Ōtepoti – The government’s $85 million decision to resuscitate Dunedin’s Hillside railway engineering workshops will be one of their greatest moves in office.
It will substantially boost the economy because New Zealand’s roads have become so congested and dangerous with such a plethora of trucks, prefering to use rail.
The redevelopment of Dunedin’s Hillside railway workshops will begin later this year and the famous old railways site, which was such a trojan in the country’s armoury 60 years ago, will not just lay at a rusting old 19th century rail plant any longer.
The government funding will help to build a new wagon assembly facility. This is just the start of reigniting a rail transport system that will be able to be run on renewable energy.
Decades ago, the Hillside railway workshops were Dunedin’s single largest enterprise and employer. Almost the backbone of the city and what it stood for as a staunch deliverer towards NZ’s productivity.
This year, KiwiRail will take on 45 new staff for wagon assembly and at least 10 percent of its new intake will be apprentices or trainees.
The investment is supporting the local economy with 250 construction jobs needed for the rebuild, KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller says.
The Kiwirail ethos of today is different to that of 2012 when it said wanted to sell the site.
Hillside was one of Dunedin’s biggest employers, and in its heyday employed more than 1000 people making railway engines and rolling stock. From next year, Hillside will not be a rusting old 19th century rail plant any longer.
It was established 120 years ago by the New Zealand Railways, though workshops had existed nearby since 1875. Some of its notable managers have included the late Bob Smith, who stridently dealt with issues on site relating to the 1951 waterfront strike.