Waikato to Auckland train service reaches 11,000 passengers
The Waikato to Auckland Te Huia train service has transported more than 11,000 passengers in its first three months of operation. It shows steady growth that is in line with projections. The Te Huia rail governance group which released the figure says the commuter rail service had proved extremely popular with families in the first week of the school holidays, with a 31 per cent increase in the number of people on Te Huia last week, compared with the daily average from Monday to Friday. “When we started the service we knew it would take time for people to move out of the car and into the train,” said Waikato Regional Council chairman Russ Rimmington. “What’s really exciting to see is the small but steady growth in passenger numbers, with increases of around 4 per cent a month, which is on track with projections.” Rimmington said returning passengers like the ability to work onboard and that the trains are reliable. The Saturday service has been especially popular, with a daily average of 300 passengers and services often at seated capacity. From July 24, Saturday Te Huia trains from Hamilton will travel directly to The Strand Station without the need for passengers to change trains in Papakura. The new Saturday service will leave at 7.41am and arrive into The Strand at 10.10am. It will leave The Strand Station at 5.40pm on Saturday, arriving in Hamilton at 8.14pm. Te Huia launched on Tuesday, April 6. Statistics show that average daily boardings from Monday to Friday are 141, with the 6.28am service to Papakura and 4.42pm back to Hamilton proving the most popular on weekdays. Earlier this month, Transport Minister Michael Wood released the first Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP), which details the $1.3 billion investment to maintain and improve rail lines over the next three years. “The plan has major benefits for Kiwirail, will create and sustain jobs, and will help ensure New Zealand’s exports and domestic freight get where they need to go,” says Kiwirail group chief executive Greg Miller.