Rail link proposal for city
A Timaru-Christchurch passenger train service has been mooted in the wake of the February 22 earthquake.
Christchurch's earthquake has left many people uncertain about their future and Aoraki Development Business and Tourism has received reports that up to 30 businesses have decided to relocate to Timaru, for periods ranging from three months to the long term.
ADBT chief executive Wendy Smith said the organisation was discussing how to accommodate a possible increase in Timaru's population as a result of the earthquakes. She said one proposal was a commuter train which could run from Timaru to Christchurch.
"It was raised at a recent think-tank, and we haven't really progressed beyond the idea, but it's certainly something in the mix," Mrs Smith said.
"Nothing's been fleshed out, but we're developing a `five-point' plan in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes, and one aspect we're exploring is communication and infrastructure."
It has been nearly a decade since Timaru last had a passenger train service. In 2002, the Government canned the 32-year-old Southerner passenger express train service, which ran from Christchurch to Invercargill, after a Ministry of Economic Development feasibility study found it wanting.
KiwiRail Tranz Scenic manager Tom Evers-Swindell said before the organisation could even consider a project such as a Timaru to Christchurch service, there were a number of factors which had to be taken into account.
"Once the situation in Christchurch is more certain and our existing Tranz Scenic South Island operations more settled we would be happy to discuss new passenger transport initiatives. We would need to carry out a feasibility study for any proposed service," he said.
Mr Evers-Swindell said it would also have to consider the distance from Timaru to Christchurch, and whether there was appropriate rolling stock available.
"At 160km, the train would have to share the largely single track line with freight. Travel time is likely to be around three hours each way," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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