30 Apr 2023

Passenger rail ripe for revival: 'We've got to get in the queue'

5:24 pm on 30 April 2023
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Save Our Trains spokesperson, Paul Callister, says the group hopes to see improvements to passenger rail in other parts of the country following the announcement of 18 new hybrid trains for the Wellington Region. Photo: daboost/123RF

A rail advocacy group says new trains in the lower North Island are a good start, but there is room to do more.

Eighteen new hybrid trains will be deployed to Kāpiti Coast and Wairarapa, to replace the current ones that date back to the 1970s.

The trains will operate using electric wires, batteries, and fuel, in an effort to reduce emissions.

Save Our Trains spokesperson, Paul Callister, said the announcement was positive news but trains were currently in hot demand across the globe so New Zealanders would be waiting a while for them to arrive.

"It's not going to be quick, I mean they're not going to arrive tomorrow, this is a long-term investment," he said.

"We've got to get in the queue."

Callister wanted to see improvements to passenger rail in other parts of the country too.

"The upper North Island - that area is really ripe for revival of passenger rail and then we've got even bigger ideas about a night train between Auckland and Wellington, and people are talking about reviving trains in the South Island."

Mayor welcomes trains but wants progress on promised expressway

Horowhenua District Mayor Bernie Wanden said while the new trains were welcome, the region also needed its long-awaited expressway.

He said locals were eager to see work on the Otaki to North Levin expressway project start in earnest.

"We still haven't got any definitive start to that project, we're still waiting for confirmation of the funding."

Wanden said while some work on consents and property purchases had begun, the project had not yet been given complete sign-off.

He said it had been over 10 years since the expressway was proposed and without it Horowhenua roads remained unsafe.

"There's not going to be a Road to Zero positive result with that road being like it is," he said.

"The volume of traffic that's on that piece of road now is growing all the time."

Wanden said there were still sections of the State Highway 1 network in the region where no alternate route was available in the event of an accident.

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