Christchurch Needs Trains

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Christchurch is a sprawling mess. Its only major geographical feature is the Port Hills, a buffer that has slowed growth in one direction. From the vantage of these hills, you can look out across the Canterbury Plains, once the nation’s breadbasket, but now increasingly covered by metastasising suburbs. Though Greater Christchurch is forecast to continue growing at almost twice the rate of Wellington, our growth strategy seems to be entirely dependent on cars and roads. But as both Auckland and Wellington are finding, cars and roads just don’t cut it. Especially with the looming crisis of climate change, why doesn’t the South Island’s biggest city have a plan that anticipates these challenges?

The future of Greater Christchurch’s built environment will affect more people in New Zealand than any other urban area except for Auckland Central or South Auckland. The implications are huge from a number of viewpoints -economic, financial, safety, health, environmental or a social perspective, that is why we need to change. Christchurch is experiencing similar transport growth pains to what Auckland experienced due to its auto-dependency from a motorway-only city building model in the post WW2 period. Fortunately for Auckland efforts have been made to correct this transport bias in recent decades with the revival of commuter rail (Britomart, electrification, new trains and the soon to come city rail link), the success of bus rapid transit to the North Shore (and soon the eastern Ameti busway to Botany) and in the future light rail south to Mt Roskill, Mangere and the Airport and north-west to Kumeu. If Greater Christchurch continues with its current transport and land-use pattern it can expect that 55% of new housing will be auto-dependent greenfield suburbia with little or no supporting rapid transport options. Given current city growth trends greenfield development could grow by 50,000 cars to 2028. For obvious reasons this sprawling should be a serious concern for Canterbury and New Zealand. Do the politicians really think we can handle that many added cars on our roadways?

We need to re-establish commuter trains on the existing tracks. Christchurch’s rail corridor is an obvious underutilised asset, this transport corridor follows the growth corridor and there is a number of greenfield development opportunities close to potential new train stations.

-For instance there is a empty 8 hectare site that used to be the Addington sheep yards that is only a few hundred metres from Addington train station.

-There is a large greenfield development possibilities on the eastern side of Belfast that would have good connections to two potential train station sites.

-The north west corner of Kaiapoi has a nice development opportunity close to a potential new train station.

 -Rangiora has some good development sites on its east side. With further investigation a two train station solution similar to Belfast could be developed.

-Christchurch’s western train track has some good connections for workers to access industrial areas around Annex road and the north side of Rolleston and mixed commercial areas in Hornby.

Greater Christchurch has been through some tough times. The new approaches to building and funding urbanisation being developed in New Zealand gives the city an opportunity to create a new and better built environment. 

We need to convince the decision makers at City Council and Regional Council to take up rail as an election promise in our local elections in October. That gives us, the public 5 months discuss, share and contribute to our Rail Network Plan before the election.

Share, Retweet, email and message this so more people hear about our campaign and leave a comment if you have ideas for how we can convince decision makers to Start Planning Now.

Find out for here: Christchurch’s Future is a Fat Banana