Rimutaka Railway Trust Proposes To Open Line
Rimutaka Incline Railway Heritage Trust
The Rimutaka Incline Railway Heritage Trust's proposal to reinstate the railway over the Rimutaka Range has taken another major step towards fruition with the release of a positive economic assessment from BERL (Business and Economic Research Ltd*). The proposed heritage-tourist railway is set to become an iconic tourist attraction for Upper Hutt, South Wairarapa and the entire Wellington region. BERL has recognised that the proposal is ambitious, exciting, and one that will define a point of difference in Wellington's tourist attraction offerings.
The Trust is pleased that BERL's findings have confirmed that the intention to build and operate a tourist-heritage railway attraction is both viable and practicable. The BERL report has been made possible by funding, gratefully received and made available, from the Rimutaka Licensing Charitable Trust.
BERL identified three key elements to developing a viable tourist-heritage railway attraction over the former Rimutaka Incline route - achieving and sustaining visitation, promptly expanding the attraction, and widening the potential visitor base.
BERL confirmed that with an appropriate marketing and launch strategy the tourist attraction will be able to attract at least 40,000 passengers per annum, based on an assessment of existing attractions in the Wellington region and the current regional visitor profile. BERL confirmed that Stage One of the proposal, comprising the section of railway between Upper Hutt and Summit, would initially attract these numbers on novelty value alone. It is projected that revenue generated from this level of visitation would provide an operating surplus in the first twelve months.
To sustain the projected visitation rates, the potential visitor base would require expansion by creating a complex of attractions. Possibilities proposed include a sub-alpine information and discovery centre at Summit. Such a facility would present railway heritage, conservation, and natural and human history of the region. This could range from self-directed or guided bush walks through regenerating forest, to wine and fine food for those seeking less strenuous pursuits. Additional attractions would also be created, or linked to, beyond Summit. These will include the jewel in the crown, i.e. reinstating the internationally significant Fell-worked Rimutaka Incline between Summit and Cross Creek.
The Trust will continue to pursue the development of the first stage between Upper Hutt and Summit, whilst seeking registrations of interest in developing packages that include the heritage railway journey, so that tourists may sample a number of complementary attractions in Wellington, Upper Hutt and the southern Wairarapa.
The Rimutaka Incline Railway is to be more than just a train ride, and will be an important addition to tourist attractions that are unique to Wellington.