Rotorua Line - Still a future?

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alexjc Deputy Commissioner

Sad Mainly because a sub discussion of this line begin to 'de-rail' the 'PNGL Threatened With Closure...Again' topic, thought I'd better create a new thread.

Right now 'Ontrack' division of Kiwirail is having a massive tidy up of all tatty infrastructure within the Waikato-Bay Of Plenty region.  

The private siding lines into and within Koutu Freight yards (the 'new' station) are about to be lifted. The yard is being cleaned up now.

The demolition of the overbridge (quite substantial) is planned for the new year. (Consents and traffic planning for the event working through now.)  

One plan is to leave the line insitu BUT bury it under a mat like structure with asphalt on top.  The second (more convenient) idea is to pull back to Rainbow Springs. - The biggest and best idea by the 'Second Chance Rail Trust' before it went into hibernation.

The idea is to make Rainbow Springs a 'Main Passenger Terminal' - it's not all that far away from Rotorua's CBD, and is actually surrounded by some really fun, touristy, amazing attractions from action and adventures to lake recreation and relaxation. (For most, the inner city Rotorua area is for the traditional 'Maori' village and hotsprings experience).  The city has excellent buses and would be a great complement to this.  Ngongotaha - pretty much now an outer suburb of Rotorua would hold all the servicing infrastructure for Steam operations (including pushing through a re-instated National Timber Co bush railway from the lakeside up around to Mamaku and services to Hamilton and Auckland).

Rotorua was once a major railway destination, some of the most premier expresses ran the line...however, as we know along came the road.  And then the airport was moved closer to the city. A mere five - ten minute run along Te Ngai road.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Indeed Rail use by passengers has long ago slipped from the days of the Rotarua Limited complete with observation car. In fact rail useage by Passengers in the Auckland district was always lower than Wellington hence teh early demise of Aucklands railcar services.

At present I feal there is little chance of a succesful passenger service being reintroduced to the branch, quite simply travel times are not particuarly competative. Whether or not Kiwi Rail can persuade anybody to send freight to or from Rotarua by rail remains to be seen.

However there is no end of those who would try. Check out the Auckland Electrification thread and one of the postings attributed to a statement from the "campaign for better transport" is amoungst other things calling for the Rotorua branch to be extended back to the original station site and passenger services reinstated. Whilst I think there is no chance stranger things have happened. The important thing for teh moment whilst the world stares down the barrells of a future of very high priced oil that the greed of the few out to make a quick buck in the present are not allowed to prevent the future expension of the use of rail.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Of interest the short section of the Rotarua line that is being brought back into use is for export mineral water.

Also it apears that EBOP is now looking at the possibilty of a Rotarua Te Puke line which would be much more useful for export timber traffic and something that trhey completly dismissed in the last transport plan. This then brings back the eventual possibility of the Te Puke Rotarua Taupo railway proposed by the NZR in the 1970's.

Both EW and EBOP support retention of the existing route over the mamuka's. However the questions as to what it could be used for. Passenger trains keep croping up. However other possible traffics include empty trains returning to Kinleith to free up paths through the Kaimai tunnel. ( if capacity through the Kaimai tunnel ever became a real problem then even the loaded trains may well be routed this way. Another possibilty is milk trains from the Wharepaina area to dairy factories in the vicinty of Hamiton. Plus of course a common user freight train running Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua and Taupo, yes prhaps such trina will one day return to the network.

 
Taupo Station Master

For rail to ever be viable and practical in Rotorua, the line needs to first be extended back into the city centre to land on the corner of Amohau and Ranolf Streets which was rezoned by the Rotorua District Council for a rail passenger station in 1995. An attractive passenger station, together with a turntable, could be built on this attractive central city site and it is literally only a walk across the road into the main CBD shopping centre.

An attractive high quality daily passenger train could be provided by perhaps refurbishing the six former Silver Star carriages, owned by the Orient Express company in England, from A & G Price Thames. Together with a new central city station in Rotorua central, you would then have an attractive CBD to CBD service running between Britomart in the heart of downtown central Auckland (which is just across the road from Queen's Wharf which the government and ARC have just purchased and intend to develop among other things a decent cruise liner terminal), through to the heart of Rotorua - one of New Zealand's most popular tourist destinations. When you think about it, the Auckland-Rotorua route is one of the most ideal in the country, as nearly all tourists come into the country in Auckland and nearly all go to Rotorua as part of their visit.

