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.

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90 comments

  1. How often do we even have issues with supplying power to the trains? The reasons to buy IPEMU look like a stretch at the best of times. I’m pretty sure AT can find a better use for those 20mil.

  2. Is is true that a power outage on the 25kv overhead would also take out the signalling and render the electrically powered track points useless? Has this ever happened?
    So having ipemus is pointless in any power outage?

    1. I’d have expected that the signals would run on an independent line. The 25KV overhead would most likely be rather unclean (lots of electrical noise and occasional dips), or so I’d have thought.

      Regardless of what AT has said, Kokam themselves say that they’re still using lithium-ion battery tech. According to their website electric vehicles use NMC (like most ebikes now), but they also have lithium titanate (very safe, 20,000 cycles) though these have less capacity that NMC. Source: http://kokam.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/SLPB-Cell-Brochure.pdf

  3. Auckland electrification was greenlit in 2007, with work starting in 2011 and being completed in 2014.

    Pukekohe hasn’t been greenlit yet, so full completion in 2023 seems about right assuming it gets the go ahead in 2018. Will be a good 2-3 years of planning prior to physical works beginning.

    It does seem to be a silly track to go down sticking with the battery option. So they keep the ADLs in use until 2023 instead of 2020, big deal.

    1. Yes was approved in 2007 but then put on hold and reevaluated again I’m 2008-10 when national reconfirmed they’d do it. But much of the work was in deciding what kind of system to use. All of that work is already done now. The toughest part should be around some of the bridge works but even so, 5 years is a long time

  4. You would think in a power/signal outage BEMU trains would still be able operate on a go slow approach. Then again if the lines are blocked with stopped EMU they won’t get very far.

    As for Puke, if they wanted to they could have lines strung up within a year… it’s not that big of a job! It probably relates to upgrading the motorway underpass replacement and potentially other rail upgrades.

    1. Yeah that will be what it is. Track condition is terrible past Papakura and the switches are still manually operated ffs.

      I don’t think it should take 5 years but do want to get that section of track up to standard at same time.

          1. They had a local desk at Pukekohe until last month…but manual is a bit of a stretch; conjures up images of a mechanically-interlocked lever frame with rods and bellcranks. It was electrically-actuated turnouts operated from miniature levers as the photo in the Post shows.

      1. Electrification to Pukekohe will trigger a complete renewal of signalling between Papakura and Pukekohe as the existing signalling is not immune to electromagnetic interference from the traction power supply

    2. That makes sense about the track. But that will be an issue whether battery or wired. If they can’t run full speed trains for five years they might as well electrify while they do the track. In the long run it has many advantages.

      CAF have been doing a battery/super cap tram project in Kaohsiung (Taiwan) but they are behind schedule. Battery technology is improving but overhead power is still more reliable for now. The shunting argument is irrelevant as most electric trains have small batteries to move them from track to track in the depot.

  5. There is no (real) argument that the main trunk line needs to be electrified and extending the electrification South from Auckland should be the first priority. However there could be a very useful role for battery trains to extend the passenger service out in other directions. In the book “Time to Eat the Dog?”*, Brenda and Robert Vale showed that the most efficient method of transporting people is actually the Limburg Cigar battery electric trains from the 1950’s (range of up to 400km, 398kWh battery 0.04Mj/passenger -km when full compared to 0.50 MJ-passenger-km for a UK Intercity 125 electric train (page 118)). Do we actually need the cost of all those overhead lines for no freight services?
    *Time to Eat the Dog? had a question mark after the word dog and contained no recipes. The point of the the title was that owning a large dog had the same carbon footprint as driving a large fossil SUV

    1. “a UK Intercity 125 electric train”

      Intercity 125s are diesel powered so I would be wary of Brenda and Robert’s claims. Hope no dogs were eaten on the basis of their conclusions.

      1. Sorry I meant 225 UK electric trains, (not 125) were 0.52 Mj/passenger – km compared to 0.04Mj/passenger – km for the battery electric Limburg Cigar trains of the 1950’s.

        1. The specific energy figures can be explained by considering the speeds that these units operated at. 225 km/h vs 90 km/h and the fact that the ET 517 battery electrics ran in relatively flat areas. If you want to increase the energy efficiency of trains then run them slower.

