Bluff train to return, briefly

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 12:45 11/12/2012

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The Bluff Branch rail link will once again chug passengers from Invercargill to Bluff, albeit briefly.

As part of a family gala weekend in Bluff on April 27-28 a Taieri railcar will carry passengers along the 27 kilometre route.

One of the first railways in New Zealand, the Bluff Branch opened in 1867 and carried passengers until 1967 when all passenger services were cancelled.

Passenger trains briefly returned when the Kingston Flyer operated some services to Bluff between 1979 and 1982.

Organised by Bluff's Foveaux Pearls Leisure Marching group the train will run regular return trips from Invercargill to Bluff during the weekend.

The railcar will travel from Dunedin to Invercargill on April 26 returning after the gala weekend. Tickets are available for the journey.

Dianne Blair, from Bluff's Foveaux Pearls Leisure Marching group, said once passengers reached Bluff they would be spoilt for choice with entertainment and activities for all ages.

Markets, buskers, children's rides and entertainment were all being planned while several other innovations were being investigated, she said.

The weekend would be a great way for families to spend part of the school holidays while for rail buffs and those who remembered the days when rail travel was more prevalent it is a touch of nostalgia, Ms Blair said.

''For those who have not experienced rail travel before it is an opportunity to enjoy something unique,'' she said.

Bluff promotions officer Lindsay Beer said for those who were interested in all things rail, the railcar is one of the former Silver Fern Railcars built in 1972 to run between Auckland and Wellington.

Tickets will go on sale this week from the Invercargill i-site at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.

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