Former Aust Deputy PM to take Northern Explorer train ride to Auckland
01 June 2016 4:04PM
Former Australian deputy prime minister Tim Fischer is on Friday 3 June due to tick an item off his bucket list and catch KiwiRail’s Northern Explorer train from Wellington to Auckland.
“It has been my lifelong wish to make this journey and because I was in Wellington this week, and am due to speak at the FRONZ (Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand) conference in Auckland at the weekend, this was the perfect opportunity to make the trip,” Mr Fischer said.
“I have just returned from Anzac 101 in France and a month spent inspecting the latest in European rail operations.
“Large and small countries are massively upgrading rail, even Lichtenstein, and freight and passenger volumes are climbing in Europe. In fact, worldwide rail is experiencing an upswing.”
Mr Fischer, who is patron of the Tracksafe Foundation which operates in Australia and New Zealand promoting rail safety, says rail is a vital investment for meeting the transport challenges of the 21st Century.
“New Zealand has an extensive rail network and I look forward to seeing aspects of it on my rail journey north, and later meeting with various people from KiwiRail, FRONZ and rail heritage groups.
“Australia could well be guided by New Zealand on many fronts, including attracting international tourists who are keen to experience great scenery – particularly when viewed from the ease and comfort of a train - and also to experience heritage rail operations.”
KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy welcomed Mr Fischer’s interest and said the company’s Scenic Journeys trains were increasingly popular attractions, with about two thirds of passengers being international visitors.
“Over the last three years, patronage on the Northern Explorer, Tranz Alpine and Coastal Pacific trains has grown on average 12 per cent per annum,” Mr Reidy says.
“This reflects the quality of the journeys we offer, and also the growth of New Zealand tourism generally. KiwiRail, which also operates the Interislander ferries, is proud to play an important role in this sector.”
Media phone 04 498 2038
Tim Fischer 0061 427 271 456 (available Thursday in Wellington for interview, and on Friday from the train.)