Coastal Pacific to start premium service
KiwiRail is launching its first premium tourism service with a $40 million investment from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund, which will put new carriages onto the award-winning Coastal Pacific scenic journey.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the investment at a celebration in Kaikoura today as the first passenger train ran on the line from Picton to Christchurch, two years after it was closed by the Kaikoura earthquake.
"This investment will bring thousands more high-value tourists into the Marlborough, Kaikoura and Canterbury regions, with additional capacity, platform upgrades and our first ever premium carriage," KiwiRail Acting Chief Executive Todd Moyle says.
"The Coastal Pacific plays a critical role in the economies of towns along its route. Before the Kaikoura earthquake it brought about 42,000 passengers a year into Marlborough and Kaikoura alone. With this investment we will see double that number within a decade, creating more than 400 new local jobs.
"This is fantastic news for the people of Kaikoura and Marlborough and highlights the Government's commitment to rail delivering economic benefits to the regions.
"The $40 million investment will allow KiwiRail to run the Coastal Pacific all year round, add an additional 63-seat carriage to meet demand in peak season, and add a new luxury premium carriage which will offer more space and high-quality food and beverages to go along with the spectacular views.
"KiwiRail is one of New Zealand's largest tourism operators, delivering a million tourists around the country each year on our Great Journeys of New Zealand ferries and scenic trains.
"The Coastal Pacific, TranzAlpine and Northern Explorer deliver domestic and international tourists into often hard to reach regions and, with the Interislander, create a seamless connected journey from Auckland to Greymouth.
"The new premium service on the Coastal Pacific will allow us to tap into the fast growing, international high-value travel market to deliver more benefits to Kaikoura and
Marlborough. KiwiRail will be investing in upgrading our reservation systems and in international marketing for the premium service.
"Our scenic trains are an experience in themselves, but we want to support more quality tourism experiences en route and work with the regions to develop partnerships and tourism packages that can complement the Coastal Pacific," Mr Moyle says.
"For example, combining accommodation with a whale or dolphin watching experience in Kaikoura encourages passengers to stay longer in the region, which means more visitor spending and opportunities for new, local tourism businesses to enter the market.
"KiwiRail's purpose is to create stronger connections for a better New Zealand. Today's announcement is another step toward fulfilling that goal.