    2. Interesting concept and I just requested the book from the library to check it out, but if the article I just read about it is correct,

      “One hectare of land can produce 135 gigajoules a year, which means the vehicle’s eco-footprint is 0.41ha – less than half of the dog’s.”

      Then it’s a bit of a disingenuous comparison because people generally aren’t powering their SUVs from hectares of land, but from other types of fuel that have completely different impacts, not to mention the auxiliary costs of vehicle use, such as tire consumption/pollution, etc. Furthermore, those comparisons seem to be simply using the amount of meat and grain in feed and using the average cost of production of those items, disregarding the fact that pet food is most likely produced with rejects from human food production. For example, male chicks in egg laying facilities live about 20 minutes before being tossed alive into a meat grinder and processed for dog food. That meat is produced as a function of egg consumption, not pet food consumption, so buying less pet food will have very little impact on that production.

    3. Actually, didn’t the dog have twice the footprint of an SUV? I went to a presentation by Robert Vale after the book was published and he also said (I hope I remember this right) that Japan doesn’t grow enough of its own food to feed its pet population. Anyway, I couldn’t google fact check this just now, but I did see that Japan grows a very low percentage of its food compared to other countries (e.g. only 5% of its soy beans) and also that they have more pets than children. (Sorry, I guess that’s a rather tangential post!)

  6. My understanding the biggest delay in electrifying the Pukekohe section is the Gt South Rd overbridge just south of Drury.
    I remember being on the first DMU that past under it, we had to stop and then proceed slowly to ensure it would clear the bridge.
    If the DMUs just clear that bridge than it will be difficult to impossible for the EMUs to clear it.
    Depending on how much extra clearance is required there are two choices, a) lower the track or b) raise or rebuild the bridge.

        1. I may be wrong but I think the NZR&LS took a DMU our to GVR labour weekend 94 for their Golden Jubilee but it’s a long time ago and I don’t think that was he first time they had been out that way. Either 94 or 95 was the first summer they ran regular Xmas services to Puke and GVR and may have also done the Santa Parade then too.

          1. The Railway Enthusiasts Society took an ADL/ADC set on a tiki tour around the Auckland suburban system in July 1993, on the day before the set entered regular service.

  7. I have a hard time imagining that KiwiRail would really take five years to electrify the remaining line. Isn’t that the same time that they took to do the initial electrification?

    AT appears to be either misinformed regarding battery tech, or they didn’t read the boring bits. Kokam themselves say that they’re still using lithium-ion battery tech. According to their website electric vehicles use NMC (like most ebikes now), but they also have lithium titanate (very safe, 20,000 cycles) though these have less capacity that NMC. Source: http://kokam.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/SLPB-Cell-Brochure.pdf

    1. The five years will include planning, and procuring, which will be extensive. All new signalling will need to be planned, designed, ordered and manufactured, and there will be track upgrades too. If they get the go ahead in 2018, then 2020-21 would be a reasonable start time, then two years to actually do the work for a 2022-23 completion.

      KiwiRail has previously indicated they want Pukekohe electrification to include a third track but whether that’s still their stance or not I don’t know.

      If AT hadn’t stuffed up the new Pukekohe interchange, and put the suburban platform at the bus platform site, the project would be a lot simpler. But for reasons I’ll never fathom, they want the EMU’s to continue stopping on the freight mains, which means a lot more track and turnouts will need to be electrified there than would have otherwise been necessary.

  8. How about AT get the doors to open instantly on their current fleet of EMU’s and half the time if platform dwell times first!

    Not a big ask, surely?

    1. The doors were being driver operated for a while at some point this year. I remember seeing signs suggesting this was the case up until 7pm (starting at 7am?) but I don’t recall this from my recent trips. I’m not quite sure if this is what you mean by “instantly” but while it does nothing about the middle carriage ramp problem it does speed things up in my opinion.

      Also, to the subject of this post… actually I’m kind of convinced by AT’s arguments and Greg N’s alternative ones with the same conclusion. Furthermore, as a Southern Line train passenger… it’s better for everyone that the Pukekohe people don’t have to transfer (we’d go back to the old days when there was a more even dispersal of people among the seats in the train, and we would have less of the delays/chaos that the shuttle system induces) and the sooner that happens the better.

