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Contractors have begun demolishing disused and dilapidated buildings on the site to make way for improved facilities which will allow KiwiRail to maintain more locomotives and wagons, undertake new types of work, as well as attract new complementary businesses.
KiwiRail property group general manager Stephanie Campbell said the Government invested $19.97million into the redevelopment project last October through its Provincial Growth Fund.
‘‘Demolishing some of the existing buildings is the first step in doing this, and contractors have begun work on the site, taking down two vacant workshops.
‘‘These buildings were at the end of their lives.
‘‘All of the asbestos removal works are being undertaken in line with existing legislation and guidance.’’
The demolition was expected to take about two months to complete, she said.
‘‘The next step is to upgrade the main rail workshops on the site, including overhauling the ageing heavy-lift crane and traverser.
‘‘The planned improvements for the site will allow us to maintain more locomotives and wagons, as well as undertake new types of work, such as heavy maintenance and upgrades.
‘‘Demolishing the buildings also opens the way for Hillside to become a centre for engineering excellence in the South Island, by attracting complementary businesses such as manufacturing, fabrication and potentially marine engineering to the site.’’
She said Hillside would become a vital part of KiwiRail’s South Island freight and tourism operations, and during the next three years, it was expected to create about 40 new jobs, including skilled mechanical and electrical positions.
Most work at Hillside ended in 2012, after KiwiRail awarded an estimated $29million manufacturing contract to a Chinese company — a terminal blow.
Since then, some work has continued and private companies have used workshops. Bradken has used the foundry, and luxury train company Antipodean Explorer has upgraded carriages at the site.