‘Big bucks’ needed for city rail link plan
Hamilton Mayor Andrew King is all for a passenger rail link, as long as Hamilton ratepayers don’t pay for it.
‘‘If Central Government wants to get involved and write big bucks then we will be happy to take it.’’
He said it was the the regional council’s responsibility, not the ratepayers responsibility.
King said with the commute taking two and a half hours it was hardly worth the cost. It needs to be sped up to about an hour, he said. The track also needs to be electrified.
‘‘It’s a matter of protecting the Hamilton ratepayer. We’ve got to be diligent and wise with our ratepayers money.
‘‘At the end of the day we’ve got to keep in mind that only 160,000 people live in Hamilton.’’
Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive William Durning also said he was unsure whether the city had the mass to make a commuter rail critically viable.
He believes focus should also be on freight, saying it will be naive to throw the dollars we invest in infrastructure at just one thing.
‘‘Theres a significant amount of freight moved by rail every day, and if it wasn’t for rail, our roads would be congested.
‘‘At the moment, because of the way the track is laid out from Auckland to Waikato, both facets are sharing the same rail.
‘‘Businesses that move freight will be competing for that same track space. It can’t be an either or, we need to consider both aspects,’’ he said.
‘‘The Waikato Chamber of Commerce is all for having the right infrastructure to enable Waikato businesses to not only grow and do well for themselves, but for the country overall.’’
Hamilton woman Hong Zheng wrote a letter to the Hamilton Press, suggesting a fast train service would benefit both cities, and will attract more investors to Hamilton.
‘‘With Auckland booming now, Hamilton should take this opportunity to speed up building its future as a modern city.
‘‘New Zealand promotes a pure and clean green image on the world stage. If you look around the world, you can see that a fast train is a far better solution for traffic congestion and reducing pollution.’’
She said the fact that New Zealand doesn’t have any fast com- muter trains was believe’’.
‘‘Thinking that building more highways will solve the problem is unrealistic and shortsighted. More highways are never going to match the fast-growing population.’’
Zheng said she understood cost was the main issue, but that politicians and business people were needed to create a shared vision for the future.
‘‘Any cost will be worthwhile, after all, look at the Sydney Harbour Bridge,’’ she said.
‘‘It paid off its debts over 50 years. You don’t see anybody complaining about the bridge’s costs because the project delivered real enduring benefits and Sydney will be proud of their bridge for generations to come.
‘‘Hamilton has loads of smart people, a wonderful river, and rich vast land. Imagine our future city with a fast train and a splendid modern train station that is instantly recognised as an iconic Hamilton building.
‘‘How wonderful it will be for our children and their children’s children.’’
KiwiRail said it was keen to see more use of rail if commercially viable.
‘‘There is no doubt that as Auckland’s catchment extends south that a demand for a Hamilton-Auckland commuter rail service will grow.
‘‘However, it’s very unlikely this type of service would pay for itself. There would need to be significant ongoing financial commitment from local interests for it to be a viable proposition.’’ ‘‘hard to
Hamilton’s Hong Zheng reckons a commuter rail link between Hamilton and Auckland would bring New Zealand in line with other major city transportation systems.