Today a strong independent economic case has been made to spend close to $400m of taxpayers money building locomotives and rolling stock in New Zealand for Auckland’s electric rail. But it seems the government and Kiwirail senior management don’t want and don’t believe in a kiwi build.
A Berl economics report commissioned by the Dunedin City Council and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union details the benefits of having Auckland’s 13 electric locomotives and 114 “cars” built in New Zealand, creating up to 1275 new jobs.
The city council, chamber of commerce, local engineering firms, Hillside Workshops, the rail union and all of Dunedin’s MPs have been working on this issue for months quietly behind the scenes. Supported by the Hutt workshops and Hutt MP.
NZ has two railways workshops with considerable capacity and skill. Seems the Minister and the CEO of Kiwirail are impervious to this and intent on an overseas build. A draft capability report from within Kiwirail would appear to say otherwise. What is going on?
This is what Steven Joyce had to say in this morning’s ODT:
Transport Minister Steven Joyce, however, yesterday said he understood KiwiRail was not intending to enter a bid. It had never done anything similar before, and there were international companies with a lot of experience.
“It would be a bit like saying we need a fleet of high-end cars, let’s go and get our mechanics to build them, instead of buying them off Audi or BMW, or somebody who does this sort of stuff for a living.”
and in the NZ Herald:
But KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn, while welcoming the effort put into the exercise, said last night that the Government-owned corporation was unlikely to bid for its own contract.
“We haven’t made our final call but think it would be very unlikely,” he told the Herald. “It is hard to see any way we could be genuinely competitive – people around the world build these things for a living, and EMUs [electric railcars] are a sophisticated bit of kit.”
It’s extraordinary that Jim Quinn, not in the job for long, would dismiss out of hand his orgnisation’s own capacity. Where is his evidence? It’s my understanding that we do have the capacity to build in NZ.
The Berl report points out that while New Zealand could produce the rolling stock more cheaply than Europe or North America but “it may be possible” for Asian sources to supply at a cheaper price than elsewhere.
“However, the quality and expected life could be less and it was possible the “whole of life” cost of the rolling stock could be higher than for that made in New Zealand.
Why can’t we build these electric trains in New Zealand Mr Joyce? Perhaps not every single bit of them. But we do have the skills and the capacity. And isn’t there a very strong case for keeping Kiwi jobs and skills Kiwi?
Doesn’t say much for the Minister’s confidence in the Kiwi workforce and Kiwi skills. Does this reflect the government’s view?