High Noon For Capital Connection


Will the Capital Connection between Palmerston North and Wellington survive now that Wellington’s suburban services has been extended to Waikanae or will a service just run to Waikanae?

The Manawatu Standard has revealed the numbers since the Waikanae service began.


On board Capital Connection | TranzScenic

In the first week, 129 fewer passengers took the service.

Since then numbers have fluctuated.  On the evening service to Palmerston North  on February 21 there were 22 less passengers than the average.

Over the last two months the average number of passengers picked up from Waikanae per day on the morning service was 90. Average figures for Horowhenua stations were: Shannon, four, Levin, 45, and Otaki, 60.

KiwiRail said it would review the service after 6 months (corrected from earlier copy) of the new Waikanae service. The Waikanae service began on February 20.

Not all Waikanae commuters who changed to the Waikanae service are happy. Some complain the Kapiti service is very overcrowded compared to the chances of getting a seat on the Capital Connection.

And one Kapiti line user user commented on Facebook this week:

“A”nyone else see the irony here? Twice this week a unit has broken down in front of the capital conection and we have had to rescue their passengers and push the bldy thing into Wellington so now we are over an hour late. And you want to cancel our service! Who will push the units then huh???? “

Another commenting on the incidents said:

“Another good reason to save the Capital Connection. Today it came to the rescue of loads of Tranz Metro unit passengers that had to get off their train. A much cheaper option that having to put on buses.”

MP Iain Lees-Galloway who has been campaigning on Facebook to save the service says of the numbers: “Numbers are down - but we have no idea if they are low enough to trigger the service being cut or the need for a subsidy.

“It would help if KiwiRail would be a bit more up front about what the cut off point actually is. Then we would know what we are dealing with.”

KiwiRail is saying no decision has yet been made.

In its weekly newsletter distributed to staff a few weeks ago, it tells Palmerston North politicians and media to hold fire on writing an obituary.

The KiwiRail’s Passenger General Manager said it was too early then to draw conclusions as it takes time for numbers to average our and patterns to emerge.

KiwiRail is offering discounted fares to Waikanae people using the Capital Connection.

The Waikanae to Wellington service for an adult costs $11.50. On the Capital Connection service , that costs $13.




  1. Jim C says:

    I have often used the Capital Connection to go to Wgtn for the day. It saves the hassle fuel, trying to find parks, let alone the hassle of driving in the peak traffic. The other nice thing is once the train has berthed, prior to evening departure, you can get on board. The toilets etc on board work so you can freshen up after the day in the city. You can have a nice small bottle of wine or beer, tea, coffee etc. It will be a disaster if it is removed.

  2. Kris says:

    I agree with Jim C

    The Capital Connection should be keep.

    It should stop at all stations until Waikanae then Papaparaumu and express to Wellington.

    The same on return.

    With suburban services Wellington to Waikanae, the Connection would regain popularity as it did when it first started, as pack services between Wellington & Papaparaumu will not be there, giving more room again for passengers to/from Palmerston North.

    Remarket the Connection to Palmerston Nth & Manawatu consumers.

    Unfortunately, the Marketing division of of Kiwirail’s Rail Passenger Group (Tranz Scenic & Tranz Metro) doesn’t know what the means. They couldn’t organise a ‘ P**S Up’ in brewery if they had an instruction manual telling them how to do it.

    If the Connection does go the that train heaven in the sky, then the carriages should be used on the proposed Hamilton/Auckland service and that would solve Auckland Transport problem about what Auckland based carriages could be used on the Hamilton/Auckland service.

    To have the facilities of the Connection carriages would be great for travelling between NZ’s 4th largest city to NZ’s largest city, especially since Hamilton is wooing IT businesses to move from the south to the north would benefit all parties concerned.

    Unfortunately Kiwirail is blinked and short sighted.

  3. Matt says:

    The Capital Connection leaves Palmerston North at 6.15am and arrives in Wellington at 8.20am and returns 5.15pm, arriving Palmy at 7.20pm and costs $24.50.

    The Overlander does the opposite in regards to afternoon and evening, leaving Palmie at 5pm, arriving in Wellington 7.25pm. In the mornings it leaves Wellington at 7.25am, and arrives in Palmie at 9.45am. It costs $54.00 one way.

    Plenty of time in the middle of the day to get the Capital Connection train to do another trip to Palmy and back.

    So market the Overlander between Palmie and Welly as another Capital Connection leg (with the same prices) and make use of an otherwise stationary train set with the extra return trip per day and suddenly there’s 3 services each way between the two cities and places in between without any substantial extra cost.

