Seasider trips may stop for the winter

The Seasider train service between Dunedin and Palmerston that has run during the past five winters may be dropped for 2014.

Taieri Gorge winter tourist train services may also be reduced. The Palmerston business group want Seasider trains to bring more passengers to Macraes Mine tours and Palmerston visitor attractions. However, higher visitor numbers were needed to maintain the Seasider winter train service between Dunedin and Palmerston from May 1 to September 30, Taieri Gorge Railway chief operating officer Murray Bond said recently.

If flat visitor numbers continued over the next few months, the weekly winter Seasider service between May and September would be cancelled, he said. The popular Macraes Mine tours, formerly run by Oceana Gold but suspended in August, should be reinstated,

Palmerston Business Group chairwoman Annette Rosanowski said. Another bus operator could run the tours, connecting with the Seasider train at Palmerston, she said.

The Macraes Mine tours should also run during winter, she said. The Palmerston Business Group would consider calling a meeting of tour operators and Palmerston businesses to develop mine tours and encourage more passengers to use the Seasider trains, Mrs Rosanowski said.

Other tours including visits to high country farm stations near Palmerston could also be developed for train travellers, including cruise ship passengers, she said. Visitors travelling to Queenstown preferred to travel on the Taieri Gorge train to Pukerangi and transfer to a coach, rather than going on the Seasider train and transferring to a coach at Palmerston, Mr Bond said.

Trips could still be run on the Seasider during the winter if schools or other groups booked the Dunedin Silver Fern railcar, which could take 94 passengers, Mr Bond said. The Seasider trains run once or twice a week to Palmerston during summer.

It was possible, if flat visitor numbers continued, that Taieri Gorge trains could be reduced to four or five trips a week during the winter, he said.

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