‘It’s quite a sombre time’: union, supporters bid farewell to train

Supporters of Dunedin Railways have have paid an emotional farewell to what might be the last passenger train travelling through Dunedin.

More than 20 Dunedin Railways workers and Keep Dunedin Rolling campaigners gathered at the city’s railway station yesterday as a locomotive and empty carriages leased by Dunedin Railways departed to return to the North Island.

They cheered as the train rolled past, and a few tears were shed.

The engine and rolling stock were no longer needed after Dunedin City Council-owned company Dunedin City Holdings (DCHL) announced it would mothball the Dunedin Railways track and equipment in a bid to avoid closing the business entirely.

About 50 people are to lose their jobs on Tuesday.

A shadow is cast over the Dunedin Railway Station garden on Friday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The Dunedin Railway Station. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union has been vocal in arguing against the move.

Otago branch secretary Dave Kearns said the group came to wave off what might be the last run through Dunedin.

"We think this might be the last opportunity for people to see a passenger train consist [a set of railway vehicles forming a complete train] operated by Dunedin Railways, as it travels north.

"It’s quite a sombre time ... it may be symbolically the last one."

"It’s a weird situation we’re in — we’ve got support from the owners, public and politicians, but because of two or three people [on the DCHL board] it’s been given the chop.

"This campaign and the union fight will continue until we see someone step in and run this company with a vision for rail."

Dunedin Railways staff member Courtney Kilner hoped the decision to mothball, meaning the loss of her job of five years, would be reversed before next Tuesday.

"Today seeing it [the train] go by has made it a whole lot more real ... it’s a slap in the face really.

Mr Kearns said the group had had ideas about making more of a statement at the send-off, but plans for the gathering were "deradicalised" to ensure it was positive and did not jeopardise any staff working.

Posters were stuck to two carriages owned by a staff member and leased to Dunedin Railways in a protest statement the night before the send-off, but were subsequently removed by staff, Mr Kearns said.

He said he did not know who put the posters on the carriages.

emma.perry@odt.co.nz

 

Comments

As a member of the public and a ratepayer they do not have my support. They do however have my sympathy and I wish them luck in finding new jobs.

Looks like a couple of Waiheke Island tourists have got swept away with the crowd. Somebody point them in the direction of the Octagon, so they can boost the local economy by buying some souvenirs, before they head home..

 

Advertisement

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter