Government finally gets the message about rail

The Green Party welcomes the Government’s decision to re-open and revamp the railway line between Onehunga and Penrose, and now urges the Government to take the logical next step and greenlight the electrification of the network, Auckland — based Green MP Keith Locke says.

“Its good that the Government is putting more focus on passenger rail as an essential part of the city’s transport system,” Mr Locke says.

“Money has not been the issue. Reportedly, the $10 million needed to get the Onehunga line up and running again was set aside in 2005. The real problem has been the mindset of Government, and of the transport bureaucrats in Auckland and Wellington.

“Given the parlous state of the western line, the Government now has to press on and give the go ahead for the electrification of the network. Only after Dr Cullen allows that to proceed can Ontrack and all the other players swing into action and install the appropriate signalling systems, buy new rolling stock and refurbish the stations in order to equip Auckland with a 21st century passenger transport system.

“The Government has been too slow in shifting away from a focus on roading solutions, and in taking on board the message that rail has a key role to play in our response to climate change. Hopefully, a decision on electrification will soon be forthcoming,” Mr Locke says.