$10m rail option rejected as too costly

SHELLEY ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2014

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Commuter trains have been ruled out as an option to help alleviate crippling road congestion between Christchurch and North Canterbury.

The Waimakariri District and Christchurch City councils, NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and Environment Canterbury yesterday announced rail was too expensive at $10 million and would not deliver commuters to their place of work.

Project leader Jim Harland said the bulk of Waimakariri commuters travelled to the central city, Hornby and the airport.

The railway stations were "not well configured to be where people want to go from a working point of view", he said.

Authorities instead approved an NZTA-funded "Waimakariri travel co-ordinator", tasked with encouraging car-pooling and convincing employers to be flexible with workers' start times.

Bus priority lanes would be investigated further, Harland said.

The cash-strapped city council had already warned it would only approve bus lanes if it could fund from "existing budgets" and after public consultation, he said.

Congestion on the northern corridor to the city has plagued commuters since the beginning of the year.

The Waimakariri council has projected nine years' growth in just three years, based on building consent numbers.

Short-term solutions, such as bollards and car pooling, have been promoted.

Last month, authorities said the corridor was oversubscribed by 300 vehicles during morning peak traffic.

Waimakariri district councillor Neville Atkinson said commuter trains did not make sense with the region's small population.

Labour's Christchurch transport spokeswoman, Megan Woods, said the train investigation should be independently scrutinised. Labour supported train travel and other transport options, she said.

IN TRAIN

Not accepted

Short-term rail.

Accepted

Waimakariri travel co-ordinator to encourage car pooling and employer changing times, subject to NZTA funding.

Tram Rd traffic signal timing.

Possible High-occupancy vehicle lanes.

Bus priority lane between Old Waimakariri Bridge and Empire Rd and signal changes.

Increase frequency of bus routes and establishing new services between Silverstream, airport and Hornby.

Long-term planning for commuter rail.

The numbers

6 per cent growth on travel demands between Waimakariri and Christchurch in 12 months.

40,000 vehicles a day cross Waimakariri River motorway and 10,500 on the Old Waimakariri Bridge.

83 per cent of travellers drive, with 16 per cent having two or more passengers.

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About 9000 empty seats in peak hour traffic.

440 travel on buses, 150 of those on school buses.

- The Press

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