Rail still has a long way to go

KAROLINE TUCKEY
Last updated 09:52 07/02/2013

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The Wellingtonian

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The Wellington Regional Council's first report card on the metropolitan rail service shows there is room for improvement.

The council took over ownership of the trains and stations from KiwiRail last year.

Greater Wellington Rail's first annual report for 2011-2012 was released last month. It showed that although major work had begun towards upgrading rail travel, there was still a long way to go to meet user expectations and council objectives.

The council used five key measures to gauge the performance of the Wellington rail service: Customer satisfaction, patronage, punctuality, reliability and safety.

Only 48 per cent of those surveyed reported they were satisfied with the overall service.

In an independent survey in April and May, fewer than half the respondents who had used the urban rail service recently said they were satisfied with reliability, cost, communication about disruption, park and ride facilities, staffing levels at stations and cycle storage.

The survey also showed that though most customers reported feeling safe on trains (77 per cent), only 59 per cent felt safe at stations and only 33 per cent felt safe in car parks associated with stations.

Safety figures recorded 184 "safety events", six notifiable, including two pedestrians, two vehicles stationary on the track, an assault on a TranzMetro staff member and a traction power outage (from overhead wires).

Other safety events included train drivers not obeying signals, near-misses and mechanical issues during operation.

Small gains were made in punctuality (arrival within five minutes of schedule) and reliability (whether a scheduled service does run).

There were 100,000 extra passenger trips overall for the year but 214,000 trips were attributed to the Rugby World Cup.

The total 11.3 million trips fell short of the growth required to meet the regional council's transport objectives, the report said.

During the 2011-2012 year the average metro rail fare rose 25 cents to $3.37, generating an additional $2.9m in fare revenue, contributing to an increase of 69 cents in five years.

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- The Wellingtonian

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