A decent rail freight centre and log and container transfer facility could be built at Koutu by creating a new more truck friendly entrance to the site from Biak Street opposite the Waterford Street intersection, which leads to the roundabout intersection with Old Taupo Road (SH5).

Cutting the line back to Fairy Springs would be a very unwise and short sighted move. Fairy Springs is too far out from the city centre (10 min + drive). And remember when you are an overseas visitor you always tend to head first to the city centre and then make your way out to hotels, attractions etc from there.

Also the airport at Rotorua is more than just a 5 min drive from the city centre - it is more like 15 mins out along Te Ngae Road.

 
Taupo Station Master

An ideal route for a new railway which would always have traffic to be carried on it would be a Te Puke-Rotorua-Taupo line.

Both the Rotorua and Taupo regions are heavily planted in plantation pine forests, including the world's largest man made forest - the Kingaroa forest, and yet there is no railway into Taupo! It is crazy as rail is ideally suited to carrying logs and timber products and nearly all the forestry traffic in this region goes (by truck) to the Port of Tauranga.

The terrain between Rotorua and Taupo is relatively flat, particularly between Reporoa and Taupo. Getting the line out of central Rotorua would be the hardest bit but this could be done by building a cut and cover tunnel in a straight line between the intersection of Ranolf and Pererika Streets east through to the eastern side of Te Ngae Road across the road from the Woolworths carpark. The line could then sweep around heading south east crossing under Amohau Street (build overbridge for the road) and follow along the eastern side of Te Ngae Road through to the intersection of Te Ngae Road and Sala Street, before crossing under Te Ngae Road (build overbridge for the road) and sweeping around heading south around the eastern end the Forest Research Institute nursery and then head west along the southern side of Long Mile Road and gradually climb up the northern side of the Pohuturoa range before heading through a tunnel heading south west through beneath the heighest part of the range (opposite Whakarewarewa) and then emerging on the southern side of the range and continuing south west down the southern side of the range, before sweeping around to cross over SH5 (new rail overbridge) between the SH30 and Waipa Mill Road interestions. A rail siding could be built from here running north east across SH5 and follow the northern side of Waipa State Mill Road to the Waipa mill. The Rotorua-Taupo line could continue onwards south towards Taupo following a similar route to SH5, Settlers Road and Broadlands Road. A rail siding could be built from the line at Reporoa to the dairy factory on SH5 at Reporoa. The Rotorua-Taupo line could terminate at a rail terminal site next to the Taupo Mill on Centennial Drive in Taupo.

The new SH1 East Taupo bypass will pass through this area and therefore a large rail freight centre could be established with a log and container transfer facility.

General freight traffic between Auckland and Taupo could be carried by rail as well as freight between Auckland and Napier/Hastings which could be transhipped here.

A new line linking the Rotorua Branch to the East Coast Main Trunk could be built from Ngongotaha just past the Ngongotaha Road level crossing north east out towards Kaharoa and then down towards Te Puke.

You would then have a solid direct rail link between Taupo, Rotorua and the Port of Tauranga, together with a new general freight and passenger route between Auckland-Hamilton-Rotorua-Taupo via the Rotorua existing Rotorua Branch line.

 
Centralvulcan Train Controller

Back in the 1970's the Central North Island Planning Study (CNIPS) looked at rail transport options for the timber industry mainly.  Most favoured proposal was to extend the Murupara line through to Taupo.  Rotorua line was still going then but for logs to export its a bit roundabout - ok for Kinleith, but not economic even then against forest to mill road transport - especially given the network of private forest roads. If the original Rotorua to Taupo line had been built - you can see the formation on the right for the firdst few km out of Rotorua on the left - the viability of the line might be greater - it would have run through a large area of production forest. Often wondered what the grades were like on the TTT line south of Kinleith towards Mokai which could have been extended towards Taupo. That option not addressed in CNIPS from memory. My thoughts - rambling would see a passenger service for the BOP using at least 4 railcars - running in pairs Auckland to Morrinsville, and then on to Mount Maunganui or Te Puke for one car and to Rotorua for the other.  Joining up at Morrinsville for the return.  So that would give an am southbound and pm northbound service in each direction.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Indeed the NZR did look at options for this region in the 1970's. The option that the NZR wanted was much as you describe Taupo but the Government of the time was not interested in stumping up the cost, and so a cheaper extension to taupo from Murupara came to the fore.

