Government Urged to Save Long Distance Passenger Trains

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is calling for a national public transport authority to coordinate and help fund urban, regional and inter-regional public transport in New Zealand. Currently there is no coordination of public transport throughout the country and services are being provided for by authorities in silos competing, rather than collaborating with each other.

PTUA chair Niall Robertson says, “the best example of this is the Te Huia train from Hamilton to Auckland. Made to stop at Papakura by Auckland authorities originally, it can now, magically, go as far as The Strand station as the Waikato authorities used the Waikato supply of water to Auckland as a lever”.All authorities should be working collaboratively to ease the commute for all New Zealanders. Another example is KiwiRail’s announcement to discontinue regular rail passenger services between Auckland and Wellington and between Christchurch and Picton to connect with the Cook Strait ferries. The proposal is to scrap the Northern Explorer by turning it into a multi-day tourist train ending one day travel by train between Auckland and Wellington. This service has been in place for 112 years, and is needed now more than ever. Kiwirail want to do the same with the Coastal Pacific between Picton and Christchurch.

PTUA Coordinator Jon Reeves said “The PTUA assert the government have been sitting on their hands and not following up on promises to develop better transport options for New Zealanders during this time of the Climate Emergency. There are currently no initiatives to develop better public transport options for long distance rail and coach travel, and the government are allowing KiwiRail to take away the ability for New Zealanders to use long distance trains as public transport services. Action is needed immediately to reinstate the last of our long distance passenger rail services.”

Funding is urgently needed to allow the Northern Explorer and Coastal Pacific trains to restart immediately on a regular timetable to keep long distance rail public transport moving and serving New Zealanders.

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