KiwiRail cancels hundreds of scenic train tickets because of traffic light system

Newshub can reveal KiwiRail has been forced to cancel hundreds of tickets for its scenic train journeys because of the traffic light system.

Although they're largely used by tourists, the scenic trains are considered 'public transport' which means are no vaccine certificates are required.

For the last few months KiwiRail has been advertising "memories made together" on its scenic train journeys.

But the memory-making will have to wait until next year after passengers booked to travel by train this summer receive this in their inbox.

"We regret to advise you that KiwiRail has cancelled forward bookings on the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine until and including 13 January 2022," the email read.

All three scenic train journeys are considered 'public transport' under the traffic light system.

This means people are not required to produce a vaccine passport when they board - something KiwiRail isn't happy with.

Acting CEO Todd Moyle said: "We are not prepared to operate them without requiring proof of passengers' double vaccination."

"Given people will be in a confined space for long periods of time, even with masks, we believe the risk of COVID spread among passengers and to our staff is too great."

National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says it's evidence of how the traffic light system has been rushed through.

"It's pretty shambolic isn't it," he said.

"It's really disappointing that over the summer people who are fully vaccinated, have gone and got their vaccine pass, done the right thing, have made these bookings in good faith, cancelled in them just because of the rush job that's been done on the traffic light system."

Newshub has approached both the COVID-19 Response Minister and the Minister of Transport for comment but we've had no response.

KiwiRail says it is working with agencies to resolve the situation and says it is working on a viable restart date with a focus on the TranzAlpine service.