Brownlee demands answers on asbestos-ridden trains

STACEY KIRK AND TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 03/03/2014

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Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is calling on KiwiRail bosses to provide answers after 40 asbestos-contaminated locomotives were removed from service.

KiwiRail said asbestos was found in a paint sample on one of the trains, prompting urgent testing to be carried out.

The trains were removed from service on Friday, disrupting North Island freight.

KiwiRail spokeswoman Jenni Austin said testing was completed on DL locomotives in Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga on Saturday and now the focus was on trains in Palmerston North and Wellington.

Test results would not be known until late today or tomorrow.

The DL locomotives were manufactured in China, the first 20 imported four years ago and 20 more last year.

KiwiRail said they had specifically stated in the contract with the manufacturers that asbestos or toxic materials not be used.

Mr Brownlee said he would be meeting KiwiRail chair John Spencer and new chief executive Peter Reidy.

"KiwiRail themselves are working on the problem. If there are decisions the Government has to make then clearly that would become apparent at that point."

The Chinese company that built the trains had accepted full responsibility, but just how the problem was to be fixed had yet to be decided.

Meanwhile, Opposition MPs were calling for an independent review into KiwiRail's tender processes.

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- The Dominion Post

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