  4. Matt L says:

    I think there might be a bit of sensationalism from the newspapers about the train. Yes it might be down by 130 passengers a week but I believe that there were still around 1500 trips on it during that week so lets not write it off just yet.

    Also even if passenger numbers drop to a level that becomes unsustainable in its current form, there might be other options available for it e.g. running it with a silver fern would likely be more economical and even slightly faster. Another option could be to run a silver fern between Waikanae and Palmie. It would mean that passengers would have to change trains but providing it was timed right then it shouldn’t be to much of a hassle.

  5. Kris says:

    For Matt L and Matt

    The Capital Connection is fine as it standards.

    Most of the traffic is from Palmerston Nth to Wellington, not much from Wellington to Palmerston North during the day and that is catered for by InterCity/Newmans 6 daily services.

    To another Connection return service during the day wouldn’t be economical and I don’t think the Greater Wellington Regional Council wants to spend money that, when it wants to get more people using the Wairarapa Connection.

    What is need to get more people using the 2 services currently available, is to stop the continual breakdown that plagues the service and have more room.

    Besides the breakdowns, the biggest compliant the Palmerston Nth passengers have that it gets crowded from Waikanae and Paraparaumu to Wellington.

    With the introduction of regular suburban services from Waikanae which will resolve the crowding problems and with the right marketing then passenger numbers will rise to when the service first started.

    The people who travel Palmerston Nth to Wellington love the service but hated the crowding from Waikanae.

  6. Matt L says:

    Kris - As I said, I think there is a bit of sensationalism from the local papers down there. Yelling “services are about to be cut” sells more papers than ” Waikanae only a causes small impact on service”

  7. Paul in Sydney says:

    The numbers really don’t say much

    “In the first week, 129 fewer passengers took the service.”

    Fewer that what? By what percent? This is the first week. People are going to be trying the new Metro service. (the Manawatu Standard has more info)

    It’s less than 10% of the 2010/2011 average!
    Hardy reason to cut the service,

    Sounds like we should be talking about how do we improve the service, in fact it is already happening with track improvements over the Xmas break to North South Junction, speeding up journey times will make it more attractive to people in Pamly (just need to let them know – promote!) That would be good news and not news worthy) Did it make the news?

    Are there any more track improvements in the pipeline as this is part of KiwiRail’s main backbone - AKL-CHCH?

    Is running a midday return service viable, (WLT–PN–WLT) are there any numbers out there?

    Lets get some better facts & Figures. And more time to get a better picture.

  8. Mike says:

    A better picture would be good - and perhaps even one of the Capital Connection, rather than of the TranzAlpine!

    In the early days of the Capital Connection there was a Wlg-Pn return trip during the day, but it was soon withdrawn through lack of patronage.

  9. AKT says:

    @Mike Good point!

  10. Luke says:

    In terms of extra services the hope would be for a Silver Fern railcar to do several return shuttle runs between Palmerston North and Waikanae. Maybe an 8am and 11am service from Palmy would suit some people, and a return service connecting with 3pm and 7pm departure from Wellington.

    In terms of track improvements there are plan for a realignment at forest lakes just north of Otaki. Have heard some talk that this is happening in the next few months but have nothing to confirm this.

  11. Max says:

    The photo is definitely of the Capital Connection and it was part of a photo shoot in the Wellington rail yards in 1999, using Tranz Rail staff rather than professional models. The rake was originally part of the Tranz Metro fleet with Tranz Metro branding.

  12. Geoff says:

    @Matt, don’t forget the CC used to run Palmy-Wgtn-Palmy-Wgtn-Palmy each day, and was very poorly used on the day run. After a few months they cancelled it.

    @AKT, I think the review is after six months, not six weeks.

  13. Jon C says:

    @Max Interesting background, thanks. I swapped the photo out when Mike pointed out it was the wrong train.
    @ Geoff You’re right. Thanks.

  14. Andy says:

    Check out that IBM laptop! Classic!

  15. Rene says:

    Whats with the 1990′s photo? Or are people in Wellington still dressing like this and using film cameras?

  16. Giel says:

    Ref Kris’s comment about Tranz Scenic / Tranz Metro marketing not being able to oraganies a P*** Up in a brewery. I believe that is one of the few things they can do well after all they run the regular Tui Brewery rail excursions which by alll accounts are their most popular/successful excursions. Shame about the rest of their organising ability.


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