28 September 2006 (EMBARGOED UNTIL 4PM)
Toll NZ today announced that taking on board all the support they have received for a long distance North Island rail service, and their own exhaustive efforts to find a workable solution to keep the Overlander operating, a service will continue to run but initially on a reduced timetable.
From next week the Overlander will run for 3 days a week, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the existing timetable. For the busy summer season from mid December through to Autumn, and subject to patronage, the service will run 7 days a week. After Easter the service will revert to 3 days a week through the winter off-season. This will meet the needs of the majority of customers.
Toll NZ CEO David Jackson says, “ The continuation of the Overlander allows Toll to look at other funding options .We have had tremendous support from the regional councils and will consider an upgraded service option and offering alternate packages aimed at both domestic users and the tourist market.
“We therefore want to explore options that may be open to us to achieve this with the support and input of various interested parties. We especially appreciate the support of the regions to assist with marketing.
“Over the next few weeks we will be speaking to key people with the aim being of putting in place a clear plan for the positive development of the Overlander. Clearly it cannot remain in its current format so change will be fundamental for its survival. “Reducing the services will allow us to perform refurbishments on the existing carriages and it expected that this work will be completed by the start of the summer season .
‘I personally want to thank all those New Zealanders who have supported this service up until now. I also want to publicly thank our staff for the amazing job they have done under particularly stressful circumstances over the past few weeks”, says Mr Jackson.
“Toll is committed to New Zealand and to passenger transport . Between our ships and trains we carry close to 13 million passengers per year.”