Tomorrow marks the 70th anniversary of electrified commuter service on the Johnsonville Line into Wellington.
The line itself dates back to 1885 and was the main line north from the capital until 1937, when the Tawa flat deviation was opened to all rail traffic.
In the early 1930’s rail management considered closing the bypassed Johnsonville Line. However local residents campaigned to keep their vital link to the city of Wellington. The idea of using electrical multiple units was put forward and accepted. These would be the first of their kind in New Zealand.
The first train ran on the 2nd July 1938, arriving at Johnsonville at 3.50pm for an official opening ceremony carried out by Minister of Railways, Dan Sullivan and Wellington Mayor Thomas Hislop.
“The electrification of the Johnsonville Line was a trailblazing moment for commuter rail in New Zealand,” comments Mr Parry. “Tranz Metro now takes around ten thousand cars a day of Wellington’s roads and the Johnsonville line has had a big part to play in the clean and green nature of Wellington.”
It seems that Wellington area residents have been fighting for sensible transport solutions for at least seventy years. The fight continues today over plans to build the Transmission Gully motorway at a time when oil prices are rising and car use is declining. Let’s hope the politicians listen to the people again this time.