That of course was the end of it as the Te Puke Rotorua Taupo option afered much more traffic and had teh potentual to provide an releif route for the NIMT which at the time was reaching saturation should it be extened to Turangi and Waiouru. It was considered that a new railway would be roughly the same cost as duplicating an existing railway, yet serve more districts an as such offer potentually more traffic.

Certainly at the time that the sums were being done for the Kaimai Tunnel Rotorua to Tauranga via the existing line was not seen as viable.

Times move on and capacity on the NIMT is certainly not a factor in this currently. However Envronment Bay of plenty seems now to be moving in this direction and a direct Tauranga to Rotorua line now appears in their rail strategy and the Taupo Extension is no longer defined as and extension of the Murupara Branch. They and Envoronment Waikato are both looking at retaining the existing Rotorua Branch for future use as an outlet from teh district, something which probably only makes sense if there were to be a Rotorua Taupo line. Incidenlty there is not much diference in the distance between Murupara and Taupo or Rotorua and Taupo so once a line is built from Te Puke to Rotorua the sums will almost certainly stack up on this line being extended to Taupo rather than the Murupara Branch.

And who knows maybe a passenger service will become viable on an Auckland Hamilton Rotorua Taupo route.

One last thing the planning of a railway to Taupo in the 1970's was largly because it was planned to build a pupl and paper mill there on the scale of Kinleith and Kawerau. However even whilst the planning was taking place the best laid plans of mice and men and smaller mills were built at Tangiwai and Napier instead.

 
Taupo Station Master

Yes I too have seen Environment BOP's rail policy document and Environment Waikato are in the process of putting a similar rail policy together.

It is promising that EBOP are looking at the idea of a direct rail link between Tauranga and Rotorua (and it can be done, most of the area between Te Puke and Ngongotaha is sparsely populated - mostly just farms and forests, so theoretically there shouldn't be too much objections from people living along the route).

When you look at a map of the North Island and look at where the main population and growth areas are and where the main industries and traffic routes are, it just makes plain common sense to build a rail line between Te Puke-Rotorua-Taupo. This line together with the Rotorua Branch line would really open up KiwiRail's opportunities and would provide both the travelling public and businesses with realistic and practical options for using rail.

One only has to see the considerable number of large heavy logging trucks in the Bay of Plenty and Taupo regions and the considerable amount of damage they do to the roads and adding to congestion and not to mention the horrific accidents they are involved in.

A rail line to Turangi and Waiouru was considered by NZR back in the early 1970s when they were looking at the Paengaroa-Rotorua line proposal, which included a spur line from the proposed marshaling yards at Ngapuna in Rotorua, through to the Waipa Mill to the south of Rotorua. NZR was keen on building a line right through to Taupo and even right through to Turangi and Waiouru. Such a line would certainly serve more communities and industry and would be value for money for the taxpayer as well as being a good practical alternative to the current NIMT route.

The Murupara extension into Taupo proposals from the early 1980s also considered the option of a line south from Taupo to Turangi. The problem of the Murupara option is that the line would be very limited in the potential traffic it could carry and would be very circuitous for Auckland/Hamilton-Taupo traffic. It wouldn't be attractive for a passenger service either.

The idea of extending the Kinleith line into Taupo is a possibility, however it would miss the large city and tourist destination of Rotorua and as we currently see, the Rotorua Branch doesn't seem to be viable on its own as it currently is. The terrain south of Kinleith is rather rugged and steep, although this wouldn't be too much of a challenge with today's construction technology (eg the SH1 realignment just south of Kinleith), but such a route would require two bridges across the Waikato river. Traffic between Taupo and the Port of Tauranga would still have to go a bit of a long way via the Kaimai Tunnel and the tunnel is starting to get quite saturated with Auckland-Tauranga and Kinleith-Tauranga rail traffic.

