11 Aug 2017

Kiwirail still to be convinced on east coast cycle trail

7:44 pm on 11 August 2017

KiwiRail is open to the idea of partnering with a proposed cycle trail down the South Island's east coast, but says it is going to take some convincing.

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The proposed cycle trail would run down the coast from Marlborough to Christchurch. Photo: 123rf.com

The Coastal Pacific Trail working group is proposing to run a trail from Marlborough to Christchurch, and wants KiwiRail to make its scenic passenger service part of the experience.

The vision behind the trail includes cyclists being able to hop on the daily Picton to Christchurch scenic train for a leg of their journey, put their feet up and enjoy a glass of wine.

KiwiRail spokesman Dave Gordon said it was an idea they broadly supported and was "worth a look".

But he warned such a vision could take years to put in place, and could even involve sourcing train carriages to carry bikes - which cost about $2 million.

Mr Gordon said the trail working group would need to put forward a solid business case if they wanted to get KiwiRail to commit.

Trail group spokesman John Forrest said he was confident he could get KiwiRail to partner with the trail as a train travel provider.

He said he was in talks with KiwiRail to convince them, but if they did not get on board, someone else would.

"If they don't...you'll suddenly get small Kiwi entrepreneurs, and the country is full of them, who will turn up with a mini bus and a trailer and do the job instead of KiwiRail."

But he said he would prefer to see KiwiRail act as the primary provider.

Hurunui mayor Winton Dalley, who along with the mayors of Marlborough and Kaikōura, was backing the project, said it was an opportunity KiwiRail should not miss.

"The fact they're interested is quite significant and potentially exciting."

Marlborough District Council had committed $50,000 to a feasibility study on the project.

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