Community Consultation - Pukerangi to Middlemarch section of the Taieri Gorge Line
Dunedin Railways Ltd (DRL) operates train trips on the Taieri Gorge Line. We are proposing suspending running trains all the way to Middlemarch. There are several factors behind our proposal:
Economic – DRL’s core business is currently unsustainable, i.e. it is not profitable in its current form. We have ageing infrastructure with high maintenance costs, and are facing increased compliance costs in track/loco/carriage and health and safety. Train trips beyond Pukerangi cost us $120,000 per annum. This places additional financial pressure on DRL at a time when we are focused on finding a sustainable path forward.
Customer feedback - In addition, customer feedback has highlighted that the longer trip, which takes approximately 6½ hours, is too long for many travellers who prefer the shorter 4½ hour trip to Pukerangi and return. The scenery from Pukerangi to Middlemarch is seen by the customer as being similar in nature to the gorge.
Ongoing maintenance – There are 30,000 sleepers on the Pukerangi to Middlemarch section of line alone and we spend $140,000 per annum on their maintenance, which is actually below optimal levels for proper maintenance. Increasing that amount would be uneconomic given the revenue currently generated.
We want to get a clearer picture from the Middlemarch / Strath Taieri Community and other key stakeholders, such as rail trail operators and rail enthusiasts of the actual impact – economic and broader – of stopping the longer trips. And to explore whether there are any other options.
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