KiwiRail says reduced winter services reflects the reality of the effects of COVID-19.
KiwiRail is revising its South Island tourism train schedule to better reflect lower customer demand this winter while New Zealand’s borders remain closed to international tourists.
From the end of the May school holidays (3 May) through to the end of the October school holidays (17 October), the TranzAlpine service will run every week between Christchurch and Greymouth (same day return) on Thursdays and Fridays only, and 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,” KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg 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 said.
“No company is more Kiwi than KiwiRail. 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. Our new schedule more closely aligns our services to actual demand.”
Mr Miller said they had been offering substantial discounts on the services and would continue to do so ahead of the anticipated opening of the border with Australia.
“If these spectacular and world-acclaimed train trips have been on your bucket list, I would suggest you get onboard, before the prices return to pre-Covid levels,” he said.
“When New Zealand re-opens to visitors, we will look at adding additional services to meet demand. 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.”
The current Northern Explorer (Auckland – Wellington) and Capital Connection (Wellington – Palmerston North), schedules are not changing.