Back on track?

9 May

Monday’s Press gave most of the front page to “Trams back on track by Christmas?’’ along with two photographs. Great news indeed. The time frame is dependent on the deconstruction of buildings close to the City Loop tram track. The story also refers to a video made by the newspaper shortly before the February 22, 2011 earthquake. Check story and video out on http://www.press.co.nz
The story describes the tram as, “the tourist favourite’’ for the city. It will be a boost to the city to have the trams running again and Welcome Aboard has already established an ambitious tram re-start programme. Comments on the Press website have been mostly supportive but one or two were critical of the tram having a priority over other pressing earthquake repairs such as the still critical eastern suburbs. Some people also, incorrectly, believe the tramway is owned by the Christchurch City Council. The Council does own the infrastructure (track, overhead power supply etc.) but the tramway is a private company, Christchurch Tramway Ltd, a sort of franchise, and will once again employ several people and pay the Council for the use of its infrastructure. Furthermore, the company pays Ferrymead-based Tramways Heritage Trust for the use of trust-owned heritage tramcars. The income enables Ferrymead’s Tramway Historical Society to continue with its heritage restoration work. So the tramway is an asset to the city rather than a Council liability. Before Canterbury’s seismic woes, Christchurch was New Zealand’s principal tourist city. It will be a struggle returning to that status but Lonely Planet guides have already described Christchurch as one of New Zealand’s most exciting cities. And the Welcome Aboard team has bravely kept its head above water in the interim, re-introducing punting on the Avon, re-starting an, albeit abbreviated, half-day Grand Tour and taking over the Caterpillar Garden tour of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. The return of the trams cannot be too soon for our struggling city. Welcome Aboard managing director Michael Esposito says,“it’s been a long haul but it’s so close we can almost touch it.’’ Very exciting indeed.

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