Railway workers respond

Dunedin Railways workers have put forward suggestions for the future of the company in a bid to save their jobs.

Last week, it was announced 51 staff were likely to be made redundant as Dunedin Railways mothballed its track and equipment to avoid closing entirely.

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union, representing about 50 workers at Dunedin Railways, submitted a proposal on Thursday as part of a consultation process with management.

Options in the proposal included a commuter service to local destinations such as Mosgiel and Port Chalmers, or establishing a long-distance passenger service between Dunedin and other cities on the main south line.

Also included was a possible reconfiguration of the business away from the cruise ship market to the domestic market, or the potential to transfer or sell ownership of the Wingatui to Middlemarch line to KiwiRail, and Dunedin Railways to operate like other heritage rail concerns and pay a fee for track access while refocusing its business.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union Otago branch secretary Dave Kearns said there were a number of opportunities for rail services that had been ignored by Dunedin Railways, which was owned by Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL) under the Dunedin City Council.

Mr Kearns said the DRL board had a "negative mindset" and had recommended closing the railway to the Dunedin City Council, blaming falling revenues because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The DRL plan is meaningless as it is so lacking in detail.

"This raises questions regarding the competence and fitness of Dunedin Railway’s board and senior management."

A DCC spokesman said the council had asked for a report to be delivered before the long-term plan next year to present future options for the railway operation.

"This feasibility work, particularly in the constraints of the Covid-19 alert levels, is unlikely to be possible in a short timeframe.

"As the employment consultation process between Dunedin Railways and its staff and the union is ongoing, it’s not appropriate for us to make any further comments at this stage."

DCHL general manager Jemma Adams  said Dunedin Railways had received the submission alongside other feedback from staff and expected to provide direction next week.

emma.perry@odt.co.nz

Comments

We don't have the population to support commuter rail and ratepayers are already stretched.
There is no doubt that we are blessed with fantastically scenic rail journeys but it's that geography that makes them expensive, slow and time consuming. OK if you're a tourist but not good for commuting.
How about freight for the port?
There is talk about burning trees to heat the university and hospital. That requires a lot of trucks on our road. Could that work as an option?
Then there is the problem of them becoming publicly owned and operated monopoly and experience tells us that is a bottomless pit that other people's money can endlessly be thrown into. In this case, we are again talking ratepayers.

The negative business mindset of DRL and DCHL is completely expected from any subsidiary of the Dunedin City Council. Dunedin has continued vote in a succession of mayors who are anti-business, anti-growth but all about self progression - which is reflected in the businesses they have an oversight or control off.

The proposal put forward by the Union is an excellent idea which I hope someone in Council will support and drive through (Vandervis?).

The idea of selling your assets and leasing them back is a well used corporate short term money fund. But, who would pay anything for a track to no where that has a $10 million backlog of repair work?
Kiwi Rail has to be profitable, it is not there to bail out broke locals.

But I thought the Mayor wanted to reduce the number of cars in Dunedin? Go green and all that. We all know HARDLY ANYBODY who works in Dunedin lives outside of Dunedin; Mosgiel and points South. It makes more sense than a lot of the other idiotic ideas the Mayor and DCC have proposed and passed.

Eyes wide open should be eyes wide shut! The amount of traffic from mosgiel and surrounding districts is increasing significantly. Who wants to catch a bus especially when there is an accident on the motor way. Nothing moves! There is plenty of room for park and ride facilities at mosgiel, pt Chalmers and enroute. Why not an airport connection at Allanton. That would be a first for nz
People commute to the prison also. Why not investigate a dunedin to christchurch service. Snow capped southern alps to spectacular coastal scenery as good if not better than any where else. With the support of all the councils furthur north this could be a real asset.

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