By Councillor Greg Sayers. Now more than ever we need the diesel trains. Twyford and Goff have been kicking the idea to touch promising light rail to Huapai and better bus services. Well both are not happening. We need real solutions. We need them now.
Fighting hard on your behalf I am continually pushing to re-instigate the diesel train service utilising the existing rail tracks. It’s a no brainer as SH 16 is already congested with no workable solutions in sight. The traffic congestion will become a lot worse with disruptive safety works soon to be started and more new housing further compounding the problem. Let me be clear, Auckland Council and central government have no immediate plans to help us by significantly improving the traffic volume carrying capacity of SH 16. It’s a disgrace. Poorly thought out housing development without infrastructure being put in place in advance is devastating the township and our wider communities.
The promise of light rail to Kumeu/Huapai has been axed. Any bypass around Kumeu to alleviate traffic is at least 15 years away. Any widening of SH 16 and the north-western motorway to travel more quickly by bus isn’t imminent. So that only leaves a diesel train service as any sort of realistic and timely solution.
For a fraction of the costs of their grandiose pipe dreams we could have hourly rail shuttles operating seven days a week from Huapai and Waitakere to Swanson station. I won’t be giving up the fight on your behalf.
Overcoming objections that new safety legislation prevents the railcars using the Waitakere tunnel can be easily solved. A small investment, equivalent to about a weeks of Auckland Council rates paid by our area, into fire suppression systems fitted to the railcars would address this. Freight trains with their drivers use the tunnel daily. It’s time to stop putting this issue on the back burner.
In the meantime, adding to our woes through disruptive road works is $70 million of safety improvements starting next month and lasting over six months along SH 16. Followed by $30 million of major road works taking over a year at both Access Road and Station Road to cope with traffic coming from the Huapai Special Housing Area. This traffic will only further compound the traffic congestion on SH 16.
We should all remain deeply concerned that Twyford and Goff are not listening to the residents and ratepayers of the Norwest. Light rail is dead. Let’s get on with extending commuter rail from Waitakere to Kumeu/Huapai and then on to Helensville. Commuters are already constantly stuck in traffic when a there is a perfectly well maintained rail line available running through Kumeu and Huapai.