Last weekend saw some great news with the announcement of central government funding to support the purchase of new fleet of 18 hybrid trains to replace the ageing and life-expired lower North Island rolling stock. This will enable, for the first time in many decades, better connectivity by public transport between the Manawatū, Horowhenua, northern Kāpiti, the Wairarapa and Wellington. This includes service outside of traditional commuter peaks and will add new weekend service to Palmerston North and improve weekend service on the Wairarapa Line.
This will deliver the first tender shoots of what regional rail could provide in terms of low-carbon, inclusive access for the lower North Island and in fact for all of Aotearoa. In Australia, the state of Victoria has demonstrated this through sustained and ongoing investment in regional rail from the turn of this century. Just prior to the pandemic, regional trains (and connecting coaches) carried 22.4 million passengers a year through a connective state-wide network of trains and coaches.
It has to be acknowledged that this achievement didn’t come cheap to Victoria because they too had to invest heavily to recover from decades of under-investment and neglect in their rail network. But with a two-decade head start on Aotearoa, they have built, and continuously improve, a regional rail and public transport network that strongly supports Melbourne as the state capital and strong regional cities that are well connected to Melbourne.
For Aotearoa to embark on the next stage of a rail revival journey requires building on the great initial step of investing in new regional rail rolling stock for the Lower North Island. To support the investment in rolling stock, we need to see how KiwiRail, the government and regional authorities plan to deliver on the Wellington Rail Programme Business Case, which provides a rail development pathway for the Hutt Valley and Kāpiti lines that supports urban, regional, long-distance and freight rail development in the Lower North Island.Following the Lower North Island, the obvious next place to look is the Upper North Island. Half of the population of Aotearoa lives north of Taupō and the four Upper North Island regions are projected to have two-thirds of Aotearoa’s population growth in the coming decades. The vast majority of that population and growth is in the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga. Opportunities have already been missed to provide fast-growing communities in the North Waikato with access to existing and future rail services. For example in 2005, Pōkeno had a population of just 500. By 2021, that number had increased by 341% to 5,545 with growth continuing unabated. According to 2018 Census data, 666 Pōkeno residents commuted to work in Auckland, a number that has likely significantly increased since then. At present, the first bus from Pōkeno at 6:10am would get you to Britomart Station in Downtown Auckland at 8:46am by connecting to another bus at Pukekohe which connects to the train at Papakura, while Google Maps estimates a car travel time of up to 2 hours and 10 minutes, which is not much better. The Te Huia Hamilton to Auckland train passes through but does not stop in Pōkeno. But if it did, it would take well over an hour off the current public transport travel time.
Similarly, Te Kauwhata’s current population of 2,760 is projected to triple over the next eight years with 1,600 new homes being developed by Winton and Kāinga Ora . This significant residential population increase is not accompanied by a commensurate increase in nearby employment meaning that most residents are required to commute to areas with substantial employment, such as South Auckland and Hamilton. Currently, Te Kauwhata has just two weekday bus services to Hamilton, taking just under an hour and a half and a single weekday bus service to Pukekohe, taking an hour. Te Huia, if it stopped, would take around an hour and a quarter to Puhinui and 40 minutes to Rotokauri Station in Te Rapa, Hamilton.
While growth is more muted in Tūākau, there is strong support there for the town to be once again served by rail. Tūākau has a population of 5,890 with a higher-than-average growth rate which could see the population almost double by 2031. At the 2018 Census, 1,113 people left Tūākau for work with the vast majority going to Auckland.
Ngāruawāhia also presents a good opportunity for a revived station location as one platform still exists at the former station site. The town is the kick-off point for the Te Awa cycleway to Hamilton, Cambridge and beyond and is a key site for Waikato Tainui with the Turangawaewae Marae, Kingitanga Reserve, Turangawaewae House and the Puke-i-aahua Pā site.
As is typical in Aotearoa, these towns have been developed with the usual car-based infrastructure in place as a matter of course but with lagging and very limited public transport provision. But all were railway towns back in the day and in their heyday, there were over 36,000 rail trips a year from Tūākau, 16,000 rail trips a year from Te Kauwhata and 19,000 rail trips a year from Pōkeno. While there is no trace of the former Pōkeno Railway Station, concept work has been carried out by Waikato District Council about a potential station site and in Te Kauwhata, the station platform and pedestrian access still exists, albeit in a rather rundown state; the Tūākau Station island platform still exists as does one platform at Ngāruawāhia Station.
