KiwiRail is looking overseas again for a major railway supply contract.
There was an outcry two years ago when the company bought 500 wagons from a Chinese company.
KiwiRail says it needs 4000 auto-couplers for a fleet of older wagons and has shortlisted an American firm to make them which it has not named.
The US company has not yet been awarded the contract, but its tender was materially better than one from Australian-based company Bradken to make them at the former Hillside foundry in Dunedin.
KiwiRail gave Bradken a one-off supply contract for 800 couplers as part of a deal to take over the foundry when Hillside Workshops closed in 2012.
Bradken has told 64 foundry workers they need to drop to four days per week for at least a month because it did not get the tender.