Just over a week ago, the government and Kiwirail officially kicked off about $1.1 billion of works to improve the rail network in Auckland. This work is on top of the $4.4 billion for the City Rail Link, and in some ways could be considered is about getting the network ready for a post CRL world. Part of it also includes the works for which the rail network was slowed down for six months from yesterday. I’ll look at each of the components of the works but let’s start with that slowdown.

Network Renewal

It turns out that Auckland’s rail network is in much worse shape than previously thought and as mentioned, from yesterday the rail network was slowed down to a maximum of just 40km/h for the next six months while repairs are carried out. This compares to being between 80 and 110 km/h previously. Auckland Transport have had to change timetables as a result and it means:

  • The Western Line from Swanson to Britomart will be 10 minutes longer, taking 1 hour and 6 minutes.
  • The Southern Line from Papakura to Britomart will go from either 50 or 52 minutes to 1 hour and 7 minutes.
  • The Eastern Line from Manukau to Britomart will go from 37 or 39 minutes to 51 minutes.

Kiwirail say the issue is caused by Rolling Contact Fatigue (RCF), which “has become increasingly prevalent on the Auckland metro rail network“. They also say “It occurs when the stress created by contact between rail and the rolling wheel of a train causes the rail to develop cracks, and those cracks to grow“.

This is same issue that has led to a lot of disruption on the Eastern Line recently but Kiwirail say:

recent testing across the Auckland metro network has indicated wear on the tracks is more widespread, with repair work required more urgently, than previously understood

They estimate about 100km of track, about half the network and some of which is relatively new, now needs to be replaced but because the wear is spread throughout the network they’ve imposed the 40km/h blanket speed restriction so that a consistent timetable can be operated.

Back in April Waka Kotahi NZTA approved $183 million towards these and other renewal works and is why the testing was happening and repair work is able to happen. It is also why a specialist rail grinding machine was already on its way from Australia to work on the network.

What I find most frustrating is that we’re now into the 15th year of rail upgrade works where nearly every Christmas/New Year as well as most public holidays and many other weekends the network is shut down for major works and yet we’re still in this position. What have Kiwirail been doing all this time? It feels like Kiwirail have been maintaining the network like a lowly used freight network.

As part of the fix, instead of slowing the entire network down for six months,  I wonder if there was an option where they focus resources on one line at a time so that at least that line could get back to ‘normal’ as soon as the works are completed. Alternatively, I wonder if it was possible to shut down the network for say 2-3 weeks to get the work done – a case of ripping the plaster off fast instead of pulling it off slowly.

Speaking of getting back to normal, we know that our trains could and should be running much faster than they currently do and yet they run much slower than those in other cities. Personally, I’d be a little more accepting of the situation if I knew that at the end of it it meant our rail network was up to spec and could support running trains to the levels expected but as of yet there’s no indication that will happen.

I do hope that as part of this, Kiwirail putting in in place changes to how they maintain the network so this doesn’t occur again.

Wiri to Quay Park – Third Main

We’ve talked about the third main many times before but Kiwirail have put some information about it on their website. As we learnt earlier in the year with the NZ Upgrade Programme, $315 million has been put aside for it and as part of last week’s announcement, Kiwirail said that Downer had won the contract to deliver the project.

“The tender evaluation team was unanimous in recommending negotiations for a final contract continue with Downer. In both non-price and commercial attributes, Downer was ahead.

There are three key aspects to the project

The Westfield and Wiri Junctions

This is the work that will be starting soon and at a high-level:

Westfield and Wiri are the busiest junctions on the rail network for both freight and commuter trains. The works will improve the way the junctions connect between the rail yards, EMU depot and the main line

It’s a shame we’re not grade separating these junctions at the same time.

The plan to grade separate the Westfield Junction

Middlemore to Wiri (3rd main)

Kiwirail say this section won’t actually start till 2022 but when it does it will see a new track on the western side of the rail corridor and it seems Kiwirail actually need more land in places to enable this work.

One of the biggest challenges is at Middlemore Station though.