While the Te Huia Hamilton to Auckland train had its second-best month ever in March 2023, carrying 7,120 passengers, the fact that its last boarding stop is in Huntly, ninety-three kilometres from Auckland and that it does not pick up passengers anywhere in the Auckland commuter belt, means that it is not achieving its full potential. There is clearly a substantial existing and potential market of residents for this service in each of these communities which are a long way from employment. Serving them would make best use of the committed investment in Te Huia as well as providing sustainable transport choice to fast-growing communities in the North Waikato. We understand there is initial work underway investigating the potential for stations in all three towns.
In all of this, it has to be remembered that the only way for Te Huia to recover its sunk cost in infrastructure is to make use of it to carry people. Having additional station stops on the route where there is considerable population growth would be a good start. Similarly to the existing rolling stock in the Lower North Island, Te Huia makes use of recycled 1970s Mark II carriages from the United Kingdom, previously recycled by Auckland as interim rolling stock until Auckland electrified its rail network in 2014-2015. As such, the current rolling stock is both close to the end of its latest and final life extension and, like the now resolved situation with the Lower North Island rolling stock, needs a sustainable long-term solution that is fit for purpose for a 21st century regional rail operation.The Lower North Island rolling stock solution provides a template that could be expanded to provide a sustainable long-term solution for securing the long-term future for Te Huia. The extent of electrification in both Auckland and Wellington ends of the North Island Main Trunk Line is nearly identical at 56 kilometres (once Papakura to Pukekohe electrification is completed) and the extent of running on battery power is around 80 kilometres in both cases. And of course, if the electrification gap between Pukekohe and Te Rapa, in north Hamilton, were plugged, then the battery or diesel functionality would support extending the service to Tauranga or elsewhere.
An obvious consideration are the different forms of electrification between the legacy Wellington DC powered suburban network, largely developed from 1938 to 1955 and extended since in stages from Paekākāriki to Waikanae, and the more modern AC electrification of the Hamilton to Palmerston North section of the North Island Main Trunk Line and Auckland metro network. While this is a consideration, there are technologies that enable running on both AC & DC power. An example of this are the French regional trains that run from Marseille along the Côte d’Azur towards Monaco and Italy which run on DC power in Marseille and AC power elsewhere.
So, while it is great to finally see an enduring and sustainable rolling stock solution for the Lower North Island, there are real potential synergies here with creating a regional rail template that can be applied to connecting the Golden Triangle of the Upper North Island. And while this longer-term solution is being sought, there are real opportunities to make best use of the existing investment in Te Huia but adding station stops in fast growing communities in the North Waikato.
This would be a first step in building on the committed investment in Lower North Island rolling stock to start moving Aotearoa towards the sort of connective rail network, supported by feeder bus services, in the state of Victoria that carry over twenty million trips a year.
So what we are calling for is:
Urgent work on providing station stops for Te Huia to rail-served towns on its route in the North Waikato.
Leveraging the opportunity presented by the commitment for new Lower North Island rolling stock solution to provide an enduring long-term solution for the Upper North Island, including enabling service expansion to Tauranga. This could simply be an add-on option to the contract which could allow for similar rolling stock, suited to the Upper North Island network, to be purchased.
Double tracking the 15-kilometre single-track section through the Whangamarino Swamp and across the single-track Ngāruawāhia Bridge to enable more freight, long-distance and regional train service to operate at higher speeds. The Rail Network Investment Plan has a business case for work on this set down for the 2023-2024 financial year.
Thanks for signing up for news from Greater Auckland! Keep an eye on your inbox for regular updates.
STAY IN TOUCH
We love being able to keep you in the loop - it means we know theres a community of like-minded people who are keen on making Auckland better on bikes. Sign up for updates about what's happening, and how you can be part of it.
Te Huia could be a premium price alternative to cbd professionals whose hourly charge out makes it convenient and profitable to have the tables and WiFi for around an hour between the cbd and papakura or pukekohe. “Earn while the wheels turn”
And also Te Huia put an offer on the Table to AT for picking up and dropping off Passengers at Pukekohe while the that Station was under renovation , AT said NO as they would have to put someone there to assist those getting on the train , and that was the biggest joke ever as the only time I ever saw any of their staff there was when GVR were celebrating the end of the DMU Shuttles and even on the very last day no-one and the closest staff were at Papakura supposely handing out pamphlets about the new timetable but more time playing with their idiot phones than attending to custoumers .
