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The Government has confirmed it has had an approach from a consortium interested in operating the troubled Overlander service between Wellington and Auckland.
The Overlander was nearly scrapped in 2006, but a public backlash coupled with renewed public interest following a burst of publicity saved it.
However a consortium, led by the Manning Group, now wants to run an upgraded service, complete with new Chinese-made luxury trains, to replace the Overlander from 2011.
But the consortium wants the Government to grant it a 50-year concession to protect it from competition on the route - effectively giving it a total monopoly.
The new trains were first proposed in 2006 when Toll announced it planned to scrap the Overlander.
But Manning Group governing director Thomas Manning today said in a statement the Government buyback of Toll had changed the landscape, making the idea of a new daily Wellington-Auckland service a possibility again.
New part electric, part diesel, trains would cost about $20 million and getting the business running would cost about another $10m.
"There's no way we'd put in $20 million for rolling stock and another $10 million to get the business running if somebody else comes in and cuts our lunch, as it were," he told The Dominion Post newspaper.
He said the new service, provisionally named Green Arrow, could exist on a licensed operator, joint-venture or public-private partnership basis.
For the full story go to:
The New Zealand Herald
Tues, 20 May, 2008
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