Melling Line temporary closure endorsed by Greater Wellington
Greater Wellington councillors have endorsed the closure of the Melling Line for up to 18 months from July 2024 to make way for the construction of vital infrastructure for Te Wai Takamori o Te Awa Kairangi delivering RiverLink.
Melling Station and its railway track sit directly where a proposed new interchange over State Highway 2 (SH2) and a new bridge over Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River will be built.
The Melling Line is a two-stop branch of the Hutt Valley Line and Greater Wellington Chair Daran Ponter says supporting its temporary closure was a difficult decision for councillors.
“Our endorsement is conditional on alternative public transport options being made available that provide a similar or enhanced level of service for affected passengers,” Cr Ponter says.
“Temporarily closing the line is a bitter pill for our communities in the Hutt Valley’s western hills for whom climate action is catching the train.
“We hope they use the Hutt Valley Line and other public transport modes during this crucial work to improve access to Lower Hutt, revitalise its CBD, and strengthen its flood defences”.
In March 2023, an average of 457 passengers boarded southbound Melling Line services on weekdays, 342 at Melling Station and 115 at Western Hutt Station.
Metlink Group Manager Samantha Gain says a suite of options is being considered to maintain the passengers’ access to public transport during construction and encourage active travel modes.
“The options include new and targeted bus services, free or discounted fares, and additional park and ride facilities at nearby stations,” Ms Gain says.
“The options will be chosen over the next 12 months and promoted by a robust communications campaign to optimise patronage. Metlink will monitor uptake during construction and remain agile if changes are needed.”
Council heard at today’s meeting that keeping the Melling Line open would compromise worker and public safety by exposing construction crews to a live rail corridor and passengers to building sites.
Closing the line will reduce project costs, expedite construction and enable the line to reopen quicker - in up to 18 months as opposed to more than 24 months.
The Melling station building will be preserved due to its heritage status, and the station moved south.
The new station will have a new park and ride facility and a bus interchange with safer access to SH2, safer walking and cycling connections to the CBD (via a new walking and cycling bridge), the western hills, the new Melling to Petone cycleway and new river corridor paths.
“While some Melling Line passengers may choose private transport during construction we don’t expect a significant impact on traffic volumes. Patronage is expected to exceed current levels when rail services resume,” Ms Gain says.
“The new train station will be easier to access, provide an enhanced passenger experience and offer a quicker commute than private transport.”
For more information visit https://teawakairangi.co.nz/
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