Posts Tagged ‘Otago’

Time out in tunnel to Milford Sound?

February 28, 2008

Now a rail tunnel to Milford Sound to replace the accident prone road route is basically a good idea, in my view, but they really need to rethink the idea of people staying in their cars stacked on flatbed rail wagons.

Private cars have no way of signalling to train crew if some half-wit opens the door to admire the view of the tunnel walls rushing by inches away. Better to add a couple of carriages on at one end, and get all people in them. Also more comfortable, as they can move around, go to the toilet, etc.

And if you don’t think anyone would be so dumb, recall the London student who stood up on the top floor of an open roof, double decker bus when it went under a bridge? No prizes for guessing who won…bridge or student?

An isolated rail line is fiscally risky though (as the long closed isolated Nelson-Glenhope rail line proved in the 1950’s), and has higher upkeep, as parts and vehicles for maintenance have to be brought in on heavy load lorries. You have to ask if any thought has been given to rapidly extending such a line to Queenstown at least, to hook up with a possible future rail route from Invercargill or Dunedin.

Rail lines used to exist from Invercargill to Kingston, but only the Kingston-Fairlight section remains for the tourist train Kingston Flyer. Similarly, the Central Otago Line used to run from Dunedin up to Clyde (for the Clyde dam hydro scheme construction), but is now truncated to Middlemarch from the Dunedin end, with the remainder of the line as the Otago Central Rail Trail horse riding-walking-cycling route.

Much of both lines is still in Ontrack ownership I think (apparently all of Central Otago line), and still designated as rail routes, so could be cheaply restored (hundreds of millions). Give an eco-friendly option for the locals as well as tourists for when the oil runs out, and that pesky global warming can’t be ignored 😉