A new line should also be built from Awakeri, along a new rail corridor around the back of houses at Awakeri, into the Whakatane mill. The existing Taneatua Branch could be closed and lifted between Awakeri and Taneatua is there is no real industry or population beyond Whakatane to justify a railway.

 
Taupo Station Master

Passenger services could be run into the Bay of Plenty using the Silver Fern railcars in conjunction with running a Hamilton-Auckland commuter service. The railcars could leave Otahuhu around 4.45am in the morning, head empty down to Hamilton, run a 6.30am service from Hamilton to Auckland, then depart Auckland at around 9.00am for Mt Maunganui, then depart Mt Maunganui for Auckland at around 1.30pm and then run a service from Auckland around 5.30pm to Hamilton, and then a service from Hamilton around 7.45pm to Papakura and then empty from Papakura to Otahuhu.

New attractive stations could be built in the heart of the CBDs in Hamilton (Hamilton central underground station), Tauranga (The Strand) and Mt Maunganui (Cnr of Totara and Rata Streets).

Tauranga/Mt Maunganui are popular weekend and holiday destinations for Aucklanders and the size of these centres, together with Hamilton, would justify a rail passenger service between them, particularly with the traffic congestion and the number of horrific road accidents on the State Highways between Auckland and Tauranga.

A suburban passenger service could even be started in Tauranga and would probably be well used. It could operate between Omokoroa-Tauranga central-Mt Maunganui-Te Puke. Tauranga/Mt Maunganui/Papamoa are all rapidly growing areas and there are rail lines running past all the main CBDs and the urban areas are all spread out along the rail lines. It is ideally set up for a suburban rail system. Perhaps the ADL class diesel multiple units from Auckland could be relocated to Tauranga to start a service with, once the new electric units are in service in Auckland.

 
Taupo Station Master

What other infrastructure clean up work is Ontrack doing in the Waikato BOP region, alexjc?

Has Ontrack lifted all the Koutu yard? Last time I was in Rotorua half the Koutu yard looked to have been leased out to a trucking firm (irony!).

I understand the Rotorua-Ngongotaha Rail Trust (based at Ngongotaha) have got the lease on the Rotorua Branch between Ngongotaha and Koutu, although they only seem to be operating motor jiggers on it.

The Second Chance Train Trust was wound up quite some time ago (back in about 1997) and the Rotorua Ngongotaha Trust was then formed.

I heard that the Taneatua Branch had been lifted, is that true? I know the Whakatane Industrial line between Awakeri and Whakatane mill was lifted a couple of years ago.

What else are Ontrack up to in this region? (They need to be planning and designating a rail route between Te Puke-Rotorua-Taupo!).

 
Taupo Station Master

With regards to the four laning and demolition of the Lake Road overbridge at Koutu in Rotorua, they could simply just put a level crossing in there. Perhaps lay some new track and rail across the crossing and lay the crossing in solid concrete up to the rail head so that it is smooth and not rough and it won't sink like asphalt does.

A level crossing at lake Road would not disrupt road traffic, certainly with the amount of rail traffic currently on the Rotorua line! Even if a passenger service and perhaps a daily freight service were operating to Rotorua, they would barely cause any disruption to road traffic.

 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner

Most of what's mentioned here is hypothetical.  If we look at NZ's rail history, planned new branch lines in the last 50 years - comming to fruition - are rare, really only Murupara. The focuss has been on major deviations and branchline closures have easily out numbered growth in mileage.  Talk of Marsden Point branch have taken forty years and really only serious action is happening now.  Kiwirail seems (and rightfully so) to focus on building major industrial user spurs (like Clandboyne) - quite impressive considering five years ago under the Beard era!

The link to Taupo is another one of those generational wishes. Personally I'm in favour of a Te Puke link passing through Rotorua on to Taupo then prehaps down to Waiouru. But then what would be the point of this line? Forestry alone cannot be the answer.

I'd say the regional councils would be inclined to focus on linking the ECMT and PNGL together with a Rotorua - Te Puke link part of that plan.

