Rail revival: Raf Manji backs Environment Canterbury’s Christchurch Rapid Transport Plan, calls for more investment in New Zealand’s second largest city

Raf Manji, The Opportunities Party Leader and Candidate for Ilam, and Peter Scott, Environment Canterbury’s Chair, have today announced their commitment to a Christchurch Rapid Transport Plan.

By investing into the city's light rail network and restoring passenger rail in Canterbury, we can grow the region’s economy, support population growth and achieve net zero emissions faster. 

Manji, a Christchurch City Councillor of six years, says “it’s time to stand up to Wellington and be the strong voice for Christchurch that the city is currently missing. The Government has contributed approximately $2.7 billion to the Auckland City Rail Link and $4.4 billion to Let’s Get Wellington Moving, but where is the investment in the South Island?”

“We have a real opportunity to make Christchurch the heart of a new South Island passenger rail network, and it starts with linking the city together with heavy and light rail. After meeting with Peter Scott it is clear that neither of the major parties are willing to listen to Canterbury. It seems like New Zealand’s second largest city is being ignored.” 


Included in the plan is a commitment to supporting budget bid’s for:

  • Christchurch Light Rail from Belfast to Hornby 
  • Commuter rail from Rangiora to Rolleston
  • A five year trial for a Dunedin to Christchurch service (‘The Southerner’)

The Southerner service ended in February 2002, but bringing it back would form the basis of a wider 30-year plan to return Canterbury’s Passenger Rail Network to its reach in the 1960’s.

Connections between Kaikōura and Waimate were once possible, but successive Governments have failed to make the necessary investments into transport infrastructure, especially in the South Island. 

In 2020, and again in 2023, Central Government has pledged to build passenger rail between Rangiora and Rolleston, but Cantabrians have seen zero results.

“We have been promised passenger rail for years, and instead the can keeps getting kicked down the tracks. We need to invest in our metro and regional passenger rail now” says Manji.

The Light Rail plan would cost approximately $4 billion and could be delivered within ten years. 

The Opportunities Party is proud to support Environment Canterbury’s transport vision, and will continue to advocate for more investment in passenger rail for the South Island. 


A $1B Christchurch Plan

made to unlock opportunity.


A $1B Christchurch Plan

made to unlock