      1. The doors often open without needing to press the button during the day now, but it is still not instantly. For some reason despite AT advertising this, it does not happen on all services.

  9. I’ll go further, AT need to sort their shit out in other areas that are looming large and potentially rather damaging to PT rather than big spend ups on unproven gimmicks.

    Yesterday it was revealed the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) that was inflicted upon us by Stephen Joyce is causing problems with a major West Auckland bus operator wanting out already. And you can only imagine what will happen if it does!

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/345897/future-uncertain-for-west-auckland-bus-routes

      1. Yes, it’s not as if Pavlovich didn’t know what they were getting into. Given that they have now taken over the majority of West Auckland services it sounds like they have bitten off more than they can chew. Specifically, it seems that they have miscalculated how much money they would have to pay to drivers to keep them working for them. Easy to blame AT, but Pavlovich are themselves responsible.

  10. There were also these comments from the Finance Minister yesterday,

    When asked about the 3rd main and Electrifying Papakura to Pukekohe,

    Mr Robertson says, while the two projects remain Government policy, they’re competing with others in Auckland and further afield.

    “There are other priorities around New Zealand as well, in terms of investing in rail and getting coastal shipping going, improving our regional roads,” he said.

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/12/will-the-government-s-auckland-transport-promises-take-a-back-seat.html

    That to me says that the Transport Minister has done a pretty poor job in convincing the Finance minister of this, especially for the 3rd main which from memory is a ~$50 million project with a fairly quantifiable $100 million benefit.

    Given that Papa-Puke is north of $100 million, I suspect that it may struggle to get to the top of the funding heap……

    1. Yes was going to comment on that as well. Worrying sounds he made there but hopefully not a problem to get done after they prioritise though.

  11. One expects Auckland Transport to have done a full business case exercise into the actual cost of lithium ion batteries in service, or perhaps they haven’t. It seems to me that most of the informed rail and bus operators around the world are not rushing into employing battery powered passenger vehicles because they are aware of the battery life limitations, and hence ongoing costs of lithium ion technology. Lithium ion seems suited for private small vehicles, but not public transport currently. Battery technology is constantly evolving, and costs have dropped, but rushing headlong into using it seems something that those with virtually unlimited access to ratepayer funding will indulge in.

    The Greater Wellington Regional Council voted in 2014 to get rid of 100% pollution free trolley buses, a decision made without a business case, and with no idea of the costs involved with replacement buses. They saw battery buses as the answer but no idea of when and at what cost. They are experimenting, yes experimenting, with building from scratch ten double decker battery buses that will need to spend time off the road during the day to recharge. Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver, Dayton, Rome, cities in China and Europe have recognized the limitations of battery powered vehicles, hence are increasing, replacing, or adding from new modern trolley bus fleets that can operate considerable distances off the overhead wires.

    1. Yes, the trolley buses had batteries for off overhead running in case of emergencies and for suburban satellite routes. Whilst they had lead acid batteries, they were designed for Lithim-oin batteries. Also the trolley buses were tuned for hill operation especially on the Railway Station to Kingston route.

      With regards to the 10 battery double decker buses that Tranzit is buying for the Island Bay to Churton Park route, their service reliability is in question, as previous tests for both hybrid and battery buses in Wellington haven’t that successful due to the hills.

      1. I’d be surprised if the trolleys were designed for lithium ion batteries: I don’t think that they were a viable proposition a dozen years ago; and if they were, I wonder why on the occasions that the lead acid batteries had to replaced that lithium ion ones weren’t used.

        Hybrid and battery buses have been demonstrated, rather than tested, in Wellington, and the hybrid at least seemed to have no problems climbing the Ngauranga Gorge (the route that the double-deck electrics are destined for).

    2. I think you will find that there was a business case done by PWC in about 2013/4 for the trolley bus renewal/ replacement project

      1. PwC did a report on the proposed bus fleet composition and emissions, but it wasn’t a business case for replacement of the trolleys. For instance, I don’t think it took any account of infrastructure costs.

    1. You don’t need or want toxic foam for a Lithium Ion battery fire, just lots and lots of water.

      So not going to be a problem in Auckland I’d bet.

