Up until now it has been in the control of KiwiRail. The practical significance of the change isn’t clear although TransDev has proposed free wifi (at present there is no wifi) and ‘quiet cars’ in which people are expected to be quiet. We don’t really see the latter as an issue, however, given the relative brevity of most trips and generally passengers are quiet anyway.
Some would like faster trips, although that would require speed limit increases and that is unlikely as it would require big track straightening work.
At peak times the trains get full near Wellington, and longer trains would alleviate that. No penalties for buying tickets from conductors rather than at stations should be policy. Integrated ticketing for bus and trains would be good, including the use of tap-in, tap-out cards.
Extending the electrification the 15 km to Otaki has been proposed, however, diesel multiple units between Waikanae and Palmerston North are still the best solution for the paucity of services north of Waikanae.