Greens Overlander campaign off to a roaring start
22 August 2006
Greens 'Save the Overlander' campaign off to a roaring start
This morning, the Green Party collected hundreds of signatures within barely an hour, during forays by a trio of its MPs into Wellington Railway Station and Britomart Rail Terminal to launch the Green Party campaign to 'Save the Overlander' passenger rail link between Auckland and Wellington
Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons and Wellington-based MP Sue Kedgley were out at 7am collecting signatures in Wellington, while Auckland-based MP Keith Locke was doing likewise among rail commuters at Britomart.
The Greens are seeking a two year stay of execution for the Overlander, to devise a marketing strategy that can return the service to profitability. Such a reprieve would also enable necessary repairs on the track to be done, that would transform the Overlander into a modern, speedy and reliable tourism experience.
"I was really heartened to see how keen people were to sign the petition. New Zealanders from every walk of life obviously feel very attached to this train service. They don't want to see it scrapped. Travelling by train up and down the island is an experience they value, and they want their children to enjoy it in future," Ms Kedgley says.
"It is easy to forget how essential the Overlander is to the communities along the route. Once the track has been repaired and the service is being properly marketed, the Overlander should become a great tourism asset. And once those passenger numbers begin to rise, train travel will be clearly seen as a cost efficient and sustainable form of public transport," Ms Fitzsimons says.
The Green Party will be collecting more signatures in the weeks ahead, and will be supporting efforts by regional councils to gain a reprieve.
"Once we can win a breathing space, Toll can devise a targeted marketing campaign for both international and domestic travellers, and we can all then work together with central and regional government to save this Kiwi icon," Ms Fitzsimons says.