Media Release: Waikato Commuter Trains NOW!

The public is urged to show their support for a Hamilton – Auckland commuter rail service

Today the Campaign For Better Transport (CBT) officially launched phase two of its “Waikato Commuter Trains NOW!” campaign in favour of a commuter rail service between Hamilton and Auckland.

Waikato residents and businesses, as well as potential Auckland to Hamilton rail commuters, now have the opportunity to sign and send a freepost postcard direct to their pick of Prime Minister John Key, Transport Minister Steven Joyce, and local Hamilton MPs Tim Macindoe and David Bennett. 

David Bennett has recently voiced his opposition to funding the proposed Hamilton to Auckland commuter service, branding it a waste of time.  Jon Reeves, a spokesperson for the CBT, says “We hope that, as the recipient of numerous postcards in support of this service, David Bennett will respond to what his electorate really wants”.

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.  This service could become a reality for a fraction of the cost of the roading projects currently underway in the region.

 Jon Reeves from CBT says “now it is time for the Hamilton MPs to do what their voters want and help push the NZ Transport Agency to fund the rail services immediately.  We encourage everyone in the Waikato to support our campaign so that David Bennett and Tim Macindoe get the message loud and clear”.

A business case report on a potential Hamilton to Auckland Passenger Rail Service was commissioned by Environment Waikato earlier this year, and it showed that the cost/benefit analysis of the proposed commuter train service is better than is the case for most roading projects in the region.

Those opposed to the commuter train service argue that it would use old diesel railcars, and the region shouldn’t be asking for more Government money because of the funding required to finish the Waikato Expressway.  What such arguments ignore are that the sums necessary to fund the service are tiny compared to that required to build new state highways, and that trains permit business commuters to start and finish their working day while commuting, saving up to four hours otherwise lost.

As the world economy improves and oil prices continue to rise, rail services from Hamilton to Auckland will become ever more attractive relative to driving.  Moreover, KiwiRail has recently refurbished a Silver Fern railcar with new interiors and larger windows.  It now looks incredibly smart and the same is proposed for the Hamilton to Auckland trains.  As well as business commuters, the trains would cater for tourists keen to enjoy the scenery and a glass of wine while relaxing.

 The Campaign For Better Transport would like to see some of the services departing from and arriving to the Hamilton Central underground station.  “Hamilton has a huge asset sitting unused only metres away from the heart of its CBD”, says Reeves, “opening up the central Hamilton underground station would allow city business workers to walk to the train and travel direct to the centre of Auckland or Newmarket, or transfer to the Auckland airport shuttle bus at Papatoetoe, and return without having to use a car at all”.

“No other city in New Zealand has the luxury of an unused underground train station in their Central city”, Reeves continues, “and plenty would like it”.

 Show your support for Waikato Commuter Trains NOW! Get a postcard and send it Freepost to the addressed MP. Postcards can be downloaded from the Campaign For Better Transport website

Notes:  Business Case Study undertaken by Environment Waikato in May 2009.

About CBT:

The Campaign for Better Transport is a voluntary incorporated society dedicated to promoting sustainable transport and better use of New Zealand’s transport assets and modal options, including roads, rail, ferries, cycling and walking. CBT is independent of all political parties and has as its core objective the aim of ensuring that funding is available to provide sustainable transport choices.

The CBT has had high profile successes with a number of its recent campaigns and its membership is now growing throughout New Zealand. The Waikato region is the second largest membership base of the CBT outside of Auckland.

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