KiwiRail races to snip Toll’s IT apron strings

Renationalised rail network has to replace Toll's IT systems

KiwiRail has 12 months to procure and implement its own IT systems before a deal with Toll to support the new State Owned Enterprise expires.

The renationalised KiwiRail is already out to tender for a financial system to replace the current one provided by Toll. A request for proposal has been issued and the company is targeting its November board meeting for sign-off on the successful bidder.

The final structure of the company, which the government bought back from Toll on July 1, for $690 million, won’t be known till October 1, but a new financial system is imperative because Toll has its own centrally located system hosted out of Melbourne.

It is provided by a company called Comops, with which KiwiRail has negotiated a six-month extension of the licence, which will take it through to December 2009.

“Toll and the government had a transitional support arrangement through to next June,” says KiwiRail service delivery manager Gerard Keenan.

“We’ve effectively got a 12-month window to make the change to an enterprise-level financial system.”

He says there is a short list of three vendors but he wasn’t prepared to name them other than to say they were companies with which KiwiRail’s predecessors had had previous experience.

It is known that OnTrack, the New Zealand Railways Corporation that maintains New Zealand’s rail infrastructure, operates SAP. The company has yet to decide whether the new system will be run in-house or outsourced, Keenan says. KiwiRail employs around 50 full-time IT staff, mainly in Auckland.

The government has signalled a reinvestment package in KiwiRail of $380 million, including new New Zealand-made rolling stock, and $80 million over five years to keep services running.

KiwiRail is being run by an establishment board chaired by former National Party prime minister Jim Bolger.

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