Save Our Trains has added its support to a campaign to improve regional passenger rail in the lower North Island.
The campaign was launched by the Green Party in Palmerston North on Tuesday 12 July.
Save Our Trains spokespeople Dr Paul Callister and Laurie Winkless are regular users of regional train services.
Dr Paul Callister is a regular commuter on the Capital Connection service that runs up the Kapiti coast from Wellington and travels on to Palmerston North.
But there have been multiple cancellations of services recently, often due to mechanical faults, he says.
“The replacement of ageing rolling stock, double tracking to Otaki and electrification of the line between Waikanae and Palmerston North, are essential to provide a reliable service now and to allow better frequency in the future.”
But funding for a fleet of hybrid electric trains in the lower North Island was not addressed in the May 2022 Budget.
Save Our Trains spokesperson Laurie Winkless says rail connections between the Hutt and Wellington are limited and often replaced by bus.
She says with a growing population along the Hutt transport corridor, improving train services is essential.
Ms Winkless says it is good to see local and national representatives supporting community demands for improved public transport, but central government policymakers need to catch up.
Horizons Regional Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Waka Kotahi have released a Business Case for 22 new commuter trains as part of the Lower North Island Rail Integrated Mobility (LNIRIM) project.
They had committed to half funding the preferred plan which would require around $760 million in investment.
This investment would provide far more frequent and reliable services on these routes, and encourage usage, says Ms Winkless.
She says New Zealand’s goals to reduce emissions must include a comprehensive and modernized passenger rail system.
Ms Winkless says Save Our Trains is a non-partisan group that is keen to work with any politicians and groups to advance the cause of intercity and regional passenger rail services.
The Save Our Trains campaign was started in January 2022 by concerned members of the public focused on maintaining and developing passenger rail services.