The only gripe the chairman of Horizons Regional Council had about a trip on the Capital Connection yesterday was that it was too short.
Staff and representatives from Horizons caught the train from Palmerston North to Levin to start the last of a series of orientation trips around their region that started after the October elections.
Chairman Bruce Gordon said the trip brought home to councillors the importance to the region of keeping the train to Wellington running.
"It was quite busy," he said, "to think all those people would have to find alternative means to get to the capital [if the service stopped]."
Cr Gordon said there had been a "great atmosphere" on the train and it arrived in Levin a lot quicker than he had expected.
"It just felt like no time at all and we were in Levin. You could move around, it was comfortable, you could talk to people. It's a lot easier than a bus."
The future of the Capital Connection was uncertain for much of 2012 because its operator, KiwiRail, said it was not profitable.
Last Easter KiwiRail announced the train would keep running for another two years.
Its future after that would be reliant on patronage increasing alongside ticket prices.
Cr Gordon said more publicity of the service would help boost passenger numbers.
Horizons has been trying to raise the train's profile, including by promoting it as an economically sound option for businesses.
The council itself used the train to send staff to Wellington unless there were enough people to fill a car, he said.
After stepping off the train the councillors were taken around a range of sites related to the council's business, including the beaches at Hokio and Waitarere, the Burkes pump station and the Moutoa flood gates.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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