The station is a construction site, it’s clearly not suitable for passenger use. Te Huia has to crawl all the way to Papakura. Wait until it’s fully redeveloped.
AT is not interested in Te Hiua, as Auckland Council is not involved in funding of the service. The only reason AT is co-operating, is they have been told too by the government.
But that was when the DMU Shuttle 1st ended so those at Pukekohe would not have to catch the bus .
Servicing other areas just makes sense, it could significantly increase its patronage.
Combined with that, peak hour services (at least) in the other direction. There must be a fair few people travelling from these towns south to Te Rapa and the Hamilton CBD every morning and night.
And what got me was the Te Huia was parked up at Te Rapa during the Last lockdown , when they could of had an hourly service between Huntly an Frankton for those working or shopping in Hamilton area . Instead of having the crew doing training , and it would have built up a passenger base from that area . even now they could still do as they have enough carriages for it to be done .
I have always thought the intra-Waikato potential would dwarf those going to and from Auckland
Yip, there’d be more interest from residents of Huntly and Ngaruawahia heading into Hamilton then Waikato residents heading to Auckland.
In saying that, a stop at Puhinui would be very popular.
If anything the Te Huia patronage data has highlighted the importance of the Auckland market, which is not surprising given there is 1.7 million people.
Patronage really took off once it became viable to travel from Auckland to the Waikato during the day.
Martin – there is a stop at Puhinui and when I came up on the Train on the Monday after the dragon boat racing , there were a number of people from overseas that got off there to catch their flights to overseas points and the only reason they did that is when they went to book seats on Intercity there were none , And they saw an ad at the transport centre in Hamilton and got the train , which had better connections for them than Intercity coaches and cheaper too .
@ David L, thanks for that bit of info. When I last used it when home, there was no stop there. It should be advertised a lot more as the easy way to/form the airport.
There’s even a brochure now for it I discovered this page the other day looking at the rail rebuild pages.
“Patronage really took off once it became viable to travel from Auckland to the Waikato during the day”
Imagine if more Waikato residents could use the service too?
Agree with everything here. It needn’t be necessary to build stations that cost $200m each. Not in the first instance, anyway. A simple arrangement of platforms, ticket machines and a footbridge/underpass would provide access to trains. If an upgrade were needed it could proceed from here, once the demand had been shown to exist.
All that’s needed for Te Huia is platforms and bus shelter. However even a very simple station like that seems too much for the mix of organisations involved and nothing happens.
Yes to this but even the footbridge isn’t necessary. Trains are so infrequent that there is a huge amount of time for just a standard pedestrian crossing.
Yup. Keep it simple.
Isn’t Te Huia supposed to be a flexible project with changes made as required? Aren’t they able to add stops at Pokeno and Ngaruawahia fairly easily?
No, because this is NZ and trying to open new stations or even reopening old stations gets stuck in a bureaucratic quagmire and crossed boundaries. Even the Waikato Regional Council’s request to run a handful of extra Te Huia services on Thu, Fri, Sat has been turned down as impossible to do.
The new trains for the lower North island are a good first set as would be more stops for Te Huia plus an extension to Tauranga. More broadly how can we integrate Intercity buses in too the mix as well so we can have a truly nation wide public transport network. A nation wide card would be a good start and the Government is working on that. If Intercity buses are to be included a new system for seat reservation would be needed and you can imagine a time when that may be required for train journey’s as well. Obviously because Intercity is a privately owned company some sort of accomandation between Central and local Govt and Intercity would be required. However if an agreement with Fullers over the seemingly impossibility of fairly intergratin ferry travel into AT’s hop card has being achieved then surely something can be worked out. I see it as a software problem and some payments from your card may need to happen in advance of your travel. The other ingredient is to upgrade the facilities for Intercity buses to provide creditable connections to local train and bus services. I would put a high degree of urgency to this for many people such as myself the sole reason for owning a car is to visit out of town relatives.
Instead of diesel engined trains, go for railcars as used in Victoria.
Why is NZ so fixated on a nationwide transit card when they generally don’t exist overseas either. That’s such 1990s thinking. All one should need in the 21st century is a credit/debit card with contactless (or that weird paywave name only used in Australia and Nz) or a decent mobile phone.
In my wallet right now I have a BEE card Hop card and both of those have the Gold card embeded on them , I also have a contactless Debit card which in eyes will not give me the Gold Card discount . And at this point in time the Hop card tells me I can travel for free after 9am whereas the Bee Card tells me it’s free from the 1st service in the morning till the very last at night in the Waikato area , will the contactless do that ? .
