SIMON BRIDGES: A resilient commuter rail network for NZ

Opinion 14/08/2017

OPINION: A resilient commuter rail network to support our growing economy

National believes in an integrated transport system that is resilient and balances the different demands placed on it. One that makes the most of the exciting new technological advances and provides all New Zealanders, whether they are businesses moving freight or people around our country, with a reliable experience.

We are committed to providing the transport infrastructure that New Zealand needs. That’s why we are accelerating key transport infrastructure projects to support our growing economy.

A reliable and efficient public transport system is essential for ensuring our cities continue to thrive – giving people easy access to jobs, education and choice when moving around our cities.

Commuter rail is an important part of our public transport system in Auckland and Wellington. That’s why National will invest up to $267 million over the next three years in the Auckland and Wellington commuter rail networks, supporting the strong growth which we expect to continue under our economic plan. Our package of improvements will support this future passenger growth and ensure that these networks are resilient for the long-term.

The package includes the electrification of the Papakura to Pukekohe rail line, adding a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield, and double-tracking the Wellington commuter network between Trentham and Upper Hutt.

In Auckland, population growth and a growing economy has seen increased demand on the southern line by commuter and freight trains. We will invest $100 million to add a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield. This line will separate commuter and freight services providing for increased efficiency of this important corridor. It will allow for greater frequency, improve travel times and provide greater reliability.

We are also supporting the important growth areas in the south of Auckland. We will be investing $130 million to electrify the track between Papakura and Pukekohe. Extending the electrified network to Pukekohe will provide a more reliable and efficient service for commuters from this area. Electrification is a key element of our focus on supporting a cohesive, efficient transport system for Auckland.

The City Rail Link (CRL) will be a 3.4 km double-track underground rail line running beneath the central business district from Britomart to the Western Line near the existing Mount Eden Station, with two underground stations in the CBD.

It’s why in Budget 2017 we invested the first instalment of the $3.4 billion for Auckland’s CRL. Once complete, the CRL will not only be a game-changer for central Auckland, it will be New Zealand’s largest ever transport project. It will double the capacity of Auckland’s rail network, provide two new stations in the central city and significantly reduce travel times for commuters.

We will also invest in Wellington’s commuter rail network. The $37 million Wellington Commuter Package focuses on enabling a more reliable and efficient commuter service for the Wellington Region.

The package includes a full double track on the Hutt Valley Line between Upper Hutt and Trentham, a third platform for Porirua Station, a turn-back facility at Plimmerton, and a programme to integrate and optimise rail and bus services.

Upgrades to bridges and slopes, as well as ‘Park and Ride’ facilities for the Kapiti and Hutt Valley Lines, will also be included.

This package builds on Budget 2017’s $98.4 million investment in Wellington’s commuter rail network.

Together the Auckland and Wellington commuter rail package represents a $267 million investment in commuter rail, demonstrating our commitment to building a more efficient and reliable public transport systems.

National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges

Authorised by G. Hamilton, 41 Pipitea Street, Wellington