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. The indefinite closure of the Manawatū Gorge is an opportunity to revitalise passenger trains in this part of New Zealand.
The Green Party will:
- Establish a new twice-daily passenger train service between Palmerston North and Napier: the Ruahine Runner.
- Bring fares down on the existing Capital Connection commuter service between Palmerston North and Wellington, with ongoing, stable funding.
- Open up the land transport budget to allow more investment in rail throughout the country.
This is part the Green Party’s commitment to connecting the regions and expanding regional rail services across the country.
The Ruahine Runner – a new Palmerston North to Napier rail line
The Ruahine Runner is a new rail service that will depart both Palmerston North and Napier twice daily, with services running in both directions in the morning and evening. It would stop at Woodville, Dannevirke, Waipukurau, and Hastings, and take 2.5 hours – faster than the existing freight trains on this route, about the same as by car, and quicker than the current bus service. If successful, this service could be extended to Wellington, providing a second daily service between the capital and Palmerston North.
This is a simple and affordable solution in response to the Manawatū Gorge closure that should accompany roading improvements around Ashhurst and on the Saddle Road.
The Capital Commuter line
Fares on the Capital Connection service between Palmerston North and Wellington have risen by up to 17 percent since 2012. Unsurprisingly, passenger numbers have dropped to around 250 people a day. The Green Party is committed to reducing fares on the Capital Connection and providing it with consistent funding from the National Land Transport Fund.
Opening up the transport budget for rail
The Green Party will ensure a more balanced approach to transport funding by opening up the transport budget to invest in improving the rail network, and by increasing investment in regional roads. Only by having genuinely reliable and competitive alternatives to the state highway network will we have a more resilient transport network overall.