Mosgiel shunted aside

The site of the former Port Chalmers railway station may be used as a station again next month....
The site of the former Port Chalmers railway station may be used as a station again next month. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Mosgiel commuters will not have the option of taking the train into Dunedin on Walk to Work day next month because of their lack of support last time.

Only 27 passengers rode the Mosgiel train last year compared with 200 who used the Waitati train.

The Waitati train is scheduled to run again, leaving the Waitati railway station early on March 10 and returning later in the day.

Dunedin City Council safe and sustainable travel co-ordinator Charlotte Flaherty said Mosgiel people had been less enthusiastic than those living in the Waitati area who were "really actively interested in getting on the train and using the train as transport".

"I think it has to come from the community . . . You can't put one on and then say: `Now use it!"'

The $4000 cost of running the train would be met by the Dunedin City Council but Ms Flaherty hoped $3000 in fares could be recovered.

The train from Waitati could carry bicycles.

A new Port Chalmers group called Transition Town is hoping the Waitati train can stop at the site of what was formerly known as the Port Chalmers Upper railway station, off Ajax St.

The station was once the place where Port Chalmers people caught main-line trains, such as the "midnight express" that passed through on its way to Christchurch most nights just before midnight.

It is believed the station has not been used for passengers since the 88-seat Drewry railcars stopped running in the late 1970s.

The few buildings there - a shed, a ticket office and a toilet - have since been removed and the area has become overgrown.

Transition Town member Jonathon Clearwater said the group had discussed the use of the site with Ontrack and Taieri Gorge Railway, which operates the commuter train, and there were plans to tidy up the area.

One of its advantages would be eliminating a time-consuming shunting operation to get the Waitati train into Port Chalmers' lower station.

Use of the upper station would mean the Waitati to Dunedin trip should take about an hour.

It was not clear yesterday whether Ontrack had approved the use of the site.

Taieri Gorge operations manager Grant Craig said the March 10 timetable had yet to be confirmed, but it was planned to depart from Waitati at 7.20am and from Dunedin, on the return trip, at 5.40pm.

mark.price@odt.co.nz

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