Well, it would be an awesome ride out of Dunedin, and the barn door obvious way to connect to the dunedin-tunnels-trail.
It would almost certainly be cheaper in the mid to long term.
But then again, do we need more long distance cycle trails? We do have quite a wealth of them in Otago at the mo (especially central), with more on the way.
The Taonga factor
Personally I value the train trip up the Taeiri Gorge immensely due to its historic value; as such I believe it should attract central funding in order to continue up to Middlemarch and this connect to the Rail Trail that way.
It would be nice to see the it be deliberately supported by joint local / regional / central funding. It is virtually impossible for such things to stand on their own commercially.
For sentimental reasons (trains!) I’d like to see it continue - but as a proper train service, not just, as mentioned, a cruise ship to Hindon. That means regular usefully scheduled service between Dunedin and Middlemarch for passengers, bikes, and freight. Hindon and Pukerangi are not destinations, just turning points on a ride. As a train service it needs to be a service to be justified. Otherwise, for both short and long term economics, turn it into a cycleway linking Dunedin directly with the OCRT and the huge benefits this will have to the city. I don’t think many people (looking at you DCC) realise just how big an impact having people physically and mentally connected between Dunedin and the OCRT & other cycleways will have on us! All predicated of course on getting the bl**dy tunnels trail opened - still waiting on funding approval for that BTW.
I agree. I love trains but they have to be a form of transport for everyone, not a subsidised jolly for cruise ship tourists. First priority has to be commuter rail to Mosgiel. Then either a proper service to Middlemarch or convert to a cycle trail. Sadly, I’m not sure a proper train service to Middlemarch is feasible or necessary and a cycle trail has so many advantages bringing cycle tourists into Dunedin and a great facility for local people. I like the argument in the article that we can have both - keep the tourist train going to Oamaru. This service should also be made useful for local people travelling between Oamaru and Dunedin with increased frequency of trains and affordable ticket prices.
Very much agree with both Gerard and Kate. Someone told me today he’s got a lawyer friend preparing an OIA request for Dunedin City Council, asking all about the financial details that the council is keeping very hush hush.