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New and upgraded trains and bus services

27 January 2005

New and upgraded trains and bus services to come from package

“Wellington commuters will start riding in new and upgraded trains within three or four years as a result of today’s funding announcement,” said Ian Buchanan, Chairperson of the Greater Wellington Regional Council. “Within ten years I expect a substantial proportion of the region’s rolling stock will either be new or will have had a major upgrade.”

Councillor Buchanan said the upgrades would come from an investment of over $400 million by central and local government in the region’s public transport system over the next ten years.

“The money for the rail system is made up of $240 million from Land Transport New Zealand (formerly Transfund) to fund the operation and upgrade of the rail system; $65 million of additional money from central government announced today and $95 million as the local share from Greater Wellington.”

Councillor Buchanan said that he would be recommending to his Council that Greater Wellington agree to contribute $95 million to the funding package, as the local share of the cost.

“I will be recommending to my Council that we accept the government’s offer of $305 million toward running and upgrading the rail system, and contribute an additional $95 million as the local share. The government has made us a generous offer and it would be foolish of us not to accept that the region should share some of the cost.”

“If the Council agrees, we will then consult with the public on the proposal. We estimate that the $95 million will mean a 4% average rates rise across the region in 2005/06, and possibly similar rises in the following year. I think it’s a good deal, and I hope the public will support us.”

In addition to the money for rail, about $30 million of the new package is earmarked for enhanced public transport services, which could mean new bus services or introducing a real-time information system.

“Investing in our public transport services is essential if we are to avoid Auckland-type traffic jams on our roads and motorways. We must keep commuters on board or we will all suffer from increased road congestion, and the economic and environmental problems that brings.”

Councillor Buchanan said the run-down of the passenger rail system over the last decade would now begin to be reversed. “Every month nearly 800,000 passenger trips are made on our rail system. The rail system gives commuters choice, it is environmentally friendly, it’s safe – and the public of the region like their trains. We have a decade of overdue maintenance to repair and it takes at least three years for new carriages to be delivered, but it will be money well spent.”

ENDS

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