      In any case we’d see more electric truck fires than we’ll see battery powered EMU fires anyway.
      Simply because they’d be involved in way more accidents and there would be more of them on the roads by the time the IPEMUs get operating.

      1. RE: Water, you are being sarcastic right?

        If not, water + lithium = energetic reaction 🙂

        Anyway – Issues with lithium tech comes down to what exact chemistry are you using, along with how you treat it. I’d have no issues whatsoever with lithium titanate, for example – It’s almost as rugged as nickel based tech.

        1. Lol, there is no way that a Lithium Ion battery could be sold in a smart phone if it reacts explosively with water. Lithium metal reacts explosively with water, just like sodium metal. But my sodium ion seasoning doesn’t explode when it hits the steaming water I’m boiling for pasta.

          1. It’s amazing how sodium is so violently reactive and how chlorine so highly toxic… yet put them together.

          2. I understand the point that you’re trying to make, however in this case it’s not valid.

            Lithium Ion batteries do respond badly when the packaging ruptures and the innards are exposed to water (lot’s of examples on Youtube). The packaging can be ruptured due to overpreassure (failure mode) or because it was somehow punctured.

            Phone batteries are encapsulated in so much plastic and sealant that water ingress is not a serious concern. Buy a 20000mAh 4S 10C lipo battery meant for UAVs and the like and it’s a different story. The only protection that you have is a flexible metallic foil that can be dented with your fingernail (don’t do it) or punctured by electronics jabbing the casing (really really don’t do it). When you buy lipo batteries, it’s normal to have lots of warnings to only charge under supervision, to use fireproof bags when charging, etc. Also if you’re in the market for a UAV lipo, you should already know about the dangers of discharging too much or too rapidly.

            Lithium tech batteries, generally speaking, are dangerous.

        2. Jon,

          No suggesting putting water on a Lithium Ion battery fire is not being sarcastic. Its the official/recommended way to treat fires in other vehicles with such batteries like Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs).

          Thats what the Fire Services around the world are told they should do by car makers like Tesla via the “First Responder” manuals they provide on how to deal with any fires with the manufacturers electric vehicles.

          As others have pointed out its not like your a average Li-On battery has tons of metallic Lithium waiting around inside it to be oxidised by water.

          Its bound up as various salts in a liquid electrolyte.

          It is true however, that whenever a Li-On batteries do catch fire they do have their own inbuilt oxidiser from the other components inside it – so once they start burning, there is a lot of energy that is going to be released, and usually pretty quickly.

          Basic fire management techniques – like you were likely taught at school, says you need to remove, at least one of either: the heat, the fuel or oxygen/oxidiser to stop any fire.

          For these type batteries you can’t remove the fuel or the oxidiser [its built into the cells], so removing that heat [and likely some of the fuel/oxidiser] with water is the best way to quell such a fire. Its an effective and safe thing to do.

          1. It’s true that Tesla advise to use water on the batteries, Telsa also advise in the firefighting section that the batteries could burn for 24 hours. This advise assumes that certain failure modes won’t occur, covering themselves with the “24 hour” advice on the chance that they do.

            Lithium ion batteries contain little lithium metal and in case of fire, they can indeed be doused with water. Technically, only lithium metal batteries (think coin cells) require a class D extinguisher. If you look at technical documentation, it tends towards when dowsing a Li-ion fire, use a foam extinguisher, CO2, ABC dry chemical, powdered graphite, copper powder or soda (sodium carbonate) as you would extinguish other combustible fires. Reserve the Class D extinguishers for lithium-metal fires only. If the fire of a burning lithium-ion battery cannot be extinguished, allow the pack to burn in a controlled and safe way.

            With regard to how lithium ion batteries fail catastrophically, if you over-(dis)charge them this can cause electrolysis which can create free metal. If that happens, THEN they could spontaneously ignite like the Samsung Galaxy Note-7’s did. This failure mode results in lithium metal reacting with water, if water is used. Not that we’d be talking about massive amounts of energy added to the reaction, but serious batteries (20Ah 10C for example) demand a lot of respect.

  12. I have no love for wishy washy AT and their frequent backflips and flip flops to avoid inconveniencing motor vehicle drivers.

