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Dunedin Railways is in Paul Jeffery’s blood, but yesterday the locomotive assistant cleared out his locker at the Dunedin Railway Station, probably for the last time.
Mr Jeffery started as a volunteer cleaning trains for the Otago Excursion Train Trust in 1989.
Since he learnt his job was among the 50 to go — reading the news in the Otago Daily Times on April 20 of Dunedin Railways’ plans to mothball its track and equipment — the last 10 weeks had been "a bit of a roller-coaster".
Mr Jeffery’s last day with the company is today.
Aside from a "farewell do" on Friday, his future was "all up in the air at the moment", he said.
"It’s a bit emotional. This has been, I guess, a part of my life.
"I started here at the age of 21, back in 1989, then got the full-time job.
"Thirty years of being at the same place, it’s quite surreal to suddenly have to be locking up and leaving."
Dunedin Railways chairman Kevin Winders said in April mothballing the operation was a way of preserving the council-controlled company’s assets — "with a view to exploring future options for the company in what will undoubtedly be a very different tourism environment".
While Mr Jeffery felt there might have been "ways around this", he knew the future of Dunedin Railways was out of his hands.
"I’m hoping that it will start back up again — the sooner the better.
"I’m hoping that the Australian bubble will eventually open, depending how they deal with Covid-19, but maybe by the summer there will be enough people coming here that won’t be going to the US, UK, or Europe, they’ll be able to come over here in the droves and that would warrant at least one train a day.