Scenic New Zealand Railroad May Stop Running Over a Portion of the Otago Central Railway

Pukerangi
Pukerangi, New Zealand. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Dunedin Railways is considering ending service to Middlemarch, New Zealand, citing concerns about costs, according to published reports.

The scenic railroad operates over the famed Otago Central Railway. Many of its trains terminate in Pukerangi, but some continue on to Middlemarch, roughly 12 miles from Pukerangi.

The line initially ran between Cromwell and a junction with the Main South Line in Wingatui, about seven-and-a-half miles south of Dunedin. However, the line between Middlemarch and Cromwell was closed in sections starting in 1980.

“We’re not looking to pull the track out,” the Otago Daily Times quoted Dunedin Railways chairman Kevin Winders as saying. “The natural human behaviour is to keep it open. But we are running a commercial organisation. Railways are a hard business. We run trains every day, all year round.”

Dunedin Railways, formerly known as the Taieri Gorge Railway, operates excursion trains in an out of the historic Dunedin railway station. New Zealand Railways Architect George Troup designed the station, which opened in November 1906, earning it the nickname of “Gingerbread George.”

When completed in about 1921, the Otago Central Railway stretched a total of 146 miles. A portion of the Otago Central Railway between Middlemarch and Clyde has been converted into the Otago Central Rail Trail.

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