In October plans to purchase battery-powered electric trains (IPEMUs) were scuppered after the NZTA refused to provide their share of the cost of the trains. This was due to election promises by all parties to electrify to Pukekohe sooner than had initially been expected. It came following a previous decision in July to go for the IPEMUs, despite it being revealed at the Council’s meeting where the purchase was approved, that the Auckland Transport Board had barely any oversight of the deal.
Today the Council is being asked to reverse its October reversal and go for the IPEMUs again. In a supplementary agenda item it appears that Auckland Transport’s madly panicked approach to this issue continues. The guts of the issue is outlined below:
There is a bit of new information here, particularly about the business case for electrification to Pukekohe, which suggests around a five-year timeframe for constructing that project. That seems awfully long when you consider it took only 4-5 years to electrify the rest of Auckland’s rail network, surely a much larger and more complicated task.
The paper itself also highlights some apparent benefits from the battery trains. This includes being able to move trains to the nearest platform if the power went off and being able to work though Mt Eden during disruption caused by the construction of the CRL. Both seem quite odd points to make and the kind of thing you would come up with out of desperation.
- During a power outage battery trains would be unlikely to move anyway if all the signals and points were affected. Certainly all the other trains will be.
- If you’re using the IPEMUs on the Western Line for CRL disruption then you can’t use them for Pukekohe services. Most disruption is also likely to be a result of moving tracks, a time when trains can’t run anyway.
In the initial discussion, AT said that the first of new trains would be used to lengthen existing services. Services to Pukekohe wouldn’t be rolled out till around Dec-2020. Overall it seems like a waste of $20 million to get some batteries that will only be used for around 2-3 years.
Auckland Transport needs to stop with its obsession with fancy technology and spend that $20 million on important stuff like improving safety, or buying another couple of normal electric trains.