Riding the Wellington Peak Time Trains


I’m blogging from the Wellington trains during the afternoon / afterwork rush  - and so enjoying this beautiful well-ordered city.

wellington inside

Note the overhead luggage racks

As I noted this morning,Wellington, like Auckland, is suffering a rail service that has been decades in neglect but big improvements are on the way including new trains and track improvements.

Like Auckland, passengers are having to go through a bit of pain to get there (services are running up to 15 minutes late on the Paraparaumu line due to rail maintenance - nothing compared to what we get sometimes.)

The Wellington trains are fast and give a taste of what a good system electric trains are but they are old and look it. But one point: the windows are so incredibly dirty, I can’t even make out what stop we are at as I type this.

wellington dirty

Improvements to eight suburban stations are being made as part of the $500m improvements.

So many of these issues are the same that Auckland has faced  - such as small stations with inadequate seating and  completely inadequate shelter from the wind and rain which Wellington apparently gets (you can’t imagine that on a beautiful day)   -especially those stations perched on hillsides.

Take this stop we’ve just come to at Johnsonville. It’s the end of the line, part of a busy little township and the shelter is like one of Auckland’s tired old ancient stations that are being revamped.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Johnsonville could get a Kingsland-type makeover.

wellington johnsonville

wellington tickets (1)Like Auckland’s situation, the staff  are trying hard to be as pleasant as possible under the trying working conditions. Passengers have stories about the breakdowns over winter and how they were dumped on freezingwellington signs platforms and given absolutely no information whatsoever about what was happening.

Kiwirail has now promised better information on platforms but looking at the platforms, it’s hard to see how this information could be conveyed which is probably why Kiwirail talks of at least better website info which is not much help if you don’t have the technology while waiting. (This is an issue we face in Auckland as well ) .Kiwirail promises ongoing improvements.

At Wellington’s main station, the information board’s are on each platform (above) but not a  complete list. A rather beautifully spoken BBC-type announcer was making regular announcements there. Staff at the ticket office were very polite and cracked a dry joke. There’s a New World supermarket at the main station, which is helpful and easier than our Foodtown which is a walk from Britomart.

I noticed in Wellington, a man wearing cyclist headgear get on but not have his bike with him.

wellington alight happyThis sign explains it. Notice the big step you have to take to get off the train.

wellington no bikes
wellington step inside

I am especially curious to see how much wiring there is after the recent debate here following publication of Kiwirail’s images of what our (more modern wired) electrification landscape might look like. New wiring is also happening in Wellington so, as reader Hugh pointed out earlier, I have no idea what’s new and what’s old. Anyway here’s how it looks out the window at the moment.

welliongton wires

Note Wellington also has bumper to bumper traffic!!

Note Wellington also has bumper to bumper traffic!!

OK, I have to get off so will upload this now. With the 48 new two car units arriving from mid-next year, and all the other upgrades, Wellington won’t know itself.

How amazing it will be to have modern train services operating in both Auckland and Wellington.

Incidentally when a guard asked me why I was getting off and then planning to get back on again for a return journey. I told her  I was from Auckland and we’re getting electric trains soon so I had come down to check out Wellington’s trains.
She asked with a puzzled frown: “What do you mean you’re getting electric? How do your trains run now?”
She obviously has always lived in Wellington where the only trains you know are electric. What do I tell her? Our trains are pulled by horse and cart?!! I was lost for an answer.




  1. dsadas says:

    They do allow bikes onboard but not in passenger areas. There is a small door which needs to be opened by hand with a small area for placing bikes in with no seats thats seperated from the passenger area.

    The new overhead structures are the all metal silver coloured ones.

  2. Jon C says:

    Thanks for the info dsadas

  3. Jeremy Harris says:

    I only rode the Johnsonville line when I was down there last time, I hope to go down before New Years and will ride another line…

    Ride a trolley bus when yours down there, I rode one to the zoo, more reasons for Aucklanders to be jealous…

    I’ve always said if I get fed up with Auckland’s situation at least I don’t have to move overseas to live in a city with a good public transport system…

  4. Brent C says:

    The railway station at Johnsonville is a shocker! WCC has plans to significantly upgrade the town centre area and have more mixed use development so there is more density around the transport nodes. I’m hoping an upgraded station with a decent bus interchange can be established.

    After reading your post several months ago about rail to St Lukes, I submitted on the Johnsonville mall redevelopment. I said that the station should be incorporated into the mall development, like what happens in Singapore (stations are effectively shopping malls as well). I also said the mall should have real time information so shoppers can know when the next train/bus is.

    I don’t think anything has been made of it just yet.

  5. Ian says:

    Go the English Electric. I would like to think that the last revenue runs by these old war horses will be on the J’ville line but I suspect that this line will be fully Rotemised pretty quickly. There is something about the sound of the sturdy EE traction motors powering up the hill to Crofton Downs and the familiar bang of the line contactors dropping out as the driver brings the controller back to coast.

  6. Jon C says:

    @Brent C Good luck with that proposal.Excellement initiative on your part.
    @Ian Hope the improvements come soon for you
    @ Jeremy I have had nothing but good experiences on Wellington buses

  7. Nigel Parry says:

    Hi Jon C, thanks for the interesting post. Nigel from KiwiRail here.

    Yes, there is a lot of investment going into the Wellington rail network. Here’s some info;

    Here’s some more general info;

    Thanks also for your comments about our staff.

    Incidentally, one of the items being addressed by the upgrade is a new ‘vehicle wash’, currently being installed. Our old wash has been removed to make way and until it is finished trains are not cleaned are regularly as they normally would. The view from the window should be clearer the next time you visit, which is good as the Johnsonville Line is an inner city rail scenic delight as you travel up through the Ngaio Gorge.

  8. Jon C says:

    Nice to hear from you Nigel and thanks for the update and the great work being done by staff to make Wellington a modern rail city. I had a great time riding the trains and everyone was so friendly.


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