KiwiRail Response to Labour Transport Spokesperson Media Statement
14 February 2013 4:04PM
Unfortunately Mr Twyford’s statement titled “KiwiRail admits lack of maintenance led to wash-out” misinterprets the issue.
First there is a difference between building new culverts and the maintenance of the 12,000 plus culverts nationally which we manage and prioritise with our extensive asset management programme. KiwiRail has continued to focus on improving drainage infrastructure across the national network after decades of underinvestment, but this work has been focused on the busiest lines, as it should.
The Napier to Gisborne line was a low priority line that was being maintained at a level at which we could operate safely, while also trying to keep costs under control considering the financial losses we were experiencing and that it was, at that stage, being considered for mothballing.
Second the washouts were at several locations and old, blocked culverts may have contributed to these. But the weather-bomb that hit the region moved thousands of tonnes of dirt and trees onto the lines and the state of the culverts may not have made much difference in being able to withstand this. It should also be noted that this event happened in March 2012 prior to the decision to re-prioritise our network spend over three years.
According to Chief Executive Jim Quinn, “KiwiRail is committed to continuing to lift the standard of our infrastructure through the prioritised investment programme we have in place.”