And if I use a service in Auckland before 9am I prefer the hop card as there is the money I need on it but come the 2nd week after getting my pension there is usually nothing left on the Contactless Card for travel .
The key outcome needed is a single system for managing public transport payments across the country, which becomes increasingly important as there are more inter-regional public transport options.
This system should allow users to add multiple payment options to their account. The majority of the country would use contactless to pay, but there should also be the option of getting a separate card that can be topped up, for people that don’t have a supported contactless card (e.g. tourists).
This is essentially the system that Transport for London uses in London – people can choose to buy an Oyster card and top it up, but most people just use their contactless card or phone.
This will be a controversial opinion on this site. I am a huge fan of trains and absolutely appreciate their value having lived in Europe for many years. And yet I do not see how upper north island commuter rail is sustainable. We should absolutely prioritise an efficient and reliable commuter rail service in Auckland, and our other cities, but we just don’t have the population density to push further afield for interregional rail.
The Southern Motoray is clogged every Friday from noon. Imagine reliable train connections to Tauranga, Hamilton, Taupo/Rotorua, National Park for a relaxed weekend away. Or dream bigger about Whangarei, Bay of Islands, New Plymouth, …
I think there is huge potential especially with tourism back to pre-pandemic levels.
Not true. OK, New Zealand is not as dense as say Belgium, but look at Finland, Sweden and Norway. They all have similar population densities to New Zealand and all manage to run decent passenger rail services.
It’s not a question of population density, but distribution. Half of NZ’s population lives in the Upper North Island and most of the growth in the next 30 years will take place there. Without high-capacity public transport, this pattern of growth will be car-centric and awful.
Do we want to inflict congestion and sprawl on successive generations of New Zealanders, or do we want to do the right thing transport-wise?
I once read a stat that over 2m people live within 10mins of the NIMT line. Its all the small trips that could be happening.
Quite so. Hamilton to Otorohanga; Taumarunui to Ohakune, Palmerston North to Whanganui (I *know* this isn’t NIMT), etc.
NZ is a wonderful country – let’s open it up to travel by rail.
Those countries, or at least Sweden and Finland, also have a much larger population relative to country size ie. a big chunk of Sweden’s 10 million people live in the lower half of the country, and a big chunk of Finland’s 5.5 million also live in the lower half of the country. The upper half of both countries is very sparsely populated. So it’s really not comparing apples with apples in relation to NZ.
Correction – even more extreme – lowest third of both countries.
Half of New Zealand’s population lives north of Taupo, in other words the top quarter of the country.
Jezza – poor comparison. More than 8 million people live in Sweden from Stockholm southwards to the country’s southern extent, roughly similar to Auckland to wellington. That’s well more than double the population in a similar land area. Further Malmo links across to Copenhagen, with its big population base.
But the much less densely populated lower North Island maintains regional rail in both available directions, between much lower population centres?
Regional rail that is currently only constrained by both inadequate track, and inadequate rolling stock. At least moves to remedy this have now very belatedly commenced.
The lower Nth Island’s comparative good fortune may have more to do with regional bias in transport funding. Like a 90% national subsidy for their new trains.
I think it is more to do with Wellington’s climate relative to the Wairarapa and Kapiti Coast. People have been doing those long commutes for a long time. It’s worth noting that the Capital Connection was for a long time commercially viable, which is not common.
The population growth in the north has made regional rail a lot more viable, however it has come at a time when the networks are so run down it needs a lot of investment and time to get things going again.
The Kaimai Tunnel might be an issue for BOP expansion given current health & safety laws and the number of freight trains passing thru it. Maybe that needs electrifying. It also seems crazy to me there isn’t a tourist train to Rotorua.
In Rotorua, they sold off the ideally situated “travel centre” in the middle of town and moved the rail station to the middle of nowhere. Now as I understand it, a bridge has been removed and any rail terminus would be even more inconvenient. The purpose built long distance bus stations of the 60s/70s have all been sold off and replaced by a bus shelter somewhere.
I went to Rotorua a couple of years ago and walked the old route from the central city to where the station was relocated. I think it can be mostly reinstated to a park area just before where the original location was that is now sadly a butt ugly mall.
Or they could demolish that mall which would actually help reinvigorate what looked to me like quite a down on at heel central area. That would be in my opinion a win win for Rotorua.
