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KiwiRail gets early Christmas present

Friday 10 Dec 2010 6:18 p.m.

By Adam Ray

It's been a long time since the railways had something to hoot about, and for Prime Minister John Key it was like an early Christmas present.

“Well every boy likes being in a train don't they?” he says.

Kiwirail's getting 20 shiny new DL locomotives.

They're faster, more reliable and more fuel efficient than the current fleet which dates back to the 1970s and even earlier.

“So there's a whole lot of things about bringing rail into the modern time, you wouldn't be running a trucking firm with 1976 Bedfords,” says KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn.

And old Bedfords don't have microwaves for their drivers.

 “You can't compare them because this is modern technology we still drive the old ones but these are top of the line,” says train driver Ken Collins.

They're built by China North Railways, which makes 1000 trains a year.

Our 20 might seem a small order, but it's a big deal.

“This locomotive is first time for CNR or China to export to a developed country,” says It may not be the last order from here. Kiwirail wants to spend $4 billion over the next decade, but its owner - the Government - believes the company has an uphill struggle to survive.

This is a challenge. I've seen some challenges commercially in my time in the business sector but this is a biggie,” says Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

Kiwirail's success depends on it being more competitive with road transport so the performance of these new trains is vital to its future.

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