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"Biggest Ever" Rail Petition To Be Presented

"Biggest Ever" Rail Petition to Be Presented To Government

Plans for Hamilton Underground Station To Be Revealed

A petition calling for a commuter rail link between Hamilton and Auckland will be presented to the Government this coming Monday, at the Hamilton Railway Station.

Sustainable transport group The Campaign for Better Transport has collected over 10,000 signatures in a little over four months, with the majority of signatures coming from the Waikato towns of Hamilton, Ngaruawahia and Huntly.

Campaign manager Jon Reeves says the petition has been an overwhelming success.

"It’s probably the biggest ever petition presented on a local issue. The support we have had from the people and businesses of Waikato has been truly incredible. Most people do not believe we have to resort to a petition simply to get a rail service between New Zealand’s fourth largest city and Auckland.

"We will be asking Waikato political representatives to represent the views of their constituents."

The "Waikato Trains Now!" petition will be presented to local Labour MP Sue Moroney, with Hamilton City and Environment Waikato councillors also expected to attend, along with central Government MPs.

A survey conducted by the Hamilton City Council found that over 80% ratepayers were willing to contribute to get a three times daily Waikato rail service off the ground. However, the idea is being resisted by Environment Waikato and Hamilton National party MPs David Bennett and Tim MacIndoe.

The final number of Waikato Trains Now! petition signatures will be announced at the presentation, but it is expected to easily eclipse the 10,328 signatures collected by the Campaign for Better Transport in 2008 for an Auckland Airport rail service.

"The Government plans to spend over $2 billion on roads in the Waikato, so in comparison the cost of a frequent commuter rail service is just peanuts. We believe a commuter rail service will be a far more cost effective solution and, unlike the 10 or 12 year wait for the Waikato Expressway, the train services could start this year and provide immediate relief to traffic congestion for daily commuters."

The Campaign for Better Transport is also pushing for Hamilton’s central underground railway station to be reopened. The station is located beneath The Warehouse on Victoria St, within 300 metres from Fonterra offices, Hamilton City Council and a number of other businesses in the CBD. It was last used in the early 1990's, and Mr Reeves says it has largely been forgotten about.

The Campaign For Better Transport will be releasing concept drawings this Monday on how the station could work to add to the appeal of commuter rail.

"This petition presentation is just the start of this campaign and we expect to see some positive action from the Government, NZTA and Environment Waikato as a result of it," concludes Mr Reeves.

ENDS

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