    However in this case, I am actually batting on their side.

    As it seems to me that AT do have a business case in hand and have considered the alternative option of just buying 17 regular EMUs (not IPEMUs for $20m more).

    The extra $20m for the IPEMUs [the battery powered “IP” part adds about $1.2m per EMU in additional costs], is surely offset against the ongoing costs of keeping the existing ADLs in operation for what must be well past their intended life and maintenance spans?

    I am sure therefore that the $20m headline cost for the IPEMU option is not actually going to be that much and in the grander scheme of things it is a trivial extra.

    While some of the justifications made to justify the IPEMU option do look a little silly they are in truth no more silly than the various justifications NZTA routinely use for why more roads, or more lanes on existing roads are justified. And AT are justifying a level of spending that is several orders of magnitude below what NZTA spends routinely.

    And more to the point, from an operational point of view IP EMUs do help protect AT against delays in electrifying the Papakura to Pukekohe line. Which could be due to Government delaying the approval of the electrification and/or KiwiRail taking longer to start or finish it [because they could by then be tied up with contractors working on building the Third Main further up the line]. And/or the Ohinewai deviation/tunnel proposed elsewhere in this blog gets some traction with KR and the Government instead and that impacts the should we bother with Electrification to Pukekohe decision completely.

    Yes Batteries won’t last 12 years, lasting for 7 will get us to the end of 2024. but by then, considering its costing $20m for batteries now, any replacements will likely cost probably half that in 2024 in todays $ terms.
    So a mere $10m more needed in 2024 to keep the IPEMUs running to the end of the decade. for a total investment of likely $30m in todays $? Its a no brainer really.

    And closer to 2024 we will have CRL coming into play, and [hopefully] a second term Labour-led Government has either just been re-elected for a third term or just about to be kicked out, but leaving a lasting legacy of investment in PT and rail.

    But we need before then is a “gap filler option” to get us there from here, and $20m more right now to bring that option about?

    AT gets my full vote of confidence on this.

    1. +1 good points Greg.
      Those diesels must be getting quite expensive to operate now.
      I don’t see any deviations being an issue with electrifying to Puke as we would either still leave it electrified or could recycle it onto the new route.

  13. re “…being able to move trains to the nearest platform if the power went off..” I take that is you could deploy a bunch of the BMUs to move (admittedly slowly) all the stranded EMU’s, especially those in awkward positions, to let the passengers disembark.

    and the Mt Eden thing would be while at least one track in place but with no overhead wire they would somewhat cover the Western line (and could use the diesels again at Pukekohe during this short period of disruption).

    I also don’t think they would trust that all the stars would align to get the Pukekohe section electrified on schedule, being reality what it is with these projects often.

    Question is: Is the $20 million worth it to cover these risks but at the same time take on more risk in a different area?

  14. Short term thinkers at AT. That is why they get their forecasts wrong.
    They want the Council to pay $20 million more now, which is the cost of one years work on the 5 year electrification project to Pukekohe.
    What I cannot understand is that a lot of planning for electrification to Pukekohe must be done.
    The original Auckland electrification project included Pukekohe as the southern destination. Someone in AT or KiwiRail or the Council must have a lot of detail concerning the electrifying of the line to Pukekohe. It is not as if they are going to invent and design new poles, overhead wiring plans etc that will be any different from the rest of the Auckland network. Do traffic engineers really need to do the same thing differently every time?
    I hope the Council turns them down and tells AT to get stuck in with the electrification to Pukekohe and do it in less than 5 years….
    The supplier must be spinning in his office, as every time the Auckland order is discussed it changes!!!!

    1. “I hope the Council turns them down and tells AT to get stuck in with the electrification to Pukekohe and do it in less than 5 years….”

      Well its not up to AT to do that, thats a job previously done by KiwiRail. As and when their former paymasters [National/Joyce et al] allowed them to do so.

      It may well be that, pretty soon, a “railways track division” of NZTA will take over the managing and provisioning of the rail network, including OLE (Electrification).
      And so KR will step back from having to do that.

      But regardless of who actually does it, or is notionally in charge – one thing is for sure.

      It won’t be AT thats delivering electrification.

