Support for continued rail operation

Photo: ODT files
The Taieri Gorge train. Photo: ODT files.
A national rail union is urging Dunedin city councillors to choose the "boldest’’ option when making their decision on the future of Dunedin Railways.

That was to keep both the national network and the Taieri Gorge line rolling.

It comes as city councillors prepare to consider four short-listed options for the railway this week, including the possibility of negotiating with an unnamed partner about a sale or lease of Dunedin Railways Ltd (DRL) assets.

The other options are to wind up the council-owned company, have the city maintain ownership of the trains but run them on KiwiRail’s national network only, or to retain city ownership of DRL and run a service that also includes using the Taieri Gorge line.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union general secretary Wayne Butson said the union hoped councillors would choose to retain the rail service, both on the national network and the Taieri Gorge line, during a full-council meeting tomorrow.

It was the "boldest’’ option, he said.

The union backed the Trains not Planes initiative in running excursion trains over the summer, which proved a success, many trips selling out.

"Two-thirds of tickets sold were to passengers from Dunedin.

"With our borders opening up as the threat of the global pandemic recedes, the potential demand from overseas tourists will only increase."

Mr Butson said, with the understanding a commercial operator had expressed interest in operating a tourism rail service out of Dunedin, union members were also prepared to work with any potential investor to make the venture a success.

"Dunedin Railways has the potential to return to its status as a major attraction that will bring much needed money into the city.’’

Members of the public who took part in an ODT poll over the weekend, which asked people to choose their preferred option out of the four, largely agreed with the union.

Option four, which proposed the council should continue to own the train operation and run both the national rail network and Taieri Gorge service, received 707 votes out of the 953 responses made both online and via phone call.

The second option, to sell or lease to a group to run a tourism rail service, followed that with 216 votes.

Eighteen people said the council should wind up the company and 12 people said the council should continue to own the train operation, but run only on the national rail network.

Railways response

The future of Dunedin Railways Ltd will be debated at a Dunedin City Council meeting on Tuesday.

The Otago Daily Times asked which of the short-listed options you thought would be best. Percentage is based on 953 responses

Option 1: The council should wind up the company. 1.8% (18 votes)

Option 2: Sale or lease to a group to run a tourism rail service. 22% (216 votes)

Option 3: Council should continue to own the train operation, but it should run only on national rail network. 1.2% (12 votes)

Option 4: Council should continue to own the train operation and run both the national rail network and Taieri Gorge service. 75% (707 votes)

molly.houseman@odt.co.nz

Comments

The use of "boldest" here would seem to come from the same dictionary as Sir Humphrey Applebey's "courageous".

Maybe just the 707 people who voted for option 4 should have their rates increased inline to pay for it! I didn't see the poll but I vote to sell it. The council should not take money away from the needy to subsidise failing businesses, especially such a polluting one.

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