Can’t Get There from Here: New Zealand’s Shrinking Passenger Rail Network, 1920–2020

André Brett

A collaboration with mapmaker Sam van der Weerden.

If you’ve tried to travel around New Zealand in recent years, you’ve probably realised that you won’t get far without a car. Rail patronage is booming in Auckland at the moment and Wellington has a longstanding electrified commuter network, but beyond those two cities you’re unlikely to find a passenger train, let alone one going your way.

It was not always this way. A century ago, passenger trains connected most major towns with each other and with rural districts. Railways have been an important form of mobility for most of New Zealand’s history. It is essential to understand how and why the passenger network has declined—and the ways it can grow again to assist New Zealand meet the challenges of a changing climate.

Otago University Press will publish in 2021 our book entitled Can’t Get There from Here: New Zealand’s Shrinking Passenger Rail Network, 1920–2020. Through text and maps it shows when the network changed and what decisions justified network growth and contraction.

The announcement of the book’s forthcoming publication contains more detail about the project here.