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Otago Daily Times: Railway workers respond

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

See link for video https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/railway-workers-respond

Saturday, 2 May 2020

By Emma Perry

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.”

DCHL general manager Jemma Adams 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.”

A council spokesman said Dunedin Railways had received the submission alongside other feedback from staff and expected to provide direction next week.

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