Last year KiwiRail made the decision to replace the 16 current 30-year-old EF class electric freight trains currently in use on the North Island Main Trunk with the procurement of more DL Class Diesel Trains. These EF Class trains use the 25kvAC electrification between Te Rapa and Palmerston North that was built during the Think Big years. Their decision was based on the Better Business Case NIMT Performance Improvement Report which was heavily criticised at the time especially after leaked documents possibly showed major errors with the business case, all which was covered by GA here. I also recently discussed the feasibility of Dual Mode locomotives.

This post is not going discuss the merits of the final decision of the business case, but instead, ask some more questions I have regarding the business case.

My first question is was the EF Control System Upgrade really the end of the world. The leaked documents showed that nearly all the faults of the EF Class came from one issue which if fixed would address 66% of the faults..

KiwiRail Peer Review 1

The KiwiRail peer review also questioned the need to upgrade 17 Class EF locomotives which they believed was excessive

The number of EF locomotives proposed in the upgrade option is considered excessive’ when comparing the capability of DL diesel-electric locomotives against EF electric locomotives’ the proposed 8 x DL locomotives at a tractive power of 2100kw each to gives a total of 15’8MW’ against 17 x EF locomotives at 2900-3000kw each to the rail giving 50MW of tractive power’ The EF option therefore has approximately 300% more tractive power than the DL option to perform the same freight task.

This large discrepancy in performance requires explanation owing to the substantial effect resulting from an error, on capex and opex’ The coupling Report (Ref.13, Tab Summary) which apparently forms the basis for selecting the number of locomotives is not consistent with the final recommendation to the Board (Q&A session). Additionally it shows lower than reasonable utilisation of motive power’ when analysing the number of locomotives on trains this report shows 36 locos for the base case which includes EF locomotives (Base Case Demand x Base case Demand productivity) and only 32 for the No-EF case (Base case Demand x No-EF Demand productivity).

While yes this option would mean some trains out of service during the upgrade it also means we could push the decision out until a proper decision can be made regarding how KiwiRail should be invested in and run. Sometimes making a decision right now is not always the best option.

My second question is in regards to the option where the potential for second-hand electric locomotives could have been procured from overseas. The better business case noted that 30 second-hand electric trains were available from overseas which KiwiRail visited to check out. KiwiRail noted the benefits of this option

  • Procurement cost is substantially cheaper than new electrics
  • Lower running costs than diesel
  • Proven performance based on current running and maintenance records
  • Equivalent horsepower to current electric fleet
  • Immediate availability and relatively short commissioning time but still expected to be more than 24 months

This would allow the advantage of keeping electric trains without having to reduce the fleet while doing the EF upgrade/overhaul or the expense of buying a whole new fleet. It would be interesting to know where these second-hand electric trains were from and the condition/specs.

My third question is in regards to standardisation which seemed to be the main driver of the decision to run an all diesel fleet as it was set as a main objective. The leaked peer review questioned this logic and I wonder how important it really is in the grand scheme compared to many other objectives.

KiwiRail Peer Review 2

My last question is regarding a small extension of the electrification. At the moment Tainui is building a massive Inland Port at Ruakura in Hamilton which will be connected to the East Coast Main Trunk. If the electrification was extended from Frankton to Ruakura and if the completion of a triangle junction at Frankton was done allowing direct Northbound NIMT to ECMT movements would this make electric freight more viable without the need for the large CAPEX of full electrification?

Ruakura Inland Port

This would also benefit Regional Rapid Rail as it would mean the Hamilton Urban area would be mostly electrified and thus lower pollution by air as well as noise from passenger services for Stage 2 and beyond.

These are my questions regarding the Better Business Case NIMT Performance Improvement and I am sure many of you will have questions of your own which I invite you to ask in the comments.

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122 comments

  1. I don’t understand your point about electrification to Ruakura. Isn’t the point of the inland port that they can send freight to Tauranga by diesel train or to Auckland by diesel train and make the port companies compete? Or maybe even by truck if the rail works out too expensive.

    1. But if this becomes a major interchange point on the freight network possibly allowing electrics to get their might make a difference to their viability.

      I am not saying it will just asking the question

      1. Harriet – the second hand locomotives were from Queensland. Similar age to the EFs, but unlike the EFs they have been regularly overhauled and upgraded over the years, much like say, KiwiRail’s DFT/B or DX series.

        A number of these Queenslanders were laid up due to the coal downturn, and the arrival of brand new electric locomotives from Siemens. KiwiRail may have missed that window however; the oldest were scrapped/cannibalised, while the newer members have, I understand, been re-deployed elsewhere on their coal hauling network.

        Would nonetheless still be worth an enquiry as the design is proven and sound. A bigger fleet available than the EFs which would allow for some standardisation along with say, an extended KiwiRail network. A good interim measure pending a new electric fleet, or good rebuild option.

      1. Wouldn’t it depend on the volumes being shipped in that direction?

        I’d expect that the PN volumes are lower than both AKL and TGA, making it a question of how the business stacked up and whether the long term plan is electrification of the parts of the network between AKL and TGA that aren’t currently electrified.

          1. Electrification Overhead Line equipment would not in practice be extended into the Ruakura Inland Port as it is not compatible with the reach stackers used for loading and unloading container wagons.

          2. That’s true. I suspect the next generation of electric locomotives purchased in NZ will have a small battery as well so that they can run into Ports of Auckland and therefore be used for within Auckland as well.

        1. The fact is that the Hamilton to PN electrification is an existing asset halfway through its asset life built during the Muldoon years. The overhead catenary and substations need only day to day maintenance for many years (decades) to come, the locomotives need a control system upgrade which will make them good for another 15 to 20 years of service. The total cost for the work is vastly less than DLs, both in capital cost and in ongoing operating cost. An east straightforward decision.

          Electrification between Papakura, Hamilton, Hamilton and Tauranga is another matter. The business case for these two sections probably need rapid regional commuter rail, alongside freight to get any proposals across the line.

  2. De-electrification is the stupidest possible plan yet by the brain dead managers of transport in this country. What century do they think we’re in? How many spare planets do they think we have? FFS.

    1. +1. I can understand Kiwirail’s logic as there is no doubt breaking a route into three separate fleets would be inefficient for operations. However, the government really needs to cover the cost difference as an interim measure before the inevitable electrification of Papakura to Tauranga.

      1. A 5 minute change to a 10-20 minute faster running loco is not a problem. There is some really wooly logic and a great deal of mis-information out there on this. KR being secretive, government duplicitous… and why?

        1. I wasn’t suggesting the transfer time was an issue. The issue is more around running three different fleet and crew schedules over a 680km route, it is inevitable this will result in staffing overlaps and dead time for both crew and engines.

          1. Why would it be an issue? If a loco engineer is licensed to drive different types of locomotive: diesel and electric, and many are, why wouldn’t they just swop “steed”, in Hamilton, and continue on their way?

          2. Change locomotives and you require another brake test, which requires a train examiner. Not a deal breaker but not quite as simple as it sounds.

