26 Apr 2012

KiwiRail to halve Overlander services

3:08 pm on 26 April 2012

KiwiRail says cost reductions and time saving are behind its decision to make cuts to the Overlander rail service between Auckland and Wellington.

The number of weekly services will be reduced from 14 to six near the end of June this year. The number of stops will be cut from 16 to four - at Hamilton, National Park, Ohakune and Palmerston North.

KiwiRail general manager of passenger services Deborah Hume says the service is losing about $9000 a day and this cannot continue.

Ms Hume says reducing the number of stops will address criticism about the speed of the service, reducing the travel time by about 90 minutes.

She says the changes are also an opportunity to use new carriages, purpose-built for tourism and long-distance travel.

Ruapehu District mayor Sue Morris says only one person has contacted her upset at Taumarunui being dropped as an Overlander stop.

Ms Morris says few people in the central North Island town use the rail line and Intercity buses pass through it twice a day, and two other stops in the region are still included on the Overlander service.