Kiwirail's controversial Chinese-made freight wagons continue
to cause problems.
More than a dozen China CNR Corporation staff and a team of
translators, working under the supervision of KiwiRail staff,
have been carrying out repair work on 500 faulty wagons for
the past two weeks in Picton.
KiwiRail was also using the period to upgrade wagon brake
components, KiwiRail spokeswoman Jenni Austin said, although
she declined to reveal the cost of the upgrade work.
''It is work we planned to do anyway to bring the wagons in
line with a new standardised design.''
The work was being completed under warranty, but Rail and
Maritime Transport Union general secretary Wayne Butson
yesterday said that was ''a false economy''.
''Without transparency of costs, it is hard to see whether
the warranty work does, in reality, come at no cost.
''Is the loss of revenue while these wagons are out of
service being taken into account? Is the involvement of
KiwiRail staff supervising the Chinese workers being
realised? ''When all costs are totalled, the result will
support the RMTU and our members' views that the new wagons
should have been built at Hillside.''
The state-owned enterprise was criticised after its decision
to award the $49 million contract to CNR Corporation, rather
than have the wagons built at its workshops in Dunedin and
Lower Hutt, The loss of work contributed to 44 workers being
made redundant at Hillside.
Basic problems would have been avoided if the wagons had been
designed and manufactured in Dunedin, Mr Butson said.
The repair work was also ''running way behind schedule'', he
''We are told the Chinese will not work. They have two-hour
lunches and so KiwiRail now provides them with food ... to
get them back to work quicker.
''Our questions around what they are being paid and where
they are staying are being stonewalled.''
The Chinese were repairing about two wagons a day, Ms Austin
It was hoped that would increase to three or four a day
within the next month.
KiwiRail had estimated it would cost about 25% more to build
the wagons in New Zealand, but that was a short-sighted view,
Mr Butson said.
''Value is not just money, nor is it just the purchase price.
It is also about ongoing repairs and maintenance work, as
KiwiRail are finding out,'' he said.