David Bennett MP a Disappointment

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The Waikato Times reports that David Bennett is representing the views of himself (and presumably the party he represents), rather than 85% of his electorate.

A proposed commuter rail service to Auckland has run into a political storm with National MP David Bennett branding it a waste of time.

Hamilton City Council transport chairman Dave Macpherson has responded by saying Mr Bennett is out of touch.

The commuter service hangs in the balance despite a top-level meeting between Hamilton politicians and KiwiRail yesterday.

KiwiRail is to come back to the city council in about two weeks with a final price for a trial service for the council to either accept or reject.

But Mr Bennett today cast further doubt on the plan by saying the train wouldn’t be able to get into the Britomart station.

A peer review commissioned by Environment Waikato of the original feasibility report on the service backs Mr Bennett’s claims by talking of an “impasse” on fitting into Auckland’s peak morning timetable at Britomart.

Mr Bennett also said the service would use old diesel railcars environmentally worse than cars, and the region shouldn’t be asking for more Government money when it had a huge amount of money put into finishing the Waikato Expressway within 10 years… [more]

David Bennett accepts the Electrify Now petition, along with Keith Locke

This is extremely disappointing from Mr Bennett.  He supported our Electrify Now campaign a few years back (that’s him on the right), but not spending on rail in his own electorate.  Scheduling into Britomart can be overcome (possibly by changing trains at the new Newmarket station) and the Silver Fern rail cars are being refurbished to a very high standard.  They will be the best railcars in the country.

KiwiRail looks at Hamilton-Auckland Service

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Ohhhhh we are getting so close! The Herald reports:

KiwiRail has agreed to present a proposal to Hamilton City within weeks on a trial daily passenger service to and from Auckland.

“We are refining a proposal to run a service using the Silver Fern railcars between Hamilton and Auckland on a trial basis,” spokesman Kevin Ramshaw said last night.

His comment followed discussions KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn and his passenger services general manager Ross Hayward held in Hamilton yesterday with city representatives.

City transport committee chairman David Macpherson said KiwiRail had offered to work on a proposal over the next couple of weeks to present various cost and timing possibilities to his council, which had allocated $250,000 in its budget towards a rail service.

He said the proposal would be based on two return services daily which, combined with the long-distance Overlander, would offer Waikato residents three trains a day to Auckland.

Hamilton Residents Call for Auckland Commuter Rail Service

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Environment Waikato

Results from Hamilton City Council’s most recent Residents Survey show that 85% of city residents think a Hamilton to Auckland Passenger Rail Service would be a good idea with over 43% stating that they would use services if they were restarted.

The survey which is carried out quarterly and benchmarks residents’ satisfaction levels, recently included a question which asked residents if they were in favour of the re-introduction of passenger rail services to Auckland.

A business case report on a potential Hamilton to Auckland Passenger Rail Service was commissioned by Environment Waikato earlier this year. The report looked at opportunities to restart services within the next three years and concluded that it would be possible to start small and build services once popularity grew.

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Heavy Truck Bridge Impact Assessment

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NZTA have supplied us with a copy of their assessment of heavy trucks on State Highway bridges. The objective of the report is to identify bridges on freight routes that would require strengthening for higher mass limits provide an indication of costs.  The full copy (8Mb) is available here, but some key points are:

Whilst the current legal limit is a gross mass of 44 tonnes, most of the bridges on the state highway network and indeed the local road network were designed and constructed to carry lower loads. However, they continue to perform beyond expectations because of the conservative nature of some designs, material strengths that are higher than allowed for or ongoing upgrades and strengthening programmes.

306 state highway bridges would require strengthening, or detailed investigation and an estimated $85M would be required to fund the work over a period of several years.

Of these bridges, only 13 have already been included on the approved 09/12 Bridge Replacement and Upgrade Programme due to their current condition. The results have not been studied in detail to determine if any of the bridges should be replaced rather than strengthened.

In the South Island, no section of SH1 has bridges that can support 50 tonne trucks.  In the North Island Pokeno – Hamilton – Tirau has strong enough bridges, as does Rotorua – Taupo.  No section of SH1 from Taupo to Wellington has bridges that can support 50 tonne trucks.

It is hard to see how heavy trucks can be introduced to the state highway network without doing the necessary bridge strengthening work first.  The proposed implementation date of 2010 seems overly optimistic.

ARTA: Integrated Ticketing Announcement

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ARTA media release

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA), in conjunction with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), today announced the next step in the delivery of an integrated ticketing system for Auckland’s train, bus and ferry users with the selection of a preferred tender.

ARTA’s Chairman, Rabin Rabindran says, “This is a critical next step in the delivery of an integrated ticket for use on Auckland’s public transport system opening the door to greater ease of public transport use by our customers. Having a smartcard in your pocket will be like having the keys to Auckland’s public transport system.

“In conjunction with NZTA we will be holding detailed negotiations with our preferred tenderer over the next few months and, subject to final confirmation of funding by NZTA, will lead to implementation of the system.

“ARTA’s tender process allows us to incorporate NZTA’s preferred approach including a centralised system and potential contestability of options available for parts of the system”.

Mr Rabindran said, “A consortium made up of French electronics company, Thales, in partnership with the Bank of New Zealand and Transfield services, has been selected by ARTA as the preferred tenderer to deliver New Zealand’s first fully integrated ticketing system for Auckland.

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Govt Hampers Debate on Heavy Trucks

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The Herald reports on our submission on heavy trucks:

Pro-rail campaigners say the Government is seeking public support for heavier trucks without producing evidence of economic benefits to justify the extra wear on the country’s roads.

The Campaign for Better Transport in Auckland says submissions due by Friday on a draft rule change allowing truck loads to be increased to 53 tonnes or more have been hampered by the Ministry of Transport’s refusal to provide a report on claimed productivity benefits from Canterbury road trials.

I don’t think this is an issue so much about road vs rail, but about safety for other road users and the fairness ratepayers, taxpayers and other road users subsidising the trucking industry.

Media Release: Say “No” To Bigger Trucks

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Road users urged to submit against law change allowing bigger trucks

The Campaign For Better Transport is urging concerned road users and organisations to make submissions against the Government’s proposal to let larger and heavier trucks on our roads from next year.

Spokesperson Cameron Pitches says the move would greatly increase the risk of an increase in the number of accidents involving trucks.

“If existing trucks are allowed to carry much heavier loads, braking distances will have to increase leaving less room for error. Rollover accidents are will also be more likely as heavier containers will have a higher centre of gravity,” says Mr Pitches.

“Trucks are already involved in a disproportionate number of accidents. This can only get worse if we allow these changes go through.”

Earlier this year, Police ran a road safety blitz targeting trucks on concerns that half of all fatal accidents on State Highway 1 in the South Island involve trucks.

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Carpool Day Wednesday 5th August

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Carpool Day is a single day event being held in Auckland on Wednesday 5th August, to provide motivation for reluctant carpoolers to get over their “inertia hump” and try carpooling for one day. We then hope that, having tried it once, a significant number of people will see carpooling as a non-threatening, do-able option and make it a more regular occurance, whether that is occasionally, monthly, weekly, or daily.

For more, visit the team at www.carpoolday.com


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