Local Rail Industry Takes Issue with Selection of Chinese Contractor For New Zealand Rail Project

On June 7, 2020, it was announced that John Holland, a subsidiary of state-owned China Communication Construction Corporation (CCCC) since August 2015, had won the $242.8 million rail electrification contract for the Papakura-Pukekohe rail line in south Auckland.  Currently, the rail line stops at Papakura.  This project will extend the electric rail network a further 20-km south to Pukekohe.

John Holland won the contract alongside South African-listed and owned construction company, McConnell Dowell.  Selection of the Chinese-South African consortium has enraged local bidders of the project as well as the local rail union manager.  They view this decision as a lost opportunity for local job creation in New Zealand.  Local construction companies have made significant job cuts since Covid-19, although the chief of KiwiRail has claimed that there will be a focus on hiring local workers.

The Papakura-Pukekohe rail has been under government consideration since 2017, but has experienced delays due to the lack of technical clarity for the project.  The rail project is viewed, however, as an important national rail initiative that will increase the access of commuters to efficient rail services.