          3. I understand they are crewed separately but I could be wrong. If not then it certainly isn’t such an issue.

          4. Yes, a brake test is required after attaching locomotives. Yes it also involves a crew change. Firstly the train has to be stopped. There is an expense there. Then it has to be secured. Then the locomotives need to be detached. They then need to be moved clear so the other locomotives can be placed at the head of the train. The the BP has to be recharged, and then the brakes applied. This all involves a person on the ground doing work as well, in what can be typically ugly weather conditions at the best of time. Then TC needs to be contacted for a signal to depart. An easy 30mins can be lost like that. Thats for a south bound. A northbound train can take even longer.

          5. But, this argument from KiwiRail management was at the time demonstrated to be incorrect when union representatives detached one locomotive and attached another during tests in Hamilton (might have been Palmerston North) a couple of years ago when this argument of 30+ minutes to change locomotives at Hamilton and Palmerston North first reared its head. The current CEO Peter Reidy was witness to the demonstration and from what I understand and recollect, pretty unhappy at being humiliated that the claims of his senior management team had been proven to be wrong.

            For years, the then North Island passenger train, Overlander, changed locomotives at Palmerston North, and Hamilton, then continued on its journey, all in under 10 minutes day after day, year after year.

          6. tuktuk, I have just noted your post there. Peter Reidy does not drive locomotives. And neither do locomotives do changes for freight trains at Frankton.

            Yes, quite possible it is a little quicker to do that at Frankton for a passenger train. Given the passenger train is far, far shorter in length, and has MR running the length of the train, the brake test will be much, much quicker.

            I gave you a break down on the time of changing locomotives for freight trains at Te Rapa. I do it myself. I do it safely and as timely as possible. 10mins isn’t going to happen on a southbound freight train for a loco change at te rapa.

            Additionally, as I pointed out, a northbound will take longer, as it is highly likely to enter into the yard. Which takes about 8-10 minutes to run through without stopping on its own (on proceed signal indications). But given there would be a loco change, the loco change would be in a non-interlocked area, and done solely by a pilot under shunt team leader authority, there is a reduction in time there. But it would still be lost by the fact the train is in the yard, an add up to a 30min+ time loss.

            *Actually, have re-read, and I didn’t give a break down of changing locomotives on the down main at Te Rapa.
            – Slowing and stopping the train at the desired location 3-5mins
            – Ending the DAS run and handing over paper work. 1min
            – Full brake application, ease-up of locomotives, upto 2 mins
            – out-short to break the connection, and secure the train. 2mins
            – move locomotives into back shunt 3mins
            – wait for electric locomotives to get signal and move to a position short of train. 5mins
            – couple locomotives to trains, and check connection. 1min
            – connect BP air and fully recharge BP air. Approximately 10mins (could be more or less dependant on train length)
            – apply train brakes and allow BP air to settle. 2-3 mins
            – release train brakes enough for train to be able to move 3-4mins
            – contact TC for signal to depart 2mins
            – Get train back up to speed 2-3mins

            A total minimum of 36 mins. Typically can be done within 30 minutes, when done PROPERLY and SAFELY.

          7. SJC – thankyou for your comments. They are insightful though would be good to get feedback from the rmtu on this matter. A couple of questions. To follow the thread of a Geoff Blackmore idea: how long to attach an EF to the front of a single DL hauled train at Te Rapa? This is Geoff’s super banker idea using electric from Te Rapa to Palmerston North, with single DL running right through, and north and south of Te Rapa and Palmerston North.

            I wonder if having the train ECP braked would speed up the locomotive transition? It would certainly help it go faster into and out of curves, and therefore be a good match with electric locomotives. And a more competitive offering by KiwiRail for domestic freight. As you will appreciate, when an EF is running well, the freight train may be the same weight as diesel hauled, but electric power can take that train to speeds that are way beyond what a diesel can do, up and down gradients, and into and out of curves. That can potentially easily offset the time taken to change locos.

            ECP braking?
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronically_controlled_pneumatic_brakes

          8. SJC – I emphasize again, really good feedback you have given from a locomotive operator perspective. I hope this issue does sort itself out for NZ Inc. NZ does have a unique place and image to live up to in the world. It perhaps takes a little distance from the place to appreciate it.

          9. The RMTU have made their position clear. That they support the retention of electric services. Yes I am a union member. But unfortunately I feel our union is politically motivated. They are a big backer of the labour government as with near every union in nz. And they have a big dislike for the toris. That is publicly evident given their information on the website. But at the end of the day, it is a kiwirail decision. I think it(kr) is the right one for now. No one is actually promoting removal of the overhead. Peter Reidy has specifically said it will be left in place and cared for in the quite distant future. I honestly feel that says we will see electrics haul various services for many years to come with the class 30’s. Their are many mitigating factors that I don’t think most people would understand why kiwirail has taken this decision. Heck it is mind bending for staff and management as it is, and political interference does not really help. It is showing that they are now returning a profit in the last few years as well now. Even amongst the chaos. Last week they released that financial data on their website for all to see. The thing is, upgrading the overhead so it can haul ALL trains through the section is costly. Building the overhead through the te rapa – papakura section will be costly. And from my experiences with the erection of the overhead, the installation of signals and interlocking, the associated track works in Auckland, I can well imagine the costs of such a project will WELL exceed $1bn. Especially when it would incorporate the purchasing of electric locomotives. And even more so when it is likely we will need a power source and at least 220 kva transmission (something they semi failed on with the nimt at 110 kva). AND even further, an overhead to Tauranga to actually justify doing the te rapa – tauranga section. And has anyone even consider the costs associated with the laying of fibre optic cable along the whole route so trains can be signalled(even with higher levels of ETCS)? I could very well be wrong assuming that figure. But incorporating the tauranga section as well, I wouldn’t be surprised if the full Monty was a hefty $3.5bn And that most likely would NOT include any realignments (except double tracking te kauwhata – amokura) or track renewals. I think one could include the cost of continuous track welding since track circuiting would be done away with for axle counters. Now going to your PCB braking. Okay, have spoken with former colleagues who operate using that brake system at places like BHP. Keep in mind a company like that is loaded with massive amounts of $$$$. But that system would be fantastic for our rail. Brake test would be sped up, but I can’t see how a recharge of the BP would see a massive amount of time savings. It would definitely give a very good time savings. I could well imagine that 30mins at te rapa would be more like 20mins. But from what I hear, that system is high maintenance electrically. As there is an electrical cable that needs to travel the length of the train to send electrical signals to each wagon. Even so, a fully functional system such as that would see some time reductions with diesel hauled freight trains, and even a return to 90kmph running for freight. Personally, I would like to see something like that implemented onto our freight services first, which would make us more competitive for far less $$$$ I believe that cost is well out of kr reach in the meantime, and that it has also been investigated. I believe that is where the former ceo Jim Quinn got his 100kmph running from. To be honest, if we had heaps of $$$$ to spend on rail in NZ I think an overhead is the go. I just hope people realise it will always be at a loss to the taxpayer….. The costs just far out weigh the benefits financially. There’s were my references to roads come in. I believe our government borrows money for our roads and the lenders are fairly generous. The only lending I have heard of for rail in nz is from the Chinese, and they want perks that I don’t think most would be happy with(unfortunately) …..

