Business Case Presented
Chris Laidlaw, chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), said in May that he was optimistic improvements to Wairarapa train services would be made but he still has to confirm arrangements. He says “Rail is complex and challenging. The regional council (which owns the carriages) together with Kiwirail (which owns the line, signalling, locomotives and other infrastructure) have put a business case to the government for urgently needed upgrades to the infrastructure which has been badly neglected for decades and which has been the dominant cause of all the angst over slow or missing services. I’m pretty hopeful that this investment will be supported by all parties. We have also put a business case separately to the government for the purchase of diesel/electric locomotives which are infinitely more flexible, to replace the aging diesel locos.”
Finance minister Grant Robertson was also optimistic when he spoke in the Wairarapa this May. He also said it was the fault of the last government that necessary improvements had not been made to the road system.
Labour MP Kieran McAnulty is also keeping the pressure on the minister of Finance.
The minister reassuringly said in May that there is no great need to vigorously advocate. However with no concrete plan in place locals may choose not accept that advice.
Innovation is in the wind
GWRC is also looking further ahead. They have prioritised single ticketing and diesel/electric locomotives in the top 10 of their priority list targeted for 2020 – 21.
There are other ideas which may not yet be on anyone’s formal to do list and which may merit an innovators attention. One of these ideas is the expansion of the tunnel under the Remutaka hill. Is it in fact possible that the existing rail tunnel could be expanded so that more goods and passenger services could go through the hill?
Another big idea, know to be discussed in some Wairarapa social circles, is an international airport for the southern Wairarapa, possibly linked to the Wellington international airport by small commuter aircraft.
Tunnel and international airport ideas could be attractive to those who want to get goods to market and tourists to their destinations.
Both ideas could be seen as fanciful and impractical but either idea may help reduce dependence on transport that are challenged by mother nature – as the Manawatu gorge recently illustrated.