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Heat Issue Legacy for Tranz Rail

Heat Issue Legacy for Tranz Rail

Tranz Rail moved today to assure financial markets that yesterday’s speculation regarding the impact of heat restrictions should not be taken out of context and they have no particular financial impacts on the company. The company has previously disclosed all issues around Continuous Welded Rail. These issues are dealt with in the normal course of business.

Michael Beard, Managing Director of Tranz Rail said “Heat buckling has always been an issue for Tranz Rail and indeed any railway system in the world. Rail track has a propensity to buckle under certain heat conditions regardless of whether that track is bolt joined or continuous welded rail.

In Tranz Rail’s case, the Continuous Welded Program was instigated under government ownership commencing in 1975; some 1350kms of track being welded prior to the sale of Tranz Rail. Unfortunately that welding program was not conducted to a high standard and more importantly no destressing of the track was undertaken at the time of welding.

Since 1994, Tranz Rail has ensured that the Continuous Welded Program has been carried out to ‘best practice’ with destressing being carried out at the same time as welding. All of the remaining destressing work that is still required to be completed is in areas of track welded prior to privatisation of the company. At the current time Tranz Rail has remedied around 800kms with a further 550kms to be remedied over the next five years.

Heat buckling can be broken down into two components, safety and track maintenance. In terms of safety, Tranz Rail has an active safety program in place that is working. Since 1994, Tranz Rail has increased the anchoring of the track to sleepers, purchased specialised equipment and procedures to effect the destressing to best standards, introduced speed restrictions and put a heat alarm system in place. Since 1994 there has been no injuries to passengers as a result of heat buckling on the track. It is important to put the issue in perspective, the evidence and the facts simply do not support the alarmist views expressed yesterday.

Given that safety is being managed in the most stringent and proper manner, the resultant issue that arises for Tranz Rail from heat buckling is a track management issue and its commercial impacts. In addition to running a safe rail network, the company needs to consider the commercial costs and imperatives that dictate remedying those sections of the track prone to heat buckling. Naturally, we take into account the effect of speed restrictions that ensue from heat buckling against any loss of revenue that may occur because of reduction in ontime arrival performance.

We believe that we have the appropriate track management policy and procedures in place without any significant adverse financial impacts to Tranz Rail”.

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