Labour will invest in infrastructure to support the long-term growth and prosperity of Greater Christchurch.
Cantabrians have seen dramatic changes in the years following the earthquakes, with unexpected population growth in some areas and significant economic development in others. After nine years in office, National has failed to make the investments needed to keep up with these changes and a growing population.
This is causing increasing congestion in the city. Congestion now adds 29 minutes a day to the average commute. Only three per cent of commuters in Greater Christchurch take public transport to work, compared to seven percent in Auckland and 12 per cent in Wellington.
It’s time for additional public transport infrastructure to reduce congestion on our roads and better link major centres of population with central Christchurch.
Commit an additional $100m from the National Land Transport Fund in capital investment to Greater Christchurch multi-modal public transport, including commuter rail from Rolleston to the CBD as a first step. We’ll work with local authorities and other partners on a 21st century strategic multi-modal transport plan for Greater Christchurch.
Restoring commuter rail in Christchurch has been proposed since before the earthquakes. The shift in population and resulting congestion has increased the need to utilise the existing rail tracks as an inexpensive means of boosting Greater Christchurch’s transport capacity.
The first step will be a commuter rail service between Rolleston and the CBD. Rolleston’s population more than tripled between 2006 and 2016. Traffic volumes on the Southern Motorway are rising at five per cent a year.
The Rolleston to CBD commuter rail will use the existing rail corridor with new and renovated stations, with double-tracking where needed. The first step will see rail come into the Addington station with buses available from there to the rest of the CBD. This will be a permanent service, not the expensive temporary service that has previously been considered. The network will be expanded over time as suitable.
Along with commuter rail, the $100m investment will be available to support infrastructure for buses and bus feeder services as determined through consultation with local councils. These investments will ease congestion and open up areas like Rolleston, Rangiora, Kaiapoi for residential and commercial development. In combination with KiwiBuild, these investments will spark revitalisation of suburban town centres.
As the upgraded commuter rail systems in Auckland and Wellington have proven, there is huge latent demand for this option. With congestion worsening in Greater Christchurch, now is the time to unlock the railways for commuters.
This forms part of Labour’s plan to take a breather on migration and speed up infrastructure investment throughout the country until our cities can cope with demand.