Today the Campaign For Better Transport (CBT) has launched a special website http://www.votetrains.org.nz for its hugely popular Waikato commuter trains campaign.
Last week in Hamilton, the CBT launched its “Vote TRAINS” manifesto for local body candidates to sign in support of getting commuter rail services between Hamilton and Auckland. Now this is being backed up with the Vote TRAINS website which allows the public to see online which local body candidates support getting rail services established within the next 18 months.
“Many candidates, from a wide range of political alliances, have approached the CBT to sign the Vote TRAINS manifesto. It states they will strongly advocate to get rail services the region wants. The manifesto also highlights that those candidates, if elected, will lobby central Government for funding equal to what Auckland and Wellington receive for their train services. It will also help Hamilton and Waikato voters to recognise which candidates to vote for if they want regular commuter rail services to and from Auckland” Jon Reeves from the Campaign For Better Transport said.
The Campaign For Better Transport always remains politically independent and will not have candidates in the local body elections. However, the CBT will provide information to the public on which local body candidates are actively supporting this regional transport initiative. “The Vote TRAINS website and our public meetings are useful tools for voters to use when making their decisions on who to vote for. Just like the public, we strongly believe the time for train services to Auckland is now. The Waikato needs to urgently obtain slots into Britomart Station for the morning and evening services. Rail transport usage is growing by over ten percent a year in Auckland. “If good services are offered, the public will swap their daily battle to work for the comfort and safety of trains”.
11,500 members of the public signed the CBT’s petition earlier this year calling on the Government to get Hamilton to Auckland trains rolling. It was the largest petition on a Waikato issue in over a decade, proving the underlying support for train services through to Auckland. “If just two percent of those people who signed the petition used the proposed trains they would be completely full. At three percent KiwiRail will be scrambling to find more trains” Reeves said.
“The concept is simple and completely do-able. Most of the station platforms exist along the route and only need some tidying up. KiwiRail have spare Silver Fern railcars which are off contract and only being used about once a month for charters. The railcars use four to five times less fuel than if all those people drove to Auckland. Once a trial proves the trains are a success more modern railcars could be ordered which are even more fuel efficient.”
The Vote TRAINS website will be continuously updated with news and events in the lead up to local body elections in September, including a planned station “sit in” on September the 11th. This is being coordinated with local communities in Tuakau, Te Kauwhata, Huntly and Ngaruawahia and KiwiRail.
Supporters of Vote TRAINS include Bob Simcock the Mayor of Hamilton and both the Mayoral Candidates for Waikato District Council Allan Sanson and Clint Baddeley (the current Deputy Mayor of WDC).
“The time for Waikato trains is now. It is very important to get the right people into local Government throughout the Waikato to enable a unified voice to be heard by Central Government for funding its share” Reeves said.