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People Power saves Overlander

28 September 2006

People Power saves Overlander

The Green Party today welcomed the decision by Toll to continue the Overlander service, and hailed this dramatic turnaround as a victory for the ordinary people of New Zealand, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says.

"From the outset, the Green Party knew there was a real groundswell of support out in the community for keeping this service. That's why we went out into the towns along the route and brought back to Parliament 25,000 signatures from people dismayed at the stupidity of the decision to axe the Overlander.

"Ultimately, Toll listened to their voices even if the Government didn't. For now, we have a three day service continuing past the original September 30 deadline, and then a full seven day service over the summer months - until things once again revert to a three day service for the winter months.

"People now have the chance to prove this service has a permanent place in our tourism and transport mix. That's great. Because before the groundswell of support was mobilised, we were all facing what looked like a fait accompli.

"It is now up to everyone to take up this option with both hands and ride the rail, and enjoy the beautiful scenery en route.

"To make that succeed, Toll now has to put genuine marketing muscle behind promoting the Overlander to tourists and to commuters. We look forward to hearing details of the marketing plans and budgets they have in mind.

"At the end of the day, we all want the Overlander to succeed, and to become a permanent seven days a week service. In time, today's decision may come be seen as a .turning point. New Zealand must get over its addiction to roading. It has to encourage rail as a genuine alternative, and that will require proceeding with the electrification of the main trunk line. Today's decision marks a major step in that direction."

ENDS

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