Christchurch Commuter Train Proposals – Hornby-Lincoln Route

The Hornby-Lincoln Route (on the Hornby Branch) is part of the old Southbridge Branch line that first opened as far as Lincoln in April 1875, and reached Southbridge, 41 km from Hornby, in July of the same year. The branch line was closed to passengers in 1951, so that is the last date on which any kind of “commuter” train service would have been possible for people living south of Hornby to travel to Christchurch. Freight services south of Lincoln ceased in 1962 and between Prebbleton and Lincoln in 1967, with all the track south of Prebbleton progressively removed in succeeding years. There used to be an overbridge crossing the railway on Springs Road at Prebbleton between 1938 and 1998, when it was demolished. The line was then gradually cut back to the last siding on the line, serving Watties / Tegel Foods in Shands Road, Hornby. Shunting services to this site ceased several years ago but the track remains in place, mothballed. The recent construction of the Christchurch Southern Motorway between the 2.5 and 3 km pegs now cuts off the remaining section of line further from Prebbleton, with no underpass provided for in the design.
In recent years Prebbleton (5 km from Hornby) and Lincoln (12 km) have both grown substantially, and it cannot be ruled out that continued population growth in these areas in future might provide a basis for future train services. This however has to be constrasted with the various physical obstacles hindering the re-establishment of a rail line between Hornby and Lincoln. Large population growth particularly to the south of Prebbleton and closing the gap to Lincoln, currently overall of light density, would be necessary to create the passenger numbers necessary for a service to pay its way, and substantial one-off construction costs would be incurred. The following physical impediments exist:

  • Construction of the Southern Motorway (SH76) between 2.5 and 3 km pegs blocks the rail corridor.
  • Removal of the Prebbleton Overbridge at Springs Road blocks the rail corridor unless a level crossing is installed.
  • Prebbleton rail yard was sold and developed residentially a few years ago. Most of the corridor immediately south of the station to Trices Road has also been built on.
  • Old corridor between Prebbleton and Lincoln is mostly intact but inaccessible at both ends where it has been built over.
  • The Lincoln station site and the northern approach are all built over now.

It would therefore be necessary to develop a new railway route between north Prebbleton and Lincoln, a concept of which is shown in the map below. This is based on the current extents of residential development in both communities, but as no planning designations have been put onto any future rail corridor at the present time, there is nothing to prevent the suggested corridor being impinged by future development, making it more challenging to install later. Below are maps showing the two deviations needed from the original route (in red).

Page last updated 21 November 2020.