At Middlemore Station a new platform and overbridges will be built so people can access the station, and cross the rail corridor safely. We recognise this is well used by commuters, residents and those accessing the hospital. We are working with both Middlemore Hospital and Auckland Transport to plan these works.

Middlemore is a tricky site and I’m interested to see the designs. I also hope they’re actively future proofing them for at least four tracks.

Speaking of four tracks, it really feels like something we should be doing now at the same time given all the plans for improved rail services in Auckland and future inter-regional trains. I understand the fourth main would go on the eastern side of the current tracks but it would also involve a lot more property purchase than the 3rd does and would require rebuilding, or adding new spans to bridges along the route.

Quay Park

The Quay Park works are much smaller by comparison.

Works will be within rail land and will see us separating out freight and commuter trains so the slower freight trains won’t delay commuter services.

To do this we are changing the track layout to provide separate rail access to the Ports of Auckland freight yard, and installing two additional scissor crossovers to enable more operational flexibility.

Papakura to Pukekohe Electrification

Like the third main project, this is one we’ve talked about a bit over the years and it too will also start later this year.

Like with the Downer comment, this one seems to be aimed at the whinging earlier this year largely from Fletchers at being overlooked for the job.

“Electrification of the line between Papakura and Pukekohe will be delivered by eTRACS – a consortium of McConnell Dowell and John Holland, with KiwiRail again leading on track and signals.

….

As with the Papakura to Pukekohe electrification contract, KiwiRail received no wholly-New Zealand-owned bids in its competitive tender for the Wiri to Quay Park contract. Audit New Zealand was the probity advisor in the tender process.

The NZUP allocated $371 million to complete the project which feels very high given the entire Auckland network was done for about $500 million only 6-10 years ago. One part of that cost is that it will require a new a new power feed to complement the existing two that supply the network currently.

Like with when the rest of the network was electrified, the signalling system will need to be replaced to “improve safety and ensure compatibility with the new overhead power system“.

Kiwirail have also decided to lower the tracks that pass under SH1 at Drury. As I understand it there is just one of the bridges is too low and there was some thought that they would wait for the NZTA to replace it as part of the plans to widen the motorway, which was also funded as part of the NZUP, especially given that just 150m northeast of the motorway the rail line crosses the Hingaia Stream. But it seems they’re not waiting.

There are three new stations planned along this section too which are to support all the sprawl that’s being encouraged. The NZUP committed $247 million for two of these stations though it seems that the costs may be for a lot more than just stations and include park and ride and possibly some local road connections. Even so it seems very expensive when you consider the full Puhinui upgrade is costing about $60 million. However, I have heard that the various agencies are now hoping to get a third new station included from within that funding envelope. Both the electrification and station plans are said to be future-proofed for up to four tracks.


All of these upgrades are very much needed and really overdue. One thing I would really like to see from both Kiwirail and Auckland Transport is a commitment to getting the speed of services up and closer to the times Kiwirail set as requirements in the electric train tender before the process was handed over to Auckland Transport.

Share this

72 comments

  1. Greater Auckland is right on! I wish my local transit authorities (Los Angeles, California) would learn from your service and its improvements.

  2. If they are widening the corridor, they need to add a cyclepath at the same time. Building a cycle network centered on the hostipal is a good start.

    1. easier said than done. Kiwirail wouldn’t have the ability to designate/ compulsorily purchase land for a cycleway – it would need to be an NZTA led project

  3. If the actual steel rails on the network are physically wearing out faster than expected, what is the meaning of this? Many nations have systems with far greater truckloads than us, and yet aren’t suffering from Rolling Contact Fatigue (RCF) to this extent – ie London Underground, Paris Metro, etc – why do we have a problem? Did we buy substandard steel from somewhere? Is it because the relatively thin cross section of our narrow-gauge railway is not as robust as the more meaty cross-section of the Europeans? Did we actually make our steel ourselves for these tracks or did we import it? Anyone have any answers? I’d love to know the truth.

