Monday, November 23, 2009

Hamilton-Auckland Commuter Rail Service?

Hamilton City Council staff have prepared a report on this for the Council's Transport Committee meeting (24/11/09) – there is no doubt that KiwiRail has moved so far from their original estimates and guesstimates of the cost of such a service that what we have in front of us, as a proposal from them, is so far out of the ballpark as to be in a different game entirely.

The proposal we have now is tremendously disappointing, and I can’t help feeling that the message to us is ‘don’t bother with a rail service to Auckland (or anywhere else), because there is no way we will let you have one’!

Likely costs and subsidies for such a service have more than doubled since early discussions.

We are pretty sure that there has been a degree of ‘outside influence’ brought to bear on KiwiRail management and Board, and on individuals and groups that have been supporting the proposed service. I myself have had a message from a Government member relayed to me via another Councillor telling me in no uncertain terms ‘not to go there’. Other organisations have had similar or stronger messages.

However, it is still obvious, even to Blind Freddy, that there will be a passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland – the only questions are when, and whether the Government and its agencies are willing to play fair by stumping up with the same subsidies that they provide for roading, buses and other transport projects.

There is very strong support in the community for such a rail service, and government representatives need to ensure they are seen to be acting in a fair and even-handed fashion in relation to such proposals.

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