The company has been consulting staff about the number of job losses, which has been reduced by 23 from an initial proposal.
KiwiRail infrastructure general manager Rick van Barneveld says the cuts are necessary if the company is to pay its own way in a struggling economy. "We're not immune from a sluggish and variable economy. We hadn't expected an earthquake in Christchurch and we hadn't expected passenger volumes to fall as well. As a consequence of that we've just got to spend a little less and make sure that our expenditure stream stays behind the revenue stream."
Rail and Maritime Transport Union general secretary Wayne Butson says the Government is making a mistake in letting go skilled KiwiRail employees, who will be snapped up overseas. A union member told him he'd had 20 job offers within three hours of putting his CV on an Australian railway website.
"That just goes to show how much in demand these railway skills are at the moment," Mr Butson says. "Rail is a more sustainable mode of transport than roads, on which the Government has spent billions of dollars in recent years."