Christchurch’s damaged rail maintenance facilities will be replaced with a newly built $39 million ($36m) site.
The funding comes from the New Zealand government’s $3 billion post-coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery fund, which allocated $708m for transport projects.
Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said that the Christchurch facilities were in need of a major overhaul.
“KiwiRail’s maintenance facilities in Christchurch are tired, earthquake-damaged and spread across the city. This $39m investment will mean KiwiRail can complete the build of a new, modern, fit-for-purpose facility at Waltham which will be used to maintain the South Island’s locomotives and wagons,” said Jones.
Construction is already underway at the site and is expected to continue into 2023.
KiwiRail groups chief executive Greg Miller welcomed the government’s announcement.
“This funding announced by the government today enables us to proceed with confidence to complete the new South Island maintenance depot for locomotives and wagons,” he said.
“The project goes to the core resilience of the network and the continued strength of our South Island operations.”
Miller said that the future facilities would improve KiwiRail’s operations.
“This funding enables us to construct brand new facilities that are consolidated in one place, with all the advantages that brings in areas like energy efficiency and improved working conditions for staff,” he said.
“It ensures we have the capability we need to maintain a modern locomotive fleet and builds on the investment that is already underway in facilities to work on our scenic carriages.”
The upgraded facilities at Waltham will support KiwiRail’s Network Transformation Project which includes investments in large numbers of rollingstock such as locomotives and flat wagons.
300 people are expected to be employed during construction with priority given to local civil contractors and material suppliers in addition to KiwiRail’s own staff.
“Not only will the work at Waltham support hundreds of construction jobs, once finished the new facility will help us attract and retain the staff that we need for rail to play the part it should in New Zealand’s transport network,” said Miller.