        1. Not sure what your comment was or why it has been deleted – but happy to hear your opinions as long as they don’t break the community guideline standards of the blog. I have a genuine query – why are our steel tracks so bad? Thanks

        2. There was an item in Stuff the other day concerning the track/rail wear and tear .
          This from the KR CEO ;-
          “He said significantly increased rail traffic in recent years also accelerated the wear on tracks.

          Some of the network’s rails were 50 years old, others just five years old, and Goff said the cause needed to be understood.

          “If you haven’t identified the cause then that is probably going to recur,” he said. ”

          My Question is where did the new track/rail come from ? . Did they buy a cheap batch from somewhere different compared to what was laid 50years ago or did it come from the same source as the original ?

          .https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/122444447/auckland-rail-disruption-mystery-damage-to-train-tracks-a-real-concern

    1. Somewhere else I saw a comment that the EMUs have fixed rather than steerable bogies which causes greater wear. Don’t know if this is true though.

      1. So why are they reducing the Pukekohe shuttle to 40km/h given there are no EMUs operating out there. Are freight trains also limited to 40km/h from Pukekohe?

        1. “Stuff asked whether it related to new electric trains introduced by Auckland Transport in 2014.

          “We don’t know that yet, but we are certainly looking at that,” KiwiRail general manager Greg Miller said.”

          Deflect, divert, throw a red herring.

          “There is more rolling contact fatigue on the straights and in the corners, we previously thought it was just the corners,” he (Miller) said.”

          Corners? Kiwirail has corners on their track? Does Miller know anything about railways?

        2. Lets keep the comments above a low bar here. We also talk of a car cornering well, yet they rarely ever do 90-degree-instant changes of direction either. It was just a figure of speech.

    2. I suspect could be a bit of everything, we don’t generally do overnight maintenance like some overseas places would.

      I think the main reason though would be the track bed/foundations are subpar perhaps?

    3. Hi, some KiwiRail workers at the coal face told me that the quality of the steel in the rails is very poor as it was a large shipment procured some time ago from China. This is the cause of the RCF which is occurring on straights as well as bends. Unfortunately the board at the time deemed that up-front cost was more important than quality.

      Networks all over the world have much higher loadings and frequencies than we do and they don’t have the problem occurring after just 5 years.
      We should have had the rails manufactured here at Glenbrook, which would have created jobs and ended up with a higher quality product.

      And don’t get me started on the quality of the current crop of DL locomotives, which are so bad that KiwiRail is refusing to pay for them.

      1. Manufacturing rails is specialised, it simply wouldn’t be viable to set up a plant at Glenbrook given the tiny size of NZ’s rail market.

        There are plenty of good quality steel rails available, we just need to fund Kiwirail properly so they don’t default to the cheap option.

        1. True Jezza, unless we decided to export to other rail owners elsewhere? If the product was good enough, why not?

      2. Its not the Chinese rail …. its all the rail … common denominator is the CAF vehicle… they were introduced with a modified wheel profile that obviously is not working… … Mark G … Rail Track Engineer for 43 years

  4. Don’t focus on the train speeds, focus on the very long dwell times. That is where the journey time savings are. If they fixed the dwell times, the journey times would be competitive with other similar rail system (40km/h speed restrictions aside!).

    That said, for all but the Eastern Line you should really measure the times from Parnell to end of route. As after Parnell, to get to Britomart they have to do 25-30km/h for over 700m to get around the Vector arena, which is painfully slow and not really the fault of AT/Transdev/CAF. Also for Western Line I assume the dwell when they change ends at Newmarket is longer, which again is an Auckland specific quirk that will be removed once CRL is opened, so should be ignored.

    1. If 25-30km/h for just 700m is “painfully slow”, what term would be appropriate for 16km at 40km/h? I’ll tell you what the term is, it’s “I’m taking the car!”.

    2. Yes we absolutely need to fix dwell times but that’s only one part of the problem and this slow down has added 10 minutes or more to timetables. Note I’m not suggesting that making the previous maximum speeds higher will make a big difference.
      But there are other issues too, like on the western line how slow trains are approaching or leaving stations due to all the level crossings etc.

