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Extension Of Te Huia Service A Great Step Forward For Provincial Public Transport

TRAC is pleased with the developments of the extra Te Huia services timed to start this week on Thursday February 8th. These increased services will be on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. The current service is reported to be doing well against its performance indicators and numbers are expected to rise further.

In the 2021-22 year the fare recovery was affected by Covid and languished at 6% only, but the 2022-23 year that figure has risen to 18%.

Niall Robertson, National Coordinator of TRAC says that the international standard for fare recovery of costs in most countries is 25% as public transport contributes through wider economic, social and environmental benefits that more than justifies the service users level of recovery cost.

Robertson is confident that this number will be reached with increased service, but will be guaranteed to succeed as the service develops into the future.

Recently, KiwiRail invested in a new station at The Strand by innovatively developing the old character brick signal box and an accompanying power house and workshop. This has been developed with a cafe and is a permanent fixture as opposed to the old shelter which was only open when trains were due.

TRAC supports the trial continuing for another two years at which time new hybrid trains can be ordered to get the service into Britomart, and new stations can be built en route at Tuakau and Pokeno, to add to the sustainable use of the train. Te Kauwhata, in time, will also become more relevant and will require more train services.

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Robertson warns that there is a cloud on the horizon though as the current government is wanting to cut costs to pay for tax breaks and could potentially set the development of this service back ten years. Robertson says, “If they were to disrupt it now it would be a case of short term thinking destroying a long term and very worthwhile project from realising its full potential of providing economic, social and environmental needs going forward”.

In the meantime, TRAC feels that KiwiRail needs to be praised for employing and training new staff, the ongoing utilisation of current rolling stock and the development of a new terminus building. Also the Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Council need to be congratulated for their ongoing and unwavering support of this very much needed and worthwhile service.

TRAC is hopeful that the government will put long term value above short term political need.

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