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Slow progress to save Wellington-Auckland service

Slow progress to save Wellington-Auckland rail service

Issued by Mike Lee, Chairman, Auckland Regional Council

The Chairman of the Auckland Regional Council says negotiations with Toll Holdings to consider a stay of execution for the Overlander train service are continuing.

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 to provide time for central and local government to discuss potential options for a joint financial rescue package.

Auckland Regional Council Chairman Mike Lee says an hour-long discussion between the Chairs and Toll Holdings senior management yesterday did not reach any firm commitment to continue with an interim service.

“Until we can get some agreement from Toll Holdings for a period of grace to continue the service there’s no point in talking to government about the future of the service,” said Mr Lee.

“The ARC is very supportive of the Overlander service and over the past three years we and then ARTA have subsidised the Auckland-Wellington service by up to half of their Britomart Station annual access fee. This support has ranged from $95,000 to $122,000 a year.”

The ARC does not set and collect access fees for Britomart Station. This is done by Auckland Regional Transport Network Limited (ARTNL) which manages Britomart on behalf of Auckland City Council. These are separate access fees to the track access fees charged by the government body (ONTRACK).”

Mr Lee says the Councils remain determined to see the service or a replacement service running the main trunk line.

“Though we have yet to gain a stay of execution Toll has agreed to continue talks, however to be realistic we are clearly running out of time,” he says.

Ends

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