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Lost opportunity to maximise jobs benefit of train spend

Thursday September 1, 2011

Lost opportunity to maximise Kiwi jobs benefit of Auckland train spend

The rail workers’ union says today’s funding boost for the Auckland electrification project is overshadowed by a lost opportunity to keep rail manufacturing jobs in New Zealand.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce has today announced an extension of the Auckland train electrification project and a transfer of ownership of the new trains to Auckland Transport.

“Clearly this is a good news story – a better train stock for Auckland will be welcomed by passengers and rail staff alike,” Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson said.

“But the train construction for this project should have been carried out in Dunedin and Lower Hutt, where a skilled workforce exists and a comprehensive economic case backed a New Zealand build.”

Economics consultancy BERL has estimated that local construction of the initial order for Auckland’s trains would have added between 770 to 1270 additional jobs and $232 to $250 million to GDP.

“This represents a colossal lost opportunity to keep good manufacturing jobs in New Zealand while upgrading New Zealand’s train stock.”

“Instead of pumping half a billion dollars into the Dunedin and Lower Hutt economies, this work has gone overseas.”

Wayne Butson said that with the successful tender for Auckland’s Electric Multiple Units due to be announced at the end of the month, the RMTU would be watching very closely to see whether KiwiRail honoured the local involvement pledge it made during the tender process.

ENDS

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