Toll New Zealand announces that the Overlander train service will stay

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Toll New Zealand has announced that it will keep the Overlander train service but on a reduced timetable, the service was initially due to stop service September 30. Toll said that they reached the decision because of the huge amount of public support the train service received, including a 16,000 person petition.

The Overlander will originally run for only three days a week; Friday, Saturday and Sunday during winter on the original timetable. But during summer through to autumn the service will run seven days a week. Toll hopes that this will cover all the needs of its patrons.

David Jackson, Toll NZ CEO, said: "We have had tremendous support from the regional councils and will consider an upgraded service option and offering alternate packages aimed at both domestic users and the tourist market."

Jackson said: "The continuation of the Overlander allows Toll to look at other funding options. We want to explore options that may be open to us to achieve this with the support and input of various interested parties. We especially appreciate the support of the regions to assist with marketing."

The decision comes days after the New Zealand Government announced that they will not provide financial assistance.

"Over the next few weeks we will be speaking to key people with the aim being of putting in place a clear plan for the positive development of the Overlander. Clearly it cannot remain in its current format so change will be fundamental for its survival. Reducing the services will allow us to perform refurbishments on the existing carriages and it [is] expected that this work will be completed by the start of the summer season."

Sue Morris, district mayor for Ruapehu, said: "The decision to save the Overlander is a relief. It's hugely important, it's our future. We are relying on the train to continue for a tourist option here, we're about toursim in the Ruapehu District, it's about bringing 13,000 passengers here."

The Manning Group has a proposal out for electro-diesel trains running two times a day and stopping eight times between Auckland and Wellington. Tom Manning said: "[I am] pleased Toll is looking at upgrading options for the Overlander and I am still open to working with the company to bring better trains to the network."

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