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Auckland transport better off one year on

7 July 2004

Auckland transport better off one year on

“We are making progress, albeit slow,” Auckland City Mayor, Hon John Banks, said today commenting on the one year anniversary since the first train rolled into the Britomart Transport Centre.

“A process of transmogrification is underway as we move from museum trains to world-class public rail transport. To maximise the $204 million investment in Britomart, we need to push on and provide modern trains, modern suburban stations and a first-class service,” said the mayor.

“My uplifting vision for public transport also includes the electrification of the Isthmus rail network, and tunnelling through the back of the Britomart and up Nelson Street to connect a city-loop to the existing rail line at Mt Eden.”

Mr Banks believes the growth in rail patronage over the past year could have been stronger if the service hadn’t caused so much initial frustration.

“I have always believed we should have first got the modern rolling stock up and running. Instead, the ARC dithered, delivering the first fleet of modernised trains nine months after Britomart was officially opened.

“Many people were keen to take a ‘test’ train to Britomart, but were soon turned off by the early operational teething problems, the lack of trains and the third world state of them. Having said that commuters are increasingly telling me that the service is improving.”

Mr Banks is pleased a key part of the western line from Boston Road to Avondale is being doubled tracked and that Henderson is set to get a ‘baby’ Britomart. Also good news is that 14 new signature stations will be completed by September next year.

“Such upgrades are key if the Auckland region is to achieve its goal of boosting the number of rail trips to 20 million a year by 2015. With the current figure just over three million we have got a long way to go.

“The harsh reality is despite Britomart’s success relatively few people are likely or are able to use a train. That’s why my focus remains on completing Greater Auckland’s entire motorway network within the next 10 years, alongside building world-class and fully integrated public transport.

“Britomart is more than transport though. It is also about urban renewal and preserving our heritage. The $350 million above-ground development around the Britomart precinct will be world-class and a magnet for international visitors that could well end up being the heart and soul of the central business district.”

Mr Banks paid tribute to ARTNL which he said did a great job operating the Transport Centre, with the former Chief Post Office a clean and safe environment.

“Despite its ups and downs Britomart has been a good start for better transport in our region and the precinct itself is set to provide a huge boost to downtown Auckland,” said Mr Banks.

ENDS

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