Work has begun on the $90m Manukau Rail Link in New Zealand, the first extension of the Auckland city's 100km rail network since the 1930s. The 2km line will link Manukau and the North Island trunk line at Puhinui, which runs parallel to the motorway that is under construction between State Highways 1 and 20.
The project is being funded by rail operator Kiwirail ($50m) and Manukau City Council ($33m) with the remaining costs coming from the Auckland Regional Transport Authority. The over-all Ameti project - of which this rail link is part - is expected to cost $1.6 billion, and involves the purchase and removal or demolition of about 329 houses, shops and other buildings, to create new roading, bus, cycle and rail lanes and corridors. The new rail line is part of Project DART – a $600m extension, electrification and upgrade of Auckland's rail network which is scheduled for completion by 2013. Sources various
Comment - it is really great to see Canterbury folk have got in behind this and will send some of their taxes north to help out Auckland!
Commuter rail would appear to be decades away for Christchurch (attempts to match development in Rangiora-Pegasus-Kaiapoi and Rolleston with the 210,00 people living up Wellington's two narrow corridors don't even get close enough to make a satisfying crunchy noise). This said, many oil watchers are now saying world oil production has already peaked in 2008. Steadily rising fuel and flow-on increased food and other living costs could tilt the balance towards the proportion of commuters looking to public transport as an alternative. In my opinion (but what does a rabbit know?) the city could do much to protect its prosperity by investigating now the potential value of creating a rail corridor from just south of the Styx Mill, across to Johns Road and the airport, and airport industrial area, down to Islington. This would create a loop, allowing trains in multiple directions, and voiding the need to double track (or use at night) the current main line from Papanui down to the rail station in Addington. Trains from Rolleston (or Timaru/Ashburton)could sweep into the city around past the airport and come down through Papanui, already facing south for the outbound journey; or trains from Rangiora sweep round past the airport and through Hornby and then into the city to a terminus at Ensors Road (and a special platform at AMI Stadium for big matches). The versatility and options of this link are manifold, particularly if this link (or possibly an added marshalling yard near Islington) and reduced need for shunting generally, had economic benefit to freight movements.
If some of those millions we give to Auckland were spent here, we could buy the rail corridor land now, design new subdivisions at Styx Mill around it and build removable pensioner housing etc on the land in the meantime. Alas this city can not even protect the most obvious rapid transit bus corridor , down from Northlands utilising busway linked sections of Grassmere Street and Rutland Street and Caledonia Road - selling off the pivotally useful Edgeware Pool site, and sitting by while farmland beside Grassmere Street is subdivided. There is little hope that the naieve and unsophisticated approach of Christchurch, with no mass transit strategy inbedded and no projects other than the Bus Exchange to fund, will offer much protection from the future storms that are everywhere gathering despite the sun that shines today