KiwiRail is increasing its fares for the Coastal Pacific train service between Christchurch and Picton to bring it into line with fares for the Northern Explorer and TranzAlpine trains. “KiwiRail has reviewed our pricing strategy for our long-distance Scenic services for the coming summer season. With the new scenic carriages now operating on both the Northern Explorer and the Coastal Pacific services, the fares reflect the better quality tourism product and experience we can offer our passengers,” says KiwiRail’s General Manager Passenger, Deborah Hume.
The new fares, effective 15 October 2012 and will range from $99 for the super saver to $159 for the flexi fare (they previously ranged from $89 to $109). Sector fares for the Coastal Pacific will also be available.
The Coastal Pacific operates a daily return service between Christchurch and Picton in the summer and a reduced timetable at other times of year. The service has been significantly impacted by the Christchurch earthquakes and the reduction in domestic and international travellers to the region.
“Since October 2011 a number of initiatives have been implemented to revitalise the service including introducing the new scenic carriages, new uniforms and a new menu; rebranding the service (previously named Tranz Coastal); introducing tourism packages; and now increasing fares in line with the change in Scenic direction from domestic travel to a world-class tourism experience,” says Ms Hume.
“KiwiRail’s three long-distance Scenic trains – the TranzAlpine, the Northern Explorer and the Coastal Pacific – are now fully focused on serving the international and domestic tourism market. They are no longer prioritised as point to point transport options.
“The introduction of the Northern Explorer in June this year was a major review of our North Island Scenic service, moving from a ‘point to point’ daily operation, to an every other day fully focused tourist travel experience with new Scenic carriages, a faster timetable, tourism packages and a reduction in weekly capacity to better match market demand. Fares were set to reflect the value of the new service and to ensure commercial sustainability and so far the modelling and change is providing the expected outcome – better financial results.
“A similar exercise is now being undertaken for the Coastal Pacific service. Passenger numbers on the train have been low over the winter period, which has meant the service has had reduced revenue and is currently operating at a loss,” says Ms Hume.
Ms Hume and KiwiRail’s Scenic Manager Tom Evers-Swindell are meeting with tourism operators and councillors in the Marlborough and Kaikoura region early this week to discuss opportunities to increase tourism to the area and encourage more people onto the Coastal Pacific train.
“KiwiRail is striving to grow the long-distance passenger business, but we cannot operate services at a loss. Over the summer period, KiwiRail will be monitoring the service’s performance closely and will be seeking active community support to help build it into a popular tourist service,” Ms Hume says.