2013 could be a red-letter year for the last of Southland's rich railway heritage because of plans by Kiwi Rail and the Southland District Council to remove all the ORB heritage rolling stock from the old Wairio railway heritage site.
Once these carriages and plough-van are gone Kiwi Rail is looking to demolish the concrete steam locomotive service workshop and other buildings.
The site is next to the Ohai branch line, which is connected up to the main line, and this track is in the process of a $2m upgrade. If those facilities were retained a steam locomotive could be housed once again in Southland to run to and from Invercargill during events like the Bluff Oyster Festival, Burt Munro, Edendale Crank-up and many others.
Southland is the home of New Zealand's very first steam locomotive (The Lady Barkly), which we should be celebrating on her 150th - August 6, 2013.
What does Southland want to do? Celebrate with a steam engine, or do we let the district council destroy the ORB site just like they did to the Riverton railway bridge which could have been used by the many cycling tourists who are going to be coming to Southland in the near future.
If you want to stop the council and Kiwi Rail then write a submission to be in the council offices by Monday, February 25, 2013.
(Abridged - Editor)
- The Southland Times
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