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26 January, 2021

Skyrail to wind back hours

Skyrail has announced that they will only be operating on weekends starting from February 6.

By Phil Brandel

Skyrail who had to close their doors for most of 2020 due to COVID will now only be operating on weekends during February.

Skyrail has announced that they will only be operating on weekends starting from February 6. The news comes just as Kuranda had started to get back on its feet after international border closures caused the village major financial woes due to the lack of visitors.

General Manager of Skyrail Richard Berman-Hardman said that they didn’t choose to wind back their hours instead, they had been forced to do so due to economic circumstances.

“Heading into February and March, we can see that the tourism industry is heading into a difficult period,” he said.

“Usually in February and March, we are heavily reliant on international tourists, with 85 per cent of our visitors coming from overseas during this time, this year that’s just not going to happen.”

Mr Berman-Hardman said over Christmas due to COVID requirements Skyrail operated at a loss. “We are limited by how many people we can carry. Due to COVID and social distancing we can only carry a third of our usual passenger numbers,” he said.

“If we kept running 5 to 6 days a week, we would struggle to keep the doors open and pay our staff.

“It’s not what we want to do but it’s something we have to do, if things turn around we will be sure to look at increasing our hours.

Even though some traders in Kuranda are not happy with the decision Mr Berman-Hardman said that the numbers wouldn’t change.

“Even if we were open 7 days a week we would be lucky to have a couple of hundred each day,” he said

“That is not enough to make it viable for us or for the business owners in Kuranda; we are all in the same boat.

“Even if we operated 7 days a week, we still wouldn’t be getting thousands of people going to Kuranda they are just not going to materialize.

Mr Berman-Hardman said the intention was to return back to fulltime operations once numbers turned around.

“We want to reopen fulltime, for our staff the Kuranda community and Cairns,” he said.  

“At this stage, we only operating on Saturdays and Sundays in February but in March we are going to be operating 4 days a week.

President of The Kuranda Traders Association Dei Gould said it was disappointing that Skyrail would only be operating two days week.

“They are a private company and it’s not something we can control,” she said

 “February is our worst month of the year, thankfully the train will still be operating and we will still have self-drives coming to Kuranda. 

“We will just have to manage it and adjust our marketing to concentrate on self-drive tourists.”

A spokesperson from Queensland Rail said that there were no foreseeable changes to the Kuranda Scenic Railway timetable at the moment.




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