Christchurch Commuter Train Proposals – Christchurch-Rolleston Route

The Christchurch-Rolleston Route is the second longest of the four proposed routes listed in the Summary Page of commuter train routes on this site. It runs from Christchurch directly south and west to Rolleston, a distance of around 20 km. It is based on the former Burnham suburban train service which ceased at the end of 1967. Burnham is the next station south from Rolleston on the Main South Line. The Main South Line is an existing rail corridor from Christchurch to Invercargill that was first opened by the Canterbury Provincial Government in 1866 as a 1600 mm broad gauge single track, converted to the 1067 mm NZ standard gauge in 1876, and double-tracked in 1909.
This route is less viable than the Christchurch-Rangiora route, as a lack of planning foresight on the part of Christchurch City Council has allowed much of the rail corridor within Christchurch City to be utilised for industrial development. Whilst historically this was relevant in the days when many larger industries had their own railway sidings, the fact so few of these still exist means that the convenient proximity to the rail line is wasted in a lot of areas, and it also blocks residential intensification within much of the land immediately adjoining the corridor, which would take decades to overcome even if the necessary planning changes were implemented in the near to medium future.
As noted in the Christchurch-Rangiora Route page, a new Christchurch (Moorhouse Avenue) Station with co-located bus exchange is an assumed prerequisite for the establishment of all commuter train services in Greater Christchurch. The diagram shown below is the same one as found on that page.

Heading south/west from Christchurch, the main areas within the city where population is directly adjacent to the rail corridor are quite limited. Parts of Addington south of Hazeldean Road are within one block of the rail line and possibly a new station between Christchurch and Addington could serve these areas if sufficient traffic volume was identified. There is then a gap until reaching Whiteleigh Avenue near the present Christchurch (Addington) intercity passenger train terminal where a residential suburb between Whiteleigh Avenue and Clarence Street could be tapped for commuter traffic. From here through Middleton there is significant residential community north of Blenheim Road, but due to the difficulty in crossing that major arterial road, it appears that a station at Middleton would struggle to attract much patronage. The next residential area a rail passenger service could service is at Sockburn, where there is an existing suburb around Symes Road – Washbournes Road. Continuing west, much of the residential neighbourhoods south of the rail corridor are effectively divided from it by Main South Road (SH73A) and attracting passengers under these circumstances could prove difficult. Hornby is a viable area to be served by commuter rail, with existing suburbs adjoining the rail lines on both sides. This however runs out again at Islington, which is the end of the city limits and the double track line. Between Islington and Rolleston, residential development is not permitted due to being under the Christchurch Airport noise corridor, and whilst there is an existing residential settlement at Templeton, it is not allowed to expand due to the same planning restrictions. Rolleston has expanded a great deal in the last decade, and continued growth in this part of Selwyn District is the most viable source of commuter rail traffic expansion in the short to medium term due to the existing land use issues in Christchurch City.
Due to the above limitations, no evaluation has been made of any particular station sites within the Christchurch-Rolleston Route, apart from existing ones. Historical stations between Christchurch and Rolleston were at Addington, Middleton, Sockburn, Hornby, Islington and Templeton. Unlike the Christchurch-Rangiora Route, there has not been evaluated any idea of increased station spacing more into line with the standards of the existing Auckland and Wellington commuter networks, primarily because in many areas there would be negligible population to be served by additional station locations. At present, station platforms only exist at Hornby and Rolleston. The island platform at Rolleston is not able to be restored to double track at present due to restrictions imposed by the adjacent level crossing at Hoskyns Road, and with the current yard layout, building a second platform opposite the current one would provide for separate arrivals and departures using the existing track layout in the yard with only minimal alterations.

Page last updated 21 November 2020.