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Plans for luxury train on track

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Kelvin Davis
Kelvin Davis

A proposal to bring a deluxe sleeper train to New Zealand and set up an Orient Express-style high-end tourism operation is being applauded by Labour's Tourism spokesperson Kelvin Davis.

"It's a brilliant idea, and given it has come from an ex-banker, we expect the Prime Minister as a former banker himself and as Tourism Minister, to take a particular interest in it.

The plan was mooted at a meeting in Whangarei last night to discuss plans to mothball the Auckland-Northland rail line.

"It's just one of a range of options that both the Government and KiwiRail should be exploring," Kelvin Davis said.

"Keeping the line open and viable is something the community wants - as they say it is their line, not Steven Joyce's - and they have come up with a whole heap of viable suggestions to do just that.

"Unfortunately the Government, in its usual short-sighted way, doesn't want to look past its nose. There's a deep water port at Marsden Point. It has no rail access. A spur line out to the refinery has already been investigated.

"Plus it has already been pointed out that widening the tunnels along the route to accommodate the new hi-cube containers could be done for a fraction of what it is costing to build Mr Joyce's 'holiday highway', while the use of low-bed container wagons has also been proposed.

"While KiwiRail now says it will ask its board for another six months' grace before making a final announcement on the future of the line, it has said all along that decision would be made in mid-2012.

"Let's not pretend there isn't an agenda here. The Government's plan is to mothball the line. It should be keeping its options open," Kelvin Davis said.

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