To date no decision has been made by KiwiRail with regard to the Capital Connection. It must be frustrating to regular rail commuters who use the service from Palmerston North to Wellington and return for work and business requirements.
With patronage dropping on the Capital Connection since the extended rail service from Wellington to Waikanae, it seems inevitable that the revenue driven KiwiRail management will finally stop the service and probably introduce a bus service, either from Palmerston North to Waikanae or a full route return service from Palmerston North to Wellington with stops at Shannon, Levin and Otaki.
Since KiwiRail emerged from the private rail run down period of foreign ownership, they have struggled to maintain viable rail passenger services, particularly in the North Island, the latest being a change of name from the original Overlander to the Northern Explorer, with a reduction in the number of railway station stops, a reduction in the number of rail trips and a price increase.
It would appear that the re- branded train service is to encourage tourists to use the service rather than New Zealand families wishing to travel by rail on account of the expense of flying or using a vehicle.
With the inevitable removal of the Capital Connection, regular commuters will be faced with a car or coach trip to Waikanae to link up with the metro service until such time as the rail line is electrified as far as Levin and long-term as far as Palmerston North.
In the interim, a government subsidy plus finance from the two regional councils may delay the removal of the rail service.
- Horowhenua Mail