Rotorua Central Mall is 90% surface car parking and 10% retail sheds. This is disposable architecture. It would not be hard to redevelop for a transport centre/TOD as part of a rail reopening – which needs to happen.
Darren recently told me that actually the Kaimai Tunnel does not have the health and safety restrictions for passenger trains on it he, myself, and many think it has. Are there THAT many freight trains that a few slots a day are not available?
I thought that I saw a figure of 10 metroport each way per day, plus 4? Kinleith?
The tunnel can handle 96 trains per day, there are currently 31 on the busiest day of the week. The issue is more likely to do with passing loop capacity on the ECMT.
It is not realistic to say there won’t be an 8 km bottleneck caused by the tunnel for passenger train operation.
TeHuia could attract more people if it could access CRL tunnels once it’s completed. But the rolling stocks should be non-diesel powered.
Hamilton-Otahuhu-panmure-brittomart-mt.eden-new market-penrose- otahuhu- Hamilton
Extension of electrifying between Pukekohe and Hamilton will not only benefit Tehuia but also helps kiwirail to run more EL locos to run effieciently between Westfield and Palmy. At the moment the 1980s build line between palmy and Hamilton is underutilized.
You can say that again, south of Hamilton it’s many hours between trains even on a week day. The weekend is even worse. It’s a disgraceful under utilisation of an electrified supposed main trunk rail line.
The biggest problem will be Britomart as they are going to have 4 platforms instead of the 5 which they have now .
Not really. They’re going to have two platforms used for suburban trains as opposed to the five previously used. There’s plenty of space for regional services to terminate.
If there’s an issue it will be the number of trains entering the tunnel, although with the proposed running pattern I believe there’s space for a couple of extra services per hour.
They are going to widen platform 1+5 supposely to handle the extra passengers that will be using the 9 car trains that will have more passengers getting on and off , but everytime I get on a 6 Car most passengers seem to get on them closer to the escalators that walking down the platforms to the empty carriages .
The procurement template for investigation, design and construction of the 3 Auckland stations (Drury, Ngakaroa, Paerata) could easily be used for those Waikato stations. Scope and cost can be scaled through investigation, based on Day 1 patronage and appropriate parking/ bus access (the Auckland stations do not have large Day 1 catchments without Park n’ Ride). It would be easy to carry that project capability forward to deliver affordable staged station projects.
Pre-covid, Taukau council had funding for railway platforms in place. It just needed a train to Pukekohe (or Te Huia).
You mean the Waikato District Council. There is no Tuakau council.
I read somewhere is the biggest problem in WK/NZTA having the funds and not releasing them to build it .
Isn’t the biggest problem with WK/NZTA the people, not the lack of funds?
Regional rail is obviously required, as obviously as urban / metro rail is more than necessary. Rail is without a doubt the safest way to travel so on that basis all sources of funding should be calculating how many lives will be saved, how many medical costs reduced, how much stress relief achieved for those that drive because there is no other option. Now is the time with younger people more and more averse to climate unfriendly activities and trains clearly a very relaxing, climate positive means of travel, be it suburban, regional, and indeed motu wide and long!
If were to open stations for Te Huia in Te Kauwhata Pokeno & Tuakau I wonder if it’s service pattern would be best to stop at Pukekohe as well? Might be better to drop Papakura if so considering it stops at Puhinui and the Strand. This is post Papakura to Pukekohe electrification so perhaps makes most sense as it’s the end of the Auckland line & hopefully the frequency is decent to transfer post CRL.
On that subject. It’s not clear from anything I can find online whether there is going to be 4 platforms (over two islands) at Pukekohe. Kiwirail’s webpage on it https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/our-network/our-regions/amp/papakura-to-pukekohe-electrification/ has smallish map that seems to suggest 2 island platforms accommodating 9 car EMU’s but the wording is not clear.
Grant have a look at this video and you can see the layout of the 2 island platforms and at the beginning is an artist rendering that is posted either side of the station itself .
Tauranga getting new trains but it needs the passinger service back
Cambridge has a big increase in population and could do with a better transport system .Has only one bus service to Hamilton ,could do with bus and train service to Te Awamutu.
The problem is Pukekohe. The tracks need to run direct from Pokeno, tunnel under the Bombay hills, to Drury. That would save vast amounts of time & fuel. Pukekohe should be a stub line, like Onehunga & Manukau.
