The picture by Geoffrey Churchman shows the northbound Capital Connection entering Waikanae over the bridge crossing State Highway 1. 


At present the weekdays Capital Connection train, which runs from Palmerston North to Wellington in the morning and back again in the evening (see timetable), is operated by KiwiRail’s long distance passenger train subsidiary KiwiRail Scenic.  However, the company makes no secret of the fact it doesn’t want to run the train.  Passenger trains are notoriously difficult to run at a profit and the company clearly has orders from the present government (the sole shareholders) that it must make profits.

The obvious solution is to replace the Capital Connection with commuter trains that run between Palmerston North and Waikanae.  At Waikanae the passengers could transfer to an already scheduled electric commuter train to continue to Wellington.

As can be seen from the timetable, the time required between Palmerston North and Waikanae is only a few minutes more than the time required between Waikanae and Wellington. Because the demand for services north of Waikanae would, however, not be as great as they are south of Waikanae, there would not need to be as many trains, maybe only one every hour in the peak period and only one every two hours the rest of the day in each direction. This would only need two train sets.  Thus the existing train consist could be halved, a diesel locomotive attached to one end of say three cars, and a driving cab installed in one end of a carriage so the train could operate in a push-pull service fashion as is done overseas.

The advantages of this are the potential for passenger traffic northbound to the towns of Otaki, Levin and Shannon, and to the city of Palmerston North and the likelihood of people making visits to these towns as day trips from Wellington, Porirua, Paraparaumu etc.  At present the only choice is a long distance bus to Palmerston North.  People tend to prefer trains because they are more comfortable than buses and the stations are both more substantial than bus stops and are away from the constant procession of road traffic.