Wellington rail upgrades steaming ahead


The first stage of Wellington’s rail upgrades have been completed which means more reliable services for commuters, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.

Double-tracking of the 2.7 kilometres rail line between Trentham and Upper Hutt is finished after two years’ work, meaning commuter services and freight trains can pass by each other rather than waiting. Other upgrades completed include a freight loop at Upper Hutt; new platforms and shelters at both Trentham and Wallaceville stations, improved parking facilities, and level crossing safety upgrades.

“By having two tracks between Trentham and Upper Hutt, we’ve cleared a bottleneck where commuter services and freight trains sometimes got in each other’s way, making services more reliable,” Michael Wood said.

“Double tracking this section of line has been talked about since the 1950s – our Government got on with it. We’re committed to revitalising rail after years of managed decline given it contributes up to $2.1 billion annually to our economy

“Trains on the Wellington network provide 14 million passenger journeys a year, helping to reduce emissions and congestion. Passenger numbers are forecast to keep growing - our upgrades will keep that growth on track by supporting more services.

“This work is just one part of our Wellington rail package, which is supporting the region’s economic recovery and will make rail an even better option for Wellingtonians. Upgrades to the Wairarapa line, Plimmerton Station, and the Capital Connection are all coming down the track,” Michael Wood said.

“This is great news for Upper Hutt. The train service connects us to Wellington and it is vital these services are maintained and improved,” MP for Remutaka Chris Hipkins said.

“More and more people are choosing to live in Upper Hutt and commute for work, and both the upgraded rail lines and the new shelters and platforms will ensure the service continues to run smoothly and make our lives easier well into the future,” Chris Hipkins said.  

The Government is investing around $600 million in Wellington’s regional rail network. This includes:

  • Upgrading Plimmerton Station to create a terminus, and renewals on sleepers and tracks in the Tawa tunnels and Kapiti Line – expected to be completed in 2024
  • Renewing sleepers and tracks on the Johnsonville Line, including in the seven tunnels, and slope stabilisation work – expected to be completed in 2023
  • A major upgrade of the aging Wairarapa Line - renewing tracks and sleepers along 60km of the line between Upper Hutt and Masterton, including in the Remutaka Tunnel; upgrading three bridges; and drainage work - expected to be completed in 2023/2024
  • NZUP funding for the Wairarapa Line to build passing loops at Carterton and Maymorn and a second platform at Featherston - to enable trains to pass each other as the line gets busier, and upgrades to more than 30 level crossings – expected to be completed in 2024  
  • Improvements to track lay out and signals at the approach to Wellington Railway Station, removing congestion and allowing more trains to access the busy terminus – expected to be completed in 2024
  • Replacing the aging carriages on the Capital Connection (Palmerston North – Wellington) – expected to begin operating in late 2022/early 2023.
  • A business case for further network improvements to support more commuter services across the region. This will be aligned with the long-distance rolling stock business case Greater Wellington Regional Council is currently developing around replacement rolling stock for Wellington, Wairarapa and Palmerston North. It will include looking at potentially extending electrification north of Waikanae to Levin and beyond – expected to be complete late 2022.