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The first three of Dunedin Railways' new monthly passenger train trips to Oamaru almost sold out and the service is set to be increased to weekly this summer.
At least 90 passengers travelled on the 94-seat Silver Fern Railcar for each ''Oamaru Seasider'' trip since May and another 89 are booked for the next excursion, this Sunday.
Dunedin Railways business manager Toby Mann said the trips had been well supported by the local market.
Tourist appeal would be tested in the summer.
Mr Mann said he had recently returned from tourism trade shows in the US and Canada, where operators had expressed strong interest in the service, mostly as a one way connection, especially as a link to the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.
He hoped it would encourage tourists to deviate from the standard Mt Cook to Queenstown direct route by tempting them to include Oamaru and Dunedin in their itineraries.
Dunedin Railways had been co-ordinating with the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society to enable the Silver Fern Railcar to drop passengers in the Victorian precinct area.
The bridge which connected to the railway line behind the precinct had been assessed and received a ''preliminary tick'', Mr Mann said.
It ''made sense'' for the train to stop in the precinct area and he hoped to get clearance in time for summer.
''Everything is progressing on that ... it's going smoother than we thought,'' he said.
In September, a ''double header'' weekend in Oamaru was scheduled, which would give people travelling from Dunedin the opportunity to spend a night in Oamaru and people from Oamaru the chance to ride the train to Dunedin for a Saturday night out.
This article first appeared on www.odt.co.nz
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