[EDIT: comments were inadvertently disabled on this post, but they are now enabled.]

According to a story in the Dom Post today, a Greater Wellington regional council report up for debate this week suggests closing the least-used stations in the region (Muri and Kenepuru stations on the Paraparaumu line).  Council transport and access committee chairman Peter Glensor said the council and KiwiRail would decide early next year whether to close Muri station, and would consider the future of Kenepuru.

[Slideshow via hadleywood’s album of Wellington Railway Stations]

Apparently while passengers make about 16,000 trips on the Paraparaumu line each day, only 26 people use Muri during morning peak-travel times and 22 use Kenepuru.  That’s not a lot, and its easy to understand the argument behind ditching them.  However, in these times of climate and environmental concerns, it’s hard to get behind the (potential) closures. 

[more after the jump]

Enabling higher utilisation of public transport via improving the commuter experience would surely demand the creation of MORE stations, not a reduction from current numbers.  In addition, consider the recent slips and track closures, greater "station node granularity" (for want of a better term I just made one up) would certainly ease the pain to some commuters in a similar occurence.

A factor in the unpopularity of Muri and Kenepuru stations could be that both suffer somewhat from a lack of adjacent "park’n’ride" car parking facilities.  Doesn’t it then make more future-proofing sense to move these stations somewhere more suitable?

The next years will probably bring greater demand on our suburban commuter rail network, and with it demand for more stations, and more accessible ones at that.  Instead of embracing a progressive approach, our backwards-looking Regional Council is looking to do the opposite.  The inference is clear: "use ’em or lose ’em".  It’s tempting to assume (hope?) that this report is a one-off, but who knows.  What next?  Bye-bye Redwood?  Tootle-oo Taita and Trentham?  Au revior Ava and Awarua Street?  Let’s hope not.