Downer eyes rail upgrades

The dual-listed company that built Auckland’s Britomart Transport Centre expects to secure further rail contracts in New Zealand.

Infrastructure services company Downer EDI has teamed up with Bombardier to provide rail cars for metropolitan services in Auckland and Wellington.

Downer’s managing director Stephen Gillies said Auckland’s rail fleet was especially in need of upgrading.

“I think they are running some pretty old trains,” Mr Gillies said of the diesels that chug in and out of Britomart.

“We are looking at the New Zealand market in terms of rail as a prospect market.”

This follows the Australia and New Zealand listed company’s recent selection as the preferred provider for the New South Wales government’s CityRail network public-private partnership.

The partnership means Downer’s Reliance Rail consortium will finance, design, manufacture and maintain 72 eight-car train sets for the next three decades.

But Mr Gillies said the company’s expansion in New Zealand depended in part on the national and local governments’ willingness to fund rail network upgrades.

“The government does need to re-establish the lead on infrastructure,” he said.

“New Zealand, Australia and the UK governments have all basically underspent on infrastructure in pursuit of budget surpluses.”

Mr Gillies said Downer was also looking for contracts in water infrastructure, similar to its joint venture with Rodney District Council.

Downer began as a New Zealand family-owned company.

Brierley Investments acquired it in 1988.

Downer EDI listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1998, and on the New Zealand Stock Exchange in 2002.

Downer acquired Works Civil Construction, now known as Works Infrastructure, from the New Zealand government in 1996.

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