KiwiRail TranzCoastal Suspension ‘Misguided and Shortsighted’ Says Rail Union


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Today’s announcement that KiwiRail will suspend its Christchurch-Picton passenger service, the TranzCoastal, over the winter months is both shortsighted and misguided, says the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU).

‘Since the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2012 KiwiRail’s Christchurch based passenger services have suffered a decline in customer numbers, but this summer has seen the reversal of that trend, and it does not make sense to stop running this train over the winter,’ said RMTU General Secretary Wayne Butson.

‘What Christchurch needs right now is a demonstration by Government owned companies like KiwiRail that they have faith in the rebuild and the resurgence of the tourism business in Christchurch. KiwiRail’s TranzScenic passenger services are iconic and together provide a blue chip tourist attraction all year round,’ he said.

‘There are plenty of businesses in the South Island who benefit from the tourist dollars that services like the TranzCoastal bring in,’ he said.

‘To suspend the service over the winter months is short-sighted, it sends a signal to tourism operators overseas that our own Government lacks faith in the rebuild of Christchurch and the resurgence in tourism in the South Island and beyond’, he said.

‘We acknowledge that passenger numbers will be down over the winter but it is misguided to suspend the service as KiwiRail will lose ground that it will need to make up in the Spring,’ he said.

‘Our union is pleased that no redundancies will result from the suspension of the service but we would have been much happier to see it continue to build on the momentum it has gained this summer as we enter the winter months,’ he said.

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  1. Mass tourism was a short term aberration in the grand scheme of things, totally dependent on cheap and abundant energy, primarily that obtained from oil. There was no such thing as mass tourism prior to development of the North Sea and Alaskan oil fields (and both are now in severe decline).

    With global oil extraction having peaked and with most developed economies on the way down, tourism has peaked and is on the way down -especially now that the Chinese bubble economy is about to burst.

    To talk of a future for tourism is to deny reality.

  2. What appears to be a major problem in many parts of NZ is the inappropriate rolling stock used at various times. It’s a one size fits all – i.e large carriages drawn by large deisel locomotives.
    I’m not sure why someone hasn’t suggested investment in smaller ‘bus on rail’ type units – modular in nature so that a couple or 3 could be linked according to demand.
    There are areas in NZ where such rolling stock could be made to work – especially at ‘off-peak’ times:
    Tauranga – Te Puke (and possibly beyand)
    Wellington – Masterton at off peak times.
    Possibly even Auckland – Rotorua; Christchurch – West Coast; New Plymouth to Stratford and/or beyond), AND of course Picton to Christchurch.
    What it requires though is a government prepared to invest in rail – which as we know, is not on THIS government’s agenda.

    • From memory your list of possible routes are the same ones that used to be serviced by the diesel powered rail-cars in the 60s and 70s.
      They were ideal for the shorter routes, and could be doubled-up if demand required.

      They could have been built at Hillside if people like Joyce and his Mainfreight mate weren’t such ideological buttheads.

    • I agree with you Tim. What will happen to the ADK and ADL train sets in current use in Auckland when the Spanish trains arrive and enter service. Given they are diesel twin cars they could be refurbished to provide services on those low density lines you list. Christchurch is also talking about introducing suburban commuter rail services north and south of the city reflecting the fact that people have moved out from the centre following the earthquakes. I fear that the cars will be scrapped or sold offshore with no thought given to how they could be utilised for the benefit of NZ Inc.
      Better yet the refurbishment could generate employment for kiwi’s, now that’s a novel thought!

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