Vandals cost KiwiRail $1m in 2 years
Sun, 14 Oct 2012 6:13p.m.
By Susie Nordqvist
3 News has learned KiwiRail has shelled out more than $1 million repairing damage caused by thieves and vandals on its rail network in the past two years.
There are fears the problem will escalate when 158 workers at the state-owned enterprise are made redundant later this month – the people charged with maintaining our 4000-kilometre rail network.
“We've said consistently that the slashing of jobs in infrastructure and engineering would compromise safety on the rail corridor,” says John Kerr of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.
Now questions are being asked about the security of New Zealand’s rail corridor too.
“If there are fewer workers on the corridor, there are fewer people keeping an eye on it,” says Mr Kerr.
Figures obtained by 3 News show theft and vandalism cost the state-owned company more than $1 million in the past two years.
Railway sleepers and iron were the main targets, and KiwiRail has resorted to using private investigators to manage the problem.
The Labour Party says KiwiRail can't afford the cost.
“It's struggling to keep its head above water,” says Labour Transport spokesman Phil Twyford. “It's under immense financial pressure from the targets the Government has put on it.
“KiwiRail has to find $3.5 billion from its own balance sheet to invest in its network over the next few years. That's unrealistic.”
But KiwiRail says it's tackling the problem and in the past nine months has managed to cut theft by almost 50 percent.
That's largely down to its alliance with scrap metal dealers who say thieves attacking tracks, vehicles and machinery often make a pittance but cause a lot of costly damage.
“They might cut electrical wiring off machinery just for the $2 worth of scrap, and it might cost a business $500 or $1000 worth of downtime,” says Bryan Hunter of Western Recycling. “That's the problem.”
But the net is closing.
“The Scrap Metal Association has a big network of stolen metal reports,” says Mr Hunter. “If someone got something stolen they would notify the Association. An email goes around to all the scrap metal dealers and we keep our eyes peeled.”
But the problem won't disappear overnight. Excuses range from having to put food on the table, to feeding a drug habit, to one offender who told KiwiRail God had given him permission.
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15/10/2012 6:14:29 a.m.
Charles Eggen wrote:
I checked with God and she said that is a lie. The only permission given was to repair the Gisborne line.
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