Sue Moroney: diesel solution for Auckland-Hamilton commuter rail
Commuter rail between Hamilton and Auckland could start immediately and the government is using electrification as a delaying tactic, says Labour transport spokeswoman Sue Moroney.
The Hamilton list MP was responding to Transport Minister Simon Bridges, who on Friday said the rail link is "going to happen" after he was put on the spot by Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson.
But it needs to stack up economically, Bridges said, and Auckland needs to electrify its network all the way to Pukekohe.
Moroney said that's an excuse to do nothing.
"This idea that the government is trying to push that this proposal can't work unless the line is completely electrified is completely false," Moroney said.
The Rail Opportunity Network, established by Moroney and a group of Hamiltonians, is looking to reinvigorate the 2011 campaign and get a petition heard in Parliament.
"The National Party stopped the petition from even being heard in 2011."
"We're determined to get this issue in front of Parliament again."
The solution to the commuter question is a no-brainer, she said
"Use a diesel train. Diesel trains go up and down that track all of the time."
A diesel engine wouldn't make it to Britomart Station, but can make stops at the Newmarket interchange, The Strand or further south, she said.
From there, it's a matter of jumping on other forms of public transport.
It's not perfect, Moroney admits, but she pointed out that a 2011 working party report found a travel time between the cities would take two hours, even without track improvements.
Also, a $1 million spend was needed on new railway stations.
That's "far superior", to the more than three-hour commute during rush hour, which could include a long wait on a congested Southern Motorway trailing as far south as Drury.
"Even if you just compare travel times, it makes sense right now," she said.
"The other factor is people can get work done whilst they are on the train, which they can't do while sitting in the great Auckland car park."