New TranzAlpine schedule and prices less than ideal

The TranzAlpine crossing the Waimakariri River Bridge. Photo: Getty Images
The TranzAlpine crossing the Waimakariri River Bridge. Photo: Getty Images
It is a bittersweet announcement for the embattled West Coast.

Despite the closed borders, KiwiRail will run its Christchurch to Greymouth TranzAlpine service through the winter but only on Thursdays and Fridays.

Grey District mayor Tania Gibson said while she welcomes the announcement, the schedule and prices are less than ideal for the current environment.

"It just makes it difficult for families with children, they need to pull them out of school.

"They need to give us a bit more commitment, it's not really about the TranzAlpine itself, it's about the businesses on the line that it actually supports."

Gibson said she is advocating for KiwiRail to lower fares and make the trip more accessible for Kiwi families.

"Locals just simply can't afford a couple thousand a trip.

"To return on the TranzAlpine for most average families is just not viable. it is a Government enterprise and we need support at the moment for our tourism industry."

The current Northern Explorer (Auckland – Wellington) and Capital Connection (Wellington – Palmerston North), schedules are not changing.

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said: "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,"

"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 it has 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."

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