Fighting for Trains to Huapai

Trains to Huapai is a battle worth fighting, says Rodney councillor Greg Sayers.

He will soon meet with Auckland Transport’s chief executive to discuss how this can be done – and quickly.

Auckland Council recently approved $207 million for new trains but the north-west wouldn’t get a cent of it.

 Instead, the money would fund electric trains with batteries replacing the diesel trains currently used between Papakura and Pukekohe.
TrainsSayers says it is disappointing that the north-west hasn’t received any funding for rail when it has infrastructure.

Sayers said it was “disappointing” and a “lost opportunity” that no funding had been set aside for the north-west despite the infrastructure being ready for it.

Sayers says the train service is the only way to stop congestion on State Highway 16 getting any worse.

 “The rural townships tend to get overlooked,” the councillor said.

“It’s all sitting there ready to go so why don’t we put the business case together and have a look?”

He said a train service was the only way to stop traffic congestion on State Highway 16 getting worse.

Sayers said his meeting request was accepted by AT chief executive David Warburton during the council’s finance and performance committee meeting on July 26.

He planned to take members of the Public Transport Users Association, Rodney Local Board, central government and the Kumeu-Huapai Residents and Ratepayers Association with him.

Sayers said he wanted to get an understanding of what it would take to get rail to Huapai and what the fastest way to achieve it was.

“The main thing it will do is alleviate the traffic congestion. I have a real concern about that.”

Sayers said AT was in the process of investigating an electric train service to Huapai.

He wanted to know why this was being considered as opposed to a diesel service that was wanted by the PTUA.

Sayers said he would be asking what the exact cost was to get the Waitakere tunnel and trains up to scratch.

“The technical issues around the fire safety must be able to be solved,” he said.

AT spokesman Mark Hannan had previously said the upgrade would cost millions.

Sayers said he was expecting the meeting to take place in the next few weeks.

A comprehensive report from the meeting was expected before Christmas, he said.

Sayers said he would eventually like to see rail travel all the way up to Helensville.

“I think we should start off and fight the battles we can win,” the councillor said.

 – Stuff