As for what's there now, as I mentioned, when the bridge goes, leaving the line insitiu with a protective mat over the top would be a good idea. If it ever happens, then pushing the line back round to Amahou and Ranolf Streets would be elementry.  An active Lake Road level crossing really wouldn't be a problem. But then, it's got to happen dosen't it?

Taneatua is still there - just. It has been 'mothballed' like what they did to the stump of the Thames branch out to Waitoa before 'then' Toll Rail got Fonterra back on side. This involves removing signals, level crossing systems, and anything else that can be vandelised, sealing over tracks on crossings and in the case of the road/rail bridge, planking in the rails. For those who know the area, this line is in a very socially and economically rough part of the country. If something isn't firmly bolted down, - it's gone.

 
Taupo Station Master

What other infrastructure clean up work is Ontrack doing in the Waikato BOP region, alexjc?

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Indeed Ontrack/Kiwi rail have considered that only relativaly small amounts of money are going to be forthcoming for construction of new routes and as such have not proposed any major new routes. The new rotes that they are looking at are new urban lines, Auckland and christchurch), new connections to ports (Auckland airport and marsden point) and new connections to industrial plants (clandeboyne and Holcim). Further the current polotical climate I would suggest would not allow such large amounts of public spending as would be required.

However at least some of the regions are begining to think of the future. EBOP is even planning for the eventual need for a commuter service as you have proposed Taupo but there is not yet sufficient population in this area to justify the jump in cost between a bus service and a train service.  

But even this is a radical change from sucesive NZ governments thinking post 1967 ( or even earlier) when contraction of the rail network in favour of roads has bee the order of the day. The last mainline to open in NZ was the Picton line as a through route in tehlate 1940's, the last major branch line was the Murupara branch in 1953, mind you the diversion of the Waiuku branch to the steel mill and the Hamilton East coal branch both were 1960's era.

Extension of the Murupara branch to taupo would be about the limits for this line, the steep 1 in 40 grades and the reversal at Kawerau as well as the long way round from Te Rapa would militate against it ever being anything more than a feeder to Tauranga. So I for one am very pleased to see some thought going back to the Te Puke to Rotorua route.

As for the siver fern railcars being used on a midday service to the Mount we discussed this in the Hamilton to Auckland commuter train forum. The reason is simply that it will require a subsidy and the current prioity is to build up to a regular service all day between Auckland and Hamilton.

 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner

What other infrastructure clean up work is Ontrack doing in the Waikato BOP region, alexjc?

- Taupo

In Hamilton, removing the canopy of the mainline platform at Frankton, level crossing remidial work, replacing warning bells with those electronic gongs.  correcting the canter on Ruakura road level crossing (Cambridge line).  Removing general rubbish and lineside items such as unused cabnets, old signal stunchons and bases.  After the Killarney Rd/Greenwood St intersection's traffic lights are activated work will begin on fixing the Killarney Rd level crossing.

Same for the region. Weedspraying, removing unused rails, fencing off property...preparing and identifing repare work on structures.

 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner

Smile During The CBT meeting at Hamilton City Council chambers, mention was made of a future link into Rotorua. At least a regional rail service has been recognised for this city.

 
Taupo Station Master

Another option for rail in the Rotorua/Taupo regions would be to build a line from Te Puke through to Rotorua, then from Rotorua south through to Taupo and then continue the line around the southern flank of Mt Tauhara and link it up with the Murupara Branch. There could also be a line south from Taupo to Turangi for forestry traffic, and if ever warranted in the future, the Turangi line could be extended to join up with the NIMT at  Waiouru. You would then have three potential north south rail routes should any one line become congested or be temporarily closed for whatever reason eg slip, derailment etc. It would also enable a series of forestry loop services to be made, both as full trains and as empties eg Taupo-Rotorua-Te Puke-Tauranga-Kawerau-Murupara-Taupo or Tauranga-Te Puke-Rotorua-Putaruru-Kinleith-Putaruru-Waharoa-Tauranga.

