More discussion on train service agreed to

The Taieri Gorge train crosses Dukes Rd. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Taieri Gorge train crosses Dukes Rd. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Dunedin Railways says it is committed to listening as it reconsiders its decision to axe train trips to Middlemarch.

The Dunedin City Council-owned company announced earlier this week it would no longer provide the service to the town, which in recent years has run about 20 times annually.

Future trips would only go as far as Pukerangi, which is about 18km from Middlemarch and 116km from Dunedin, as the company wants to focus more on shorter trips and its cruise ship market.

However, the move was stopped in its tracks on Thursday, following the intervention of the DCC and Dunedin Railways’ parent company, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said she had been caught by surprise by the announcement.

Consultation was needed to assess the costs and benefits of the Middlemarch service and a discussion would be held with the council before a decision was made.

Yesterday, Dunedin Railways chief executive Craig Osborne said the company now accepted more consultation was needed and would be listening to the community’s views.

‘‘It’s not a box-ticking exercise,’’ he said.

It was too soon to say what the Middlemarch operation cost the company, but that would form part of the decision-making process, he said.

The company was working on ways to engage with the Middlemarch community, and would discuss the issue with the DCC before a final decision was made.

It expected to outline plans for the consultation phase ‘‘within the next fortnight’’, Mr Osborne said.

In the meantime, trains to Middlemarch would run as scheduled on December 22 and 29, he said.

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