Auckland Transport is under mounting pressure to review the case for the retention of rail services to Waitakere township and their extension to the growth areas of Kumeu. This is as business groups, Local Boards, and the Auckland Council’s Infrastructure Committee all support what’s being called the ‘Western Connector’.
Auckland Transport decided last year to cancel existing rail services to Waitakere, and their long planned extension to Kumeu & Huapai. But proponents of the Western Connector proposal, the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA), say that was before the development of about 1000 houses in the area, currently occurring, and the announcement of 2500 new houses in Kumeu in Special Housing Areas. PTUA’s Chair, Kumeu resident and past Chair of the Auckland Regional Transport Committee, Christine Rose, says, this means the report is outdated, and needs review. “The decision to cancel existing and planned services didn’t take into account all this growth, which now needs decent public transport more than ever”.
But the PTUA also claims the report which informed the decision to cancel services, was gold plated and overinflated, further damning its prospects. PTUA co-ordinator, Jon Reeves, says “the report which damned Waitakere and Kumeu/Huapai rail significantly overstated the costs involved”.
“In fact, we’ve got the railway line, we’ve got the stations, we’ve got the spare diesel passenger trains. By running a diesel rail shuttle between Swanson and Kumeu we use existing infrastructure in a cost-effective way”.
Mr Reeves says “At a recent public meeting held in Kumeu to discuss the Western Connector and public transport to the West, attended by over 120 people, Auckland Transport admitted the report now needed a review”.
PTUA want to see that commitment to the review formalised, and will on Tuesday 28th April at 1pm, seek resolution from the Auckland Transport Board, to that reassess the document and retain Waitakere rail services until the review is complete. This is so as not to foreclose opportunities to save and extend the service pending the outcome of the report and other processes.
PTUA say they and affected rail commuters and western residents are committed to see the service retained and extended. “People have invested in homes in the area because of its access to rail. To cancel current and planned services is to be a bad for both planning and transport outcomes”, says Mrs Rose.
Mr Reeves adds “We’ve got people willing to wage a high profile and extended campaign to save and extend local services. University students who need to get to exams, people who rely on rail services, workers accessing the western employment areas – people are keen to do what it takes to save and extend their access to the region’s rail network, which offers a truly congestion free alternative immediately”.