“It has been many years since there has been a new inter-regional passenger train and KiwiRail is proud to be part of making Te Huia happen,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller said in a news release.
Te Huia’s inaugural service recently took New Zealand’s prime minister, the Maori king, mayors, councilors, and other guests on a short run from Hamilton’s new Rotokauri station.
“Up to 73,000 return car trips between Hamilton and Auckland each year would be avoided by Te Huia running at capacity,” Miller said. That’s fewer emissions, less congestion, and lower road maintenance costs.
“It’s providing a hassle-free travel option that will help the two centres grow economically closer together,” Miller added.
Te Huia will consist of a pair of morning services from Hamilton, with two return evening services, during the week and return service on Saturdays. The service, which will also stop at Huntly, is funded by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and is led by Waikato Regional Council.
The 12 carriages used for the service were refurbished entirely at KiwiRail’s Hutt Workshops near Wellington.
“Taking disused old Auckland Transport carriages, they have been given new interiors and wheel units, a stunning paint job, a café and wi-fi added, and safety improvements made,” Miller said. “This highlights the quality of our people, and how taking an innovative approach can keep costs down and reduce environmental impacts – while providing a quality product that is spacious and built with the passenger in mind.”
“The work has allowed us to take on more than 20 new staff at Hutt, allowed our existing staff and apprentices to learn new skills, and a further 13 staff, mostly from around Hamilton and Auckland, have been taken on to run the new train,” Miller added.