  5. Anyone else find this odd: “There are three new stations planned along this section too… The NZUP committed $247 million for two of these stations… I have heard that the various agencies are now hoping to get a third new station included from within that funding envelope.”

    The costs for these stations was always incomprehensible. Even including park and ride costs and future proofing for extra tracks they seemed too high. So if what Matt has heard about a third station is true, does this not indicate that this was probably intended from the start?

    It seems that the planners know they can get away with putting in huge estimates because no-one will cross-check and then later, their “good economical design” means hey, even more can be built with the same money.

    Matakana Link Rd was another example like this: On 26 September 2019 we heard:

    “Mr Lambert says local people have been asking for a four lane road and that is one of the options AT will shortly be seeking construction prices for. “We will ask for prices on two designs. We already have funding approval from NZTA for the base design which includes 800 metres of four lane road capacity to just before the new bridge. It also includes off-road facilities for walking and cycling. Under the base design the remaining four-laning would be added as a second stage at a later time.
    “But we’re also going to ask our pre-qualified construction companies for prices on the option of four lanes for the full length of the road, including the new bridge, to be built in one stage. “Construction pricing may allow us to get all the four lane work done within the current approved budget.” ”

    And tickle me pink if Mr Lambert’s gut feel that this might be possible didn’t pan out just so. On 4 May 2020 we heard:

    “Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the extra lanes are something the Warkworth community has been asking for.
    “Auckland Transport (AT) has developed a plan that will allow all four lanes of the Matakana Link Road to be built within in the existing $62 million budget,” he says.”

    Wonder how Mr Lambert was able to guess that one?

    It seems that for sprawl infrastructure, whether road or rail, the message is: peg your prices high, very high. Once approved you can play with it as you wish.

    1. I think pretty much all the benefits are from the stations. They have bundled the stations with electrification as the electrification has almost no benefits. A bit of operating cost but nothing like the cost required to achieve it.

      1. If there is no benefit in electrification we should just get Heidi to up the carbon price. Maybe we can have a health component as a fuel tax on trains. Presumably Kiwirail or AT don’t pay road user tax for trains.

        1. The problem is trains are really efficient so you would need a massive carbon price or eye watering fuel cost to justify the cost of electrification.

      2. My understanding is that if you are running a train every 10-20 minutes during the day (as is planned for the Papakura to Pukekohe section) electrification should comfortably pay for itself in less than 30 years.

    2. Unless they add extra tracks, all these new stations are just going to render rail even less time competitive with the motorway.

      1. But would Kiwirail bother to maintain and use extra track even if it was put in. You know I was at Pukekohe earlier in the year and even though there is a passing loop so freight trains can pass the passenger train picking up customers at the station a freight train was held at the station limits for the whole unloading and reloading operation. Sometimes its just easier to do nothing rather than be proactive to keep the system running on time.

        1. I have travelled to Pukekohe via DMU several times per week during daytime for last three years and I have never seen a freight train using the loop to pass a waiting DMU at the station. There is often a northbound freight held at signals about200m south of the station until the DMU service leaves. I always assumed reason for this was the DMU reaches speeds of 90+km/h whereas the freights are much slower 40 to 50k. So delaying the freight let’s DMU run faster to Papakura.

  6. John Holland? *yuck *

    Hope they operate better than their Perth counterparts. We have a term here called the ‘John Holland factor’.

    Underpriced bids to win the project, large variations and screwing down subbies for every cent to try scrape a profit. Fun times.

    1. I have no idea about this specific company – but the first two (underpriced bids, large variations) are pretty much a given in any tender regime that “values money” above all. If the weighting is like 60-70% price, as it often is in Govt contracts in NZ, what are you going to do as a contractor? You won’t win on quality and track record and so on. That’s literally the smallest parts of what you will be selected for.

      I understand public money needs to be wisely spent, and rorting is a fact of business for some. But if your basic tender system is designed to choose the cheapest contractor every time, what else expect a race to the bottom can you expect???

