Call to put Light Rail back on the agenda for Wellington

Light Rail should be put back on the agenda for the mix of the Wellington region’s transport solutions. It must be evaluated with other transport options in the ‘Ngauranga to the Airport’ corridor study, and the ‘Get Wellington Moving’ project led by Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency. If planning is started now, light rail could be operating by 2026 at the end of the bus contracts to be signed next year.

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That is the strong view of five current councillors and candidates for Greater Wellington Regional Council: Councillor Paul Bruce, Councillor Sue Kedgley, Councillor Daran Ponter and candidates Dr Roger Blakeley and Dr Russell Tregonning.

The five councillors/candidates released a statement today “The Case for Light Rail for Wellington”. Two groups of experts, Fair Intelligent Transport (FIT) and Trams Action, have provided the technical analysis which underpins the case for light rail for Wellington.

‘Light rail’ systems (or ‘modern trams’) operate partially or wholly on streets, usually with right-of-way over other traffic. Cities across USA, Europe and Australia are implementing light rail. Auckland is considering light rail and it has been proposed for Christchurch.

“Light rail extending to the Wellington Regional Hospital in Newtown and the airport, from the existing well-patronised heavy rail link from the north to the Wellington Railway Station, would have many advantages”, said the five councillors/candidates.

“The capacity of light rail would be three times that of two Mt Victoria tunnels (12,000 people per hour versus 4,000 people per hour), and thus remove congestion.

“Based on current cost estimates, light rail from Wellington’s CBD to the hospital and airport would cost $450-650 million (depending on route chosen) compared to $1 billion or more for the New Zealand Transport Agency’s projected road tunnels and multi-lane motorway through the town belt. The cost of building light rail is reducing as new technologies are developed. Cities with similar populations to Wellington’s have light rail, particularly in Europe.

3 thoughts on “Call to put Light Rail back on the agenda for Wellington

  1. Excellent news. Light rail is back on the agenda. The proposed Bus Rapid Transit system must be consigned to the dustbin of follies before we waste money on its development. BRT was a system that could never offer Wellington the potential for public transport passenger growth that our changing climate and a fossil fuel crisis necessitates.

    I look forward to the commissioning of the first stage of light rail through to the hospital in 2025 when the bus route tenders start to expire.

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