Workers at Dunedin Railways have rejected Dunedin City Council claims there is not enough time for a feasibility study and commuter rail trial this year.
Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling spokesperson Dave Kearns says workers at DRL were bitterly disappointed the proposed feasibility study and commuter passenger rail trial was considered impossible to do in the time available by the DCC.
Dunedin city councillors voted against funding a feasibility study this year while meeting on Wednesday.
Mr Kearns says there are seven weeks remaining before 20 July 2020, the latest a six week trial could start and not interfere with peak seasonal use of the rail line by KiwiRail.
“Many of our supporters have experience in the establishment and operation of rail services,” says Mr Kearns.
“Our view is the administrative and technical hurdles could be overcome in time with the necessary will and drive.”
Mr Kearns says it is a tragedy that despite the support of councillors and the public, the problem was one of bureaucracy and a negative Board and Management at DRL.
“These are extraordinary times and we need an extraordinary response. What is lacking is determined leadership.”
Mr Kearns says it was a bizarre situation when the only urgency seemed to be closing down operations by the DRL Board and senior management.
“They are working against the publicly stated goals of their owners and in our view this amounts to sabotage of jobs and a precious locally owned asset.”
Mr Kearns says the possibility of commuter rail trials next year or further into the future was not viewed with confidence.
He says the reality is that the operational expertise and skill base will be gone, and the mothballed rolling stock will be in no condition to resume operations.
“There will be no ability to run a trial then.”
Mr Kearns says the campaign was not over and would be ramping up pressure on the DCC and DRL management to justify their positions.
He says workers were extremely frustrated to have the backing of the DCC in principle, but in practice to have been left high and dry.
DRL workers are facing redundancy on 30 June.