MP: Capital Connection gets lifeline

BY JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 12:00 18/02/2010

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Palmerston Nroth MP Iain Lees-Galloway says the Capital Connection railway link has received a stay of execution.

However, KiwiRail is denying any firm commitments have been made about the service's future.

Mr Lees-Galloway said he left a meeting with KiwiRail yesterday believing the Capital Connection would run as usual for at least six months from the opening of the Wellington metro rail service extensions to Waikanae before its future was decided.

He understood the Waikanae metro extensions would be completed in January 2011.

"I suppose they want to make sure they don't commit to anything in particular," Mr Lees-Galloway said of KiwiRail's refusal to disclose the meeting's discussions.

KiwiRail marketing communications manager Nigel Parry said the firm was still talking to stakeholders about the Capital Connection's future. "It's far too early to make any final decisions."

Mr Parry declined to comment on Mr Lees-Galloway's claim that KiwiRail general manager Ross Hayward had indicated a decision would be made in July 2011.

There had been discussions about a number of options for the service's future, including how long it would be kept in its present guise, Mr Parry said. "We're not about to make any decisions about the future of the Capital Connection at this stage."

Contrary to Mr Lees-Galloway's understanding, Mr Parry said KiwiRail expected the extensions to its metro service to be finished in about 18 months.

Mr Lees-Galloway said he had been unaware of the six-month timeframe. "I'm very pleased. It's a very sensible approach. From a business point-of-view, it's the only logical thing for [KiwiRail] to do. They realise it's important for them to work in a way which takes on board public feeling."

One option discussed with KiwiRail would be providing a rail service between Waikanae and Palmerston North, he said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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