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KiwiRail’s Northern Explorer turns one

Media release

KiwiRail’s Northern Explorer turns one

KiwiRail’s all new Northern Explorer service between Auckland and Wellington is celebrating its one-year anniversary of operation today having met its financial targets.

The service, which was launched at Britomart Station on 25 June last year, is performing better than budgeted and has seen a 12 percent increase in the number of passengers per service in comparison to its predecessor the Overlander.

“Since its launch, the new Northern Explorer train is trending in the right direction, and the service is receiving an excellent response from a broad section of the travel market,” says KiwiRail’s General Manager, Passenger, Deborah Hume. 

“The service is a fundamentally different one to the Overlander and is focused on tourism and experiential travel. The introduction of brand new scenic carriages was the key to revitalising the North Island service,” Ms Hume says. “They have given us the platform from which we can transform the North Island service into a high-value, must-do tourist experience for both domestic and international tourists alike.”

Other changes to the North Island train include a new timetable which sees it operating six days a week with a faster journey time of 10 and-a-half hours, new fares and a new menu.  In the last 12 months, the service has carried over 31,490 passengers up and down the North Island.

“The former Overlander service was seriously challenged, unable to compete against lower cost bus services in the transport space, and unattractive to the tourist market.  KiwiRail created the tourism-focused Northern Explorer for which we increased the price point and decreased the operating cost. It is now increasing patronage and so far delivering on its targets. Additionally, over the past year there have been encouraging signs for the new service in the international wholesale markets, up by approximately 50 percent in comparison to the previous year,” Ms Hume says. 

“We are focused on building the North Island service into a better product to attract more tourists – both international and domestic,” says Ms Hume. “We’ve been working with local businesses and tourism operators to develop our Scenic Escape packages – special tourism packages showcasing what is great about the North Island both inside and outside the train.

“We know with new carriages and a completely new product, the North Island rail service between Auckland and Wellington has the potential to be the great travel and tourism experience for the North Island, and we’re pleased with how the service is tracking one year on,” Ms Hume says.

Jim Quinn handing out birthday cupcakes on the NE train


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