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KiwiRail Should Take Back Taieri Line

The union representing rail workers says KiwiRail should revoke the lease for the Taieri Gorge rail line from Dunedin Rail Limited (DRL).

Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) General Secretary Wayne Butson says the mothballing of the line by DRL despite strong opposition from the Otago public was a threat to its future viability.

Mr Butson says the line is an important limb of the national rail network.

“We are concerned the bad decisions by the DRL Board and CEO are placing this line in jeopardy.”

He says the RMTU has no confidence the mothballing plan proposed by DRL was going to keep track or rolling stock in working order, because the plan did not have any detail.

He said the Board and senior management of DRL had actively worked against preserving this asset and should be replaced.

“It is staggering to see that despite the support for some form of Dunedin Rail operations by the Dunedin City Council, local MPs and candidates, and the general public, that a handful of individuals through negligence or arrogance or ignorance have been able to effectively ignore the clearly signalled wishes of their owners.”

The RTMU was calling on Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister to intervene.

“Minister Jones should pay particular attention to this issue with his Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolios.”

Mr Butson says as a State Owned Enterprise, the shareholding ministers of KiwiRail are the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Minister of State Owned Enterprises Winston Peters.

He says the Taieri Gorge rail line is too important to be let down through mismanagement at the local level and was part of national infrastructure.

Mr Butson says the Keep Rail Rolling campaign led by rail workers who were union members locally had presented a strong case and had gained the support of the DCC for the campaign, which had been described by Council officials as ‘convincing.’

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