Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Waikato onboard with Te Huia trial funding

Waikato Regional Council has welcomed the NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi Board decision to support the continued trial of Te Huia – the passenger rail service connecting Waikato and Auckland.

The funding agreement means the service will have continued central government funding for the next two years.

“We have received overwhelming support from the regional community, including through subsmissions to our long term plan and the regional land transport plan, and I know our loyal passengers will join us in rejoicing over this news,” said Waikato regional councillor and Future Proof Public Transport Subcommittee Deputy Chair, Angela Strange.

“This decision supports the vision those before us had for a service connecting Waikato and Auckland, and the work of the amazing KiwiRail crew.

“It recognises that Te Huia is well on track to achieving the targets set by the NZTA and gives us the certainty we need to continue planning for interregional passenger rail connecting New Zealand’s fastest growing city and largest city.

“We appreciate the board’s support and belief in the service. It’s clear they have also listened to our passengers, who say this service is a vital link to study, employment and social connections with family and friends; it’s not a luxury for them. Just yesterday we had tamariki tell us they want Te Huia to continue because it’s about their future,” said Cr Strange.

Te Huia is funded by both passenger fares and public funding (taxpayer and ratepayer funding). This funding is equal to the gross operating cost minus fare revenue.

The public funding portion is currently split between NZTA (75.5%), Waikato Regional Council (21.2%) and Waikato District Council (3.3%).

The board has decided to progressively reduce the subsidy to 60% over the next two years. Waikato Regional Council says it will need to consider options for providing the regional share, which will be discussed through long term plan deliberations due to begin on Monday, 24 May.

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