12 Oct 2011

Hope yet for Auckland-Northland railway line

10:00 am on 12 October 2011

KiwiRail says it will ask its board for more time to explore options for the future of the Auckland-Northland line.

The company is reviewing the future of the line along with several others that are unprofitable.

The general manager of KiwiRail Freight, Ian Hill, told a meeting in Whangarei on Tuesday night that some interesting prospects have emerged.

He says a KiwiRail sales consultant has been working intensively in the north, along with the local councils, to find new freight customers, and there are some promising options.

Mr Hill says it is KiwiRail's intention to keep the Northland line open in the meantime, and he will be asking his board for another six months' grace before making any decision on its future.

Luxury train firm wants line retained

A company planning to bring a luxury tourist train to New Zealand would like to see the line retained.

A director of South Pacific Express, John Johnston, says his company is working with the renowned Orient Express to bring a deluxe sleeper train to New Zealand next year.

He says the train would be pitched to high-value foreign visitors as a moving hotel that would show them the best of New Zealand and get them out into all the regions.

Mr Johnston says his company alone would not make the Northland line profitable, but as a former banker he sees rail as a valuable option that should be retained.