      However, they [and thus all PT users in Auckland] will ultimately bear any disbenefits/disruptions due to any delays with completing this essential project, on time and on budget.

      So for AT’s [and our] own self-protection, they are taking a prudent course of action by planning for 17 IPEMUs for an additional $20m more over the cost of 17 EMUs.

      Agree if they were that proactive with other parts of their forward planning then this would not be any talking point.

      But if you’re ever going to improve then you gotta start doing something right somewhere sooner or later.

      So whats wrong with them finally getting something right with the EMUs for once?

    2. Electrification south of Pukekohe was never considered in the original Auckland Electrification Rail Development plan of 2006. The extra cost relative to the relatively few (at the time ) passengers south of Papakura would not have helped the overall electrification business case

      1. I believe they will fit through the Waitakere Tunnel with pantographs down.
        And specifying them with end-doors will get around the tunnel emergency-egress issue.

        1. 17 units with a completely different cab layout just to service Huapai. I suspect CAF would charge a bit more for this re-design. I suspect the more likely benefit from IPEMUs will be freeing up the DMUs to run a shuttle between Huapai and Swanson.

          1. But the dmus don’t have end doors so they offer no advantage safety wise compared to emus wrt waitakere tunnel, do they?

          2. Good point, it seems surprising that it is an absolute requirement, passenger trains without front and rear doors passed through that tunnel numerous times a day up until 2015.

    1. I think you’ll find the coalition of National, ACT, UF and the Maori Party weren’t elected, they lost with less than half the vote. So it’s the coalition of winners that call the shots now.

    2. Dear Vance,

      I’ve written you this ditty,
      As your comments are consistently shitty.
      Can you read and abide our user guidelines
      Lest we have to put you on the sidelines?

      Yours,
      Stuart.

      1. Please be factual when making criticisms.
        To say my posts are consistently shitty is factually incorrect.
        Try directing your hostility to those who’re now in power.
        Just for the record, I support the electrification of the line to Pukekohoe and think the project should be fast tracked rather than money wasted on battery powered trains.

  15. “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.”

    There is much fantastic stuff written on this blog, but this is surely the very best comment. AT needs to focus on getting people onto public transport and while the quality of the product is important the most important driver is price. If endless amounts are spent /wasted on infrastructure then there is less to make prices compelling to encourage usage. And of course with usage comes more revenue.

    Instead of building huge parking structures for park n rides what could be achieved by using this money for great feeder services? I hear your response – AT couldn’t run great feeder services because the arterials are so damned clogged it won’t work. On the North Shore AT could even introduce the new network unless with the passage of time the plans have been lost. And wouldn’t most operators think; let us introduce the feeders and manage demand at park n rides before we even contemplate building more parking infrastructure?

    Perhaps AT’s plan is “build it and they will come”. I am suggesting that a more sensible approach given Auckland’s issues with congestion, economics, pollution and emissions that a more sensible approach would be to encourage demand and then build/buy infrastructure to service it.

    1. It was approved. Mike Lee and 1 or 2 other committee members were against but majority for.

      The supplier of the batteries hasn’t been decided yet out of the Korean and French options.

        1. I have only seen the minutes and video of the meeting posted on their site.

          Might be they want to confirm subsidy with NZTA before announcing jointly and/or wait until battery supplier selected?

  16. Take the number of passengers who will be carried on IPEMUs over the 4-5 years whilst electrification is implemented, then divide the cost of the batteries by that number. Cost per passenger trip is ?

    The environmental and health benefits of not using diesel must be part of the equation, albeit that it comes at additional cost. AT are being responsible with this decision as long as the battery supply contract ensures adequate capacity and durability at no extra cost to ratepayers. The premature death of a young worker is estimated to cost society in excess of $4 million, so any move away from diesel pollution is for the greater good.

    1. You also have to factor in the reduced maintenance costs.

      17 IPEMUs would be about 20% of our train fleet. Over 5 years, you would expect them to carry 20m people. So on the surface that is $8 per passenger trip. However, you still have 17 EMUs after 5 years.

