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Action on Onehunga line

BY RHIANNON HORRELL
Last updated 05:00 24/06/2009

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Onehunga will soon be spoilt for choice with three rail stations now proposed, says the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Acting agency regional director Tommy Parker says the proposed stations would be at the ITM site at 109-113 Onehunga Mall, Mt Smart and Te Papapa.

"The Auckland Regional Transport Authority is well advanced with designs for the latter two, which will be fairly small stations."

Mr Parker says the total cost for the project is $3.9 million.

Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga says he is pleased the government and Auckland Regional Council will jointly fund the Onehunga station, with NZTA contributing 60 percent of the project.

He says the ITM site will be funded initially, with the others in due course.

Mr Parker says the agency has not yet approved funding but in the wake of the removal of the regional fuel tax, the board considers that rail stations are legitimate candidates for co-funding.

"I am pleased that progress can now be made on this public transport project for Onehunga," says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

"It’s a real positive. The devil is in the detail.

"This is part of a wider initiative to improve Auckland’s rail system through electrification which we are committed to and is funded by central government," he says.

ARC chairman Mike Lee says in order to pay for projects such as integrated ticketing, $60m will have to be borrowed.

He says while it will not affect this year’s rates, it will have an impact in about three years’ time.

"That is the consequence, there is no other choice."

He says the amalgamation of the ARC into the proposed Auckland Council will also have to be taken into consideration.

"I believe the people of Auckland are looking for progress and momentum."

Labour list MP Carol Beaumont says she is pleased there is now some certainty on the issue.

Ms Beaumont says there are other elements too, like ease of use and integrated ticketing.

"The regional council will provide some integrated ticketing but not at the level originally proposed."

She says the development of an integrated bus terminal with the rail station would be good.

ARTA spokeswoman Sharon Hunter says services are expected to begin on the Onehunga line early next year.

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