With the Main North Line railway from Picton to Kaikoura successfully running freight, attention finally moved to getting the Coastal Pacific long-distance passenger train back on track. For this to happen, the primary concerns of service and safety needed to be allayed. Not many passengers would be happy to sit on a train that has to frequently stop and crawl along the track - although this is increasingly common in all forms of transport!
Having a consistent freight service running through challenging weather conditions in winter 2018 provided renewed confidence that the Coastal Pacific could finally return. On the 1st of August 2018, KiwiRail announced that the Main North Line railway was ready for passenger services to return and that the Coastal Pacific reopening was scheduled for 1st December 2018.
The return of the Coastal Pacific train is a huge achievement by KiwiRail, the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery Alliance (NCTIR), and the thousands of workers who have toiled away night and day for almost two years.