  3. Electrification work started in the regulated transport era, however in the meantime deregulation occurred causing a large drop in freight on the main trunk, from which it’s never really recovered. The government considered abandoning electrification but the work had progressed too far.

    Rail operators don’t like changing locomotives if they can help it. In NSW, Australia when railfreight was privatised the new operator scrapped their modern fleet of electrics within two or three years and just operated diesels under the overhead wires. The same thing happened in the US in the 1950s and 60s. So I guess KiwiRail have done the sums and come to the same conclusion. Though it would be nice if the government could make an environmental gesture and put it’s hand in it’s (our) pocket to keep the electrics.

    1. But that is the intuitive gut feel “round the white-board” response. In this instance, to KiwiRail’s credit, they did go to the trouble of employing an expert independent international consultant who did the sums and hey bingo, they crunched the real numbers and found it cheaper to keep the electrics.

      There is a separate issue of wanting to simplify the business, with smaller management task, and fewer managers. KiwiRail’s orphan electric locos appeared to be low hanging fruit, until the sums were done. Trouble was, one manager in particular had already “nailed his colours to the mast”, “taken a position” etc.

      The NSW electrics all operated on heavy shunt type duty and short distances over the Blue Mountains and within the Sydney metropolitan area, the US electrics operated on first generation catenary networks that were generally life expired. New Zealand physically cannot fit high powered diesel electric locomotives on its network and still achieve an effective outcome. The DLs are proof of that.

      1. Not sure I’d call them shunts, electrics ran north to Newcastle, similar distance to Auckland-Whangarei. South to Port Kembla, same as say Auckland-Huntley. Locos were similar size and power to EFs.

        1. 167km to Newcastle is the road time. Hamilton in New Zealand is a hub, Newcastle is a port in its own right with coal trains making heavy use of it. With Port Kembla, the traffic is steel.

          Standard gauge with a decent loading gauge and axle load provides a lot more options to boost diesel electric efficiency – United Goninan based in Newcastle have built modern GE derived 4500hp 180 tonne, 21m long, 2.94m wide, 4.25m high behemoths for carting coal to Newcastle port. All based on standard GE engines and control systems. We don’t have those options here. We do have 80% to 90% renewable electricity generation and the chance to go to 100%.

  4. One of the crazier decision yet of Kiwirail. The design of those EFs was so good it was selected for the Eurotunnel Class 9. If anything we should order more – to a modernised spec.
    The solution has been obvious for a long time. Extend the NIMT electrifciation so at least the trains can run between major freight hubs without a need for diesel.

    1. “The design of those EFs was so good it was selected for the Eurotunnel Class 9”

      The Eurotunnel class 9 is twice as powerful, longer, wider, faster, heavier and has AC traction motors vs DC for the EF. It has a single cab vs 2 for the EF. The gauge is also different. It is a very different design.

      The EF design has not been used anywhere else in the world.

      1. Of course the design was modified for Channel Tunnel specs and requirements, but fundamentally the 6-axle Bo-Bo-Bo design had been proven with our narrow gauge EFs.
        Not an insignificant point.

      2. Apart from the supply voltage, wheel diameter and wheel arrangement they had almost nothing in common. The idea that the design was “modified” is implausible.

        By the 1980s the Bo-Bo-Bo wheel arrangement, while novel for Brush, was well established in Switzerland, Italy, Japan and NZ. Neither the EF nor the class 9 were used anywhere else in the world; hardly the hallmark of successful locomotives.

  5. KR going on about standardising their loco fleet as primary justification for this?

    Yeah. Right.

    Now someone tell me how many different loco models does KR currently have its fleet right now?

    6, 10, a dozen, 2 dozen, 30+? more than that?

    I know whatever the number of loco models that they have its not 2, so ditching the EF’s won’t really achieve this standardisation goal anytime soon.

    There maybe a reason why the EF’s can’t run at full traction power (insufficient power supply to prevent voltage drops/surges etc), but those EFs have way more pulling power indivudually and collectively of those Chinese tractors KR want, thats for sure.

    And I’d bet a more modern version of the EF would eat even more of the DLs lunch.

    The decision to use DLs on the NIMT is simply dumbf*ck decision no matter how you look at it or they attempt to rationalise the thinking.

    Its a classic case of KR man(ager)-splaining if ever I saw one.

    1. ..not to worry, since it looks like Winston will be king maker quite soon and he has already stated that he will sack to KR board. The EFs will be safe and refurbished

        1. The KR decision to replace the EFs with more DLs may indeed make a lot of operational sense and make KR more efficient. However, the sheer weight of public opinion condemns KR for what appears to be a senseless decision from an environmental view. Never mind the pollution created by the ever increasing fleet of diesel powered SUVs on our congested roads, the highly publicized KR proposal has convinced many that KR is irresponsible.

          1. You will have to excuse me, I simply do not see how this –
            http://www.energyawards.co.nz/finalist/2016/large-energy-user-initiative-of-the-year/kiwirail
            – is irresponsible.

            Also the company has been quite open about business, when perhaps it shouldn’t have been. Heavy redactions, yes, but obviously it is for more than just commercial reasons.

            Simply everyday people(understandable), even most politicians can’t get their heads around rail operations. It has taken the National government quite some years to understand where it needs to head.

            Especially, this one, in this case, that is quite lucky to even exist.

          2. SJC, I agree with you. But public opinion seems to differ and desipte operational common sense the closing of the OLE network and scrapping EFs appears irresponsible to many people.
            The only fault with the KR board is that they underestimated the depth of public opposition to scrapping clean electric locos and replacing with more diesel air polluters.

          3. SJC – that is a great initiative by KiwiRail. It all about extracting efficiency out of its diesel fleet, good management, and something I applaud all the way. But it doesn’t alter the argument that KiwiRail got the numbers wrong with ditching electrification, and then tried to cover it up.

          4. Labour are promising to keep electrification as well. I would have thought that would be in breach of the State Owned Enterprises Act, which does not allow government interference. It will be interesting to see how they get around it.

          5. they could split out the rolling stock and freight movement from the lines & infrastructure. The lines could be owned as per the state highways and then the trains could be in an SOE business model &/or possibly opened up to have more than one company owning & operating rolling stock

  6. Look at where the freight goes and look at how it is carried. Kotahi is the big mover here. They and the shipping companies want to move to bigger ships out of the Port of Tauranga. So they came up with Kotahi and brought all those orange curtain side containers so they didn’t have too ship the empty containers down to the dairy factories in the Waiarapa, Manuwatu and Taranaki at the other end of the main trunk. So the product is railed through to Tauranga and repacked into export containers which are shipped out of Tauranga port.The orange containers are then sent through to Auckland where they are filled up with domestic freight which makes it way back down to Palmerston North which is a major distribution hub for the southern part of the North Island. My guess is 70 percent of trains coming off the main trunk stop and are broken up at Palmerston North. These are the trains which should be using the electrics the diesel can be used on the trains going further south which probably came from Auckland anyway. However the port at Tauranga is absolutely full up with full and empty containers stacked up on every bit of spare land that they can find. That’s where the inland port Ruakura and also Fonterras store at Hamilton comes in to provide stacking for empty containers and repacking of freight from Palmerston North with deisel shuttles running through to the port. The locomotives on a train from Hamilton have to change end at Hamilton anyway so whats the problem with replacing a diesel with an electric or vice versa . So fix up the EF’s or buy some new electrics or second hand ones.

