifestyle blocks. Many commuters from these and outlying beach areas who already drive up to 20km to their nearest station, often simply stay in their cars and keep driving.
I suggest serious consideration be given to re-opening certain smaller now-defunct stations, complete with shelters, lighting and parking, which may well entice additional travellers. Four or five buses on the road, is no great burden on traffic flows - 200 cars are, especially if they continue all the way through to Wellington.
- Horowhenua Mail