Commuter train trial mooted

Jim O'Malley
Jim O'Malley
The Government should be asked to fund a trial return of commuter rail services in Dunedin, a Dunedin city councillor says.

Cr Jim O'Malley's call came as yesterday's Dunedin City Council meeting signed off inner-city car parking changes following public consultation.

The changes would lead to about 150 previously free parks becoming paid ones and some all-day parks being time-restricted.

Cr O'Malley said the changes were part of life in a growing city, and more work was needed to accommodate commuters heading to and from the central city, he said.

Other main centres already received, or were earmarked for Government funds for new passenger rail services, and Dunedin ''needs to be considered'' as well, he said.

Cr O'Malley later told the Otago Daily Times a recent traffic analysis - prepared for the Dunedin Hospital rebuild project - found 35,000 people drove into the central city from the south each day.

The count was taken at the end of the southern motorway, by the Oval sports ground, and 75% of those commuters continued into the CBD, he said.

''That's as busy as any street in Wellington or Auckland,'' Cr O'Malley said.

He would like to see a passenger rail service reinstated between the central city and Mosgiel, initially as a six-month trial, to gauge public interest.

If even 5% of southern commuters opted for rail, nearly 2000 people would be delivered to Dunedin Railway Station each morning, breathing new life into the building and surrounding area.

The trial was likely to cost at least $10million and require the reinstatement of a second set of tracks along at least parts of the main trunk line, to accommodate both passenger and freight services. That upgrade would be needed anyway, if an inland port at Milburn went ahead.

A second-hand commuter train could be brought to Dunedin for the trial, he said.

The NZ Transport Agency had funding to increase urban and inter-regional rail services, but Dunedin was ''not even on the consideration list'', he said.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has previously said the Government was committed to developing transport options, including passenger rail, in other parts of New Zealand.

He reiterated that yesterday and encouraged the Dunedin City Council to develop a business case for the regional land transport plan.

Councillors voted to accept the parking changes yesterday, despite opposition from Cr Lee Vandervis, who labelled them ''a major mistake'' which prioritised visitors over commuters and ratepayers.

Cr Aaron Hawkins disagreed, saying alternative modes of transport were needed in a ''growing, 21st century city''.

The changes included switching about 100 previously free spaces to metered $1 or $2 parks allowing stays of between three hours and all day on Great King and Cumberland Sts, between Albany and Dundas Sts.

Similar changes elsewhere included on Vogel St, where free but time-limited parks would be replaced by new $1 per hour, P120 limited spaces.

Other changes were approved around Moray Pl, Buccleugh St and outside Fairfield School.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Comments

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Please, please, please can someone stop this madness that is our local government. They spend a fortune on reports and plans for the future of Dunedin and yet still have no vision or long term goals for the city. No, our councilors just continue to jump from one pet project to another. Of course we should have a modern intergrared transport system here in Dunedin but we never will because of a lack of leadership, goals and objectives to a long term vision which allows for modernization and expansion.

The Dunedin Suburban got us to Green Island.. Not sure how that happened.

Another DCC idea to justify the seizing and monitisation of formerly free carparks. Has the DCC even surveyed Mosgiel residents if they would use such a service and the price point? We all know the answer to that question....

Most other cities around the world would have first introduced a tram system or rail system then down away with the free parks and other parks, not done it backwards like the DCC which is removing carparks, change the free ones to paid ones, leaving the people stranded and having to paid for car parking. the councillors and management are a joke

A commuter rail between Dunedin and Mosgiel could start tomorrow using the efficient Dunedin Railways. Services every 20-30 minutes could be achieved with one rail car.
The cost to start would be low and efficiency high. But please, DCC, get funding from elsewhere.

half true, it would have to be Diesel engines and the Greens, Cull and others would hate it, they want electric which is clean green yeah right

Why not more frequent buses?

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