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Christchurch Tramway celebrates 25 years

The Christchurch Tramway’s heritage tramcars are an iconic sight on the streets of central Christchurch, and the attraction is delighted to be celebrating their 25th anniversary this year after opening in 1995.

Steam-powered, horse-drawn and finally electric trams operated in Christchurch from 1880 until 1954, when the high cost of modernising and extending the tram system coupled with the rising popularity of  private motorcars resulted in completing the changeover to buses as public transport. The trams were sold and tracks lifted or paved over.

Plans for bringing tramcars back to the city began to be discussed by the Christchurch City Council and the Tramway Historical Society in the late 1980s.

After several years of planning, the Christchurch Tramway opened on February 4, 1995, and featured a  2.5-kilometre loop along Worcester Street, Rolleston Avenue, Armagh Street and New Regent Street.

Three trams operated on inauguration day and the fleet was added to over the years as the city  tramway proved a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike.

The initial operator was Shotover Jet Limited from Queenstown, selected by the Christchurch City  Council because of its tourism focus, setting the scene for the subsequent growth of the tramway.

Locally-owned company The Wood Scenic Line Limited, now trading as Christchurch Attractions,  purchased the Christchurch Tramway Limited in 2005 and has operated the company for the past 15 years. The tramway halted operation temporarily after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake before resuming operation in 2013. A track extension which opened in 2015 added a further 1.5 kilometres to the city circuit.

“We’re thrilled to reach such an important milestone," says Christchurch Attractions CEO Sue Sullivan.

"The trams have become an icon of Christchurch over the past 25 years. With such a difficult year this  year we’ve appreciated the support that our local community have shown us and are excited to  celebrate our anniversary with the city.”

The Wood Scenic Line Limited director Michael Esposito was managing director of the attraction for  14 years and says: “no one would have foreseen 25 years ago how popular the Christchurch Tramway  would be today".

"The trams are loved by both visitors and locals and are an important pulse for the retail shops along the route. The staff and shareholders thoroughly enjoy their involvement with such an  iconic attraction.

“We are also very happy to be re-opening the Tramway Restaurant on November 1 after a six-month refurbishment over the winter season, so this will be a fantastic week to celebrate.”

The Christchurch Tramway will be celebrating their 25th anniversary milestone on Labour Day, October 26, with a 25 per cent discount off Tram tickets for the public as well as giveaways, discounts and  special promotions in conjunction with local businesses.

The trams will also be finishing early on Thursday, October 29 for a private celebration with staff and supporters.

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