'You make our town look scruffy': KiwiRail told to clean up act

Ashburton District Councillor Carolyn Cameron has asked KiwiRial to tidy along the rail corridor....
Ashburton District Councillor Carolyn Cameron has asked KiwiRial to tidy along the rail corridor. PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN/DANIEL ALVEY
“You make our town look scruffy.”

That's the reaction from Ashburton District councillor Carolyn Cameron, who has demanded KiwiRail look into the state of land, especially in the urban areas, as it was not up to standard.

“We take great pride in our town,” Cameron said.

“We spend a lot of money as a community on our open spaces and making sure our lawns are mowed, weeds are sprayed, and all the rest of it.

“I get a lot of complaints, as do the rest of the people around the table, with regards to the weeds on KiwiRail owned land.”

She said that KiwiRail was in the business of rail not landscaping but the council has tried to contact KiwiRial to “tidy up your act as it's making our town look scruffy”.

Cameron asked for answers on how the council can "deal with the neglect”.

“You have let us down quite badly in that area, and it’s not a small thing.”

KiwiRail’s southern network services manager Mark Heissenbuttel said “it’s a big issue for us and its an expensive issue but we are committed to it”.

As one of the largest landowners in the country, owning a significant amount of land for its 4000km of track, he said they had the “responsibility to be a good neighbour”.

Heissenbuttel gave Cameron the commitment KiwiRail would respond to the concerns and come back with a solution.

Cameron also raised the issue of the heritage rail footbridge that needed some restoration which Heissenbuttel advised could be a candidate for the Rail Heritage Trust. He would also look into that and report back.

Heritage Fleet

The Rail Heritage Trust classifies any vehicle over 40-years-old as a heritage rail vehicle.

KiwiRail’s Mark Heissenbuttel said that under that definition “our whole entire fleet in the South Island is a heritage vehicle".

That looks set to change as the Government’s 2022 budget has KiwiRail receiving $349.2 million to complete a like-for-like replacement of its ageing locomotives and freight wagons.

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