When’s Sth Island Rail Back?


The rail workers union is calling for the Tranz Coastal to resume its full service between Christchurch and Picton.
The train was suspended a month ago after the last quake and so far only the TransAlpine to Greymouth has resumed.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson said it was time for the passenger line to return.
“We understand it is costing the company over $20,000 for alternative bus transport from Christchurch to Picton.”
“This is in addition to lost revenue from people who would ordinarily opt for train service but not a replacement bus, onboard food sales, and savings in other areas such as locomotive drivers having to utilise rental or fleet cars for balancing purposes.

Earlier Sth Island quake damage

“Now is the time to resume TranzCoastal, with a fare special such as that in place for the TranzAlpine, to properly gauge changes in patronage following the quake.”




  1. Jon Reeves says:

    Or at least KiwiRail should put a Silver Fern railcar on as the replacement until loadings increase. Without a rail option people will not use their bus as it is at least 100% more expensive than Intercity or Naked Bus.

  2. Kris says:

    I agree with Jon and the Union.

    It is costing KR in public relations, goodwill (Which Tranz Scenic doesn’t really understands the concept) and revenue.

    Despite many years of operating with 50-60% loadings, the last 4 years has seen a solid growth in passenger numbers, with the TranzCoastal been becoming an important link in the AKL/CHC passenger rail travel specially the WLG/KKR/CHC ferry/train service, which has become popular over the last couple of years.

    Passengers who have booked travel on the Coastal have been cancelling their reservations and rebooking on InterCity and Naked Bus, as they want the ‘Train’ experience not a bus experience or flying WLG/CHC/WLG on cheap air fares.

    I wonder what is the economic impact it is having on Kaikoura whilist the Coastal is not running.

    Whilist the railcars is a good idea, I believe there are only a small number of drivers who are experienced with the railcars let alone having track knowledge of the CHC/PCN route which would create driver crewing issues to operate a 7 day week service.

    The Coastal is planned to restart 4 Apr 11 (Hopefully)

  3. Mike says:

    The Fern isn’t the same experience as the Tranz Coastal - there’s nothing quite like the open-air experience beside the sea.

  4. Giel says:

    Tranz Scenic may be trying a Overlander approach and run the Tranz Coastal 3 days a week over winter to save costs as it gets very quiet over those months. Tranz Scenics lack of nous in other areas as well is increasingly concerning as the Overlander will not now run over Easter nor Queens Birthday holiday Monday surely a popular time to travel by long distance train in NZ. It didn’t run for over two weeks over Xmas. With a little effort they still could have run the Hamilton to Palmerston North sector at least, with bus connections to Auckland and Wellington during those network shutdowns to maintain a market presence. They need to realize that once they are absent from the market the less relevant they are to tourists and New Zealanders alike! KiwiRail’s focus is squarely on freight and Network Engineering - not that they make any money there either (they even admit that which is appalling for the hardworking Scenic staff). A private franchise with some entrepreneurial spirit would better running the Scenic business as a separate business under conditions from the Crown as Network owner than the current freight courier/engineering focused team. This will probably happen anyway in the not too distant future as Government looks to return to a more vibrant passenger operator than the lumbering state organization KiwiRail is turning into. New Scenic passenger  cars sold (or leased by the Crown) to a new Scenic operator will help will help with a new operating model also.

  5. malcolm says:

    I’ve been taking the ferry and train down from Wellington to Christchurch at Christmas time instead of flying for the past few years. Its so relaxing with beautiful scenery. Costs the same as flying as well. Well worth it if anyone hasnt done it. Hopefully the train is running again by next Christmas

  6. Kris says:

    Giel - I agree with your comments.

    Tranz Scenic haven’t a clue who to market its self properly.

    I can not see the Coastal operating 3 days a week, as there is to much competition from InterCity, Naked Bus and other smaller bus operators on the CHC/KKR/PCN route.

    If Tranz Scenic is going to operate the Coastal, then it will have to be 7 days week or not at all.

    They might mothball the Coastal over the winter period until the new refurbished carriages are ready. Apparently, the Coastal is next to receive these refurbished carriages, after the Alpine.

    With regards to the Overlander, Tranz Scenic should run the service - WLG/HLZ over Easter and Queens Birthday weekend with clean modern buses from HLZ/AKL. Tranz Scenic have onboard train crews based in Hamilton. These crews could also man the HLZ/AKL services.

    Kiwirail through Tranz Scenic have a good product but it is not properly marketed, which is a shame.

    Kiwirail should spin off Tranz Scenic as a separate company and allow professional international rail operators to operate the 3 long distance passenger trains and a railcar service CHC/DUD to connect with the Taieri Gorge train/bus service DUD/ZQN.

    There are a lot of people in Dunedin and tourist wanting a CHC/DUD rail service.

    The CHC/DUD would be economical sense, as Air NZ & Pacific Blue operate international flights to/from Australia.


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