Capital Connection Needs More Revenue


The Capital Connection is continuing for now – but passengers will have to pay more.

And the signs are not good.

KiwiRail’s General Manager Passenger Dr Deborah Hume says KiwiRail is committed to continuing the Capital Connection, “but we need it to be commercially viable, and that requires decent passenger numbers and fares that reflect the true cost of running the train and the level of service provided.”

“We are currently operating the service at a loss. There is no subsidy for operating the service and while we were hopeful it would remain commercially viable after the extension of the Kapiti line to Waikanae and introduction of Matangi to the line, we are now seeing a worrying trend,.”

A fare increase is the first step in lifting the viability of the service, which also needs support from more passengers and/or a grant from another source to bridge the gap in revenue.

The fare increase for the Capital Connection service is in line with the increase for Wellington’s Tranz Metro service’s multi-trip and monthly fares which is also going up next month on November 1.   The fare increases range go up to 8.7% but the net average increase is 4%.

Deborah Hume calls continued support and additional growth from passengers boarding the Capital Connection at Waikanae and Paraparaumu, in particular, as being “ extremely important.”

“ Without this support the commercial viability of the entire service becomes very challenging. We have had to ensure that Capital Connection monthly fares from Waikanae and Paraparaumu remain competitive with Metro fares from these stations.

Additionally, KiwiRail is looking at ways to grow patronage for the Capital Connection service, including adding Porirua as a stop with minimal impact on arrival times into Wellington or into Paraparaumu, to test the market that lives on the Coast and travels to Porirua. This will be introduced to the service on a trial basis in the New Year.

KiwiRail says the changes in fares coincide with a recently conducted onboard survey which indicated a genuine appetite for a premium commuter service from Palmerston North, Waikanae and Paraparaumu, as well as the desire for the introduction of a quarterly pass.

As a result, KiwiRail is introducing a quarterly pass in January 2012 as part of the changes to the service and is looking at other ways to grow patronage.“The focus of this year’s fare increase is on monthly trip and the new quarterly trip tickets, which provides a further discount over a monthly pass.

Most Capital Connection trips are made with multi-trip tickets or monthly passes. These fares will increase generally by about 5%, with higher increases for the less purchased single trips.

While there will be a 5% increase for monthly passes from Palmerston North, Levin and Otaki, there’s no increase in monthly passes for people getting on the Capital Connection at Waikanae or Paraparaumu.




  1. BD says:

    What about just extending electrification all the way to Palmerston North and or extending the Matangi to there. This will generate a huge amount of patronage and make Palmerston North a major growth or commuter area, but no the politicians are too busy going on about how much it costs and that roads are the way to go.

  2. Rob says:

    Yep! Typical NZ short-sightedness. Depressing.

  3. joust says:

    a pity it doesn’t make enough money - a good service otherwise.

  4. Jon R says:

    It is a shame commuter services like this are forced to have to make financial profit without looking at the greater good they offer the regions, environment, businesses etc…

    The dangerous situation that is happening here with the Cap Connection would be exactly the same scenairo some folk I read on this site and other forums oddly promote. Other countries in the 1st world know the true value of commuter rail is above just “making a financial profit”. Fortunately I am currently living in a country that can see the “big picture”, not the myopic one focused soley on profits.

    Will NZ wake up? Not with the current National Govt, that´s for sure.

  5. rtc says:

    @Jon R It’s a shame NZ is slowly moving backwards due to ypical short-sightedness from National and NZTA - Billions can be pumped into roads - how many of them are making profits? PT is there to do more than make money it provides all sorts of social good and ease of mobility that have nothing to do with padding KiwiRail’s bottom line.

  6. Kris says:

    I agree with BD about electrifying the line to Palmerston Nth & running the Matangis between Wellington & Palmerston Nth.

    With Air NZ Link starting regular domestic flights from Paraparaumu & since people in Palmy hate their departure tax if flying from Palmy, then regular trains Palmerston Nth/Paraparaumu/Wellington using the Matangis would make sense.

    Air NZ in its business plan for flights in/out Paraparaumu has earmarked the airport as a back up to Wellington in case weather restricts Q300, ATR & Beachcraft 1900 flight operations. Secondly, Paraparaumu is cheaper to operate from & Air NZ would like use Paraparaumu as a secondary domestic hub for the Wellington region.

    By have an efficient rail system Palmerston Nth/Paraparaumu/Wellington would help Air NZ & the local to achieve this.

    Does anybody know, if in the original specifications of the Matangi’s was continuous operations between Wellington & Palmerston Nth 12-14 hrs p/day 7 day a week factored in?

    With regards Jon R comments, NZ has to wake up to reality. NZ is a country with a small population compared to other countries. As an island nation with a small population, we can not afford to keep building roads as a ‘Cheaper’ option, as we all know, in the next 20-30 years, cost of extracting oil will escalate in price to the point it will make it to expensive for the average NZer to run their beloved car. The current electric, hybrid or alternative fuels cars are still a long way off in being mass produced.

    It is time that NZers need to look out side the square & think at least 5-10 years down the track, that the most affordable way to get around NZ will be use by public transport with rail being the back bone of that transport system similar to what is happening in Europe.

    If investment in developing a national rail passenger transport system connecting our main centres is done now, then it will future protect ourselves for the high oil prices of the future.

    Unfortunately, NZers have a love with their car & that is good for local running. Electric car technology is improving every year & have operating ranges now up to 300 to 400 kms and in some cases up to 500kms on a single charge but it will take time to build a national infrastructure for alternative fuels cars. By the time it is completed, NZ would have built an efficient rail passenger transport network.

    To fund building a national rail passenger transport network, it will mean that the NZ household would have to pay for it, through surcharges on petrol and local & regional councils adding a surcharge to rateable households, like in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, etc.

    The Chinese has a couple of billions dollars to invest in NZ. We should use some of that, especially electrifying Auckland to Hamilton & Palmerston Nth to Waikanae sectors & develop light/heavy rail in Christchurch.

  7. Tim says:

    Small steps mate, we just don’t have the numbers of Matangi to do that - the Capital connection train needs to be expanded first, then maybe electrify. In Sydney, the ~hourly Diesel trains begin about 50k from Sydney (Campbelltown) and run another ~130k so if they can’t justify electrifying, I doubt we could.

  8. Kegan says:

    @Jon R

    “The dangerous situation that is happening here with the Cap Connection would be exactly the same scenairo some folk I read on this site and other forums oddly promote.”

    At the other extreme you have those who promote establishing a service at any cost and with any number of compromises - in the case of the proposed Waikato service making it worse than last time it was tried (and failed) …

    Somewhere between the extremes is the way foward, methinks.

  9. Jon R says:

    True Keegan, though I don´t know who is promoting the latter. Could you advise us who is?

    We had a national passenger rail network, yes, like the roading system, it was subsidised. It was run down by a certain mainly blue political persuasion. Can we do it again?

  10. Robincole says:

    Would I be right in saying the Wairarapa trains are subsidised? Cap Connection is a comuter train too. Levin is about the same size and the same distance from Wellington as Masterton. So it should attract some sort of subsidy, even if it’s a pro rata subsidy just covering Wellington-Levin.


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