 
Taupo Station Master

A possible cheaper option for KiwiRail to get a passenger service started again between Auckland and Rotorua could be to use some of the current Tranz Alpine and Tranz Coastal carriages once they are replaced with new carriages, to create a train for a Rotorua service.

Together with good marketing and advertising and relaying the track into a small new attractive passenger station in Rotorua central, there is no reason why such a service couldn't be a success. The previous Geyserland Express service used to depart from the old Auckland Beach Road station and terminate in the Koutu freight yard, so wasn't very attractive, nor was it well advertised. A new service would depart from Britomart right in the heart of downtown central Auckland and also right across the road from the new proposed Queen's Wharf dedicated cruise liner wharf. A train service through to Rotorua, New Zealand's biggest and most popular tourist destination would be very convenient and attractive.

 
Cogload Train Controller

Location: Ooop North

O/T - How the hell is Rotorua Kiwiland's biggest and most popular attraction? The springs are very nice but you have to switch off your sense of smell when you visit!

Now Taupo - I went skydiving over Lake Taupo on a beautiful summers day....

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

O/T - How the hell is Rotorua Kiwiland's biggest and most popular attraction? The springs are very nice but you have to switch off your sense of smell when you visit!

Now Taupo - I went skydiving over Lake Taupo on a beautiful summers day....

- Cogload

Well it is one of NZ's major tourist attractions even if it smells rather rotten. As for Lake Taupo, always keep in mind thatthis si one of those so called supervolcano's. Some of its eruptions have dropped over 30 meters of ash at one time as far north as Hamilton and signifcant quantities in Auckland.

Getting back to the Rotorua passenger service Taupo's ideas have merit and there are still groups out there trying to see this happen as far as I can determine. However travel time and capacity issues east of Frankton make this dificult, not to mention the number of stolen sleepers on the Rotorua branch.

I beleie that eventually it will happen but not until line speeds are increased Auckland to Hamilton, this is dependant on Auckland hamilton services and capacity upgrades indeed some double track around hamilton and the Kaimai tunnel make Taurange services attractive. Then with a reopened Rotorua branch the whole thing will probably become possible and viable.

 
Taupo Station Master

An Auckland-Rotorua train service could be extended to Taupo by having a timetabled coach departing from Taupo and connecting with the train service at Rotorua and then returning to Taupo, providing a through service for passengers.

 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner

Weather or not Rotorua is most popular and attractive is beside the point. (IMO Southern Lakes District is!).

What matters is the feasbility of rehabilitating the old Rotorua branch or better spending the money helping to build a new route back through to Te Puke...

Tokoroa got a mention as a commuter service potential for the future. This line was once the Taupo Totara Timber Co's private 'light railway' from Putaruru and nearly actually got there (Taupo) at the turn of last century.

The Silver Fern 'Fujiama Twinset' railcars are 38 years old, still going well, a testiment to quality Japanese engineering...BUT...stupidly, the poli's of the time only ordered three. The original suggestion was for ten.

A new type of light bodied DMU that can cover ALL avaliable lines in NZ needs to be investigated. Even now, if they had've survived, the Drewy Twinsets would be 59 years old and even by now most would be scrapped.  A Valcan type singular unit with access end doors may be more versitile for 'light' services but a twinset is the best way to go for all.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

An Auckland-Rotorua train service could be extended to Taupo by having a timetabled coach departing from Taupo and connecting with the train service at Rotorua and then returning to Taupo, providing a through service for passengers.

- Taupo

Indeed bus connections to points not served by passenger trains would make many possible services throughtout NZ viable. Unfortunately I gather that the bus companies do not seem to want to do this.

Setting up stand alone operation which requires just one bus a day is expensive, simply in the needs for staff, you need to have cover for holidays and illness so to make for a reliable service you will need 3 drivers for 1 bus a day.

The way forward is to find a way of making the bus companies see it as an advantage to provide these connections rather than go all the way themselves.

 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed

Weather or not Rotorua is most popular and attractive is beside the point. (IMO Southern Lakes District is!).

What matters is the feasbility of rehabilitating the old Rotorua branch or better spending the money helping to build a new route back through to Te Puke...

Tokoroa got a mention as a commuter service potential for the future. This line was once the Taupo Totara Timber Co's private 'light railway' from Putaruru and nearly actually got there (Taupo) at the turn of last century.

