National calls for urgent investigation into Wellington train disruption

KiwiRail is urging Wellington commuters to expect major disruptions next week while delayed safety assessments are carried out on the train network.

The delay has been caused by a crucial piece of equipment that broke earlier this week. Now the National Party is calling for an urgent investigation into the incident.

It's no secret Wellington train services are pretty hit-and-miss.

"It's poor, just so poor," one person told Newshub.

"I find it frustrating when buses unexpectedly replace them," another said.

And KiwiRail is warning next week is going to be especially hard for commuters.

"Come Monday there will be a 70km/h speed restriction and unfortunately that means a reduced timetable," it said.

That's because KiwiRail's one and only rail evaluation car broke down this week. That's delaying much-needed safety assessments to Wellington's train network.

KiwiRail said the equipment is now working again but says there will still be disruptions.

"We will commence evaluations of the Wellington network from Monday evening through until Friday the 5th of May."

That means there will be around 200 fewer services each day next week, on top of existing bus cancellations caused by driver shortages.

The Regional Council is calling it a monumental failure by KiwiRail.

"I'm flabbergasted quite frankly that our rail network hinges on one piece of equipment. It seems rather third-world," said Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) chair Daran Ponter.

While National is demanding answers.

"National believes there needs to be an inquiry into what has happened here, why we only have one machine, why it broke down, and why this was allowed to happen," said National's transport spokesperson Simeon Brown.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the Government is investing in a second rail evaluation car.

"We should never have been in this situation. That's because of a lack of past investment, we are fixing that now, and in the meantime I expect KiwiRail to keep its eye on the ball," he said.

KiwiRail said takes "full responsibility" for the issue and apologises for the disruption it's going to cause.