Leaders vow fight over rail service

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The Manawatu Standard reports:

Here is Palmerston North’s bottom line: A rail service to Wellington that is inferior to the one we have now will not be acceptable.

CBD Loop Investigated

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Auckland City Harbour News reports:

Investigations into a city rail link between Mt Eden and Britomart show it could have one of the steepest rail gradients in the country.

Last week Auckland Regional Transport Authority strategic transport planning manager Matthew Rednall presented an update to Auckland City Council’s transport committee.

He says earlier this year the council signed a memorandum of understanding to progress investigations for the link.

“Parts of it are very steep, there is a 70-metre height difference between Mt Eden and Britomart.”

He says the gradient would flatten out at points to accommodate underground stations, which would be on 200-metre-long platforms with access points to the surface.

“We are working on what land is required.”

Mr Rednall says stations would be about 700 metres apart, with possible locations at Aotea Square, Karangahape Rd and Newton.

“They are three distinct areas that connect the city,” he says.

“The catchment would provide coverage for the whole of the CBD.”

Concern Over Taranaki Rail Link Closure

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Press Release from the Campaign For Better Transport

Transport lobby group the Campaign for Better Transport today announced concern over KiwiRail’s decision last week to mothball the rail line between Taranaki and the Waikato.

“We fear that this could be the thin edge of the wedge, with more line closures to come,” said Jon Reeves, a spokesperson for the Campaign for Better Transport.

As a consequence of the closure, milk product sourced from Fonterra farms in Taranaki and bound for Tauranga will now travel hundreds of kilometres further, via Marton rather than directly from Stratford.

“As a country we are supposed to be focussed on improving the efficiency of freight and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.  It doesn’t make sense to delay the decision on reopening the line until next year.”

KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn announced last week that repairing the line in the wake of a recent derailment, at a cost of $400,000 cannot be immediately justified, “given that only one return train uses the line a day at present.”

But Mr Reeves points out that the reason the line has little use at present is that the track is in such poor condition.  “It has been so run down over the last decade that trains are barely capable of using it. If the line was fixed to a suitable standard then freight and passengers could take advantage a direct link between Taranaki and the Waikato.”

There have been at least seven reported derailments in the last year on the rail link, which runs from Stratford to Okahukura, just north of Taumaranui.

“We agree with the need to close the line temporarily so that the necessary repairs can be carried out safely,” said Mr. Reeves, “but we would like to see a commitment from KiwiRail and the Government to reopening the line as soon as  possible.”

Mr. Reeves acknowledged that the final bill for bringing the line up to standard could well be over a million dollars, but said that this amount was “peanuts in comparison to the billions being spent on roading infrastructure in this year alone.”

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The Press: Government Backs Passenger Train

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The Press reports that Minister of Transport, Steven Joyce, is backing the largely tourist-oriented TranzAlpine long-distance passenger train, which runs daily from Christchurch to Greymouth.

New station brings Onehunga trains closer

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There was a good turn out at the ARTA Onehunga Line Open Evening last week from both the public and CBT members.  Whilst ARTA did not make a presentation as such, information was displayed regarding railway station and level crossing locations, and ARTA spokespeople were available for questioning.  CBT was also able to pass on our feedback to ARTA regarding the points we felt were necessary to ensure success of the Onehunga line. 

Amongst the information given below in this article in the Herald, Sharon Hunter also had the following to say (although she did also say nothing is set in concrete):

  • Onehunga line services will almost certainly terminate at Britomart (as opposed to Newmarket, as has been feared).
  • ARTA will be working with Dress-Smart to display train times and information in the shopping mall, much like what has been done at Sylvia Park.
  • Feeder buses from Mangere are being considered
  • The main bus station in Onehunga will stay were it is.  ARTA will be looking at re-routing buses past the Onehunga railway station.
  • ARTA acknowledged that the suggestion of one month’s free travel trial period at the commencement of the service is a nice one, but that it is perhaps unlikely to happen.
  • There may be a Park and Ride service offered at the old ITM site.
  • Completion of the project is timed for the end of the first quarter of 2010.

As the Herald reports, unfortunately at the moment only hourly services are being considered for off-peak and weekend travel.

Diggers will start earthworks in the next two weeks for a second Penrose railway station, needed to re-open the Onehunga branch line to passenger trains.

That follows Auckland Regional Transport Authority and KiwiRail confirmation of sites for the three main stations for the line, which is to re-open in the first half of next year.

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Graeme Hunt reports in the Herald on the need for a dedicated link between the CBD and Auckland Airport.  Unfortunately the focus is once again on completing the roading network.  We are told that rail is enormously expensive and that Auckland Airport has ruled it out in the short to medium term.

A dedicated transport link between Auckland airport and the commercial business district is essential to lift the region’s tourism standing, Tourism Auckland CEO Graeme Osborne says. “My sense is that we are not any closer to that thing materialising. According some greater priority to an airport-CBD link is pretty important.”

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Numbers travelling by bus and train hit 25-year high

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Lincoln Tan reports in the Herald on recent Auckland public transport patronage figures.

Use of public transport in Auckland has hit a 25-year high, with commuters reporting increased satisfaction with the service on offer.

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority’s annual passenger figures showed 58.6 million trips were made in the year to June 2009 a 7.7 per cent increase on last year and the highest level of public transport use in the city since the mid 1980s. Read the rest of this entry »

Shunted into ’70s

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John Landrigan investigates the progress being made on electrification of Auckland’s rail network in this article in the Aucklander.
The Government insists that electric rail is still on, dare we say, track. But Auckland is borrowing to buy an ageing diesel fleet of British cast-offs.
 All abooooard the great traans-Auckland rail jooourneeey. Bear in mind, folks, there will be many stops before we reach your preferred destinations.
 Where do Aucklanders want to go? For more than 80 years Aucklanders have wanted modern, affordable and regular train services to drop them off near work and home.
 But plans have been derailed more times than Amy Winehouse has been booked into rehab and left many of us nose-to-tail, alone in our cars, listening to her croon about it.
Under the previous Government, trains were to be modernised, electrified and run underground from Britomart to Mt Eden. This would be paid for through a 9.5 cent regional fuel tax that the Auckland Regional Council championed.
But the new Government abolished regional levies in May, ostensibly to share the burden with the rest of the country through national taxes.
Now, the plan is for the Government to lend the regional council $33 million to help buy six diesel locomotives built in the 1970s, with carriages from British Rail.
To mind the gap until the money can be raised? It would seem so, but at what cost?

No matter how hard The Aucklander tried to find out, no one could tell us how much of our rates was going to subsidise our taxes for this.

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