Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
The Regional Council welcomes the Transport Accident Investigation Commission and KiwiRail reports into the train derailment in May this year, which dispel criticisms of lack of funding for maintenance.
Wayne Hastie, the Council’s General Manager, Public Transport, says claims by individuals around the time of the incident that inadequate funding for maintenance of the Ganz Mavag trains could have been the cause, were entirely unfounded. “The reports have found the derailment was caused by an oversight at the maintenance depot, not lack of funding. Although we knew the claims were false when they were made, it’s good to have that backed up by the findings of the investigations.”
Dr Hastie says funding for maintenance of each Ganz Mavag unit has actually increased over the last two to three years. The Council contracts KiwiRail, which has a rail safety licence, to maintain all trains on the metropolitan rail network.
“Now that all the ‘first batch’ of new Matangi trains are running, we’ve been able to remove some of the least reliable Ganz Mavag units from service. We’re currently using 25 of them, down from the original 44, to help meet peak demand. However, our annual Ganz Mavag maintenance budget of between $3 – $4m has not reduced; we’re actually spending $400,000 more on Ganz Mavag maintenance this year than last. And this increased expenditure is being used to maintain fewer units.
“While a second batch of Matangi has been ordered, the maintenance required to keep the Ganz Mavags safe and operational continues. In fact, we anticipate that the maintenance needs will increase and we have built this into our asset management programme for the next few years.
“To meet the challenges of an ageing fleet of trains, the Council has instigated a proactive preventative maintenance programme where the trains are routinely checked. Previously a reactive maintenance approach was in place.
“A recent audit of the Ganz Mavag trains that are in service found they are actually in significantly better condition than they were in three years ago.”
Dr Hastie says the Council welcomes the additional checking and sign-off procedures that KiwiRail has put in place in light of the findings. “We’ll be working closely with them to see how these procedures are going. We’re all very keen to make sure that incidents like the May 20 derailment don’t happen again. While it was very fortunate only a very small number of people suffered minor injuries, it was an alarming and distressing experience for passengers, KiwiRail staff and ourselves as the funder of services. Safety is, and will remain, our top priority.”