Freight Rail, Passenger Rail

Reidy hopes NZ can follow Australia’s lead on rail

Peter Reidy CEO of KiwiRail. Photo: Brendon O'Hagan

KiwiRail boss Peter Reidy says the Australasian Railway Association’s upcoming New Zealand Rail Conference can help translate some of rail’s recent successes in Australia, across the Tasman.

Reidy, KiwiRail’s chief executive since March 2014, spoke with Rail Express ahead of the conference which takes place in Auckland on June 27 and 28. Along with facilitating discussion of key topics in New Zealand’s rail sector, he said the conference should provide insights into Australia’s freight and passenger markets over the last year, and how those developments can be replicated.

“I’m interested in the [Australian] Government’s decision to support investment in rail, and how we can learn from that, to do something similar in New Zealand,” Reidy said.

“The Federal Government and the state governments have decided to work together on investment in rail, and I think it’s a consequence of the good work that ARA has been doing on the value of rail.”

Reidy says similar work undertaken by KiwiRail should promote the value of rail in a similar way to work undertaken by the ARA.

“In New Zealand, the public don’t appreciate that rail is a network asset just like a road,” he said. “It’s integrated with road, and if you think about integrated transport, you’ve got to look at the two working together. You can’t look at rail in isolation and road in isolation.

“I’m looking to see what we can learn from Australia in terms of moving or changing the narrative in New Zealand, around the purpose of rail, in a similar way to how Australia have done it.”

Reidy will address the conference on Day One. His speech, entitled ‘Rail in New Zealand – Growth and Resilience’, will not only address the operator’s response to last year’s Kaikoura earthquake, and the fire which knocked out the Western Line more recently, but also how the urban network is coping with staggering passenger growth.

Over the last decade, rail network usage in Auckland region has risen almost ten-fold, to almost 19 million passenger trips per annum.

The issue will no doubt be addressed by Auckland Transport’s project director for the City Rail Link (CRL), Chris Meale, who will also address the conference.

Reidy said he was specifically looking forward to Meale’s update.

“The CRL is a significant investment of rail in the Auckland market,” Reidy told Rex. “CRL in the future will be part of our network. It’s an investment in Auckland that’s going to help the development of passenger growth in Auckland, and facilitate the efficient flow of trains through Britomart station.

“The endgame is an underground electric rail network – the first of its kind in New Zealand. It’s going to allow efficient timetabling for Auckland trains, and the significant growth we’ve seen in Auckland on the passenger network.”

Reidy said he was also looking forward to hearing presentations from the five finalists of the Young Rail Professionals Pitching Competition. Ruth Venter, a KiwiRail employee, is among the five finalists, and will present her pitch on ‘Implementing a risk-based HSE Reporting Framework’ to the conference delegates.

Rail Express is an official media partner of the ARA’s New Zealand Rail Conference. For more information on the event, and how to book tickets, click here.