Could the Capital Connection run 3 times a day?

7 05 2011

Auckland Trains has been discussing putting rail to Hamilton. It makes a whole lot of sense to have regular rail service between those cities, New Zealand’s biggest, and 4th biggest. The Capital Connection has been doing the same kind of service about the same distance and between smaller cities quite successfully since 1991.

Currently the Capital Connection runs only on weekdays from Palmerston North to Wellington in the morning and in reverse in the evening, but Palmerston North (pop. 75,000) is only 140km from Wellington (pop. 180,000) and it passes through Porirua, Kapiti and the Horowhenua (combined pop. 125,000). It however doesn’t stop at Porirua!!!!

Why does the Capital Connection not stop at Porirua? Even the Wikipedia entry on the Capital Connection shows the train in Porirua. I would use it more if I could get on or off in Porirua. There must be a few people living in Levin and Otaki who work in Porirua who would use the train, and I would hazard a guess maybe even some in Palmie. I’ll send a link to this post to Porirua Mayor, Nick Leggett to see if he agrees.

It is quite a comfortable train to ride on, even if I do have to ride into Wellington, or get off in Waikanae or Paraparaumu to change onto the local train that will stop in Porirua. Here’s a piccie of the train heading north as I was walking to Paekakariki one day.

The Overlander does the trip in reverse, but it is the Auckland to Wellington train and I don’t think Tranzscenic market it as a Palmie to Wellington train at all. It leaves Wellington in the morning at 7.25am, stopping in Levin at 9.05am and Palmerston North at 9.45am. It also will pickup passengers in Porirua and Paraparaumu on the way. In the evening it leaves Palmie at 5pm, arriving in Wellington at 7.25pm. Yet the fare is $31 for a super saver or $54 for a flexi fare. The Capital Connection is $24.50 or $19.80 on a ten trip and there are monthly passes to make it cheaper still.

So branding part of the Overlander trip as Capital Connection and maybe having one of the CC style carriages and charging the same fares (maybe with the scope of stopping additionally at Shannon, Otaki and Waikanae) then there is a second Capital Connection service. At the other end of the line that carriage can come into its own again and similarly provide a Hamilton to Auckland service. 2 birds with one stone, as it were.

And what does the morning Capital Connection train do all day when it is in Wellington? Nothing. It is just stabled. So why not drop the number of carriages by a few, and then make a return run to Palmie and back.Suddenly there are now 3 services in each direction between Wellington and Palmerston North.

A summary timetable would approximately be:

Palmerston North  6.15am  1.00pm  5.00pm  
Shannon           6.38am  1.23pm  5.23pm       
Levin             6.53am  1.38pm  5.40pm
Otaki             7.13am  1.58pm  6.00pm
Waikanae          7.25am  2.10pm  6.12pm
Paraparaumu       7.32am  2.17pm  6.17pm
Porirua           8.03am  2.48pm  7.00pm
Wellington        8.20am  3.05pm  7.25pm

Wellington        7.25am  10.00am  5.15pm  
Porirua           7.42am  10.17am  5.32pm
Paraparaumu       8.20am  10.55am  6.03pm
Waikanae          8.27am  11.02am  6.10pm
Otaki             8.42am  11.17am  6.22pm
Levin             9.05am  11.37am  6.42pm   
Shannon           9.20am  11.52am  6.57pm
Palmerston North  9.45am  12.13pm  7.20pm

All done without any extra infrastructure, or any extra rolling stock, except for maybe an extra carriage on the Overlander. So a thrice daily service for the price of some extra staff, and some diesel.

Apparently back in 1994 extra middle of the day services were tried but were withdrawn because they weren’t being well patronised. It could be different with a 3rd service and it all being well marketed. The midday service to Wellington allows 2 hours and 10 minutes for shopping and running errands. It’d be tempting to ride the train and not drive into Wellington (or more likely not make the trip at all) if you were living in Otaki or Levin.

Did I mention it should stop at Porirua?

Oh and Levin’s plan to build a new station closer to Queen Street could then be well justified.



2 responses

9 05 2011
brian peter drury

Or, make the Capital Connection the Waikanae Connection and unload everyone there and us the train to make 2 more trips a day .
The same thing would work well on the Wairarapa line at Upper Hutt

9 05 2011

Brian, I don’t think there is a lot to gain with that (well okay more services during the day as you say). There’d be a bit of a rush on the Waiakanae Platform, which would then have to accommodate 2 long trains. It’d make a few people not bother with it if they have to change trains. And then it’d be an all stop or at Mana and every station beginning with P.

I do like the idea of a Porirua stop, and I would use it to get on a bus to J’ville.

But with a Porirua stop and a timed connection on a Porirua, Whitby, Manor Park, Upper Hutt bus service then there’d be connections for those going to the Hutt as well. Plus I think there should be a Porirua-Upper Hutt bus service anyway.

I just had a thought though. How about this Brian? The CC-train could go PN-Wellington in the morning, then return to PN, then go to Waikanae and back to PN 3 times, then to Wellington, then to PN. And the Overland still does a CC carriage or two when it runs. Suddenly there are 6 services each way a day (and it’s only the middle of the day ones where you have to change at Waikanae). The chief problem would be a loco required at either end, or some kind of shunting to get the loco up to the other end of the train at Waikanae.

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