Gisborne Airport in New Zealand, crossing the railroad

Why, at some airports, planes land at a railroad crossing or busy city freeway

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Modern people have long since become accustomed to railroad crossings encountered on highways, but to see a train in the middle of the main runway at an airport is completely incomprehensible. And that’s not all the strangeness that can be found on our planet. It turns out that airliners coming in for landing or takeoff several times a day can cut off a busy highway that is perpetually loaded with car traffic. What could have happened so that incompatible destinations and traffic interchanges with a huge risk to people’s lives met each other on the way, we will try to understand now.

Gisborne airport with a railway crossing in the middle of the runway (New Zealand)

Gisborne is the only airport in the world to have a railroad running through it (New Zealand). | Photo:

Gisborne is the only airport in the world with a railway crossing in the middle of the runway (New Zealand). | Photo:

A small settlement in New Zealand, located on the North Island, became known only because of the fact that in Gisborne is the only airport in the world, the runway, which crosses the . railroad runway. Such an unusual and risky neighborhood authorities explain the peculiarities of the terrain. Back in the XIX century during the active construction of the railroad to connect Gisborne and Palmerston-North was laid track on the most flat place of the island to avoid unnecessary costs and problems.

An airplane next to a speeding freight train at Gisborne Airport (New Zealand). | Photo:

An airplane next to a speeding freight train is a common sight at Gisborne Airport in New Zealand.| Photo:

But over time, as air travel became more in demand, it became necessary to build an airport, which necessarily had to be located only on flat land. As it turned out, the only suitable place for the creation of a runway crossed the railroad bed, which was simply impossible to move, despite the rather impressive area that was allocated for the construction of the airport (160 hectares).

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After a lot of calculations and discussions, a compromise decision was made to keep the runway, agreeing on a per-minute schedule for two completely different vehicles. According to the information of Novate.Ru editorial office, after the air-port was built and put into operation Gisborne became a regional air-hub, which receives domestic flights on 60 directions with 130 thousand passenger turnover and 136 thousand tons of cargo traffic a year.

Gisborne Airport is a major regional air transport hub (New Zealand).| Photo:

Gisborne Airport is a major regional air transport hub (New Zealand).| Photo:

A hub is an airport that is used as a hub for connecting flights (passenger and cargo). Such air harbors organize and simplify the management of traffic flows, both internationally and regionally.

Only at Gisborne airport you can see a plane waiting at the railway crossing for its turn for takeoff (New Zealand). | Photo:

Only at Gisborne Airport can you see a plane waiting at a railroad crossing for takeoff (New Zealand). | Photo:

Nowadays only at this airport you can witness the unthinkable situation when an aircraft that has taken off just stands and waits for the train to pass before it takes off. It is the only place in the world where air traffic controllers have a double workload, because they have to control both airliners and trains to ensure there are no emergency situations.

Gibraltar airport with a runway that cuts through the expressway

An extraordinary runway can be seen in Gibraltar. | Photo:

The Gibraltar Peninsula – a tiny British Overseas Territory, famous for its unique airport, which in addition to the fact that it has a bulk landing strip, going for several hundred meters into the sea, and also cut off the busiest freeway in the capital. Such unexpected for such a powerful transport hub strangeness is not the result of someone’s joke or entertainment. There are quite good reasons for this, which cannot be changed in any way.

Mountainous landscape and tiny territory forced to make an airstrip running through the main avenue of Gibraltar.| Photo:

The mountainous landscape and the tiny territory forced to make a runway that runs through the main avenue of Gibraltar.| Photo:

Given the very small territory of the peninsula, which has an area of only 6.5 square kilometers, and the lack of a flat surface to create a transport hub, forced the owners of the airport to go to non-standard solutions to find a way out of this situation. No matter how they cut the small area, and tried to position the airport with taxiways and runways, but there was nothing to do, how to install the usual traffic lights, which regulate the movement of vehicles and . airliners.

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The airstrip, which crosses the main street of the capital, is fenced with only low curbs. | Photo:

The runway, which crosses the main street of the capital, is fenced with only low curbs.

Naturally, in this case, the priority is always air travel; motorists only have to wait for the multi-ton car to sweep and take off. The only consolation for those traveling by land on Gibraltar’s main avenue is the low congestion at the airport. Fortunately for everyone, it serves only 30 flights a week.

During takeoff or landing of an airliner, vehicular and pedestrian traffic is suspended. | Photo:

When an airliner takes off or lands, vehicular and pedestrian traffic is suspended. | Photo:

Well, the most interesting thing about this inherently sad situation, a spectacle unseen in all other airports attracts a huge number of tourists who can spend hours guarding by the curb to capture the airliner rushing across the highway, and at this point, pedestrians and cars are separated from the runway by a flimsy barrier and low curbs.