  7. Orange curtain sider’s – you are talking about CODA Royce. A consortium than includes Kotahi. Most of that is accurate. But I disagree with some of the electric loco comments. Most of the CODA tonnage heading south (orange curtain side) is on trains that do not need to stop at Te Rapa. But yes, most goes to Palmy before going elsewhere (bar the few).

    Same goes, for going north, I doesn’t need to stop at Te Rapa. In fact it has been like that for years now – where they have been hauled by DL locomotives which have proved themselves more and more reliable all the time. The only reason that they DO stop at Te Rapa, is for crewing purposes.

    KiwiRail is doing the right thing. Why can’t people get it right, that they do now how to operationally run their business.

    And here we have labour, already politically interfering with the operational side of things which they shouldn’t be doing in more ways than one. Something I take my hat off to with National (even though I am not a supporter),and again for funding rail in NZ during their current term more than any other previous government since roading restrictions were lifted in the 1980’s.

    All these $bn’s for this and that being currently promised. Sounds like rob Peter to pay Paul, something that doesn’t seem to have changed with the labour party.

    Lets not get into $bn’s for roading…. That is justified spending, regardless of the environment. Plant more bludy trees if we are worried about carbon emissions.

    1. if the billions of dollars on ‘roads of national significant’ is justified, then they can do and publish their benefit cost ratios. And if there are alternative projects, across all modes, with better cost benefit ratios, then ditch the RONS

    2. ‘The only reason that they DO stop at Te Rapa, is for crewing purposes.’
      So they do stop then whether electric or not. There are actually good arguments to electrify Papakura – Mt Maunganui, and leave the section south of Palmerston North as diesel for the moment. As Royce has pointed out, Palmerston North is increasingly seen as a southern North Island logistics hub. The loading gauge and traffic volumes north of Palmerston North enable much easier equipment choices for electric locomotives. As has been pointed out in other forums, it would seem that electrification of the Kaimai tunnel may be a pre-condition before passenger services can resume.

      Yes in certain areas KiwiRail have done a great job in bringing a strong commercial focus to freight with great success. The current transport minister has been a good minister in supporting KiwiRail in that regard. He has also agreed on leaving the door open for electrification. That does not sound to me like a 100% confident endorsement of KiwiRail’s enthusiasm to switch off the power.

    3. But if the northbound freight needs go east which most of the kotahi coda stuff does the loco has to change ends at Hamilton so thats a loco change. There is a large imbalance of north versus south bound freight a lot of the containers will be empty going back to Auckland they can be on the diesel trains which wont need so much horsepower. There is also the option of using the electrics to bank diesel trains between Hamilton and Palmy. So diesil Auckland to Hamilton a banker to Palmy and carry on South to Wellngton.

      1. Royce, what makes you think they are going empty to Auckland? I’m not to sure what you mean.

        216 is loaded coda wagons all the way palmy-otahuhu. I just came off a shunt shift at westfield where we set 2×10 coda wagons loaded into the Fonterra site at Otahuhu. We also place 18 MT flat deck wagons into their specialised siding for loading of containers.

        If you mean, MT flat decks, MT combi freight wagons, that is typical, but isn’t neccesarily all coda tonnage. A lot of it is Toll, and Mainfreight, also lynfox, and various others.

        Next week, the shunt service will increase. They are near completed a 2nd large shed in their siding now.

        There is a service still currently running nth-east/Palmerston north-te rapa-tauranga and return. That is dairy produce in standard containers.

        As tuktuk pointed out, Palmerston north is a logistics hub now. And that is true.

        I think once the MSL starts back up, there will be more through tonnage again at Te Rapa.

        1. @ tuk tuk, if the company has its way there won’t be a crew change at te rapa on through trains. they will go as far south as a crew change will possibly permit.

  8. So how much is the purchase of Chinese diesel locomotives tied to easier access into China for milk powder? Is that where the political interest is? The quid pro quo just isn’t there in upgraded control systems.

    1. And the same Chinese loco supplier would probably be in the running to supply new Electric locos, when the time comes.

  9. Harriet, you have again outlined the decision as “Last year KiwiRail made the decision to replace the 16 current 30-year-old EF class electric freight trains currently in use on the North Island Main Trunk with the procurement of more DL Class Diesel Trains”.

    Why do you always use the word ‘more’ instead of the number 8? The fact is, the 16 EF are to be replaced by 8 DL.

    It seems to me that nobody in favour of retaining the electrification wants to acknowledge that it will only take 8 DL to replace all 16 EF because to do so would be to highlight how inefficient the EF fleet actually is, with the significant overlapping locomotive hours at Hamilton and Palmerston North.

    Also, I’m not sure if you realise it, but 65% of trains between Hamilton and Palmerston North are now diesel hauled, and have been for several years. Retaining the EFs won’t change that, because since 2010 there has been an increasing number of services, beyond what the EF fleet can handle. Most of the additional trains are hauled by pairs of DL, and they run right through between Auckland and Wellington, using about 40% fewer locomotive hours than trains that still use electrics.

    The fact is, dieselisation of the NIMT is more efficient, and is largely now in place.

    1. “Why do you always use the word ‘more’ instead of the number 8? The fact is, the 16 EF are to be replaced by 8 DL.”

      – If you have two bottles of milk at home throw them out and buy another one you are buying more milk. Are they not procuring more DL Class trains?

      “It seems to me that nobody in favour of retaining the electrification wants to acknowledge that it will only take 8 DL to replace all 16 EF because to do so would be to highlight how inefficient the EF fleet actually is, with the significant overlapping locomotive hours at Hamilton and Palmerston North.”

      – And KR don’t want to admit they made a mistake and you don’t need all 16 EF class to have the overhaul.

      “Also, I’m not sure if you realise it, but 65% of trains between Hamilton and Palmerston North are now diesel hauled, and have been for several years.”

      – Wow what a mansplain thank you.

      1. Mansplain? If you were a man I would have written the very same thing. I don’t think many folk who favour retaining the electrics realise the electrified section is already largely dieselised, so it often needs to be pointed out.

        8 DL is significantly less than 16 EF, so yes, you would replace them if indeed you seek efficiency. If you have the choice of 16 hours or 24 hours of locomotive time to move a train from A to B, and only the DL can deliver the 16 hour option, you would go with the 16 hour option. That is what KiwiRail are doing.

        Should a future government retain the electrification, it will be a case of “subsidised inefficiency”. That’s no way to run a railroad, not if you want long term economic sustainability.

        On a side note, this was last night’s line up of trains, in order, through Taumarunui. Sometimes it feels like it’s already done and dusted!

