The newly re-elected Mayor of Christchurch has once again made it clear that rail is a key part of his public transport vision for Christchurch. In fact, Bob Parker states that street based ‘tram-trains’ could be running in just five years.
What Parker doesn’t quite make clear though, is exactly what he is talking about! Nevertheless, Parker is very enthusiastic about a rail based solution for the city’s transport system and, in my opinion, that has got to be a good thing.
Parker seems to be pushing his agenda in light of the election of rail friendly mayors in Auckland and Wellington. He said light rail could be affordable and was already a proven “powerful tool” in rehabilitating urban areas and city centres around the world. Some preliminary work on the subject had been done, including potential costs, but there was a lot more to be done.
Parker has indicated that he does not want to put a burden on ratepayers with such a scheme, perhaps indicating that he intends to pursue alternative avenues (lobby the Government to change their minds?).
An interesting point Parker made was that introducing light rail on existing tracks had “issues” including signalling, location of stations and park & ride. This is true, but utilising the main lines in some fashion is probably the most crucial part of any rail plan. What I would really like to see is a detailed plan of what the Mayor and Council propose.
At this stage its kind of hard to guess exactly what is being proposed here, and talk of the problems with using the existing lines, the extension of the current tram lines, and the mention of tram-trains all adds to a very complicated picture. Hopefully it won’t be long before the Mayor shows us in detail what ideas the Council have in regard to rail and the future of public transport in Christchurch.
What I would like to see is a focus from the Mayor and council on one key rail project to get the ball rolling. This could be the first stage of a bigger plan, perhaps setting up one line of a rail/light rail/tram-train system. All in all though this is good news and its great to see that the earthquake isn’t going to stop Christchurch in its, er, tracks.