On Friday, OneNews reported on leaked documents suggesting the analysis that lead to that decision was deeply flawed.
Leaked documents throw into question a controversial decision to dump electric trains for diesel locomotives between Hamilton and Palmerston North.
KiwiRail announced the decision last year, and said diesel would improve reliability and efficiency.
But an external peer review by engineering consultants WorleyParsons warns diesel trains bought from China have “a very high failure rate”.
Seven to nine are out of service at any one time for maintenance, repair and asbestos removal. And their performance has been “extraordinarily poor”.
The review said KiwiRail should be switching its whole fleet to electric, but it said a paper from the company’s board was “biased towards the diesel option”.
And there are more concerns from a separate internal report, which says KiwiRail over-inflated expected savings – and upgrading electric trains was actually $230m cheaper than replacing them with diesel.
We’ve also seen some of these documents and find them extremely concerning, they raise questions of what’s going on. For example an internal review of the model originally used to assess the options looked at three options, Upgrading the existing electric locomotives, buying new ones or changing to Diesel locomotives. It raises a large number of issues such as
- Under representing the costs by $85 million by:
- Not budgeting for sufficient fuel to run the trains that would be needed
- Not including maintenance costs correctly
- Double counting savings from closing the electric locomotive depot.
Upgrading the existing locomotives
- Over representing the costs by $38 million by overstating the maintenance costs.
There is much more detail in the report but this table shows the costs in the original model (bottom) and after they’ve been corrected for all the mistakes (top)
On the WorsleyParsons makes some even more critical comments, some of which are mentioned above. A couple of examples include
For their part, Kiwirail say this.
KiwiRail says the reports were written in 2015 – a year before it made a final decision.
Chief executive Peter Reidy says there were three or four reviews.
“It matured all the way through, so the initial information that we were looking at at the start looked very different towards the end,” he said.
“It’s not our job to cook the books – we are very comfortable that this is the right decision for our business.”
One thing that was quite interesting were the comments by Simon Bridges.
The electric trains will be phased out in the next two years. But Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the whole line could be electrified in the future.
“There is an avenue down the line for different decisions to be made … we can revisit this in due course – if we decide that’s the right thing to do,” he said.
I wonder what it would take to get the current government to step in and electrify the rest of the line, or perhaps even initially just the section from Pakapura to Hamilton – which could also allow for electric passenger services between there and Auckland. And based on comments by Steven Joyce over the weekend, is it possible we might see some small movement on at least getting those wires to Pukekohe to further close the gap? Simon Wilson at The Spinoff reports:
But then he seemed to reveal a budget item. He said he was more interested in extending the electrification of the rail line into Hunua, by which he meant the National-held Hunua electorate that stretches around the Bombay Hills. In other words, Pukekohe. Joyce doesn’t say things like that randomly. Electrification to Pukekohe is already on the government’s 10-year plan. Hot tip: watch for an early date and financial commitment in the budget on May 25.