        229 – EF 30094 + EF 30007.
        221 – DL 9383 + DL 9210.
        216 – DL 9469 + DXB 5114.
        215 – DL 9095 + DL 9481.
        217 – DL 9325 + DL 9129.
        220 – DL 9360 + DL 9008.
        391M – DL 9262.

        1. I don’t need things pointed out to me I do actually understand believe it or not that diesel services run I don’t need patronising remarks.

          Now I am going to return with some patronising remarks of my own

          I think you are confused I am not saying electrification either extending it or just using the current EF’s is the best option. All I am doing is asking some questions of a seriously flawed business case which we the public have every right to ask as it is an SOE

        2. Geoff by your explanation of locomotives on trains above you have already undermined your point tht 8 DLs are needed to replace 16 EFs.

          Looking at the list of trains above, I could easily say that the last batch of 15 DLs recently delivered were needed to replace say 60% of the EFs with the last batch of 8 DLs to finish the job. In other words: 23 DLs to replace 16 EFs.

          Others from previous batches of DLs are also regularly in main trunk duties helping to cover for the tasks that EFs previously did. There are after all 63 DLs in the country now.

          1. I believe that Geoff is right. 8 x DL’s will replace the 16 class 30 EF electric loco’s. There is various reasons… such as there has only been 4 fully operational class 30 electrics for years now. It’s not just a matter of finances for that either.

            I imagine we will see an average of 8 x DL’s hauling freight trains through out a peak week day on the central NIMT section. Since, typically we use 2xDL’s for each train, that averages 4 trains at any given time. Key word there is average. Mixed with the rest of the fleet it could be more like 7-8 trains (16 DL total) at a particular one time, example being around change of days, midnight when most good people are resting their good heads on their pillows.

            Mixed with the combination of the current DL fleet, that brings about higher utilisation of the locomotive fleet.

            In saying all this, railways are railways. They plan and do things…. Example the DC locomotive class should have been retired years and years ago now. But they haven’t been have they. I think the same will go for the electric locos. With the large increases of tonnages on the NIMT in the last 5-6 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if the class 30’s keep going until their bitter end. Plenty of parts.

          2. tuktuk, the 15 DL are not in the country yet. The 8 after that, ordered to replace the EF fleet, are due next year.

            The “8 to replace 16” comes about due to the elimination of overlapping hours at PN and Te Rapa, essentially resulting in using locos that would otherwise be parked up due to the need for loco changes, being used to actually haul trains. Time is money after all.

            Roughly speaking, it works out at around 16 loco hours with the same loco right through, vs 24 loco hours if you use an electric, with diesels either side. Many hours are wasted by locos parked up after coming off a train instead of staying on it and continuing to final destination. It may only take ten minutes to change locos, but the electrics that take over were already waiting several hours since their last job, and ditto the diesels coming off will wait several hours for their next job. That’s poor fleet utilisation.

            It’s not about diesel or electric as such, but rather the terribly low efficiency of a loco plan that has three lots of locos for a 680km journey that can and should be done by one lot of locos.

            Meanwhile, I see KiwiRail are looking at options for buying more new diesel locos after the 71 DLs, but they won’t be DLs.

        3. Geoff Blackmore – I think you just picked a bad night (Monday 28/9)

          Go back to last Friday night 25/9 and it was more than half electrics through Taumarunui!

          225 – EF30007 + EF30094
          229 – EF30192 + EF30203
          216 – EF30042 + EF30105
          246 – EF30140 (or was it EF30232 ?)
          397 – DL9227
          210 – DL9204 + DL9452
          211 – DXB5051 + DXB5108
          215 – DL9141
          217 – DL9481 + DL9383
          391T- EF30059 + EF30071

          1. Also #228 & #234. Which were both diesel hauled…. Which makes 7 diesel hauled, and 5 electric hauled. 246 is now 212, be interesting to see if that is diesels all the through. 222 has been cancelled recently due to lack of tonnage and wagons returning. Although I am told will be back in full swing once freight starts moving Picton – Christchurch very soon.

          2. 228 and 234 are daytime trains through Taumarunui. I was only counting trains on Friday night (in response to Geoff Blackmore’s Monday night line-up).

            But in any case 228 was definitely electric on both Friday 25/8 and Saturday 26/8 !

            My point: Geoff Blackmore’s insinuation that the EF’s have all but ceased to operate is just not true!

          3. Dave, I only listed the night trains observed in the hours just before writing.

            But, interestingly, a new loco plan commenced on Monday, in conjunction with the NIMT timetable adjustment, which appears to have further reduced use of the electrics, and has placed DC and DFB classes on freight services between PN and Hamilton for the first time in some years, in addition to the DLs.

            The official loco plan for today as an example:

            212 – DL2
            215 – DL2
            217 – DL2
            220 – DLDC
            221 – DL2
            222 – EF
            225 – DFB2
            228 – EF2
            229 – EF2
            234 – DL2
            390 – EF2
            391T – EF
            397 – DL2

            Presumably the plan slightly differs on different days, thus the uneven allocation of electrics, and a DLDC pairing only in one direction.

            I was amazed to see 221 last night powered by DXB 5114 and DC 4692. Normally DCs are just towed dead through here, being moved between northern and central fleets, and it was actually the first time I’ve known a DC to actually be working a freight in the six months I’ve lived here.

            225 is usually an EF2 service, so again, the DFB2 plan is likely balanced by a DFB2 service going north on another day.

            Interesting times.

      2. That’s a pretty long bow to call that comment mansplaining. I’m pretty sure reading back through some of Geoff’s comments he’s just as blunt with Matt, Patrick, Peter and Stu (and with some comments I’ve made).

          1. Oh nooooo. LOL. Why does the public keep thinking de-electrication is floored? Is it not realised it is within our wallets to do the DL thing? Why are we so hell bent on spending money we don’t have?

          2. When it is taken into account how dysfunctional KR really is, the chiefs surrounding what seems like an eternal bonfire fuelled by $$$ inside a black building where the “K” has fallen off before already naming it iwiRail, on a ship that was destined to sink, with many holes plugged up keeping it semi submerged, and just afloat…. Then, the report is more than accurate.

    2. Thanks SJC – I had no idea that so much of the NIMT was already hauled by diesels – that was news to me. I’d be keen to know a bit more about the crewing of trips from Auckland to Wellington – how it varies between a trip with the EF in the middle section, and the DL all the way? Presumably no single crew would drive all the way? You’d change crews half way and return home on the next train? Or do the crews go part way, and stay overnight? Assuming that crew costs = labour = significant dosh for KR, how do the crew costs stack up for the DL trips vs the EF trips? Any answers appreciated.

      1. Crewing is unrelated to the type of locos used. Hamilton locomotive engineers run Hamilton-Central NI-Hamilton, changing over with Palmerston North drivers who run PN-Central NI-PN. Generally they change over in the Kakahi-Makatote area, sometimes a bit further north or south. All shifts finish where they started.

        1. You are partly wrong there Geoff. Crewing has alot to do with what is going in here, and the mass amount of $$$relating to that also.

