Full support to get 'heritage' trams back on track

Plans to get Christchurch's trams running by mid-2013 have been backed by a key city council committee.

The planning committee yesterday voted unanimously to support the city's tram loop being reinstated "as soon as practicable".

Before the earthquakes, an estimated 280,000 people rode the trams each year.

The repair costs for the original 2.6-kilometre loop of between $1.3 million and $1.6m are expected to be covered by insurance, although a settlement has yet to be reached.

Michael Esposito, managing director of The Wood Scenic Line, which operates the tramway and the gondola, told the committee the tramway represented "the heart of Christchurch" and was an important piece of heritage.

"Locals feel as if we've lost a lot of heritage, and people visiting our city want to see heritage, so we're blessed to have some of these trams that go back over 100 years."

The company wanted to "put a stake in the ground" and show its commitment to the city by reopening the tramway as soon as possible.

A council staff report said the trams could be running by the end of June, depending on how repair work went.

The Press