1. THANKS FOR INVITING ME
Thanks for inviting me to speak at this Website launch. I’m delighted to be involved in this important event with the Raumati Public Transport Action Group.
I’m thrilled that this group has stood tall in its efforts to get the Raumati Rail Station ”back on track”.
I’m impressed with what you have achieved to date, and it’s not surprising considering the quality of your core membership and the considerable individual skills that those members have been able to contribute to the cause.
What I’ve admired in particular are:
So it’s a privilege to stand with this Raumati Public Transport Action Group today. Our immediate shared objective is to get the Rail Station firmly restored to the Agenda of the Regional Transport Rail Plan. And then, once the double-tracking and electrification phase is completed, we want the immediate construction of a Rail Station at Raumati South.
2. ACCOUNTABILITY IS IMPORTANT
We are accountable for what we decide, what we say and what we do.
And holding to account those who have to make the decisions about this Rail-Station is one of the main responsibilities that we have to undertake as a community group.
That principle was paramount in my mind when I invited the Greater Wellington Regional Council to meet Raumati constituents at the two public meetings to discuss the station.
You will remember that first meeting?
There was a public announcement about the double-tracking and electrification project. That announcement also gave prominence to a decision to extend the line to Lindale. Considerable emphasis was given to a new station at Lindale – but not a word about Raumati.
The Regional Council was very reluctant about fronting up to a public meeting with Raumati residents. I stressed that their role was to keep citizens informed and to listen to citizens’ concerns. So they agreed to a meeting in Raumati..
The second public meeting, April 2008
The second public meting I called was also to insist that the Regional Council keep the people of Raumati informed about their plans.
You will recall that in 2007, statements were made about Government approval of finance to carry out the plans for the Regional Rail Transport Plan, which for the Western line focussed on double-tacking and electrification. Shortly after that, a public statement was made confirming the intention of the Regional Council to construct a Raumati Rail Station by mid 2008.
However, we started to hear whispers about plans to extend the line further to Waikanae and we knew that the Regional Council had not returned to the Government for extra funding to cover that development.
Through the Chair of the Council’s Transport Committee, I asked the Regional Council to attend a public meeting in Raumati to tell the people what was happening. I was told that “no decisions have been made” and “a public meeting would be pointless as there is nothing to report”. My response was that if the rumours were not true ,the people of Raumati would be pleased to hear the Council confirm that.
One week later, the meeting was called. The Regional Council Chair, Fran Wilde, attended and reported on Council decisions we had been told had not been made!
And that was the origin of the Raumati Public Transport Action Group!
3. THE RAUMATI PUBLIC SUPPORT THIS STATION
Two petitions of 2000+ and 3000+ have shown that clearly. They were short and sharp campaigns timetabled to meet deadlines for presentation to the Regional Council. Maximum signatures in a very short timeframe were needed. I’m informed that willingness to sign was in excess of 90% (especially in Raumati South), and that given more time and a more comprehensive coverage of the District, signatures would have doubled or even trebled.
You have the public’s support, and it is important to build on that and to exploit it.
This Website launch shows that you are aware that it is essential to keep the public involved and interacting at every step of this campaign.
4 YOU ARE WINNING THE ARGUMENT ABOUT THE STATION’S NEED
I’d like to say that I believe that your Group is winning the argument about the need for a Rail Station at Raumati South. The Regional Council has relied on a very challengeable consultant’s report. The response from this Group to that report was very strong, and I congratulate you for it. And those points need to be re-stated again and again. This Website which we launch today is a wonderful means for keeping those arguments in the forefront of the public mind.
I must stress the fundamental stated objective of the Western Corridor Plan – to increase rail patronage considerably.
I know this – you can’t increase rail patronage by denying a major community reasonable access to the train. And Raumati is the ONLY community on the line that is denied a rail station.
You can’t increase rail patronage if the focus stays north of Paraparaumu with reliance on population projections in favour of what are currently green fields over an existing community like Raumati. Raumati’s current population (and even without projected future growth) is already well in excess of those outdated green-field projections. The Region’s Council’s consultants have been sidetracked to catering for a fictional population that doesn’t exist over a much larger population that is actual and well established.
You can’t increase rail patronage if people cannot get onto or off a train at a convenient station. ACCESS TO A CONVENIENT STATION is absolutely critical. The Raumati community is the lowest user on the line of this train service, and you don’t have to look very far to guess the reason for that. The problem is access.
Make no mistake. There are many factors that could be listed to show that a station at Raumati will contribute more to the achievement of that major increased patronage objective than any other single strategy.
I congratulate the Group on it splendid work, and I wish it well. I promise you unwavering support as your local Member of Parliament.
I want to thank you on behalf of citizens at large for your wonderful public spirit in giving such strong leadership to this issue.
I want to congratulate and thank Jeremy Rice for his work in the development of this Website.
And it is my pleasure to officially launch the Website of the Raumati Public Transport Action Group.