Monday, September 27, 2010

Riding the rails on the western range, complete with google map

After Christopher Robin went to bed the stuffed wabbit awoke on the shelf. "Hey winnipeg wanna play trains?"  There was a loud snore, the sickly reek of stale honey on the bear's breath filled the room. "Well if he won't play I'll  gonna do it anyway" said the scraggly bunny, wide awake now, jumping down. He pulled out a map of Christchurch and  spread it on the floor and wound up the clockwork train.  "Hmm" he said, "What's going to work best with such a small population?"


Yup a man who doesn't believe Christchurch can support commuter rail until it gets much bigger (or fuel goes up or some other pattern changes) has spent his weekend playing trains, just looking at some possibilities that rattle around in his head. 

As the dream of commuter rail is an ongoing affair in Christchurch I have entered this as a "Page" - a permanent fixture on the sidebar that does not get buried under subsequent postings. It is listed as Western Rail Corridor and the page itself has a link to a Google map, It was made using the user-created maps system. Google map system is free but an absolute torture to use! Ridiculously difficult to delete things, even following their instructions (maybe my computer isn't set up right!) and difficult not to make mistakes. But the map does give a rough idea. As in all public transport there are multiple trade-off factors here and extensive cost benefit studies would be necessary, looking at several options including the old "Do nothing"

Of course the key element would be if KiwiRail itself saw long-term value in this option (for freight).Even so, in the end commuter rail can never be substitute for a better bus service  - even in places where commuter rail use is heavy,  buses still typically carry a very high percentage of local public transport passengers!. And too often rail gets funding into the tens (if not hundreds) of millions and one wonders if that sort of money was used on buses, creating segregated busways, or underpasses or bus only flyovers etc whether a better return for the investment would be achieved, as seems to be suggested by the success of sophisticated busway systems in Ottawa and Brisbane and more recently in various Chinese cities

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