Kiwirail has announced The Northern Explorer train between Wellington and Auckland - stopping in Ohakune - will return in time for summer.
It follows a campaign by a Horizons regional councillor to reinstate the railway passenger service on the entire North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) line post Covid-19.
Horizons regional councillor Weston Kirton said he was "stoked" that he had support from all 18 regional and unitary councils, city and district councils on the NIMT route for the restoration of service between Auckland and Wellington.
On Wednesday night Kiwirail announced the route would be back for summer.
"When New Zealand went into its Level 4 Covid lockdown at the end of March, all our scenic trains stopped running and we needed to gauge the market and plan the services' return," KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller said.
"A record winter school holidays on Interislander and a highly successful winter promotion of the TranzAlpine gives us the confidence that the public will support these tourism trains which will be back in time for the summer holidays."
This comes just hours before the Transport and Infrastructure select committee will meet in Wellington on Thursday to consider a 2474-signature petition delivered by Kirton in February.
"Because the Northern Explorer has competition from airlines on the same route and is a much longer trip which is more difficult to make financially sustainable for KiwiRail, there has been speculation over its return," Miller said.
From Phil Goff in Auckland to Andy Foster in Wellington, mayors had added their signatures to a letter addressed to the chairperson of the select committee supporting Kirton's petition and asking the committee to consider the numerous benefits of rail passenger and freight services to their regions as well as promoting the environmental benefits a rail service would provide.
Ruapehu District Mayor Don Cameron also sent a separate letter of support for Kirton's petition to the select committee and said he supported an integrated approach to working with KiwiRail to ensure the success of a NIMT rail service.
"We have expertise within our council and committees to support KiwiRail in planning and implementing the success of a service," Cameron said.
"There is great potential for a reliable and resilient freight network as well as tourism and passenger rail services."
To be able to offer rail travel as part of tourism packages to Ruapehu visitors would provide a very attractive option, Cameron said.
Manawatu District Mayor Helen Warboys said her council would like to see the train stop in Feilding again.
Feilding along with Taumarunui, Marton and Taihape was one of 12 stops dropped from the NIMT route in 2012.
"In a previous life, I worked at the iSite and did bookings for passenger rail," Worboys said.
"It was an expensive travel option compared to other forms of transport but it offered unique experiences.
"The Feilding stop is in the middle of the CBD where people can experience the unique things the town has to offer like the farmers' market in Manchester Square. I'm sure every town along the route has something special to offer."
Kiwirail said the Northern Explorer would stop briefly in Palmerston North, Ohakune, National Park and Hamilton.
Warboys said if KiwiRail can effectively package the unique experiences available along the NIMT line it should attract plenty of travellers.
"Rail's got a huge future if we can work together to make it happen," she said.
Rangitikei District Mayor Andy Watson said the reinstatement of Marton and Taihape stops would have enormous benefit for the region.
"Taihape station is such a nice place for passengers to stop because it is a five-minute walk from some great cafes and shops."
The meeting, scheduled to begin at 10.20am will be open to the public and can be livestreamed by visiting the schedule of meetings at www.parliament.nz