Light Rail Christchurch Priority
Great to see the proposal for a light rail system in the Christchurch CBD be a prominent feature of the city’s re-building plan, in conjunction with the city’s bus service and a strong emphasis on cycling, for which Christchurch has always been ideal.
That plan highlights the light plan idea which Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker started pushing before the first earthquake after a visit overseas.
Bob Parker, and the top council officials, the CEO and the strategy and planning manager spent a fortnight visiting to San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle and Portland.
As a result, they passed a motion when they got back that the CEO be allowed to start a full investigation into the scope, opportunity, scale and costs of “developing a rail based (including streetcar, light rail and heavy rail) to facilitate and support urban regeneration, in concert with existing and future public transport tools and mechanisms.”
The post-quake draft Christchurch development plan also pushes for pedestrian-friendly streets in the CBD and a strong emphasis on cycling with more on-street cycle lanes on busy streets separated from traﬃc, as well as quiet routes linking green spaces across the city.
“These facilities will be among the best in the world, providing perhaps the catalyst for the largest single change in how people might travel around the Central City itself.”
Along with the plans for light rail, this places Christchurch as potentially being one of the most liveable cities in the world (more quakes aside) – a tag Auckland’s Mayor Len Brown is preaching for Auckland. I wonder if there are some tips for Auckland here?
On the light rail plans the plan reads:
“The potential for a rail system to be reintroduced, using modern light rail technology, as part of the Central City’s revitalisation and reconstruction, has captured the imagination of many people, while others have suggested that Christchurch is just too small for such a system.
“However, international comparisons of long standing and recently introduced light rail systems in cities of all sizes, has shown that such a system would make sense for economic growth, when viewed as part of a comprehensive network of public transport routes and services for Greater Christchurch. A modern, viable system could be economically constructed and eﬃciently, cost eﬀectively operated.
The potential synergies with the reconstruction and economic revitalisation of Christchurch adds to other more obvious transportation beneﬁts: reduced delays on congested roads and increased public transport patronage as part of a fully integrated multi-modal transport system.
The cost eﬀective and carefully staged reintroduction of a rail network for Christchurch, designed speciﬁcally for the city’s short, medium and longer term growth needs, is the transformational transportation project for the redeveloped city.”
This Plan proposes that a stage one system be introduced between the University of Canterbury and the Central City. The Council is proposing to move forward with the phased delivery of light rail passenger routes and services linking the Central City with the suburbs, using both new lines along the road corridor and upgraded the existing rail infrastructure.
The Canterbury University Students Association issued a statement this afternoon strongly supporting the light rail idea saying: “”The proposed light rail link is a key step in the process of connecting an energetic and educated student body with our city. Students will only utilise the link if there is an exciting vibrant city at the other end of the track.”
The Council says in the plan that to operate seamlessly across the network, the proposal is to commission new light rail vehicle rolling stock capable of using combined diesel and overhead electric drive units.
This would be “part of the redevelopment and as a prelude to high priority Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy partnership investigations of a phased delivery of a comprehensive network of passenger light rail routes across the Greater Christchurch sub-region. Recognising that such a project has signiﬁcant ﬁnancial implications and needs to be assessed in the context of a potential system for Greater Christchurch, this Plan proposes that such a project be the subject of further detailed studies and an outline business case to government.”
Good luck Bob Parker getting a Steven Joyce buy-in. Should be an interesting test case.