Dunedin's Hillside Engineering Workshops will be closed if
they are not sold, a KiwiRail report states, prompting a
visit to the facility by Labour leader David Shearer.
KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn yesterday bowed to public
pressure and released the draft Infrastructure and
Engineering Business Plan 2013-15, which had been under a
court injunction preventing its publication.
The document detailed KiwiRail's plan to delay track
maintenance, cut staff numbers and reduce overall spending by
$200 million in the next three years.
It stated Hillside would be closed if a buyer could not be
Last night, Labour's Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said Mr
Shearer would make his first visit to Hillside on Monday
He would speak to staff about their concerns.
Ms Curran said the "disturbing" report raised questions which
KiwiRail had a responsibility to answer.
"We want clarification from KiwiRail about its intentions
with regard to Hillside. KiwiRail owes it to Dunedin to let
us know what it sees as Hillside's future," she said.
KiwiRail had blocked Hillside from tendering for new work, Ms
The company had undertaken due diligence on tenders for
Hillside and expected to announce a sale decision within
Failure to sell would result in everything shut down, except
the loco heavy lift maintenance area, which would only remain
open until a Christchurch alternative was rebuilt, the report
Mr Quinn was not available last night to answer questions
about Hillside, and a KiwiRail spokesman said the company
would not speculate on an outcome for Hillside until the sale
process had been completed.
Mr Shearer and Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford issued
a statement saying KiwiRail was deliberately neglecting its
assets to save money, increasing the risk of network
"National is running KiwiRail into the ground," they said.
Mr Twyford said KiwiRail's "irresponsible" plan was prompted
by the Government's crippling turn-around plan, which should
Members of the Green Party and the Rail and Maritime
Transport Union also criticised KiwiRail and the Government
But Mr Quinn insisted the state-owned enterprise was
committed to making the national rail network sustainable and
would not compromise safety.
During a press conference, he said the report was part of an
internal process to identify potential risks in order to
mitigate against them, and was proof KiwiRail undertook
"careful" and "systemic" planning in relation to the economic
situation it faced.
"Reports that we have something to hide because we sought an
injunction are really frustrating," he said.
"It is not about us letting the network go at all, we are not
taking a slash-and-burn approach. We are committed first and
foremost to delivering a safe outcome for the public, and we
would close lines rather than take safety risks, but we are
nowhere near that," he said.
KiwiRail spent $280 million on the network last year and
would spend $262 million in the coming year - part of more
than $1 billion to be invested between now and 2015.
Mr Quinn said KiwiRail would not make staff redundant then
contract out work, as it made no financial sense.
"This is not about doing stuff a different way; this is about
choosing to do less stuff and changing priorities. There is a
lot of noise we've got some mad contracting agenda, but that
is just a red herring," he said.