  7. I don’t trust Kiwirail any more than I trust AT. I suspect leading figures in both those organisations of being actively antipathetic to commuter rail and think that cutting down timetables, thus ruining the good work that Auckland’s done over the last 15 years, is a positive bonus. If we get the pesky commuters off more room for log trains?

    1. No sign of any log train on the Auckland network since they shut down the Wellsford siding because of safety concern last year. So that theory flies out the window. Kiwirail and its predecessors love shutting down freight operation if they can’t get money from customers to update the customer sidings. Blackmail really. I see the Peter Baker siding at Westfield has being pulled up last week presumably so work can be start around the junction. Wonder how far they will extend a third main on the Eastern line towards the coke siding at Sylvia park. Maybe that will go as well wouldn’t be surprised. Every thing becomes easier if you don’t have to shunt pesky customers sidings.

      1. Kiwirail was set up to fail, literally. The organisation was designed to manage the decline of the rail system.

        They don’t understand growth and have neither funding stream or organisational capacity to plan for development and expanding markets or services.

        The fact they have been caught out by the high maintenance requirements of a heavily used urban railway is no surprise, they only have the money and staff to manage a lightly used rural freight system.

      2. At this point in time there will be nothing coming down from the North as most of the track has been removed for the upgrade of the NAL , and hopefully it will be back to full use at Christmas . I posted this on youtube showing some of the work happening on the line ;-

    2. This why the national rail above ground infrastructure (track, bridges, signalling and train control) needs to be taken away from Kiwirail and made as a state entity under the Ministry of Transport and treated a national steel road like the the state highway network is.

  8. I have no idea about this specific company – but the first two (underpriced bids, large variations) are pretty much a given in any tender regime that “values money” above all. If the weighting is like 60-70% price, as it often is in Govt contracts in NZ, what are you going to do as a contractor? You won’t win on quality and track record and so on. That’s literally the smallest parts of what you will be selected for.

    I understand public money needs to be wisely spent, and rorting is a fact of business for some. But if your basic tender system is designed to choose the cheapest contractor every time, what else expect a race to the bottom can you expect???

  9. AT’s train department has always been overly conservative and doesn’t really care about speed and convenience. It is bureaucratic and staff just want job security and always oppose any improvements. The attitude is always ‘can’t do/too hard’.
    Any improvement should be avoided and the performance bar should be set as low as possible.

    If it is a Japanese private operator, those improvements would be done in the first day.

  10. On the subject of budgets having capacity, how much more would building following now cost:
    -4th main
    -electrification to Pokeno with station at Tuakau

    Lowering the tracks under the motorway at Drury doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that should be done given proximity to sea level and predicted rise over the next 100 years, and the existing flooding that the stream experiences.

    1. 4th main:
      A lot more cost and a huge delay of time, as it requires purchasing a whole lot more properties and designing and funding the replacement of a lot of bridges and structures that only have room for three tracks.

      Electrification to Pokeno:

      This would approximately double the cost as it is more or less the same track length and number of stations as Papakura to Pukekohe. Pukekohe to Pokeno is 16 km, and it would have three new stations assuming you do Buckland as well as Tuakau and Pokeno. The better approach would be to start the planning and design work so you can shift the team to that as soon as Pukekohe is finished.

    2. At some stage soonish NZTA will be replacing that bridge. When that happens I’m sure KR will be quick to dump a bunch of ballast and raise the rails up. Shouldn’t be hard to raise the height of the OLE either. Whole thing could be done in a week.

  11. RCF is also occurring on straights which is pretty interesting.
    This might be caused by:
    -rails are not hard enough
    -rails are not profiled correctly
    -traction loads are too high / high contact stresses
    -no maintenance

    Questions need to be asked around how it could be left to get so bad that rails need replacing, rather than just grinding. This is a well recognized phenomena and something Kiwirail should be on top of.

