Today, Auckland and Wellington have electrified commuter railway lines, but beyond their outer suburbs, passenger rail has all but disappeared from New Zealand.
Once serving towns, villages, and many rural areas, there has been a steady decline in local services, inter-city express trains and commuter services.
Only three decades ago, Auckland’s network was on the brink of closure. What happened to bring about this nationwide decline, and why is New Zealand so car-dependent?
This talk will examine the reasons for the contraction of passenger rail, showing it was not inevitable, but was the result of an accumulation of decisions.
About the speaker:
Dr André Brett is Lecturer of History at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. Hailing from the Kāpiti Coast, he is a historian of New Zealand and Australia and the recipient of the Australian Academy of the Humanities’ prestigious 2021 Max Crawford Medal for achievement in the humanities.
Dr Brett has written widely on political, environmental, and transport history, and is the author of four books, over twenty scholarly journal articles and chapters, and many other contributions for TV and museums.
His most recent book is Can’t Get There from Here: New Zealand Passenger Rail since 1920 (Otago University Press, 2021).