Waikato’s Regional Council Says No To Funding Hamilton Rail


all steam ahead Last night’s public meeting in Hamilton showed strong support for the proposed Hamilton to Auckland weekday rail service with about 60 residents and business people attending. But in spite of strong support from the audience, Environment Waikato’s representative said it refuses to fund the service.

The Campaign For Better Transport held the public meeting to emphasise the urgency of getting the deal through as the proposed option to use the Silver Fern railcars for the service would be otherwise lost.

The railcars, owned by KiwiRail, become available for use, anywhere in the country next month.  If they are lost to other regions, then the Environment Waikato will need to buy carriages from Britain and spend millions refurbishing them in New Zealand, a process that will take two to three years. The railcar option is considered the best course of action to get the services up and running this year.

Jon Reeves, from the campaign, who spoke at the meeting says :”With the strong support shown by residents and businesses in the region, as well as the Hamilton City Council, it is about time Environment Waikato regional councillors acted immediately to secure the Silver fern railcars and start the services. The business case is there, the cost benefit ratio is perfect, the time to act is now.”

He said the business case for a rail link to Auckland stacks up well economically.

“For every $1 invested in the service, the region will receive $1.90 in benefits through reduced traffic congestion, increased transport options and increased productivity of business commuters”.

But Cr. Norm Barker representing Environment Waikato basically said they were conscious of rates, so they do not want to support the rail service financially.

In response, Hamilton City Councillor Dave MacPherson said that was quite a ridiculous position to take, as the costs to ratepayers along the route the train will service is equal to about 6 to $7 a year (approx 55 cents a month) compared to $415 ratepayers in Hamilton will pay for roads in the coming year.

Cr. MacPherson told the audience that as Environment Waikato are not committed to the relatively small amount of funding required to run the train service, his council is talking directly with KiwiRail about a trial service.

Jon Reeves: “It is great to get support for trains from local councils including Waipa and Waikato District Council, along with Hamilton City Council. Environment Waikato is now the only council not ready move by committing funds to get the train service underway immediately.”

The strong support by Waikato residents and businesses was reflected by attendees joining Campaign for Better Transport on the spot and offering other resources.

CBT will now launch the next phase of this campaign for Waikato Commuter Trains with the support of the new Hamilton members. Jon Reeves says “we have run some very well received and high profile campaigns which turned into action. We will do the same for the Waikato trains until EW wake up, read the business report they commissioned, listen to the residents and businesses and launch the trains.”

As a healthy sign of the support from business people, WISE Group CEO Jackie Graham spoke in support of the proposed train services, explaining that in a typical day 33 hours of productive time can be lost as staff travel to and from Auckland from their Hamilton Head Office. Graham said WISE Group would commit to buying annual corporate tickets for staff. Another businessman in the audience said his company would also use the service daily.





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