Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party
The on-going farce around KiwiRail’s 7000 rotting Peruvian rail sleepers has taken a new turn with the company publishing a hazard alert that warns staff not to walk on sleepers on its 1656 rail bridges and viaducts, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says.
The alert, which also tells staff where they have to stand or walk on a sleeper they should not stand or step on any sleeper marked with paint as it’s likely to be damaged, follows an incident this month when a Veolia train driver was injured when a rotten wooden sleeper gave way on an Auckland rail bridge.
“KiwiRail believes it has about 7000 rotting rail sleepers – part of a defective consignment from Peru – scattered throughout the network’s six million sleepers.
“Ironically the company has also just laid off 158 workers in its Infrastructure and Engineering Department as part of a plan to defer network maintenance over a three year period to save $200 million.
“KiwiRail’s asset management is looking more like a slapstick comedy by the day – telling railway workers not to walk on the sleepers, and if they had to, then avoid the ones with paint on them. What does it expect train drivers to do? Skip over them?
“I don’t know what is more farcical – KiwiRail bosses issuing an edict to ‘Mind the rotten sleepers’ or keeping straight faces as they pronounce the sacking of 158 workers won’t put the state of the network in jeopardy.
“KiwiRail is facing cuts to network maintenance, considering cutting regional lines and is reeling from a series of el cheapo procurement fiascos. The Government must surely see its ‘Turn Around Plan’ for rail is unrealistic.
“It should be investing properly in KiwiRail as a modern, efficient part of the transport system. Instead it is setting it up to fail,” said Phil Twyford.