Railcar a success but repeat trip required

Passengers disembark from the Taieri Gorge Railway's Silver Fern railcar at Oamaru Railway Station on Sunday. Photo by Sally Brooker.
Passengers disembark from the Taieri Gorge Railway's Silver Fern railcar at Oamaru Railway Station on Sunday. Photo by Sally Brooker.
Passenger trains could start running regularly between Dunedin and Oamaru, but only if a second trial trip can repeat the success of the Taieri Gorge Railway's Silver Fern railcar's first trial run to Oamaru on Sunday.

A regular passenger service has not run between the two centres since 2002, but 75 people climbed on board for the return trip to Oamaru on Sunday, which included an excursion from Oamaru to Palmerston and back, attracting 79 commuters.

Taieri Gorge Railway chief executive Murray Bond said the trip had been "highly successful", but a second test would be required before the company could consider a regular service.

Mr Bond said for the route to be commercially viable the train would have to be at least 80% full, and although it was between 80% to 85% full at the weekend, a second test would show if there was a regular demand.

"This was a good start to its foundation trip," he said.

"Yesterday [Sunday] was very successful and we will consider doing it again, subject to customer demand."

He had already fielded calls from people wanting to know when the train would run again, and added he was "confident" there would be a continued demand.

The railway would also consider expanding its regional routes to include Balclutha, if there was a similar demand for the service elsewhere in the region, he said.