The Silver Fern 'Fujiama Twinset' railcars are 38 years old, still going well, a testiment to quality Japanese engineering...BUT...stupidly, the poli's of the time only ordered three. The original suggestion was for ten.

A new type of light bodied DMU that can cover ALL avaliable lines in NZ needs to be investigated. Even now, if they had've survived, the Drewy Twinsets would be 59 years old and even by now most would be scrapped.  A Valcan type singular unit with access end doors may be more versitile for 'light' services but a twinset is the best way to go for all.

- alexjc

Indeed the TTT's main line did get to I beleive 15 miles or so from Taupo, but it was a light railway with slow speeds stiff grades and tight curves. Parts of the old alignment were upgraded to become private logging roads serving the Kinleith Mill. I would think that if Tokoroa ever got a passenger rail service then it would be a park and ride off any service to Tauranga or Rotorua. However driving to a park and ride at Cambridge would possibly be the best option.

I do not recall anyone ever suggesting that there should have been 10 Silverfern railcars, I beleive that the dept wanted 5, this would have given 2 in mu each way at hoilday times with 1 spare. But this was witled down to 3.

At about the same time there was a proposal to build 10 single unit railcars for a few of the provincal services that showed the best passenger no.s and 1 of the then withdrawn Standard cars was to be made available to test out the drive train before construction started. I think I have still got the clipping from teh Eveneing post about this. The NZR was at the time disenchanted with the whole consept of under floor engines and articulation thanks to the Drewery cars.

However in reality the buusiness concept of the Drewery Twin sets was almost spot on even today except for the lack of end doors making crewing cost high when running in mu. The truth is that the Standards and the Drewery cars cpould take corners faster than anything else because of teh low center of gravity, this being important on NZ twisted track. Remenber the old jokes about the contractors who built the railways were paid by the curve. Indeed there were offers and proposals to re-engin the drewery cars, but it was NZR and Government policy to withdraw from passenger services except for Auckland Wellington, Chch Invergargill and much reduced subbie services at Auckland and Wellington. In a way tehy were right as to keep long distance passenger services viable a great deal would have been required to realign the tracks and the revenue from passenger services did not make it viable. Now of course much of this work is required to make freight trains competative. If only the NZR had more foresight in this matter.

Indeed my suggestion for any future intercity stock would be single underfloor engined cars with end doors and a driving cab at one end. These would normally operate in pairs back to back or triple sets. Commercialy these would still be marginal and there are few routes where suffecient use would be made to justify the track upgrades to provide competative timings. And that is the killer. If the train is slower than the bus then everybody will take the bus. So the only places you can start looking for suitable routes is where the road journey is very slow. That would be in and out of Auckland and Wellington at peak times, Masterton Wellington at any time and well can't think of anything else.

As for rotes where investment in infrastructure to increase speeds, Auckland and Hamilton is the only one where there could be sufficent demand to amke it worth while at present. However Hamilton Tauranga may become viable once Auckalnd Hamilton has progressed and Hamilton doubles in size. Chch Dunedin may also present an opertunity oif and when the hills north of Dunedin have been tackled for other purposes.

 
Taupo Station Master

An Auckland-Rotorua train service could be extended to Taupo by having a timetabled coach departing from Taupo and connecting with the train service at Rotorua and then returning to Taupo, providing a through service for passengers.

- Taupo

Indeed bus connections to points not served by passenger trains would make many possible services throughtout NZ viable. Unfortunately I gather that the bus companies do not seem to want to do this.

Setting up stand alone operation which requires just one bus a day is expensive, simply in the needs for staff, you need to have cover for holidays and illness so to make for a reliable service you will need 3 drivers for 1 bus a day.

The way forward is to find a way of making the bus companies see it as an advantage to provide these connections rather than go all the way themselves.

- wanderer53

I am sure there are a number of small private coach operators operating services already between Rotorua and Taupo, as afterall these two centres are very big popular tourist destinations, and I am sure KiwiRail could come to some arrangement with one of them to operate their coach service in conjunction with meeting the train service at Rotorua.

 

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