KiwiRail is already locking in suppliers and specialist services as it prepares to spend the government’s cash injection to upgrade and expand the national rail network.
The government has allocated more than $1 billion on major big rail projects over the next four years, in addition to $200m to develop rail freight services in Northland.
“It’s a good problem to have,” said KiwiRail chief operating officer capital projects David Gordon, who is responsible for coordinating the rollout of the state-owned enterprise’s many infrastructure projects over the next few years.
The four projects include the $315 million improvements to the Wiri to Quay Park corridor in Auckland, as well as construction of a third rail line; $371m to extend electrification of the Auckland metro network from Papakura to Pukekohe; and $247m to develop a railway station in the fast growing area of Drury, with two new stations at Drury East and Drury West.
The third Auckland rail line will also improve freight services between Ports of Auckland and the Port of Tauranga.
Wellington will get $211m to overhaul services and amenities on the Wellington, Wairarapa and Palmerston North network and beyond. A further $40m has been allocated for a new freight hub at Palmerston North.
Gordon said KiwiRail had hit the ground running and was ready to meet the considerable challenge ahead, with contractors in place and training and apprenticeship programmes under way.
“(It is) undoubtedly a challenge, but clearly a good one to have,” he said.
“If this had suddenly sort of been dropped on us out of the sky, you’d think how on earth would you do this, but we’ve building to(wards) this for awhile.”
He said the projects would create direct and indirect employment for hundreds of people, with many of them to be employed by KiwiRail’s contractors.
“We are the contractor of contractors, so a lot of the work is done for us by third parties,” Gordon said.
“We’ve been locking down contracts with some key suppliers for quite a time.”
This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.