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Dunedin Railways yesterday announced it would no longer provide the service to the town, which in recent years has run about 20 times annually.
This would mean trains going as far as Pukerangi, which is about 18km from Middlemarch and 116km from Dunedin.
Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said it only heard about the decision late yesterday.
Subsequently, Dunedin Railways’ parent company Dunedin City Holdings Ltd spoke to the train operator.
Dr Bidrose was then assured no decision would be made until the community and the council had been consulted.
An email to councillors last night said a consultation period had begun to assess the costs and benefits of the Middlemarch service and a discussion would be held with the council before a decision was made.
Strath Taieri Community Board chairman Barry Williams said he was happy the decision was "on hold" because of council intervention.
"I was pretty gutted, aye, I’m a local boy. It just came out of the blue."
He was frustrated at the lack of consultation, he said.
"I know things change — look, everything changes, economics, and all sorts of things — but it was set up before cruise ships were involved and we’ve become second fiddle to cruise ships."
The decision would hurt the town economically, he said.
"I know they’ve got to make money, but there are other values that come into it for a city."
Dunedin Railways chief executive Craig Osborne said yesterday afternoon cruise ship tourism was one of the reasons for the route’s cancellation as the 6.5 hour return trip did not fit with a day visit.
"It’s just too long a trip to run on cruise ship days."
There was also a push in general for shorter trips, he said.
"The third factor is the cost of the maintenance of the Middlemarch track and maintenance of trains when we don’t go there that often."
No decision had been made regarding the future of that section of rail.
Two Middlemarch trips will run this month, but none are booked for January or February.
Middlemarch was home to one end of the popular Otago Central Rail Trail, but travellers were usually transported to Pukerangi by tour providers if they wanted to catch the train, Mr Osborne said.
When contacted again later last night he said the railway would consult the community in the new year to "work out where we need to go".