By Hamish McLean
Saturday, 16 May 2020
The possibility of a commuter rail service in Dunedin has continued rolling forward after Dunedin city councillors on Thursday overwhelming voted in favour of a study into a union-backed trial.
The Dunedin City Council planning and environment committee voted 13-2 for a report into a feasibility study to come before council’s annual plan deliberations at the end of May.
Cr Jim O’Malley, who last year ran for mayor citing a commuter train service between Mosgiel and central Dunedin as one of his priorities, said the numbers stacked up.
A railway had to have a population density that would warrant a commuter service and there were now, he said, 30,000 car movements every morning on the Southern motorway.Further, he said, of those vehicles 75% were destined for the city centre.
A park ’n’ ride at Mosgiel could allow 300 to 400 cars to be left in the outlying suburb every morning.
“If we don’t get large numbers that will be the last time you hear me speaking about commuter rail in Dunedin.”
Cr Lee Vandervis, who with Cr Mike Lord opposed the plan, said the rail system was not viable “pre-Covid” and councillors needed to recognise “when something simply doesn’t work”.
“The interest in rail needs testing just as the interest in subsidised helicopter rides might need testing.
“Actually, no they don’t. Subsidised helicopter rides are never going to be a viable transportation system for Dunedin and neither is commuter rail.”