Following the protest action, a delegation will proceed to the Civic Centre to present a letter to the Dunedin City Council from the campaign.
Over 2,500 people have signed our campaign petition.
The text of the letter follows:
Dear Mr Mayor and Dunedin City Councillors,
On behalf of the Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling Campaign and the members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) who work at Dunedin Railways Ltd (DRL):
- We wish to thank Council for its support for the feasibility study and trial of commuter passenger rail in the Dunedin Region as per the resolution passed by the Council’s Planning and Infrastructure Committee on 14th May
- We also wish to thank Council for its support for the goals of the Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling Campaign as expressed in the above resolution, namely those of saving jobs, the rolling stock and track.
- We wish to express our concern and disappointment that the board and management of DRL are pressing ahead with an ill-thought out so-called ‘mothballing’ scheme and the dismissal of the vast majority of its skilled and dedicated staff by 30 June despite the support of Council for the campaign to Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling as expressed in the resolution referred to above.
- We understand that Council is prevented by the commercial structure of DRL from directly intervening in its governance and management, despite the fact that Council’s investment arm Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, is the sole shareholder. That said, we note that Council did take the courageous decision to not close down DRL when this was put to Council as a recommended option on 6th April by DCHL, but instead opted for the ‘least worst alternative’ that was put before Council, that of ‘mothballing’.
- We were understandably bitterly disappointed to read in local media that the proposed feasibility study and commuter passenger rail trial is considered impossible to do in the time available. By our calculation there are seven weeks remaining before the 20 July, the latest a six week trial could practically occur. Many of our supporters have experience in the establishment and operation of rail services and in our view the administrative and technical hurdles could be overcome in time with the necessary will and drive. To us, the issue is about how slowly bureaucratic wheels turn rather than any practical obstacle. Bureaucracy can be speeded up: our nation’s experience since early March is ample proof of this. What is lacking now is determined leadership.
- Consequently, we call upon Council to use its good offices to the limit of its power to enforce accountability on the board and management of DRL to the ultimate owners, the voters and ratepayers of Dunedin; and to use every endeavour to ensure that at the very least DRL applies for the extension of the Government wage subsidy and rescinds the redundancy notices to its staff; and to engage with DRL, DCHL and DCC staff to facilitate the rapid establishment of the proposed six week commuter rail passenger trial so this can begin in mid-July before freight traffic on the Dunedin-Mosgiel line starts its seasonal increase.
Mr Mayor and Councillors, it seems to us that the Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling Campaign has enormous public support as well as that of Council but the opportunity presented to keep this iconic rail operation in business is being stymied by the people responsible for the governance and management of DRL. This will only be overcome by firm and energetic leadership from our elected representatives.
We look forward to your comments and continued support.
on behalf of the Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling campaign
Otago Branch Secretary, Rail and Maritime Transport Union