KiwiRail Set to Resume Passenger Trains Between Picton and Christchurch

The Northern Explorer prepares to leave Auckland, New Zealand, in December 2018. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

KiwiRail’s Coastal Pacific scenic journey will resume operations between Picton and Christchurch starting Dec. 1.

The service on the South Island of New Zealand resumes two years after the service was put on hold because of the devastating Kaikoura earthquake.

“We are delighted to confirm this well-loved service will be running again this summer, allowing thousands of travellers from around the world to once again enjoy this spectacular coastline by train,” KiwiRail’s GGM Sales and Commercial Alan Piper said in a news release.

“We expect our services to fill up fast, particularly as many people will be keen to take advantage of the service to see the amazing job done to restore the road and railway line through this area.

Before the earthquake, the Coastal Pacific carried about 43,000 passengers into the Marlborough/Kaikoura regions during its summer season.

“Our scenic trains play an important role in getting domestic and international tourists out into often hard to reach regions, and are becoming increasingly popular,” Piper added. “Having the service back up and running reconnects our journeys across New Zealand allowing people to travel from Auckland to Christchurch and across to the West Coast by train and ferry.”

The Coastal Pacific service was suspended after the 14 November Kaikoura earthquake in 2016. The Main North Line reopened to restricted freight services in September last year, just 10 months after the devastating earthquake.

Freight services have been running at night to allow work to continue during the day to repair the rail and road. Daytime freight services recently resumed.

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