    1. Electrolysis/corrosion due to electrification. Don’t ask me the mechanism. Some sort of interaction at the junction between iron and carbon crystals in the steel. Still you may get that from continually stressing the steel as the trains ride over it. And it’s happening on the straights as well as the curves. I wonder if its happening on the Onehunga branch no freights there. Would be interesting to make a comparison between there and the Papakura Pukekohe or maybe on the Glenbrook branch because of less traffic to see if anything can be spotted. I heard they are going to grind the surface again but that will only fix it for a couple of years. Maybe it was about ten years ago when the had the grinder here before.

      1. There are dozens of research papers on RCF, here’s one.
        https://www.speno.ch/images/speno-docs/english/REI_Recommendations_for_strategic_rail_maintenance_in_Europe.pdf
        It contains some interesting conclusions which I doubt are happening in Auckland. For example…
        “In principle, any preventive cyclic grinding starts with the initial grinding of new rails just after their installation. The best results are achieved by grinding within six weeks following installation, with a maximum of three months in exceptional cases. “

        1. So looks like it’s much more likely the result of failure to maintain by the owner… KiwiRail.

          Used to only running low volume declining network, not a medium-ish volume urban railway.

  12. The rail network condition is incredible… Imagine if essential maintenance was deferred on Auckland’s motorway network so long that the speed limit had to be cut to 50km/h.

  13. OK, conspiracy theory but this comes from some of the guys who actually work trackside at KiwiRail – they are saying the problem is the current set of rails are inferior quality Chinese steel hence the early failures. Unfortunately they have huge amounts of these in stock and are using it on the NAL upgrade. TBH it will probably be OK up there because nowhere near the volume of traffic as Auckland.
    The other thing I have been told is that the latest consignment of Chinese diesel locos have arrived with Chinese engines rather than the Rolls Royce ones that were ordered. They are constantly in the workshop and KiwiRail have refused to pay for them. Not confirmed but that is what the guys were saying.

    1. I think some of the western people are too innocence to trust the Chinese provider based on their promise and lies.

      Like the Chinese Communist Government, the Chinese business has a culture that is generally not very trustworthy and usually not fulfill their promise.

      People get what they paid for.

    2. The rails being inferior Chinese product is quite likely, there’s been similar problems like this in the past. As for the new locos having the wrong engines in them, that’s extremely unlikely. As for the 40km speed limit, KiwiRail is very risk-adverse, they’ve imposed blanket 40km limits before, raising eyebrows with some Australian rail operators.

      1. China has the largest high speed rail system in the world, they can produce excellent quality goods including rails but they also produce a lot of lower priced items which would be irresistable to a cash strapped company like Kiwirail. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a contract for the exclusive supply of rails to Kiwirail over a lengthy period in return for a special on price.

    3. Given that China also produces very good quality steel as well surely the onus sits with Kiwirail to not procure the crap Chinese steel.

    4. Well KR people claiming bad materials not insufficient maintenance needs to be taken with at least a grain of salt, don’t you think? Not that that let’s KR off the hook anyhow; they are the specifiers of all rail materials and rolling stock…

    5. Jason – I am incline to agree with you. You can not rule out the possibility of China made rails to suit Kiwirail’s budget.

      This why the national rail above ground infrastructure (track, bridges, signalling and train control) needs to be taken away from Kiwirail and made as a state entity under the Ministry of Transport and treated a national steel road like the the state highway network is.

      1. Yes, it has happened before with the Cambridge Bypass project and inferior reinforcing steel. I would say you get what you pay for and if you don’t do your own quality control testing then you will likely end up with inferior product.

  14. Given the COVID demand and reluctancre to fully return to packed trains, I do wonder if they could have taken a more extreme measure of a full closure – and taken on a larger programme of works.