This would be a great time saver for when the Waikato (and in future Tauranga) services have significant patronage, but until then the focus should be on electrification to Hamilton and double tracking through the Whangamarino Wetland and the Ngāruawāhia bridge.
Not needed to double track the bridge at Ngaruawahia, it’s been well managed and timetabled for as long as I can remember, Spend the money on getting the ex AT rolling stock under shelter. I find arguments that existing rolling stock is near end of life a little counterproductive. they might be Ex British Rail but rail infrastructure if well maintained lasts a lot longer than some may think. Most likely the only original parts of some of the rolling stock will be bogie frames and the underframes of the actual rolling stock. Currently the refurbed EF’s (Electric locos built in 1970’s) are going well and outperforming “modern” DLs (Chinese built locos).
Spend money where it needs to be spent and stay away from gold plated options, getting the biggest bang for bucks for as many people as possible IMHO
I’m not sure I’d describe getting modern EMUs/DMUs as ‘gold plated’.
No of course not, my comments re goldplating is more aligned to wifi everywhere cafes on board, make a first class second class split if we think we want luxuries. All I need is seats and a toilet and trains that run on time and aren’t cancelled whenever the wind blows in the wrong direction. Whilst accessability stations are great with elevators and escalators it certainly bumps up initial price of implementing services and can be a major hurdle when trying to justify what we really should never have lost anyway.
Paul, as a resident of Ngaruawahia, I can confirm that that bridge is nothing but an unsafe constraint, and always has.
It should have been replaced in the 1990s when there were two serious derailments that seriously damaged it. It has been a bodge ever since and needs replacement. A twin track bridge would enable increased rail speeds which would have the knock on effect of scaring the local children off the bridge. More trains on it would actually make it safer for all.
Why can’t they use the piles for what was the old Road/rail Bridge and put the Rails back on those ? .
Yeah nah yeah…. Speeds have been kept down to give the kids time to run off bridge. The piles between the road and rail bridges would be a great footbridge, diving platform, but in efforts to protect kids there’s been a dangerous situation created with fences and no easy escape route. the bridge itself is clearly still safe otherwise it wouldn’t be in use, the speed restriction heading North is because of pedestrians, heading south at 70kph it’s for the turnouts, but any argument about speed would be negated if a station/stop was put in place.
One derailment was due to human error in loading container flats that moved enroute. Building a new bridge wouldn’t solve clearance issues with shifting loads. a new bridge would be a nice to have rather than a must have. Double tracking through the swamp between TeKauwhata and Meremere would be a challenge, but def worth going, operationally it’s a pain, but very rarely you’ll see a train stopped waiting to cross another in that section.
Build a new twin-track bridge for trains, with a new parallel bridge for walking, cycling…and jumping?
Although new stations, new rolling stock, and track improvements would be great – they will all take significant new investment and justification.
It’s a bigger issue that Te Huia is not able to deliver on its potential with the current assets due to KiwiRail dropping the ball.
There were plans for Te Huia to introduce an additional Hamilton-Auckland-Hamilton round trip, leaving Hamilton later in the morning (leave Hamilton at 8:15am for a 10:55am arrival), and returning earlier in the afternoon (leave Auckland at 3:15pm for a 5:45pm arrival) . This would have made the service much more compelling for people who don’t need to spend the entire day in Auckland, or for people who wanted to travel to Hamilton for evening dinners (getting in at 5:45pm rather than the current 8:15pm arrival).
This service would have been delivered with the current rolling stock that has already been retrofitted, so the only new investment needed would be staff to run the service. Te Huia was planning to deliver this using the funds that had been saved due to not operating the service during COVID lockdowns.
However, despite an increased service frequency being in the Te Huia business plan for years, KiwiRail has been unable to secure the staff to deliver this improvement .
It’s really disappointing that the growth in New Zealand rail patronage is being hamstrung by the organisation that should be its biggest champion.
I totally agree with Matt’s post from the 8th May . KiwiRail needs to change if rail is to success in NZ.
 See proposed timetable on page 16: https://waikatorc.sharepoint.com/sites/DSDocumentBank/Shared%20Documents/Te%20Huia%20Subcommittee/2022/2022-08-01/2022-08-01%20-%20Te%20Huia%20Train%20Service%20Subcommittee%20-%201%20August%202022.pdf
On the 101 as it came into Huntly Monday last it had 4 crew members on board and I think 2 were under training , and some of them end up on the Northern Explorer as the Staff come from Hamilton .