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KiwiRail tender would be "a step too far" - Joyce

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Steven Joyce
Steven Joyce

Feds pse Q for 0400

Wellington, May 4 NZPA - Transport Minister Steven Joyce says he is leaving it up to KiwiRail to decide whether to bid for building Auckland's new electric railcars but he thinks putting in a tender would be "a step too far".

Momentum is building behind a campaign for the railcars to be built in New Zealand rather than in Asia or Europe, and a report by economic researchers Berl says the economy would be $250 million better off and more than 1200 jobs created if they were made here.

The Council of Trade Unions, Labour and the Greens have thrown their weight behind the campaign and Mr Joyce is being accused of turning his back on Kiwi workers.

"KiwiRail is under no compulsion to do anything," he said last night on TV One's CloseUp programme.

"I've told them to go out and get a tender done, and get the best commercial price...it looks like they're not going to tender for it themselves."

Mr Joyce said the new railcars involved much higher technology than KiwiRail's refurbishment of rolling stock and, in some case, the construction of new carriages.

Berl's chief economist Kel Sanderson said the Government should be taking the report seriously. "We take the numbers as they are, we don't make them up -- this is classy manufacturing we're talking about," he said.

Unions and the KiwiRail workers in Dunedin and the Hutt Valley say they are good enough to build the new railcars and there are local companies capable of supplying the materials.

The Government is going to lend KiwiRail $500 million for 13 electric locomotives and up to 114 railcars to start running on Auckland's tracks in 2013.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn says final decisions haven't been taken on whether to put in a tender but he thinks it would be "very unlikely".

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