KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller has welcomed the first three-year plan for investing in New Zealand’s rail network, saying it would create certainty and jobs.
KIWIRAIL group chief executive Greg Miller has welcomed the first three-year plan for investing in New Zealand’s rail network, saying it would create certainty and jobs and marks the start of a new era.
Transport minister Michael Wood recently released the first Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP), which details the NZ$1.3bn investment to maintain and improve rail lines across the country over the next three years.
“This plan has major benefits for KiwiRail, will create and sustain jobs, and will help ensure New Zealand’s exports and domestic freight get where they need to go,” Miller said.
“It covers the important work of replacing aging bridges, worn-out tracks and the civil works necessary to ensure that our national rail network is up to standard so that the thousands of train services we run are reliable.
“With 70 per cent fewer emissions than road transport, getting more freight onto rail offers a real opportunity to reduce New Zealand’s transport emissions. But we’re only going to see that mode-shift if we have a resilient and reliable network. This first RNIP is about getting the basics right, which will allow us to really grow rail.”
Miller said having a funded three-year plan also created the certainty needed for KiwiRail and its customers to make effective business decisions.
“Instead of having to go to the government every 12 months for funding to maintain the network without knowing if we will get more money the next year, we now have certainty of funding and a three-year plan,” he said.
“That’s essential for any infrastructure business and it means we can confidently take on the staff we need, knowing there is a pipeline of work ahead of us.
“KiwiRail is among New Zealand’s largest infrastructure construction companies, with about 1,200 track staff already, working 24/7 across the country. We need to increase our staff by 15 per cent to carry out this work, with a commitment taking on more trainees. In addition, this investment will support numerous civil contractors and material supply businesses.”
Miller said having a solid plan also gave KiwiRail a massive procurement advantage.
“The best way to use capital is to carefully plan spending,” he said.
“For example, the RNIP means we can purchase some materials needed in bulk three years at a time, which helps manage costs.
“I’m sure our customers will be delighted with the RNIP. It gives them clarity on where network investment will be happening and when, so that they can make their own investment decisions.”