Tunnel Trails Come Closer

A dream to re-create the start of the Otago Central Rail Trail through a pair of disused rail tunnels in Dunedin has received a major boost from Government safety officials.   

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Health and Safety Group has removed the ‘‘confined space’’ definition of the Caversham and Chain Hills Tunnels.   

Dunedin Tunnels Trail Trust trustee Gerard Hyland said the ‘‘confined space’’ definition would have required anyone working in the tunnel to first complete a two›day training course.

The Dunedin City Council had also shifted the vent from a gas reticulation pipe so it was not venting into the Chain Hills tunnel.   

Mr Hyland said the trust now needed to sort out access to the Wingatui end of the Chain Hills Tunnel before starting minor repairs to the walls, installing drainage and lighting and improving the trail surface.   

The owner of the land at the Wingatui end of the tunnel, Mark North, said the original rail path went ‘‘right past our back door’’ and they were not prepared to have it there.    ‘‘I am happy or interested to see the cycle trail go ahead. It would be great provided we can negotiate appropriate access.’’   

Mr Hyland said they were looking at an easement that avoided the ‘‘working’’ buildings and was out of sight of Mr North’s property.   

The land at the other end of the tunnel was owned by a trust member and was not so close to houses but access to KiwiRail land there still had to be sorted out, Mr Hyland said.

From The Star, Dan Hutchinson