One­hunga sta­tion plans face fund­ing un­cer­tainty

Central Leader - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

The tracks are laid and ready to go, but One­hunga res­i­dents may be left out in the cold to wait for the train.

Work up­grad­ing the One­hunga branch line has al­most fin­ished but fund­ing for the area’s sta­tion has be­come un­cer­tain.

The sta­tion was orig­i­nally to be funded by a re­gional fuel tax, but the tax has now been scrapped by the gov­ern­ment.

Labour list MP Carol Beau­mont says she has been left ques­tion­ing the gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties.

“There was a fund­ing agree­ment when the re­gional fuel tax was in place but now that is gone, it is up in the air,” she says.

The One­hunga branch line was re-com­mis­sioned last year un­der the Labour gov­ern­ment.

Ms Beau­mont now wants to give One­hunga res­i­dents cer­tainty that the rail­way sta­tion will be funded, but says the gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse has been vague.

“The gov­ern­ment’s plan to can the re­gional fuel tax leaves a ques­tion mark over how the sta­tions on the One­hunga line, as well as other vi­tal trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, will now be funded,” she says.

“We have not been as­sured by Trans­port Min­is­ter Steven Joyce and it was sug­gested maybe the New Zealand Trans­port Agency or Auck­land Re­gional Coun­cil could fund it.”

On­track spokes­woman Jenni Austin says the work on the line is close to com­ple­tion and it is wait­ing on the Auck­land Re­gional Trans­port Agency to com­plete the sta­tions.

ARTA spokes­woman Sharon Hunter says land has been pur­chased by the re­gional coun­cil specif­i­cally for a sta­tion.

“The next step is to go out and talk to the com­mu­nity. We have been talk­ing with Ki­wiRail and the gov­ern­ment.”

The site is at 109-113 One­hunga Mall, with bound­aries at Princes St to the north, Neil­son St to the south.

Ms Beau­mont says she doesn’t want fund­ing for the sta­tion to fall over at the 11th hour.

She be­lieves weight­ing has been given to road­ing and money in­tended for pub­lic trans­port will now go to road projects.

“It seems clear the gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­i­ties do not lie with pub­lic trans­port. The gov­ern­ment is keep­ing it un­clear and I am seek­ing a clear com­mit­ment.”

Maun­gakiekie Na­tional MP Pe­seta Sam Lotu-liga says there are un­re­solved is­sues about where a sta­tion would be po­si­tioned.

How­ever, the Re­gional Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Fo­rum says the pre­ferred lo­ca­tions for a sta­tion have now been es­tab­lished with work pro­gress­ing on the detailed de­sign.

“I will do my best to en­sure the case is pre­sented for the up­grade to go ahead,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

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