    3rd and even 4th Main enabling.
    Platform extensions where relevant (9 car operations are in the long term plans)
    Puke, Otahuhu, Henderson station works

    anything else – especially with the aim of dwells (camera/sightlines for DOO)

  15. Let’s join up some dots here. From Watercare – where a do-nothing, grossly overpaid fat cat CEO has just bailed well ahead of copping any heat for this coming summers water shortages – to the Ministry of Health’s incompetents trying to manage the pandemic to AT and Kiwirail we’ve got an entire generation of managers who got appointed to their jobs because they are good at keeping costs down. They are no good at planning or doing anything, just managing doing nothing & telling the boss what they want to hear.

  16. You hit the nail on the Sanctuary, 30 odd yrs of piss poor management systems across the whole of Government on keeping the costs down. Without any thought at any long term planning and let alone redundancy planning when plan A goes to poo. As we have seen with Covid19 both here in Oz and in NZ.

    Kiwi Rail like the NZDF have both been in managed declined since the 90’s which has Manning drop to the bare minimum, Depots/ Bases shut down or close and maintenance of infrastructure deferred over the 30yrs. I saw a NZDF report of deferred infrastructure maintenance from the last 30yrs is now nudging to some eye watering amounts of many Billions of dollars. Kiwi Rail is even a bigger shit fight that even speed on Class 1 Rail is now 80kph not the usual 100kph to110kph before privatisation in the 90’s by the “No Mates Party”.

    1. I think alot of started with the Lange gov’t when it came into power and they laid off most of the track maintaince crews and now look at what is happening , no experience staff in the system .

  17. Well Aucklanders, you’ve forgotten the benefit that could be obtained by extending the 25Kva OLE all the way to Te Rapa!
    I have used the suburban system many times on my visits, and found it worked very well, with the new electrified system far superior to diesel-hauled “subbies”. The superior acceleration of electrically powered railway locomotion is the main benefit to users. For freight over longer distances and challenging terrain (NIMT central section), the power-to weight-ratio of the Class 30’s is a great improvement over diesel-electric haulage.
    For many years the so-called “electric trunk” has been talked about, but for some unknown reason no politician has ever seriously advocated it!
    Extending the Wellington 1,500v DC to Palmerston North/ extending the 25Kva to Waikanae would make that possible. Depending on the cost one of those two scenarios would be chosen and the Class 30’s retrofitted for the alternative voltage. In addition more new locomotives may be needed, and secondhand or new locomotives are available to fill that need. It is a pity no-one raised that possibility when the order to retain the 30’s (after overhaul) was given.
    Now to your rail problems. In the UK they close down whole sections of main-line railways at appropriate times to facilitate renewals of track. As that would not be possible in Auckland the new slower timetable is the only alternative. It may well be that any new rail used in recent years was inferior, but the 50+ year old rail clearly is good quality.
    The alternative is, of course, bus replacement, and I can assure you that would not be the way to go having experienced that in the UK! Freight would still need to use the tracks if passenger trains were stopped.
    Short-term pain for long-term gain: “you cannot bake a cake without breaking eggs”

    1. The problem is Auckland has been having short term pain in its rail system for the last 15 years and it’s starting to not be very short term anymore.

    2. ‘No politician has ever advocated for it’

      The Greens have always advocated for it! Were instrumental in getting Clark led to reinvest in AKL rail (project dart) and it is still the core of their transport policy.

  18. Urbanista, your comments noted.
    In the Westminster system the power is in the Cabinet.
    MP’s not within (Ministers outside/ without portfolio and backbenchers don’t
    count) This applies much more to NZ. In UK with nearly 700 MP’s backbenchers have more power.
    If the Greens have this policy, it has not been circulated to the general public, as I
    would have heard of it with my strong interest in railways and politics in this country
    for over fifty years.
    If this were the case did the Greens advocate the Class 30’s to be considered for
    dual-voltage modification when the Labour-led coalition Government directed KiwiRail to refurbish?
    Sadly many people in Government think of good ideas in policy areas but have no
    actual knowledge of detail. This is where this would have been picked up by anyone who knows about railways and in particular the possibilities for the long-term future.
    An example is National saying they will electrify Waikanae to Otaki. Why not Palmerston North and be done with it? Now is the better time as in five/ten years the cost of that extra kilometers of work could have possibly doubled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *