Railway corridor

Someone brought up the issue of the changes to the road plan which have come about as a result of the stadium construction. There is no doubt that the main highway linking the city and Otago to its main port should not be down Anzac Ave, and that it needed to be re-routed.

But then there was criticism that the railway corridor could be used for the road. Let’s look at that railway corridor, it’s hardly a productive place in which aesthetic sensibilities need be considered. Really do we want this ‘useful’ space being preserved?


And these are the neighbours who won’t be sleeping so well at night with the increased road traffic.


Posted by Paul Le Comte



Filed under Design, Inspiration, Pics, Town planning

26 responses to “Railway corridor

  1. Rosemary

    It’s not a question of whether we want the rail corridor preserved; it’s a matter of whether we want it turned into a highway. We have never been asked, but were I asked I’d say no because I think the rail corridor should be reserved for the eventuality of making a dual track between Port & the Taieri. This eventuality has not merely been deferred because of the costs of the FB stadium but been destroyed because of the necessary realignment of the highway.

  2. Rosemary are you serious. Which government are you suggesting we see a massive investment in rail transport?

    There was a belated and poor effort under Labour, but under National chances of this are zero to nothing. And that is what is needed for this sort of imagination to happen.

    But let me state my preference here, I am a massive advocate of rail transport. NZ has a pathetic track record and even less chance under this government of any movement towards greater rail freight. This is the govt which looks set to increase the weight and size of the goods trucks on our roads.

    I don’t want the rail corridors preserved, but is NZ’s track record with regard to rail over the last 60+ years is anything to go by, they are a waste of space.

    NO the improvement of the rail corridor is not an opportunity cost of the stadium, it is a failure of policy from central govt.

    • Elizabeth

      Paul – as you probably realise Fonterra (with government blessing undoubtedly) is making the investment to put much of its product onto rail in both the North Island and the South Island, and this is to rationalise port handling of goods to international markets. So much so that Port Otago has just loss some significant container business to Lyttleton; there are also severe effects on the ports of Timaru and Bluff.

      Now, with shipping line(s) introducing 320m long container ships carrying 6000 containers*, Port Otago as one of NZ’s few deep water ports stands to gain more business if it’s smart. Having a dual rail line to Port Chalmers might or might not be needed to get the volumes of containers into those vessels and away fast.

      Fonterra and other exporters are logistically organising to make this happen…what holds up the New Zealand export economy?? Stuff we make/grow/process in Otago Southland that’s what. The government isn’t stupid about rail.

      *The current 285m-long container ships carry 4100 containers.

      More about 4100s, lightly:

  3. David

    Paul, you are wrong in saying there is no doubt that the highway should be moved from Anzac Ave – there is plenty of doubt.

    This is a beautiful entrance to the city, especially for all the coaches from over 50 cruise ship visits.

    Many Dunedin residents also want to preserve this city entrance.

    Then there are businesses that don’t want it changed.

    And others don’t want it changed because of the massive waste of our money.

    “No doubt” that it should be changed?

    There is plenty of doubt – so much that it would be more accurately called outright opposition.

  4. David if each and every resident was given $10,000 dollars from a wealthy benefactor, there would be those who would still find something to moan about.

    As for entrance to the city, you are talking about the last several hundred meters. I would hardly call the haul through Ravensbourne anything near picturesque.

    While there are some who wish to see it preserved, there are those like myself, long before the stadium was even mooted, were playing with alternative roads on pieces of paper, to get that volume of traffic and those massive freight trucks away from what is and should be a human focused leisure area. The whole Logan Park – University connection will now be taken away from the trucks and cars and given back to the people.

    I have played football and watched cricket at Logan Park for close on a decade now, and any move to have a state highway connection moved away from where people play is a good thing.

    You say business against it, I know business for it.

    Define waste of money? Because to that, Dunedin has to seriously look at what it wants with regard to its road and transport plans.

    I’d personally like to see a tram link all the way from Logan Park through to Mornington at the top. There is no way that would ever happen if we were to continue to have the increased sized freight trucks as deemed acceptable by the National Govt.

  5. Phil

    I will never accept that rail can not be made more viable than road. Especially for freight transport. All the evidence from around the world shows it to be right. But I too cannot see anyone in central government, in the foreseeable future, grabbing the problem by the scruff of the neck and really committing to progress. Sadly. How much nicer would that port road be without the constant stream of heavy load port traffic and the associated continual road maintenance works which are a permanent feature of the area.

    It makes a lot of sense not to have a state highway dividing an area of recreation and entertainment. It should be seamless. If it can be achieved while still retaining a continuous north-south rail link, then I’m all for it. Losing the rail link altogether would worry me as the opportunity for mass freight tranport would probably be lost forever also. Things rarely get reinstated once they have been removed. It becomes a convenient excuse not to do something.

    Personally I would like to see a minimum of a logging loading base at the Wingatui station. We must be one of the few major cities that permit fully laden logging trucks pass through the middle of the CBD during peak commuter traffic hours.

  6. Paul J

    One truck; 400 odd hp, two containers.

    One loco at 2700hp (and you can add another two or three if you like) and each can haul 40 containers, only for a few times the fuel consumption. Railways are in full use in other parts of the world, greenest form of transport for emissions pro rata to weight moved. Who likes being stuck behind a truck, up a hill getting diseaselised?

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Fri, 14 Aug 2009
      News: Business | News: Farming
      Fonterra calls for more ocean cargo capacity

      The nation’s freight sector should be focusing on building ocean cargo capacity, and flexibility in making connections to the shipping routes to key markets, rather than rivalry between individual ports, says Fonterra’s general manager of supply chain strategy, Nigel Jones.
      Read more


      ### ODT Online Thu, 13 Aug 2009
      Consent for Fonterra to develop site
      By Allison Rudd

      Dairy giant Fonterra has been granted Dunedin City Council resource consent to begin a $40 million-$45 million transformation of the former Fisher and Paykel factory at North Taieri. The work, expected to be completed by August next year, will include construction of two storage areas and a rail system capable of transporting 90% of the milk powder and cheese to be stored at the site. Up to 22 trains a day, each up to 260m long and towing 14 carriages, will visit the facility most of the year.
      Read more

  7. Richard

    It is the space taken by the former SIDINGS that served the wool stores where the planned new SH will run.

    I haven’t looked lately but there were four (or more) lines? After they were no longer used to service the wool stores, they simply served as a place to ‘park’ old rolling stock.

    That was the case when Murray Douglas and I went down that way some years ago to check whether the lines could be used to relocate the Ocean Beach Railway whose route along the beachfront at Kettle Park was threatened by sea erosion of the sandhills. Sound familiar?

    The rolling stock has gone but the land used for the original twin track rail corridor between Port Chalmers and Dunedin to the harbour side of those sidings remains unencumbered .

  8. Phil

    ah, I know exactly the place you are referring to. I think one can view them quite clearly from the North End Rowing Club side. Not the prettiest picture. Certainly a paved road can only improve things there.

  9. David

    Railways in NZ are always going to struggle to be as efficient as road transport.

    Any short haul often requires a truck at one or both ends – with a truck you have single handling, but with rail you have double or triple handling of freight – a whole additional transport system is needed (railways) that lies totally unused for 99% of the time, trains with 40 containers that all need to be picked up from different places, all containers wait for the slowest one to get there, then they all need to be delivered to different places, etc etc.

    About the only way rail competes effciently with road in a low population country like NZ is on long haul single destination to single destination. Like West Coast Coal fields to Lyttelton.

    And that’s where you get rail’s other major disadvantage in NZ – our topography. Throughout most of NZ, rail is and always will be very slow. There’s not the level of traffic to make it worthwhile having straight flat fast railways.

    So while you get a fuel saving with trains, that is only a small part of the overall picture, and their overall efficiency for most freight is usually well below road transport.

  10. Phil

    I agree that rail isn’t always the best solution for low population areas. But I do believe that operating a rail backbone from hub to hub is both viable and desirable. In the same way that your letter is not driven by a car from your hand and hand delivered by the same car to the mailing address in Auckland. Some days your letter is a day earlier, some days it’s a day later. But we’ve all learnt to accept that, and factor that into our lives. This is just another learning experience.

    I think we’re too soft on transport operators. The very fact that it’s still considered cheaper than rail in NZ, is perhaps the heart of the problem. Sure, it’s cheaper for the operators, but is it cheaper on society ? Road maintenance costs, healthcare costs, they should all be factored in when calculating cost and value. In my opinion. Those big trucks are just as much of a nightmare for our topography. Built for Australian roads, not for our tight and hilly terrain. Our roading network is also not suitable for heavy road transport. Large sections of 2 lane highway, and many towns with no major bypass road. One only has to look at Stuart Street at 8am to see the impact that heavy vehicle movements have on society. If not rail, then maybe sea should be considered ? Certainly there has to be an alternative to the status quo.

    I can cope quite happily with a handful of smaller delivery lorries running between Christchurch and Ashburton, or between Dunedin and Palmerston distributing the contents of a train container if it means getting an articulated diesel spewing, paving churning, hill crawling, traffic hazard container truck off from State Highway 1. To me anyway.

  11. David

    Paul says “Define waste of money?

    Spending millions to make a single pedestrian crossing safer. Anywhere else you’d just put a set of lights in and have millions left over to fix another dozen similar problems.

    • Elizabeth

      All the “traffic” today at What if? has railroaded over 1000 views! Busiest day for the site. A little publicity never goes amiss. Thanks ODT.

  12. David

    Phil – people always say they’d pay a bit more to take trucks off the road. But when it comes down to it, when they have a choice of buying a fridge that came by road in one shop for $800, and exactly the same fridge that came by rail in another shop for $820, few people will ever buy the dearer one.

    Unfortunately we have one of the most difficult countries in the world to run an efficient rail network. And with just about everything we buy having to get here on truck or train, we need (and have) a very competitive transport system.

    For me the main issue with trucks on the roads is safety. It’s nowhere nearly as common as it used to be, to be stuck behind a large truck on State Highway One. You’re far more likely to have one tailgaiting you these days.

    Don’t get me wrong – I think we should put as much as possible on trains, but if you don’t have a large amount of bulk goods all starting and ending at the same destinations, then it starts to get inefficient. And for anything less than a full container load you start to get really inefficient.

  13. James

    Unfortunately we have one of the most difficult countries in the world to run an efficient rail network

    It doesn’t appear to have held back the Swiss very much…

    When they have a choice of buying a fridge that came by road in one shop for $800, and exactly the same fridge that came by rail in another shop for $820, few people will ever buy the dearer one

    Actually, if you overinflate the RRP of the fridge, and then have widely publicised sales with hug percentage discounts, people might buy things that are far more than $20 more expensive than another store, because they think they’re getting a bargain. Oh wait, not supposed to be writing anything litigious :)

  14. Japan even managed to put an exceedingly high speed train on their mountainous islands.

    Wouldn’t a true high speed train Auk-Wgtn be great, but I’d also start with CHCH suburban and Dun suburban train services again.

  15. David

    James, unlike Switzerland, New Zealand doesn’t have countries with tens of millions of people surrounding it (Germany 82m people, France 65m, Italy 60m, Austria 8m).

    In fact we don’t join up with any other countries.

    And their own population density is about 1200% higher than us (the whole country is not much bigger than Otago).

    It’s certainly possible to overcome the engineering obstacles to produce a top class railway like Switzerland (or Japan – 127m people and 2200% higher population density).

    But with such a low population, low population density, spread out population centres, steep terrain, relatively weak economy, and isolation from the rest of the world, we are one of the most difficult places in the world to run (and build) an efficient railway.

  16. Phil

    You’re on the money there, David, when you say that the vast majority of people will opt for the cheapest, rather than the “kindest” option. Probably fair to say I’m one of those in the majority of cases. I don’t like the idea of battery hen farming, but I continue to buy the cheapest eggs. Why, well, because I’m evil, and also, because I can. In my defence however, I do buy the environmentally friendly washing powder. But I digress.

    If there were was no difference in the price between kind farm eggs, and not so kind farm eggs, I think most of us would feel good about taking the socially responsible option. That means that someone, and I mean central government, has to either subsidise the more expensive but preferable egg, or impose such a levy on the less desirable egg that it becomes also financially undesirable.

    Flying in the face of a free market economy? Absolutely. But we do that today with alcohol and tobacco taxes. In an effort to make something less desirable more difficult (although I’m sure the government’s sole motive there is not one of social responsibility). The surest way to win people over to rail, is by removing the price gap between that and road. Initially, until volume and frequency can sustain the industry. Once people get used to something, it takes a lot for them to change. Fair on truckies? Absolutely not. But as society evolves, so do acceptable methods. We no longer clear fell forests, whale hunt, or drift net fish. Fossil fuel industries will have to change, I’m just not sure how we can get the ball rolling, given the valid constraints that you’ve pointed out.

  17. Richard

    My recall is that the move by Fonterra to the former F&P site and their use of rail to take containers from there by rail to Port Chalmers for shipment will takes something like 300 heavy vehicle movements off the SH. The availability of the rail siding at the Taieri was an important factor in their relocation so, in essence, one could say that it is to become Fonterra’s “inland port”. That has to be good.

    Now if logs could only be worked the same way!

  18. David

    Richard – Fontera is a good example of bulk goods with a point to point journey – the ideal situation for rail. Even with such a short journey it may be viable because of the sheer volume.

    The problem with forestry is that if logs are close to the railway, there can be a single movement to get them onto the train.

    But they only need to be a few hundred metres away from the track and single handling goes to triple handling, lifting onto a truck, the truck trip, then lifting off and onto the train. That’s three times the equipment, and three times the staff to get each log onto the train.

    In an industry where margins are very tight, triple handling starts to become very inefficient.

    And unfortunately it’s the nature of a forest that the product is all spread out – not coming from a single point like a factory. And often on steep hills that are inaccessible to railways.

  19. Richard

    Good points, David. The idea has certainly been looked at though, somewhere down Milburn way as I recall. Ah well, as I said, “If only”.

  20. David

    Richard – maybe a chance for some inovative loading system, like the the “swing thru” system for trucks loading and unloading their own containers without the need for a forklift (now used worldwide and invented in Dunedin by Ross Simpson).

    That way a complete load of logs (in their “cartridge”) may be transfered from truck to wagon without individual or secondary handling.

    Another option might be a trailer / wagon system – in the same way road vehicles can have lowerable wagon wheels.

    However the heavy weight may be an issue with either of these systems.

  21. Phil

    I’ve seen them move livestock on trains before. In the cases I saw, the animals were loaded into a livestock shipping container on the farm. The container was lifted onto a truck and transported to the rail yard. Once at the rail yard, the container was simply lifted and secured onto a rail flat car. The same process was repeated at the other end. The only time the animals were touched was at the farm at each end.

    I’m sure the same process can be applied to logs. It would be much easier, faster, and cheaper, to move around a single container than a whole bunch of logs, every time the mode of transport changed.

  22. James

    I’m not sure how much through traffic Switzerland really gets. The rail there is more expensive, and it’s often cheaper to go around Switzerland than through. But they do have a population density advantage, plus the diabolical terrain means that most of the towns are concentrated within the valleys.

    For logs, the trucks don’t usually go up the hills, but only take the logs from a ‘landing'(?) area (I can’t remember if that is the right term), having been dragged down off the hill. To my mind, it is a shame that the Taieri Gorge cannot be used, but you’re right, if they truck out of the area, switching to rail at that point makes less sense. However, if at the transition from road to rail there was a level of processing (e.g. wood-chipping), then that could work out (ie off truck into chipper onto train).

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