Portland's historic rail cars need a push

PORTLAND’S historic cable trams face possible closure unless operators can boost passenger numbers. 

The community-operated scenic tram service wants locals to get behind the trams, which could cease running if an extra 200 passengers each weekend  aren’t found before next year. 

Portland Cable Trams will launch a regional advertising campaign and new website this year but will rely heavily on a state government application for $41,000 to launch a national marketing campaign. 

Cable tram board chairman Terry Uniacke told The Standard the trams need to lift their passenger numbers to 14,000 by June next year to remain viable. 

“It’s not at crisis point yet but we need to do something before it closes down,” Mr Uniacke said.

“At the moment we’re doing OK but over the last year our numbers would be 8500.” 

The 100-year-old saloon cars, originally from Melbourne, were salvaged in the 1990s and restored by volunteers. 

The tram service celebrated its 12th birthday earlier this month. 

The 7.4-kilometre round trip takes in views of the Port of Portland, the World War II memorial lookout tower, maritime discovery centre, botanic gardens and the Powerhouse Vintage Car and Motor Museum.

“Like everywhere we’ve seen a real drop-off in tourism since the global financial crisis,” Mr Uniacke said. “We’ll be working over the next six months to form partnerships with the Glenelg Shire and the Portland Tourism Association.” 

Mr Uniacke said the group would also relaunch Friends of The Portland Cable Trams and to offer family membership deals to net more passengers. 

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