      1. If one looked at the battery cost alone for 20 million passengers over 5 years, it works out at $1 per passenger trip, or a cost to Auckland ratepayers/passenger of 50 cents, and NZTA the other 50 cents. A small additional price to pay for new trains which are required anyway to service increasing passenger demand. As you comment maintenance costs will be less for IPEMUs and energy costs lower too.

  17. Whilst the council may have (foolishly) voted in favour of pursing Battery EMUs, AT will still need to get funding commitment from the NZTA / Government for it to happen. If the Finance Minister Grant Robertson is talking about other more pressing transport projects to be funded nationwide, funding Battery EMUs is not likely to be a priority and will likely end up with the same outcome as earlier in the year when NZTA declined funding Battery EMUs.

    The more sensible practical thing to do in the interim would be for either AT or the Government to undertake a full rebuild and upgrade of the ADL DMU fleet. This would be far cheaper, could be completed quicker and would provide Pukekohe passengers with a better service until the electrification is completed.

    A full rebuild of the ADLs could also include installing fire suppression equipment which would enable the ADL DMUs to be used to start a new Henderson-Huapai shuttle service to the rapidly growing area around Kumeu / Huapai (which would address the Waitakere tunnel issue). Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has already announced that the Government has committed $800m of funding to upgrade the North Auckland Line and build the Marsden Point Branch, so with the NAL upgraded, a DMU shuttle service to Huapai could very realistically be implemented.

    If AT won’t / can’t get funding to rebuild the ADLs, another option could be for the Government to purchase the ADLs and the remaining SA/SD carriages for KiwiRail and to carry out full rebuilds of the ADLs (together with refurbishing SA carriages for other new services around the country – Hamilton-Auckland, Christchurch suburban) and lease the ADLs back to AT until the electrification to Pukekohe is completed.

    Once the electrification to Pukekohe is completed, the Government could redeploy the ADLs to start a new suburban rail service operation in Tauranga between Apata-Tauranga CBD-Mt Maunganui-Te Puke. Tauranga is rapidly growing and getting Auckland style road traffic congestion, and with much of urban Tauranga spread out along the rail lines, it is ideally suited for a suburban rail service operation, which the ADL DMUs would be ideally suited for.

    All in all, the above would be a much better use of resources with benefits to a much greater number of people.

    1. That was the proper decision for Auckland Council to make. The IPemus will provide a one seat solution for those commuters from Puke within the term of this govt. Then when electric overhead goes in to Puke the IPemus could extend metro service northwards to Helensville, south west to Waiuku or further south to Pokeno etc. The cost of battery banks is continually decreasing as new tech improves power density and longevity.
      The ADL fleet may be uneconomic to rebuild/refurb/update but in any case a diesel solution as any part of Metro is not going to be that popular.
      Also don’t think you can base NZTA’s funding decision on previous history as they now have new govt masters with more positive views on PT.

    2. If the North Auckland line is going to be upgraded then the Waitakere tunnel would also need to be enlarged otherwise upgrading the rest of the track is somewhat pointless if you can’t run containers through the tunnel.

      If the govt NZTA stumps up the readies to electrify out to Pukekohe they should continue the electrification to the start of the electrified end of the main trunk, then you could run regional EMU’s to Hamilton.

  18. Regarding Kumeu/Huapai BEMUs, they would only need to use their batteries through the Waitakere tunnel and possibly beyond to Waitakere station because of bridge clearance issues at the overhead bridge at the southern end of the station yard Before and after that there is no reason why catenary could not be strung.

    1. OLE wouldn’t be strung up any time soon. What they likely would do however is put up a very short length above the stations since a BEMU could get a boost charge while stopped there.

      1. That is likely what they would not do. Each station would need an independent connection to the HV network (110 kV) and a 110 kV/25 kV transformer. For any significant charge to be transferred during a stop of, say, 30 seconds the transformer would have to be very large and very, very expensive. It would also have a very low duty cycle. There would have to be interlocks to ensure that the pantographs are down before the train can depart and interlocks to ensure that they cannot be raised where there is no overhead present. An additional delay in the station stop/start sequence which is already too long.

        There is a slightly better case for the station at the end of the line but as a capital investment it would still represent very poor value for money.

          1. …compared to 1.5 to 2 hours under the wires on the electrified sections.

            What, precisely, is the problem that this is the (expensive) solution to?

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