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Union Says Provincial Growth Fund Could Boost Middlemarch Rail Fortunes

The union representing rail workers says an injection of capital from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) could ensure the future of rail excursions to Middlemarch.

Dunedin Railways Limited announced in late 2019 that it was ending Taieri Gorge rail excursions to Middlemarch, with future services terminating at Pukerangi.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says lateral thinking is needed to get the service back on track.

It is a mistake to view the decision as purely a bottom line issue for the company, he says.

Dunedin Railways notes in its corporate statement of intent that it has 'social and environmental responsibilities to take account of in meeting its long-term commercial objectives'.

Mr Butson says the change was a downgrade of the service and had negatively affected communities.

The Dunedin City Council (DCC) must raise the issue with the Government, and promote the service as a candidate for PGF investment to upgrade and maintain infrastructure for an iconic regional attraction, he says.

“There needs to be a joined up approach, involving not just management but rail workers, local communities, the Council and stakeholders such as the Excursion Train Trust and tourism providers.”

Mr Butson says it is concerning how the initial proposal was made public without consultation.

Dunedin Railways Limited has a majority shareholding by Dunedin City Holdings, the business arm of the Dunedin City Council.

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