          1. What I mean is, each train will have 1 LE whether it is hauled by an electric or a diesel.

            What do you see as changing with dieselisation? Auckland crews heading south of Hamilton, to changeover with PN crews?

          2. Yes, certain trains only doing 2x crew changes akl-wlg. Even 1x crew change akl-plm, but with a car in the other direction. It’s been on the cards for quite a while. Why it hasn’t actually taken place I do not know. 217 already arranged like that, 217 te rapa cc national Park for car that palmerston nth drives up. To be honest watch that space when Waikato express way is complete, bypassing Hamilton with direct link to sh3.

  10. The debate here just underlines how the current organisation of the nation’s transport networks needs fixing. In particular it shows the bizarre difference between road and rail. No truck company decides on strategic direction of our road networks, they do influence these decisions, but they do not control them and nor do they fund them directly or wholly.

    Yet here we have a single logistics company, under extreme financial pressure because its books are burdened with maintaining and operating a entire nationwide infrastructure, making strategic decisions with consequences beyond its mandate on short term operational criteria.

    Our roads are centrally planned and publicly funded (fuel tax, RUCs, general taxes, and rates) and and called ‘of National Significance’, the rail network is begrudgingly kept on life support by public funds, but constantly told that this is somehow a failure. There is no publicly funded and consistent long term planning nor apparent understanding of the value or potential of the network to the nation at government level.
    For example the current government has specifically subsidised the road network to take bigger road vehicles to undercut rail freight, preferring to view the modes as in competition as if they were two private companies, rather than appreciating the value for the nation in have both networks flourishing and available.

    No truck company has to even think about the system it uses, not one employee is concerned with network planning and maintenance. The state and councils do all that; funds and finances constant upkeep, improvement, and extension and improvement of these systems. All very efficient and organised by the benevolent state; like an ideal Soviet!

    There is a failure at the strategic level (gov), or rather there is a bizarre strategy that road freight is good and the rail (and sea) freight is not. And beneath this is some kind of childish economic Darwinism at play, a near delight in the idea that one mode ‘out of date’ and dying. This is of course absurd, we need to get the best out of all our infrastructure.

    Critically we absolutely need to take every opportunity to decarbonise the transport sector permanently, and here is one. This however is not an operational decision but a strategic one. Vital input into achieving it from the operational level is essential, but it is a failure of governance, borne of the particular SOE model, that this decision is left sitting way lower down chain that it should be.

    1. So park the problem where it belongs…with our current government that is yet to explain to us how GHG emissions are going to be reduced to acceptable levels.

        1. Or the diesel foamers. All though I like the sound and power and exhaust heat of a DX locomotive at notch 8 myself but I must admit the DL’s don’t do it for me the same way.
          Just last week I traveled on a regional train between Mullhouse and Stratford in northern France. The sheer power of the electric locos propelling an 8 carriage train at 100 mph was a real buzz. In someways the experience was better than the duplex TGV which is a bit more cramped although a lot faster. But I enjoyed that too. I am always blown away at the amount of infrastructure that the German, France and Switzerland have. I spent a day watching the shipping on the Rhine with barges carrying bulk loads of fuel,grain, coal, metal scrap, steel ,wood chips and containers. Not just that but through the most scenic part they have a railway line running on either side of the river with electric powered trains of a similar size to a typical Kiwirail train of about 30 wagons mixing it with local, regional and intercity trains. And if you got sick of the endless freight and passenger services you can also look at the castles. I watched wagon loads of scrap being transferred to a barge at Strasbourg.One thing every rail or road bridge that I saw over the Rhine and the Main river provided pedestrian and cycling access. And I saw jammed up motorways from the comfort of my rail seat.
          For me our main trunk railway is our Rhine. I believe we could do a lot more with coastal shipping too if we had better connections with rail.
          Too me all infrastructure is precious and should be conserved. I even mourn the loss of the old station at Southdown which also destroyed the short cut for pedestrians and cyclists. And look at the decision not to upgrade the final section of the Onehunga line which destroyed the opportunity of continuing the line over the Manukau to Mangere and the airport. And made it easy for the road foamers to proceed with east west link.
          So lets keep our options open by retaining our hard won existing infrastructure and think about the opportunities for rail and coastal shipping it could bring. Next month there is an election.

    2. “In particular it shows the bizarre difference between road and rail”

      Totally agree, but I would be curious to know how similar you feel road and rail should be.

      I favour the government owning and funding the rail network, just like the state highway network, and used by private rail operators, just as the road network is used by private road operators (trucks, buses, cars, etc).

      At present we have the bizzare situation where railway companies are basically not allowed to use the railway network in New Zealand. At least not for freight. As a result, commercial innovation in the rail industry here has all but disappeared.

      When Australia ditched its state owned national rail monopoly, the new companies that started operating, and the healthy compeition between them (and in some cases catering for niche markets not previously catered for) saw interstate rail tonnage triple.

      It needs to happen here too IMO.

  11. Thanks for the post. Bit of topic but hadn’t seen the website for the inland port before http://www.ruakura.co.nz/ before. Didn’t realise it was going to be such a big thing & with the extra precincts: housing, knowledge & innovation precincts, 3 retail areas, 60 hectares of open space with cycleways etc it looks pretty diddly good.

    1. The rail corridor looks like they aren’t future proofing much, I hope that’s just a presentation thing. Please no more future closing off out of narrow minded status quo bias….? Total motordom is already dead.

  12. At a time when the rest of the world is moving to lower emissions, NZ is moving in the opposite direction.

    It really is insane.

    We’ll look back at the New Zealand of the 2010s with amazement.

  13. This is getting messy. Some makes me laugh, some makes me cry.

    Geoff Blackmore. About 10 years ago, not long after KiwiRail was formed they done an investigation into electrification(pre DL) Auckland – Te Rapa. Now I was absolutely set in stone, that a wire was what was needed, and we should haul our trains by electric loco up and down the trunk, because it should be cheaper, and more environmentally friendly. Not to mention all the extra power.

    But you pointed out the pros and cons, and yes you convinced me why diesel hauled was the way to go. And you were and are right about that.

    Also, it is a done deal. Your locomotive allocations on the central NIMT are correct, and they are mostly DL hauled. Yes, DL hauled with a locomotive that is fairly environmentally friendly, cheap to run and so on. Definitely not a move in the wrong direction, and those that think the DL is resulting in higher emissions for this country really haven’t got it into their heads what the facts are.

    People seem to think that putting up the wire will help save the environment. I beg to differ. What about all the mining off all the materials required, and all the burning of fuel in equipment to erect and maintain it. what a load of hog wash.

    I honestly don’t think it is a KR fan fare problem at all. I’m a railfan, no doubt about it. Also an employee. I grew up around the class 30 electrics, and the overhead they run under. They are amazing. Truth of the matter is, the wire should never have been put up. Look what it done to Muldoon, and how long it took to pay it off. It probably wasn’t paid off until tranzrail era #2, or the purchase of it all by Toll. Now we have labour and greens haven’t learnt that erecting something like this is not in our financial calibre.

    If the greens and labour get a shot at this, and borrow money to put up these wires. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to hurt us all.

