The good news is our Christchurch City Council has put a hand up to support the return of the heritage trams, albeit initially on the original 2.5 km City Loop. The future of the mostly completed extension heading through City Mall remains undecided but hopefully that will also get the green light. By completing the extension the Council will be able to recoup the cost of constructing the infrastructure. Well, start to anyway.
Hopefully we can look forward to Welcome Aboard Christchurch regaining an income from the trams, the tourist company’s key attraction. Critics of the tram re-start have claimed little of Christchurch remains to be seen and for this reason the trams do not stack up. The reality is much does remain. Obvious losses are the Christchurch Cathedral and wonderful Edwardian Regent building. But quaint New Regent Street will be re-opened with its long overdue makeover. Much of Worcester Boulevard is still there even if under repair as is the case with the Arts Centre. Canterbury Museum will continue to be a worthy draw card. And visitors will be curious to discover what happened to Christchurch and be able to experience a little of the rebuild progress. Catching up with the rebuild may well encourage return visits. Plans to display images of how the city was prior to earthquake destruction, via on-board digital screens, will be of great value to visitors and locals.
The trams will also complement the two Punting on the Avon sites and the Botanic Gardens Caterpillar Tour. YHA is soon to reopen the repaired and spruced up Rolleston House hostel in Worcester Boulevard and more CBD hotels are set to re-open early next year. Several excellent cafes and restaurants are open in the vicinity of the tram loop. I have already stopped off at the Curator’s House café/restaurant in the Botanic Gardens and found it excellent – its cuisine, wine list and above all, atmosphere.
My prediction is the trams will become an even better and more relevant attraction. A bonus will be an income flow re-start to Ferrymead Heritage Park (for the lease of the trams) thus ensuring world-class heritage tramcar restoration continues.
In the meantime, I am off to Japan for three weeks principally to photograph the Kansai autumn with a long-time Osaka colleague. I expect to make one journey on a 300 km/hr. Shinkansen. Maybe while being whisked along, I will smile at my one-time welcoming Japanese visitors to the “Christchurch” Shinkansen.