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Published: 2001-08-28 00:00:00

Environment Waikato representatives are flying to Wellington tomorrow to ask the Government to step in to continue rail passenger services in the Region until all options are explored.

Chairman Neil Clarke and Policy Group Manager Jeanette Black are meeting with Transport Minister Mark Gosche to take a resolution from a meeting today of seven mayors and Regional Council chairs, asking for government help to keep the Waikato Connection, Geyserland and Kaimai Express running into the new year. The councils need time for all options to be explored.

The local rail services are due to cease after Tranzrail announced its intention to sell them off to West Coast Rail.

The mayors and chairs met at Environment Waikato and included Mayors of Hamilton City Council, Tauranga, Franklin, Rotorua and South Waikato District Councils, and the chairman of Environment Bay Of Plenty.

The group wants time for the collective councils to “assess the potential for an effective combined rail system that will meet the transport, commuter and tourist need of our communities”.

They discussed the background to the cancellation and agreed that the financial gap was still daunting for all the services.

Neil Clarke said the councils wanted more time to do further work on the issue.

“We have some financial information but we need more time to look at all the possible links with tourism, events, ticketing, marketing and timetabling. We don’t have that kind of information yet, “ he said.

“All the councils are working very hard to ensure they can cover all the possible options and feel that they have done everything. It is a golden opportunity to work together.
“We’re anticipating a good outcome from tomorrow night’s meeting,” he said.