The Waikato to Auckland Te Huia train service has carried more than 11,000 passengers in its first three months of operation and there are plans to extend weekday services.
It was also proving popular with families in the first week of the school holidays – there was a 31 per cent increase in the number of people on Te Huia compared with the daily average from Monday to Friday.
“When we started the service, we knew it would take time for people to move out of the car and into the train, but in just over three months we’ve already exceeded 11,000 passengers,” said Waikato Regional Council chair Russ Rimmington.
“What’s really exciting to see is the small but steady growth in passenger numbers, with increases of around four per cent a month which is on track with projections,” Cr Rimmington said.
“We’re also getting really great feedback from returning passengers. They love its comfort and the ability to work on the way up to Auckland and back again, and that our trains are reliable – in fact, on most occasions they’re arriving early at their destination,” he said.
The Saturday service has been especially popular, with a daily average of 300 passengers and services often at seated capacity. Cr Rimmington welcomed news of the first service improvement. From Saturday patrons will reach The Strand station in central Auckland without changing trains.
Other improvements include the introduction of an interpeak weekday service to start in 2022. Work is also underway on getting the weekday services further into Auckland.
“I’m confident these improvements will grow our patronage more to make the service a real success story,” Cr Rimmington said.
Te Huia launched on April 6. Average daily boardings from Monday to Friday are 141, and the 6.28am service to Papakura and 4.42pm back to Hamilton are the most popular on weekdays.