18 Aug 2017

Can we have fast trains on our exising tracks?

From The Panel, 4:43 pm on 18 August 2017

Yesterday we discussed the Greater Auckland and Greens' plans for high speed rail between Auckland, Waikato and the BOP, and the idea was received enthusiastically.

Not by Ralph though, who told us: "Fast trains in NZ require wider tracks. This is not negotiable. It simply will not happen. Engineer Ralph"

Ron Brown of the New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society says it IS possible for TILTING TRAINS to run on our narrow, three-foot-six guage, rail tracks in this country. And they're capable of quite impressive speeds. The cost of the rolling stock would be high. And we might need to re-engineer some of the tunnels and other infrastructure, which could also be costly.

New Zealand, for a number of reasons, adopted a narrower guage of rail than the international four-foot-eight-and-a-half guage standard.

But that doesn't limit train speeds as much as you might think. During the golden age of steam locomotives it wasn't unheard of for a steam train to do 70 miles an hour on straight sections of track - although the official speed limit was 50 miles an hour.


Get the new RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to The Panel

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)