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Push to save Auckland - Wellington rail service

Regional push to save Auckland - Wellington rail service

22 August 2006

The Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee has thrown its support behind a potential continuation of the Overlander train service and is calling for the investigation into a new operational strategy for an Auckland-Wellington passenger rail service.

Toll Holdings intends to cancel the Overlander train service from 30 September, marking the end of a 98-year train service between Auckland and Wellington.

The Chairs of the Auckland Regional Council, Environment Waikato, Horizons Manawatu and Greater Wellington Council are advocating for a six month continuation of the Overlander service while the operator, central and local government discuss potential options for a joint financial rescue package.

Cr Joel Cayford, Chair of the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee, says regional transport representatives believe a thorough investigation of long-term options is needed to do the service justice.

“The current Overlander train service is very run down and in need of an urgent overhaul but it does have huge potential,” he says.

“We support the joint regional council effort to save the service but urge all parties to allow themselves time to come up with a strategy to provide an Auckland-Wellington passenger transport service that works. To this end we believe a the Overlander should be supported for a further twelve months.”

The Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee today resolved to “support the chairs of the Auckland Regional Council, Environment Waikato, Horizons Manawatu and Greater Wellington Regional Council in approaching the Government and Toll Holdings advocating for the continuation of the Overlander for an interim period of 12 months so that the possibility of constructing a joint financial rescue package and developing a new operational strategy for the Auckland Wellington passenger rail service, can be investigated.”

“The Overlander is a vital piece of infrastructure linking the Auckland isthmus with other centres to the south,” says Cr Cayford. “We are also concerned about speculative murmurings over the future of rail freight services along the main trunk line and the impact this will have on the regions.”

The committee has asked ARC staff to provide more information about the comparative "true cost" subsidies which exist in Auckland and New Zealand between trucked freight and rail freight, and between rail passenger transport and other transport modes between Auckland and Wellington.


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