Infuriated Wellington commuters blast travel troubles as Transport Minister Michael Wood lashes KiwiRail 'failure'

In recent years, Wellington's commuters have had to deal with disrupted train services, unreliable buses and protesters gluing themselves to roads.

But on Monday, they had to deal with all three at the same time.

KiwiRail bosses were called into the Beehive for a 'please explain' and the Transport Minister's announced a rapid review into the rail disruptions.

There was Monday morning mayhem on the way into Wellington and commuters weren't happy.

"Very busy, very full and very slow," one said.

"It was just chocka, it was packed," said another. 

Almost 200 train services were cancelled. The rest had to travel under 70km/h after KiwiRail's only track evaluation car broke down, so it couldn't do the necessary safety checks.

"I think we feel blindsided by this series of events," said Daran Ponter, chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

"Clearly it's not one that KiwiRail wanted to have happened either but it does underline the fragility of our network when we come to rely on a single piece of equipment."

The issue came to light on Friday.

Some commuters tried to avoid the trains. Though commuting by road wasn't much better - especially when serial climate protesters were at it again.

This time they glued themselves to the Terrace, ironically calling for better rail transport.

Wellingtonians just want reliable transport.

"The commute was just really really really bad," one person said.

"It was awful," said another.

"Incompetence by KiwiRail," added a third.

Transport Minister Michael Wood called it a "failure". 

"Make no mistake about that. It needs to be put right and changes need to be made in the organisation to make sure it doesn't happen again."

On Monday morning, the Transport Minister ordered KiwiRail in for a 'please explain'.

"They own that this is their mistake, that there were errors made in terms of scheduling and rostering in this case."

The track evaluation car has been fixed and is on its way to Wellington, however it may take until Friday before the disruption is sorted.

"I am not happy at all. The whole organisation is not happy. This has never happened for 41 years in Wellington," said KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy.

"We have dropped the ball. We are certainly working night and day at the moment to get this fixed and get this fixed this week."

Wood said he still has confidence in KiwiRail's leadership, but that confidence has been tested.

So too has the confidence and patience of the capital's commuters.