KiwiRail is to launch its first luxury rail service after receiving a $40m injection from the Provincial Growth Fund.
The operator will put a luxury carriage on its Coastal Pacific Picton to Christchurch passenger service, which ran for the first time today since the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. The details of the premium offering are still being worked on and the service is not expected to be available for a couple of years.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was on today’s trip with other dignitaries, announced the new funding at the service’s stop at Kaikoura.
The cash would also allow KiwiRail to run the Coastal Pacific service all year round, and add another 63-seat carriage during peak season to meet demand.
KiwiRail’s acting chief executive, Todd Moyle, said the new luxury premium carriage would “offer more space and high-quality food and beverages to go along with the spectacular views”.
“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,” said Moyle.
“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.”
He added that the Coastal Pacific brought around 42,000 passengers a year to Marlborough and Kaikoura and the new investment would enable KiwiRail to that number and create 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.”
KiwiRail was now working on partnerships with operators and tourism packages that could complement its Coastal Pacific service.
“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,” said Moyle.
“KiwiRail’s purpose is to create stronger connections for a better New Zealand. Today’s announcement is another step toward fulfilling that goal.”
The Coastal Pacific starts operating commercially again on 1 December and is one of four services that operate under KiwiRail’s Great Journeys of NZ brand, which includes the TranzAlpine, Northern Explorer, and the Interislander ferry service.
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