Rolleston rail rebuffed

by Kent Caddick

A bid to establish a commuter rail link between Rolleston and Christchurch has been rejected by a committee looking into public transport for the greater Christchurch area.

Tane Apanui from Christchurch had presented the Greater Christchurch Public Transport Joint Committee (GCPTJC), of which the Selwyn District Council is a member, with a proposal to set up a commuter rail service linking Selwyn to Christchurch and the Waimakariri district. He had taken his ‘Dash Rail’ plan, which he estimated to cost around $1.8million to set up, to the committee in March but last week the GCPTJC rejected the proposal ‘on advice from staff’.

Mr Apanui said he was disappointed but not surprised at the rejection of his plan which would have helped to ease the congestion on local roads. “I felt in the (March) meeting that this was not a project the attendees were keen to look at further.

“Now when I read the very brief and undetailed report considered by the committee last week, it’s clear this was never going to fly with staff advising the GCJPTC. 

“It’s a shame as some of the issues raised in the report are not insurmountable and some are just plain incorrect.” 

Mr Apanui said the staff report presented to the GCPTJC last week gave significant weight to three earlier reports, two of which are ten and nine years old, respectively.

“The Christchurch Rolleston and Environs Transportation Study from 2007 looked at future transportation in the southwest and south of Christchurch to 2021. 

“That’s 10 years old and pre-earthquake,” Mr Apanui said.

“We must be more nimble and relevant if we are to effectively address problems such as traffic congestion and referring to 10-year-old studies doesn’t give me a huge amount of confidence in the reasoning behind decisions being made in 2017 after a major earthquake and resulting growth in areas like Rolleston and North Canterbury.”

While the GCPTJC rejected Mr Apanui’s proposal, which it had said was feasible, it hasn’t totally ruled out a rail link in the future saying ‘it should be a modern and comfortable service built upon proven demand’.