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Melling Branch Line Report Released

26/04/01

A study by consultants Sinclair Knight Merz into the feasibility of extending the Melling Rail Line across Hutt City was released today by Mayor John Terris on behalf of the project partners.

The study put forward eight options, with the recommendation being to complete the loop from the Melling line to Waterloo, which would provide excellent access to the Hutt City central business district. The estimated cost of construction is $11.9 million (excluding rolling stock).

The recommended option (LR-05) involves running light rail from Wellington Station through Petone, Melling, the Hutt City CBD, Waterloo returning via Petone and Wellington (or in the reverse direction).

"Developing this rail link will bring tremendous economic development benefits to the Hutt Valley and I commend the project team on their work," said Mayor Terris.

"There is still much work to be done, and the release of this report should be regarded as the first step in building an integrated and comprehensive rail link that will deliver real economic benefits to the whole region," said Dr. Dave Watson, Divisional Manager Transport, Wellington Regional Council.

Tranz Rail spokesperson, Ross Hayward, National Manager Passengers, agrees that this project, if it can be made to happen, will bring a new era to public transport into the Wellington region, particularly if the light rail can be extended through to Courtney place.

Two other options were recommended if it was decided that a staged approach was preferred, which would allow the purchase of light rail stock to be delayed. These options would involve the building of a heavy rail link first, followed by a light rail extension to the heavy rail link at a total cost of $19.5 million.

"We asked for options that would give improved access to the Hutt City CBD and would also allow land to be freed up for the SH2 upgrade at the Melling interchange. We now have a document that allows the project group to move ahead," said Peter Bailey, Acting Regional Manager for Transit New Zealand.

How the project is to be funded will be the subject of further work. However, at a benefit to cost ratio of 2:1, the project as it is currently considered would not qualify for Transfund support (must have a benefit to cost ratio of 3:1).

The project control group was made up of representative of Hutt City Council, Tranz Rail, Transit NZ and Wellington Regional Council.

ENDS For further information please contact: Stuart Duncan Hutt City Council Tel: 04-570 3380

Kirk MacGibbon Hutt City Communications Manager DDI: 04-570 6940 Mob: 025 489 386

Website: http://www.huttcity.govt.nz


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