Workshops roll ahead

Mayor praises firm as regional success story

GOULBURN Mulwaree Council Mayor Geoff Kettle has described Goulburn’s Railway Workshops as an “inspiration” and a perfect example of successful regional decentralisation.

Cr Kettle was speaking after its USA owners and Australian clients visited the workshops late last week, where it was revealed another apprentice intake was planned for later this year. Given some general engineering firms had closed in Goulburn in recent times, Cr Kettle said the dedication and commitment by the company, Chicago Freight Car Leasing (Australia), in sourcing local goods and services wherever possible, along with local staff, was “gratifying”.

“And a move to further upgrade workshop equipment and employ more apprentices is testament to that commitment,” Cr Kettle said.

Late last week, the company’s USA-based president Fred Sasser brought some 70 CFCLA clients and friends to the workshops by special train for an inspection of the facilities, and the business’ capabilities.

Since opening its doors on September 1, 2010, with a staff of six, guests were told the business today employs more than 40, with two tradesmen and a trades assistant set to start work later this month.

The workshop’s recently appointed manager Mick Cooper said it was the company’s intention to employ apprentices in both the electrical and fitting disciplines from this year’s crop of school leavers.

In addition, he was already developing a separate annex to undertake freight rolling stock and locomotive bogie overhauls and the space this function currently occupies within the building will be turned over to intricate locomotive traction motor repairs.

A locomotive ‘wheel table’ which makes it possible to drop individual wheelsets out of heavy 134-tonne locomotives had already arrived on the property and would be installed inside the main erecting shop in coming weeks.

“All of this is aimed at improving the work through-flow and with this equipment which allows individual wheels to be removed from bogie frames without jacking an entire locomotive up, we will be able to accommodate the heaviest mainline locomotives well into the future,” Mr Cooper said.

Mr Sasser said every time he visited Goulburn (this being his fourth trip), he had seen continued expansion.

“Of course, this is critical to our ability to grow our business and not only service our own large locomotive and rollingstock lease fleet, but the needs of the railway industry in general.”

Mr Sasser said while his company operated 70 locomotives and 1600 items of rollingstock in Australia, a third of the Goulburn workshops’ business also catered for other operators’ equipment.

“And this will continue to grow as we further develop this modern facility, it will maintain its position as a rail industry ‘NRMA’ for those running trains over the busy Sydney-Melbourne interstate corridor,” he enthused.

Mr Cooper was equally upbeat. The former staff member of British Rail’s Area Maintenance Engineering Division, arrived in Australia in 1989 and since that time has been working as an engineer, more recently in heavy plant and materials handling.

He was appointed manager of the Goulburn workshops (which trades as the Australian Horsepower Service Centre) just six weeks ago.

“Due to its location and modern premises and equipment, I see this as the number one locomotive and rollingstock maintenance facility in Australia and for us it is all about having the right level of staff competency and enthusiasm to satisfy our clients’ needs,” he said.

* Footnote: Cr Kettle could not attend the CFCLA workshops presidential inspection due to previous commitment to attend the High Speed Rail Forum in Wagga that same day. He was represented by Cr Bob Kirk. However, Cr Kettle has undertaken two high-level visits to the Goulburn Workshops in the past week.

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