Despite the fact that it is the XXI century in the world there are airports, which will provide extreme takeoff or landing many times steeper than these two, the most unconventional. And it’s not the skill of pilots and flight personnel, but the very conditions under which they have to take off and land a huge vessel with lots of passengers on board.

Gisborne Airport is where the runway is crossed by a railroad.

Gisborne Airport is where the runway is crossed by the railroad. Gisborne Airport is located in New Zealand

Gisborne Airport is located in New Zealand, on the North Island The airport itself is small, located on the outskirts of the town of the same name, located on the shore of Paverty Bay. Gisborne airport does not carry large planes, there are not many people in the town. Gisborne airport is unusual because the runway is crossed by real, working railroad! The railroad that crosses the runway connects the towns of Gisborne and Palmerston North. It was part of an ambitious project: the construction of a second main line on the North Island of New Zealand. Construction began in 1872 but was not completed until 1942. Until 2001, the Bay Express from Wellington ran on this road, but it was cancelled and the line became all freight. In 2012, the line was temporarily mothballed due to a hurricane.

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History comes to mind. Recently I was flying to Novosibirsk. Usually immediately buy tickets for Aeroexpress, to quickly and comfortably. And here I sit in Paveletskaya and go to Domodedovo. If you know who traveled, the train to the airport makes one stop. And for some reason it says Domodedovo. Although, to the airport another 10 minutes. And here I sit, staring out the window. In one second, a family with suitcases and children just fly past me. I just wanted to yell, “Not here,” but I didn’t have time to think. They went out, looked around looking for the airport and as soon as the door closed they realized they were in the wrong place. I could feel their pain…

Why I don’t like German Railways

In my last post I told about my trip to the world’s biggest electronic dance music festival Tomorrowland in Belgium.

Today I want to tell you a story about my trip to the airport. It would seem that there is nothing to tell: got on the train, got off at the airport, went through everything you need and flew? No way! :)

Here’s a horror story in four acts.

Let me remind you: the action takes place in Germany, in Munich. When you read it – imagine the German order and punctuality :D

This story begins with the fact that I decided as a conscientious citizen to go to the airport not by car, but by train (for nothing). The train (if you don’t know – so called the urban rail system in Germany) was almost on time, 4 minutes – not late by local standards. The interesting thing began next.

In the middle of the track the inscription “to the airport” on the scoreboard was suddenly crossed out with a red line. With no announcement or explanation of what it meant or what to do about it. Like the train to the airport is not going to the airport!

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Somewhere after a couple more stops, the tension grew. The train to the airport was not going to the airport at all, but to some village where the only way to get to the airport was from there. It’s the same train.

At another station, the youngest and fastest guy in the car ran to the driver’s cabin and back and came back with the good news: if we all get to the village we don’t need, the next sban will pick us up in 20 minutes and take us where we need to go. “Lol,” I thought, and started looking for a cab.

Unfortunately, Germany is the kind of country where cabs are expensive and ride poorly, and Uber is in its infancy because everyone takes trains that don’t come. Such is the paradox.

The nearest Uber was 27 minutes away, and the next train was only 10 minutes away. So you couldn’t bother with a cab or waste money, you could just wait. Cool? No, because after another 5 minutes the next fare mysteriously disappeared from the schedule.

I found out about the disappearance of the train a little earlier than the others, because this is not some bullshit, but the 21st century, and in the app of the German railroads the message about missing trains appears earlier than on the platform.

Literally by a miraculous coincidence I was able to order an Uber, which was nearby. At this time people were quietly finding out that there was no train (but of course there would be another one in 20 minutes. True, it’s not certain). Panic began, which grew as we realized that there was no other transportation, no cab, and there was only one Uber, and it had already been picked up))

When the driver arrived, I was literally bombarded by other unfortunates begging me to take them with me. Я I cast took two random people with me out of the goodness of my heart and set off on a journey full of entertaining cab stories.

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Here I should tell you how a plane crashed right in front of us on the highway and we were stuck in traffic because of it, but no. But no. We just got to the terminal in 15 minutes and went to the security office in a hurry so we wouldn’t miss our flight.

A digression: a day before these events all Lufthansa flights in the whole country were canceled, because there was a strike (the employees were fighting for a 9.5% pay raise).

I dashed through the security check and ran to the gate, where a very polite employee told me that my flight would be delayed for almost two hours.

So that’s a story about German punctuality, so if you hear somewhere “as accurate as the German train” – do not believe it :)

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