    Roads are different to rail. And without the roads, the railway would be well screwed when it comes to freight.

    1. The NIMT electrification project was authorised and construction commenced at a time when electrification was going to deal with a specific set of issues. By the time the project was completed in the late 1980s, circumstances had changed and not all of the touted benefits of electrification were realised. If the same decision had to be made around the time the project ended, electrification likely wouldn’t have been green-lit.

      However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that electrification was just part of a programme of improvements for the NIMT, which also included daylighting tunnels, bridge replacements, curve easing, realignment, etc. This has all helped to improve the efficiency and operational speeds of services since the project’s completion, regardless of the case for electrification.

  14. I agree with Harriet’s comments. From my perspective, I think the DL and de-eflectrification business case is deeply flawed and lacks long term planning for regional, inter-regional and long distance freight and passenger train services in the North Island as well in the South Island. The problem is, that the current government is so fixated on roads, they see roads as the only answer in the movement of people and freight around the country which is so 20th century thinking.

    What Muldoon did in the 1980’s, gave NZ an important piece of railway infrastructure that would cost a full lot money to build today. This infrastructure can be built on, especially with the electrification of the Auckland suburban rail and total replacement of the Wellington suburban electric rolling stock that is AC driven but DC powered.

    If electrification between Papakura to Hamilton, Hamilton to Tauranga and Palmerston North to Waikanae was completed in 25Kv, than the the North Island can have electrified main line suburban, regional, inter-regional and long distance freight and passenger train services from Auckland to Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North and Wellington using 25kvAC/1600DC network, especially with the building of 2 inland freight terminals in Hamilton, with Ruakura being the biggest, making Hamilton the central hub of inter-regional and long distance freight and passenger services.

    Dual voltage electric locomotives and regional/long distance passenger 2 and 3 car electric or electric/battery train sets are available, so why it is so hard to make this happen.

    The cost savings are there, as you have greater utilization of electrification network through increase freight/passenger services, lower crewing/operational costs and greater utilization of rolling stock across the network.

    Labour, the Green Party, NZ First and the Maori Party are keen to put life back into the under utilized national rail network.

    I noticed today in the DomPost, that the Capital Connection funding after June 2018 is now being discussed, so if there is a Labour/NZ First government back by its partners, the Green and Maori parties, there is no reason why the Auckland to Hamilton, Tauranga, Palmerston North and Wellington freight/passenger electrification initiative can not be a reality.

  15. So what happens to the small EF fleet? KR does not need them right now as the DLs have just about taken over the North-South freight traffic
    Should they be scrapped? or the 300k or so spent to give each the mid life refurb and equipment updates? then apart from storage where could they be used? Or maybe just store them as they are
    It would seem that no useful task could be found until, at minimum, the OLE from Papakura to Te Rapa is installed then both freight and passenger services become a possibility.
    The EFs could run into Britomart so is there a possibility of use for express metro services? say Pukekohe-Papakura-Newmarket-Britomart, the problem would be the passenger cars and since there seems little support for refurbed SA cars then non-AM emu expresses may not be possible.

    1. According to the Union, chassis wise, the EF’s are still in good condition. Personally, it will be cheaper to stored them and refurbished with latest technology at a later date, if the DL’s are now dominating North Island mainline freight services

    2. I have no idea about the suitability of the EFs for this but if Ports of Auckland and KR want to earn AKL citizens’ unending love and respect they would run electric locos on the Wiri-Port shuttle.

      You Foamers may get all excited by diesel engines but us mere humans know what they are; extremely carcinogenic planet boiling killers, loud and unwelcome, especially in urban areas.

      Electric locos with small batteries to enable wire-less running in yards would be ideal, but I’ll leave the technical details to y’all….

      1. Seeing as this post is still running I must ask the question can the DL snd the EF locos couple up and run together under power. Sort of get the best of both modes then and utilise the exidting asserts. Very cool video Geof whats in the tanks is it wine or maybe milk. It seemd to me we are going to have some very heavy trains running between Hamilton and Palmerston. This whole Coda thing has really pulled Kiwirail out of the doldrums with better results despite reduced coal and fire and eartquake damage.Earlier in the year I came up from Wellington the difference in train speed when you get on the flat at Te Kuiti is so marked. What ever happens we are going to need some serious power I just think electric should be part of it.

        1. No DL and EF locomotives are not compatible. Yes electrics are powerful. Did you get a chance to read what I said earlier about transmission line feeds to substations etc. I know the te rapa – kopaki section, it suffers big power losses when there is to many electric hauled trains in the same section…. And there is a very moderate grade south of te kuiti that can see diesels going up there quite some what faster at times, which can continue with high power loss/slow speed all the way to kopaki.

          1. Well i suppose if some of the EFs where rebuilt they could be made compatibile so they could be used to provide extra power for the steeper sections. I understand the limitations of the overrhead line. And on some sections the diesels could be faster if too many electrics are running. I appreciate Geofs point about not having locomotives sitting around waiting for their next train requires less locomotives overall. Using the electrics as bankers would improve things with diesels running straight through. One more question if an electric is added to a diesel hauled train at Hamilton would there need to be another brake test done. Also which locos do the drivers prefer. I imagine there would be less noise in the electric but maybe the diesels being more modern have a better layout of controls. So final last question are there trains which are made up in Hamilton and broken up in Palmy and vice versa. If so they could be electric.

          2. You might note the picture Harriet published in previous post on dual mode locomotives showing a South African Class 38 electric dual mode connected to a standard GE/GM type diesel. Easily possible to get electric and diesel locomotives to talk to each other and MU together with the right software and perhaps a couple of extra connectors.

      2. This is exactly what I am talking about when it comes to understanding the logistics around rail operations. So okay, put up an overhead in the wiri inland port and poa. How then are we to load and unload the wagons. Not to mention the MASSIVE risk of safety to staff. Has anyone also considered this could be a driver for a CT site at Te Kuiti so time sensitive tonnages between Taranaki and Auckland can spend a good portion of its time on the rails with a massive reduction in carbon emissions even with diesel locomotives?

        1. South Africa Class 38 dual mode. A shunter that has proven to be capable on main line ops in diesel or electric mode. You get your standardisation via a different route by being able to combine (diesel) shunter and mainline (electric) power in one. Off the shelf apart from cutting back corner of cab, just as NZR did when the first Das arrived from GM.

        2. Not just for time sensitive freight to Taranaki but also for the industry in the area. Plus some logs too if there is room in the yards and I think there probably is. Of course Kiwirail won’t want to operate it. Maybe the local Iwi could use it for a bit of job creation. Owner drivers etc
          A dual mode loco is a solution for using electric locos to shunt container terminals like Wiri or Auckland port. Even could be battery away from the overhead line. Some dont want to acknolodge that.

          1. There was something about dual mode locomotives on this very website in last few weeks. Just not possible without more expenditure. axle weights I believe, as well once again loading gauge.

