It looks like the first of Kiwi Rails new AK class carriages are in use on the Coastal Pacific Express between Christchurch and Picton. This is good news for travellers, as they appear to be a substantial, and much-needed, improvement on what we had.
The previous carriages were old and, having travelled on what was then the Tranz Coastal mid last year, I can attest that they were well past being due for replacement. However, and I have said this so many times I am starting to sound like a broken record to myself, it might be a good chance to take some of the old carriages for once last dance and trial a commuter rail service between Christchurch and Timaru or Ashburton. Maybe three or four carriages plus cafe car? Some of the key stations are still there (Timaru, Ashburton, Rolleston) while temporary stations could easily and cheaply be constructed where needed, with basic shelters, and places to lock up bikes and park cars at key stops. As I have said before, train users could easily plug into the bus network, using the metrocard, to get them to where they want to go within the city.
Total travel time would be little over an hour from Ashburton and a little over two hours from Timaru. A great way to get rail restarted in Greater Christchurch and link the city with the other main Canterbury centres? Somehow, I don’t think ECan would be very keen, but in my view, with everything that is going on right now in putting together new transport policy directions as a result of changed living and work locations, now is the right time.
I have had a little trouble accessing this blog with my laptop lately (probably a problem easily solved, but I am not the greatest with technology!) so apologies for a lack of posts over the last couple of weeks.