KiwiRail said it made Ashburton scruffy: ‘clean it up’

Ashburton is made to “look scruffy” by KiwiRail, says District Councilor Carolyn Cameron, and she’s asking the organization to take action on the state of her land.

Photo: Supplied/ Local Democracy Reports/ Ashburton Guardian – Daniel Alvey

The Ashburton District Councilor asked KiwiRail to review the condition of its land in the area, particularly in urban areas, and said it was not up to standard.

“We’re very proud of our city. We spend a lot of money as a community on our open spaces and making sure our lawns are mowed, weeds are sprayed and everything else.

“I get a lot of complaints, like the rest of the people around the table, about weeds on land owned by KiwiRail.”

KiwiRail was in the business of rail, not landscaping, she said, and the council had already tried to contact the organization about it.

His message was “put your act away”.

Cameron demanded answers on how the council can “deal with negligence”.

“You’ve let us down pretty badly in this area, and that’s no small feat.”

Mark Heissenbuttel, KiwiRail’s Southern Network Services Manager, said: “It’s a big deal for us and it’s a costly one, but we’re committed to it.”

The organization owned 4,000 km of tracks nationwide and was one of the largest landowners in the country, but Heissenbuttel said he felt responsible for being a good neighbour.

He told Cameron that KiwiRail would address the concerns raised and come back with a solution.

Cameron also said the heritage railway footbridge in the area needed restoration work.

This project could be a candidate for support from the Rail Heritage Trust, Heissenbuttel said, and he promised to look into this and report back.

South Island’s ‘historic fleet’ to be replaced

Any rail vehicle over 40 years old is heritage listed by The Rail Heritage Trust.

Heissenbuttel said by this definition: “Our entire fleet in the South Island is a heritage vehicle.”

That looked set to change as the government’s 2022 budget provided nearly $350 million for KiwiRail to complete the full-size replacement of aging locomotives and freight wagons.

Local Democracy Reporting is public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air

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