      3. Do freight trains to/from Westfield run throughout the day and night? I suspect no night time trains as the noise would keep much of south Auckland awake.
        So using EFs for all freight between Westfield and to where the southern wires reach then changover to DL would permit all day running of freights? Wouldn’t that remove freights at metro peak times and allow 10 minute EMU frequency?

        1. Kiwirail runs freight trains through in the middle of the night all the time. I live 50 yards from the line it never wakes me but I can hear them if I am awake.

  16. Yes they would need another brake test. Locomotives need to have an individual test. I think we would find quite a variety of responses about which is preferred with the LE’s. On a cold night on the central plateau, quite likely an LE would prefer an electric if the overhead goes off…. But for power, and perhaps getting home quicker in most cases, class 30. And yes, as you probably know there are trains that run te rapa to palmerston north. 391 is ef hauled this morning.

    1. SJC – just to confirm, you are saying that each time a banker is put onto the front of another locomotive that is connected to a train, it needs a brake test that takes half an hour? Has it always been this way. Like for example, when diesel banker connects onto another deisel locomotive?

      Incidently, EFs certainly could be able to made to be compatible to MU with a DL, DX or any of the other locomotive types. This could become part of the locomotive traction control system upgrade and perhaps a little bit of extra hardware. Just to remind you that the traction control system upgrade was $10 million for the 16 locomotives as originally estimated by Advisian in their report. No dramas, no issues there.

      The driver’s cab layout of the DLs make them popular with locomotive drivers – arguably one of the very few things CRRC got right. The main features of the DL cab layout could be transferred into upgraded EFs – again, not a show stopper.

      A mix of electric banker between Hamilton and Palmerston North plus DL could be the compromise deal here post election. Electric bankers won’t overload limited electric power supply as they will be sharing the task with the DLs. EF+DL in the central section where its needed, a single DL at each end. A pragmatic solution, though not exactly a bold step forward to a no carbn future.

      1. No. Attaching locomotives to a freight train is an intermediate brake test in that case. Attaching bankers, or simply coupling locomotives together is a motive power test. Been like that a while, but not enforced. The mission bush derailment was the main reason for that. The potential for not doing these things correctly can be catastrophic.

        1. “The mission bush derailment”

          It was fortuitous that nobody was killed or injured in that one. Steel coils unwinding toilet-roll style adjacent to people asleep in their houses is not pretty. KR and their contractors did a phenomenal clean-up job though.

          1. Well, if done properly. The train itself is needs to be secured. That’s handbrakes applied, so BP connections between what is to be the trail locomotive and the head of the trains wagons are isolated. Then the locomotive needs to be attached. The coupling of hoses needs to done (3 connections in total, BP, MR, ER). The MU2A valve needs to be place in the trail-26 position of the trail locomotive. The lead locomotives MU2A valve needs to be placed in lead. The train brake needs to be placed in handle off positon position, and BVCOV placed in the “out” position in all cabs, except for the lead. Then an IBV test has to be performed. This involves releasing the IBV and ensuring the blocks are not applied on any of the wheels of the locomotives. Then it needs to be reapplied, ensuring that they do apply on all wheels – this involves walking around the locomotives twice. Then both locomotives need be isolated electrically. The MU cable then connected and secured. Then the trail locomotive needs to be placed online and checked for amps and throttle response from the lead unit. Ensure headlamp setup is right for locos in multiple. Finally, re-open the BP air through to the train, recharge the BP air, and reapply the train brakes – intermediate test. release any handbrakes.

            That’s the correct way to do it. And so someone of good legal representation help you if it you don’t, and it all goes wrong, especially in the wrong place.

            At a guess, 25 minutes there all going well, with about 3xstaff members.

          2. Thanks SJC and most interesting. It seems to me that in NZ bankers cannot be justified on safety or economic grounds, unique situations such as Otira tunnel being the notable exception. In a Zero Harm environment, what future does shunting have?

            On the other hand, if safety issues around brake connections, and consequent costly mitigation practises are all pushing toward a semi-permanently coupled train, ECP braking and such things as mid-train locomotives may be the way of the future. Freight EMUs or Freight DMUs or Freight bi-modal MUs may not be so far fetched.

          3. My understanding is with systems like ECP braking, accompanies a very wide range of other on board electrical control systems. To the extent, coupling locos in such way, detaching them, as we have been discussing can be done much safer because an on board computer system can advise the status of the trains consist, and all of the locomotives individually, even mid train helpers. But of course we are talking many $$$$ again, possibly well out of the reach of kiwirail. I think if we want rail, we need to shift focus to making it productive again firstly. The DL is proving to do this at this stage. So here’s hoping the earthquakes go into remission, and the storms back out to sea. And then maybe if kr gets a chance to show that they can do it nationwide, the perhaps an overhead is worth investing in?

  17. Still running so heres another thought. Geof has stated that locomotives are sitting around at Hamilton and Palmy waiting for the nect job. And by running all diesels 8 DL can replace 16 EF”s. All though some of the EF’s are not running and are being used for spare parts. I wonder if instead of all the locos sitting around in Hamilton and Palmy that they wont end up sitting around in Auckland and Wellington. I often see multi loco lashups heading south especially on a monday. The other thing to think about is speed if the electrics are faster we will need less locos to complete the same job. I know it won’t be much but over a week it could be signifigant.
    Sorry to go on about this but I just can’t bear the thought of all the effort and money and time it to electrify the trunk to be wasted. Not to mention the envioremental benifitd that electrification can bring.

  18. Another bit of economic vandilisim that I deplore is the fact we have god knows how many SA sets sitting down at Tarmaranui. Here one crazy idea we should turn them into high speed freight wagons for courier parcels etc.

    1. Just thinking about this some more we could purchase some dual mode locomotives and run SA sets from the Waikato to Britomart also they could run the Port Wuri shunt and maybe even venture down the trunk if a Auckland Te Kuiti freight shuttle eventuates.

    2. The shameful waste of the SA and SD sets in storage has been raised many times on this blog. The good news is that there may be a further life for some of them as they would be well suited to the Regional Rapid Rail stage one proposal from GA that has Labour party support. Although that RRR will probably be initially diesel hauled, perhaps DLs.

      1. Well the DL arent high speed locos. Maybe what we need is a higher speed loco if it could be dual mode it would be a bonus as it could be used to run the port wuri shunt. Or similar tasks on the main trunk. The DC on the Northern Explorer are alright on the flat but gutless on the hilly sections.Maybe Auckland should investigate this because Kiwirail have a bit of a closed mind.

  19. Royce, a single DL locomotive only uses approximately 2000 litres on a return run Auckland – Tauranga. Given most of the trains are 1600 tonnes on average, that’s near half a litre per tonne in one direction. That’s quite exceptional compared to other modes of transport, and makes it hard to justify electrification. Especially when one looks into the mining of materials required for an overhead…. copper and other metals(overhead wires), steel(masts), lime, coal(for making steel), diesel(anyway, for all the construction equipment).

    1. Well I am not advocating electricatiion from Auckland to Tauranga just the use of the sections that have already being electrified.

  20. Just how much “wining-and-dining” was done by the oil lobby in getting KR managers and board members to want to de-electrify NZ railways? How many European villas bought for retirement?

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