Wellington’s CRL: A reStart

Wellington Station. It’s probably the most glorious and identifiable building in the city, and it’s status is warranted: about 30,000 people travel through it each day – not bad given that the station is on the outskirts of the CBD.

The station sits close the New Zealand’s Parliament and its Governmental Ministries, the 40,000 people working  along Lambton and Featherston Streets, and the supporting shops, bars, schools, and the waterfront. If you work around this area, the train’s just a short walk. But if you work further down Lambton Quay, or in the Courtenay and Cuba end of town, you’ll have a 20-30 minute walk from the train – on a nice day its one of the best; but on a real Wellington day, it leaves you wondering why you left home without a car (or why the train doesn’t go further into the city!).

The concept is easy:

extend the rail line so people get closer to work, making the commuting choice easy

   quickly make trips across the CBD

In particular, the concept provides better transport options for people working at the Courtenay & Cuba end of town.

A number of studies across the decades have been undertaken to extend the passenger rail further into Wellington, though none have gained traction – even light rail has been discounted in favour of a BRT system recently – albeit through a very conservative (and pessimistic) costing model provided by consultants.

DSC_1129

Part of the proposed 1970’s Wellington Underground traveling under Thorndon to Parliament, Lambton and George Stations. The full plan continues to Newtown, Kilbernie and terminates at the Airport

While the proposals might be a hard sell to a society raised on infinite, cheap oil, unquestioned car dependence and toll-free roads, the project would probably make more economic sense than Transmission Gully and any other RoNS motorway project supposed to ‘turn NZ around’.

If the Kapiti expressway can be built through a 17km bog, or if Transmission Gully Road can be built across a fault line, then a couple of rail lines can be extended further over, under or even through the city.

In the next few posts I’ll have a look at some options to see what could work, what’s been done in other cities around the world and how it could add real value to Wellington as a city, province and capital.

MIB, Not BRT

The below article was published on the Scoop website in Scoop website in August 2015. In the 18 months since this was written, it seems like nothing has happened on the BRT front.

BRT in Wellington is a white elephant; a time waster. A “seen-to-be-doing-something” project.

It has no merit, except for lining the pockets of consultants who claim to be experts in the field, or at least are leveraging that. In reality, if the project was about real-world outcomes and the consultants got paid based on the physical outcomes, and not writing pre-determined reports, they would have gracefully told their customer how retarded they are and suggested something better, or run a mile. Continue reading →

Rail’s Ruin

This is a letter published in the Dom Post 31 March, 2016.

The Government is systematically destroying the railway asset of New Zealand.

Currently many lines are on a maintenance system of”managed decline”. Smaller branches have been”mothballed”and KiwiRail has a policy in many regions of not looking for and refusing work offered.

They are closing down the North Island main trunk electrification and taking rail as an option out of the Cook Strait ferries.

To be fair, KiwiRail management have been forced into this process of asset stripping by the Government, which has expected them to make a profit when lumbered with permanent way maintenance and depreciation costs that do not exist for their competitors in road transport.

This is political manipulation of the worst kind and it treats the people of New Zealand, especially those in the regions, with contempt. In Hawke’s Bay, a consortium of business people, a transport operator and a heritage train operator, supported by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, presented a viable plan for a short line operation between Napier and Gisborne, KiwiRail has stonewalled this for four years. Free market or the politics of favouritism?

Its time we fought to protect our assets. We need to fund rail like roads.

NIALL ROBERTSON

Auckland

Continue reading →