The Capital Connection is the successful rail service that runs between Palmerston North and Wellington. The editorial in the Manawatu Standard sums up the issue:
The future of the Capital Connection rail service between Palmerston North and Wellington is a long way from being decided, but the noises coming out of the capital are cause for concern.
The upgrading of the rail link between Wellington and Waikanae, extending electrification north from Paraparaumu and double-tracking the line, will likely see Waikanae commuters currently catching the Capital Connection switch to Wellington metro services.
And that, as Transport Minister Steven Joyce told the Standard, will have a “probable” impact on the viability of the Capital Connection.
Mr Joyce’s hedging aside, common sense dictates that at least some – and likely most – Waikanae commuters currently using the Capital Connection will make the switch to the more-frequent KiwiRail service.
The exact impact the competition will have on the Capital Connection’s patronage is unclear, but any drop in numbers will affect the service’s viability.
While the issues won’t come to a head until the extension work is completed in about 18 months’ time, Palmerston North shouldn’t wait until it’s too late.