As noted in previous posts, there seems to be a LOT of mention in the media and various social networks about the role of public transport in the rebuilt Christchurch, including particular support for the establishment of a rail system. Take this article on stuff today, where Bayleys advocates rail services.
One of the key reasons why this may actually get some traction is that it looks likely that the Waimakariri and Selwyn urban areas might get some reasonable growth in the near future as people in damaged areas, and probably people migrating to the city for work in the rebuild, settle there. Add to this a recovering Christchurch, where most of the work will be (including a regenerating CBD), and the argument to establish links along the rail corridor starts to gain some traction.
While I don’t like to encourage urban sprawl, the fact is that these are already designated growth areas with plenty of planned and under-construction residential developments.
With all this in mind, you start to get the picture that transport links between Rangiora, Woodend, Pegasus, Rolleston, Prebbleton and Lincoln are going to be given priority. The first thing on my mind is that Christchurch’s Roads of National Significance are likely to be givin some priority. So rather than seeing them being put on the back burner, we might actually see some significant progress over the next year or two. This does lead me to worry about what that could lead to (Auckland anyone?) but I do feel that common sense will prevail and that a multi-modal approach will not only be required, but also recognised.
In a previous post I advocated a basic rail system that could be introduced to deal with some of the transport problems that will likely be encountered for the next year or more. With the potential redistribution of population to the north and south (which was previously happening anyway, only at a slower pace) such a system could be more useful and crucial than ever before. It could then be incrementally upgraded and expanded as the rebuild work is carried out around the city. Perhaps eventually, as it is rebuilt, we could extend rail into the CBD? Perhaps we could connect it to tram tracks in the CBD instead? The key would be the rail system feeding into the bus network at strategic points. It would therefore be a great idea to roll out more bus lanes, as roads and communities are repaired.
I’m just shooting out ideas here, but my point is that now is the time. We will never ever get an opportunity to introduce rail like this again. Thankfully, the signs are that a lot of people are starting to recognise this. I just hope the powers that be do as well.