The Green Party today launched a plan to trial a new twice-daily passenger train from Palmerston North to Napier, while the Manawatū Gorge is closed to road traffic, as well as a commitment to increase funding to reduce fares on the Capital Connection service between Palmerston North and Wellington.
“National has let regional rail services rust away but the Greens in government will restore rail as the backbone of New Zealand’s transport system, for freight and for people,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.
“The Capital Connection should be treated like the vital part of transport infrastructure it is, with stable and secure government funding to reduce fares and ensure the service continues for years to come.
“With the Manawatū Gorge out of action for a while, trains can take some of the stress off the Saddle Road and around Ashhurst. Passenger rail should be part of the long-term solution for the route through the Gorge.
“We’re proposing a new service called the Ruahine Runner, twice a day each way, stopping at Palmerston North, Woodville, Dannevirke, Waipukurau, Hastings, and Napier.
“In time, we’d look at extending the new service all the way to Wellington, essentially restoring the Napier-Wellington service.
“There are perfectly good trains sitting idle that Auckland isn’t using and we’d put them to use connecting regional New Zealand.
“The Greens have always been committed to opening up the land transport budget to fund more investment in rail.
“Trains can help people and freight in regional New Zealand travel safely and efficiently, taking trucks and cars off the road, and reducing the pollution that causes climate change,” Mr Shaw said.