After many years of planning, our Christchurch Tram track extension was officially opened last week on 12 February. Our staff (especially our drivers) were all looking very gleeful, as the opening had been a very long time coming after it was originally planned for 2011!
The Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Key, stopped by to open the tram route extension and then took Tram 152 for a quick drive along Cashel Street.
Our driver trainer Joe Pickering gave Mr Key a very brief tram driving lesson and they were soon off, hampered only by a momentary loss of power when the tram’s electricity supply disconnected itself from the overhead wiring (before it was quickly reattached).
Customers were soon queuing up at our new tram stops and the tramcars were bursting at the seams!
The latest extension to the track had been in the pipeline for many years. Work originally began on the extension in 2010 for a planned opening in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but unfortunately the Canterbury earthquakes put a stop to this and the tracks were left unused for several years in the then-Red Zone. At that stage the majority of work had been completed, and there was very little left to do. With the re-opening of the Christchurch Tram in late 2013, plans were once again put in place to open the extension along with our original circuit.
Every tram now completes a trip along the new track along Oxford Terrace, Cashel Street and High Street before returning to our original circuit, and a return trip takes approximately 50 minutes to complete. The trams will be operating daily, and our Tramway Restaurant will also be completing a few laps of the extension every evening. The new track is proving very popular – why not pop down to take in the new sights from our historic tramcars?