KiwiRail is reducing the number of passenger tourist trains it runs on the South Island as New Zealand’s borders remain closed to international visitors.
“No company is more Kiwi than KiwiRail,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller said in a news release. “Because we have a strong commitment to the regions, we have continued to run services despite low passenger numbers and financial losses.
“However, we must be realistic in this difficult period for tourism operators,” Miller added. “Our new schedule more closely aligns our services to actual demand.”
From May 3 to Oct. 17, the TranzAlpine will run between Christchurch and Greymouth (same-day return) on Thursdays and Fridays. The Coastal Pacific between Christchurch and Picton (same-day return) on Saturdays and Sundays.
“It has been many years since the Coastal Pacific continued through the winter season, and the decision to keep it running reflects the strong demand from New Zealanders for this panoramic trip,” Miller said.
“The decision to reduce the TranzAlpine service from four days a week to two was not an easy one but reflects the current reality of a service which had 75 per cent international passengers before the COVID-19 border restrictions,” Miller added.
Schedules for the Northern Explorer (Auckland-to-Wellington) and Capital Connection (Wellington-to-Palmerston North) are not changing.
KiwiRail has offered discounts on its services and plans to continue to do so ahead of the New Zealand border’s expected opening with Australia.
“When New Zealand re-opens to visitors, we will look at adding additional services to meet demand,” Miller said. “We will also look at resuming our on-board Scenic-Plus catering service, which has been suspended for the winter period.
“In the meantime, we will take the opportunity to carry out maintenance on carriages used for the services,” Miller added.