Despite conducting two successful trials of passenger train
services between Dunedin and Oamaru, the Taieri Gorge Railway
is not ready to reintroduce regular daily services.
A regular Dunedin-Oamaru passenger service has not run since
2002. Despite the Taieri Gorge Railway's 94-seat Silver Fern
railcar being fully booked last Sunday for a second trial
run, a regular service will not be introduced. A test in
November attracted 79 commuters.
Railway operations manager Grant Craig said last Sunday's
test was ''very successful'', but the economic climate did
not warrant daily passenger trips.
''At this stage we are looking at monthly trips, in
conjunction with Tourism Waitaki, to run to Oamaru. It takes
us a big leap of faith to run it every day and I think the
financial situation at the moment is not justifiable to take
that risk, because you have good days and you also have
really bad days running it every day.''
Mr Craig said the railcar would make monthly trips to Oamaru
until the end of April.
''The March one will be an interesting one, because children
are back at school and parents are back doing whatever they
are doing, so it will be interesting to see if we get the
same kind of numbers.''
However, he added that extra trips would be put on to
coincide with any events that took place in Oamaru.
The situation would be reviewed again next year, he said.
Tourism Waitaki general manager Joel Coatsworth said the rail
connection not only provided a boost to the local economy,
but also encouraged people to stay locally during holidays
and painted a ''really positive picture'' of regional
''Obviously, there is a direct tourism boost to numbers, but
the other benefit is that it encourages local businesses to
open up and provide products.''