Greens propose 'Ruahine Runner' train service through Manawatu Gorge
With State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge out of action indefinitely, the Greens are proposing to utilise the rail line through the gorge for a new passenger train service.
Dubbed the 'Ruahine Runner', the train would run between Palmerston North and Napier twice a day, with trains operating in both directions in the morning and evening.
Co-leader James Shaw estimates the journey would take around 2.5 hours, which is the same as a car, but faster than the current bus service.
"Trains can take some of the stress off the Saddle Road and around Ashhurst. Passenger rail should be part of the long-term solution for the route through the gorge," says Mr Shaw.
He claims the cost of launching the service is $3.7m in the first year. This is made up of buying Auckland Transport's old diesel trains for $2m, spending $500m to refurbish them, and spending $30,000 upgrading Woodville’s station.
"There are perfectly good trains sitting idle that Auckland isn't using and we'd put them to use connecting regional New Zealand," he says.
The service would be subsidised at a cost of $1.2m a year.