Taieri Gorge closure 'golden opportunity' for commuter rail - Unions Otago

The Taieri Gorge train crosses Dukes Rd. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Taieri Gorge train crosses Dukes Rd. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A push to keep Dunedin's Taieri Gorge railway on track by having commuter rail in Dunedin has been boosted by support from Unions Otago.

Unions Otago, the local affiliate council of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi, is supporting the Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling Campaign.

The campaign is calling for the Dunedin City Council to stop a plan to mothball Dunedin Railways, which includes the Taieri Gorge Railway.

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

Unions Otago convenor Andrew Tait said the council-owned company employed many local people and was a significant local asset.

“Rail is twice as efficient as road. It shouldn’t be seen as a relic of the past but a key to the future. This is a chance for the council to show their talk about climate change is not more hot air.”

He said it was a ''golden opportunity'' to explore a local commuter rail service that would allow Otago to transition away from private vehicles towards free and frequent public transport and a low-carbon future.

“It is unlikely Dunedin Rail will cater to cruise ships for a while but that doesn’t mean the stock can’t be repurposed and staff can’t be retrained.”

Mr Tait said that would cost more in the short term but pay off in the long term.

Workers in Dunedin did not want to see cuts to jobs and services when there were alternative options and the availability of Government support as New Zealand emerged from the Covid 19 lockdown, he said.

“We need to beat the short-term, quick-buck thinking that has bedevilled NZ for a generation."

The Dunedin Railways Ltd workers are represented by the NZCTU-affiliated Rail and Maritime Transport Union.

Comments

All well and fine if you are communist. However as a business it is a complete disaster. If you and like minded people disagree I suggest you put your money where your mouth is and buy the company. It's going to cost the DDC millions to mothball it so I think they would be pretty open to any offers! And on the plus side interest rates are really low at the moment.

Has anyone done a business case on this idea. If no one uses the service it's a waste of money. Claiming efficiency and climate change as justification simply highlights the scary side of the climate change debate.
Besides, even under level 2 restrictions, which I think will be the new norm for some time, the requirement is to avoid public transport, if you can.
I appreciate the hardship for those involved but this idea holds no ground and does nothing for the Union movement but raise concerns about their thinking and influence.
My guess it will be a year or two before we see cruise ships back in our port so why not make use of the time doing something constructive. Seize the day.

 

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