Greens say all aboard for regional rail re-launch

The Government’s buy-back of the rail tracks will provide a significant boost for re-launching a new ‘golden age of rail’ through the much-missed regional rail services in the upper North Island, Green MP Keith Locke said today.

“This is a good opportunity to relaunch long distance passenger rail services from Auckland to Hamilton, Rotorua and Tauranga,” said Mr Locke, The Green Associate Transport spokesperson.

“When TranzRail closed them down they weren’t attractive to new operators because of high track access fees and speed restrictions because of poor track maintenance. All that could change now.

“Restarting the Hamilton Connection as a regular commuter service would take pressure off the Auckland-Hamilton highway, and there is a certainly a big tourist and local user potential in both the Kaimai Express and the Geyserland service.

“As a Green MP I will be doing what I can to get these services re-started,” said Mr Locke.

Mr Locke said the new track ownership was crucial in making passenger rail a viable and attractive mode of transportation.

“It’s just the boost the region’s rail system needs,” said Mr Locke.

“The Government takeover will be a plus for track maintenance. Because of its financial troubles TranzRail was skimping on upkeep of the system.

“Now there will be no reason why the tracks can’t be kept up to scratch.”