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Waikato Regional Council chair Russ Rimmington says the service will usher in a “renaissance of rail”.
The Te Huia train service opens to the public in early April and runs return trips between Frankton and Papakura twice a day on weekdays. The service will also run once on selected Saturdays.
Rimmington says the service can accommodate 300 people per day over two services at full capacity.
When asked by 1 NEWS reporter Katie Bradford if the train was at risk of becoming “a ghost train” if it didn’t prove popular, the Waikato Regional Council chair disputed the notion.
“No, it won’t do that because we’ll give the tickets away if necessary, but I don’t think that will be the case because the Waikato is growing so quickly.”
Rimmington added, “this won’t fail, this will grow from success to success”.
The trip from Frankton to Papakura will take around 88 minutes, with one stop in Huntly on the way.
People wanting to travel into Britomart in central Auckland will need to take a second train, adding another hour to the journey.
Rimmington says this won’t be an issue for some as “not everyone wants to go to Britomart — some people have business in Ōtāhuhu, etc”.
Sue Trodden of The Rail Opportunity Network (TRON) is pleased to see the service they campaigned for get underway.
“It’s unbelievably exciting that after eight years of lobbying and keeping this story alive we actually have a train on the tracks,” she told 1 NEWS.
“It opens up Waikato to another part of the country and makes us feel like a grown-up city.”
The Government invested over $80 million for the service, with another $12 million coming from local authorities.
This article first appeared on www.tvnz.co.nz
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