Faulty carriages to be fixed in Picton

WORK UNDER WAY: Work has started on preparing the workshop for the arrival of 500 wagons at the KiwiRail depot in Picton.
WORK UNDER WAY: Work has started on preparing the workshop for the arrival of 500 wagons at the KiwiRail depot in Picton.

A team of a dozen Chinese workers has landed in Picton, where they will fix and upgrade rail freight wagons imported by KiwiRail.

The 500 freight wagons have been hit with problems since the new design was introduced in 2011.

The company has chosen its Picton mechanical depot on Lagoon Rd as the base to carry out remedial and upgrading work on the wagons.

KiwiRail Freight general manager Clive Cooper-Smith said Picton's central location and sizeable mechanical depot made it the logical choice for the work, which is due to start in a week's time.

"These freight wagons travel the length of the country and all circulate through Picton on a regular basis. The workshop has spare capacity, so we can get set up for this work without interfering with our usual maintenance activities in the region," he said.

The project was expected to take about eight months to complete, Cooper-Smith said.

The repair work would be carried out under warranty by more than a dozen staff from the Chinese supplier. They would be working under the supervision of KiwiRail's mechanical team, and translators would help work run smoothly.

The visiting Chinese workers would live in Picton for the duration of the project and it was expected they would work on several wagons a day.

The wagons have travelled an average of 163,000 kilometres each since being commissioned, and would be progressively taken out of circulation for the upgrade and returned, Cooper-Smith said.

Adjustments would be made to reduce the camber of the deck, which makes it difficult to load some wagons, and some components would also be replaced.

The same changes had already been made to a new standardised wagon design and 300 additional wagons, under this design, had arrived in the country last year. They had performed well, he said.

"It is common in the development cycle that learnings from a first generation lead to improvements in second and subsequent generations. We are in the fortunate position of being able to have the bulk of the changes made under the comprehensive warranty arrangement we have with our suppliers," Cooper-Smith said.

A new braking system would be retrofitted at the same time to future-proof the wagons for heavier loads of up to 64 tonnes from 56 tonnes. This would bring them in line with a new standardised design adopted by the rail business.

"It's work that would be needed some time in the future and there are significant cost savings for us to include it now while the other work is being done."

NOTE: This story has been updated from the original version.

The Marlborough Express