OK Wellington, Do You Want Light Rail?


People’s ideas about what a high quality public transport system in central Wellington would look like are being sought as part of a major study being carried out by Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council and the NZ Transport Agency.

The 18-month study will identify and investigate the merits of various options for a frequent and high quality public transport spine between Wellington Railway Station and Wellington Regional Hospital in Newtown.

Fran Wilde, Chair of Greater Wellington, says the study is part of the Ngauranga to Wellington Airport Transport Corridor Plan and will explore long-term options for different modes, including bus-based and light rail systems.

“We’re talking about a system that would be in place in 20 or 30 years time. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to come up with a sound and exciting public transport solution for this crucial part of the Wellington regional network and one that will meet the needs of future generations.

“The study area is called the spine because it really is the backbone of our regional public transport network – if this part is working as efficiently as possible, it helps all trips to surrounding and outlying areas.”

Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington, says the compact nature of the CBD is one of Wellington’s competitive advantages. “Public transport is an important factor in the success of Wellington’s downtown for businesses, residents and visitors and good public transport is essential for many students, workers and people of all ages.

“Realising our vision for the future of Wellington relies on encouraging walking, cycling, and public transport usage to help make the city more accessible for all.

“I encourage the public to share their views on what makes high quality public transport work.”

“The public transport spine study is an important part of the Ngauranga to Airport Corridor Plan, which will help Wellington identify and implement a range of multi-modal solutions that will improve transport in Wellington for all users,” says NZTA Regional Manager Planning and Investment, Lyndon Hammond.

“We’re keen to hear the public’s views about what quality public transport is and what it may look like in Wellington and this study will help us and our partners to understand the broad range of factors that contribute to a successful public transport scheme,” says Mr Hammond.


Over the next four weeks people will be asked about their current experience of public transport in the central city, what they like about public transport systems in other cities and what they think a frequent, high quality public transport system in central Wellington would look like.

Opinions are being sought through an online questionnaire, surveys of public transport and road users, focus groups and meetings with key stakeholders.

At the same time as local ideas are being sought, the study consultants are also carrying out an international review to find out what’s worked and what hasn’t with public transport systems around the world.

The study will also investigate connections with the wider transport network, including potential changes coming out of the Wellington City Bus Review, and benefits to the economy, the environment and the community.

Over the next 18 months a wide range of options will be identified and investigated, concluding with a shortlist of feasible and affordable options that will be reported to the Regional Transport Committee in early 2013. Public consultation on the shortlisted options will then be carried out to help determine the preferred option to be taken forward.

You can complete the online questionnaire





  1. Jon R says:

    I love 20 and 30 year plans. Nothing much happens and political ideals change things anyway. But selling the future is all politicians do in anycase.

    Here in Switzerland they don´t base things on a 20 or 30 year plan. They have 5 and 10 year plans….AND THINGS GET DONE.

    PS… Basel Public Transport just signed off on 60 new Bombardier Flexity trams for delivery in 2013. Price is 3.6 million Swiss Francs each.

  2. Kris says:

    While I support the concept of light rail, I really don’t see it happening in wellington.

    Wellington is not a city that can benefit from light rail.

    Firstly, what route what the light rail system take?

    If it started from the Railway Stn, it would most likely run along Waterloo Quay, Jevious Quay into Wakefield St to Courtney Place. From Courtney Place along Kent Tce around the 3 tricky corners of the Basin Reserve, along Adelaide Rd, passing Wgtn regional hospital to Newtown. This route has the widest roads that could take two way light rail and normal road traffic.

    Then there is a problem with this route. Kent Tce is one way south bound and Cambridge Tce (next to Kent Tce) is one way northbound. Then there is a problem of splitting tracks at the Basin Reserve to cater for the one way system. It will work if the route goes through the middle of the Basin Reserve and that wont happen due to public out cry about their beloved Basin Reserve, unless a tunnel is dug under it. More costs.

    If the Mayor wants light rail to the airport, where is the route going to go?

    The most likely route would continue from Newtown up Constable St, down the winding Crawford Rd into Kilbirnie, along Rongatai Rd, around the wind swept Cobham Drive (the northern end of the airport) down Calibar Rd to the airport.

    That is not a good option as Constable Street is narrow, Crawford Rd has to many curves in it (reducing speed) and the northern end of the airport is exposed to the northerly winds and sea spray (trolley buses struggle along Cobham drive in a good northerly with some good arching from the overhead due to sea spray). Road works would be needed on Constable St to widen it and Crawford Rd would need to have most curves taken out.

    The airport company is planning to extend and widen the runway to cater for 787/A350 aircraft which would either extend north covering Cobham Drive or south or mixture of both. According to the plans - Calibar Road will be shifted in the widening process. More costs.

    The other possible route is through the propose 2 tunnel system through Mt Victoria, down Ruahine Street into Cobham Drive and down Calibar Rd to the airport.

    This route wont happen as NZTA will not fund a dedicated light rail lane in the proposed Mt Victoria No 2 tunnel and the interchange around the Basin Reserve. The current Mt Victoria tunnel is two lane and can not be converted into a 3 lane tunnel.

    The other possibility is using the single track Hataitai tram tunnel. Not a good option as this was built in 1905. The access to this tunnel from both city the and Hataitai is not good for light rail due to extensive road works necessary at both ends.

    The opportunity of light rail system to Newtown has been missed due to the purchase of the Matangi’s.

    If there were any serious plans about a light rail system using light/heavy rail rolling stock (similar to Germany), then it should have been taken into account before the suburban rail network was upgraded.

    Anyway, Wgtn already has a good bus network from the Station to both the airport with the Airport Flyer and to the regional hospital with Go Wellington.

    The cheapest option is to have an integrated ticketing system that will allow travel to and from any point within the Wellington region. This is far more cost effective than trying to build a light rail system for a short route.

    I am not sure anybody is aware, there was a railway line from the old Wellington Stn to Courtney Place until the early 1900′s and was abandoned when trams where introduced.

  3. Rail says:

    20 to 30 Years??? My first interpretation was that the PT spine would STILL be around in 20 to 30 years.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>