Waikato Connection

The Waikato Connection was a short-lived express passenger train operated by Tranz Scenic between Hamilton and Auckland in New Zealand's North Island.

Operation

The Waikato Connection was a northern North Island equivalent of the Capital Connection and Wairarapa Connection commuter trains, which operate from Palmerston North and Masterton respectively to Wellington in the southern North Island.

It was operated by a Silver Fern railcar and commenced on 26 June 2000. It had a catering service and stopped at intermediate stations such as Huntly and Pukekohe.

Cessation

The train ceased operating on 7 October 2001, the same day as the Geyserland Express, Kaimai Express, and Bay Express. Many, including the mayor of Hamilton Russ Rimmington, saw this cancellation as untimely as the service was just starting to gain popularity. [Hamilton City Council, [http://hamilton.co.nz/news/pageid/2145831970 "Mayor Disappointed Waikato Connection Axed"] (27 June 2001), accessed 18 June 2008.]

Potential reintroduction

After the June 2006 announcement of the Overlander's cancellation, there were proposals to re-instate the Waikato Connection, including from Dave Macpherson, Hamilton City Council's Passenger Transport Committee chairman. The Overlander's cancellation was subsequently rescinded, eliminating the possibility of using its rolling stock on a new Waikato Connection, but other proposals have remained due to increasing vehicular traffic volumes straining road capacity. These proposals include using the Silver Ferns as in the original Waikato Connection, though they are presently under contract for suburban commuter trains between Auckland and Pukekohe.

The primary difficulties facing the proposal are lack of rolling stock and train paths through the Auckland suburban area into the Britomart Transport Centre.

References


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