Yesterday I wrote about the Briefing to the Incoming Minister from the Ministry of Transport. The post was already fairly long, so I left some of the other items for a second post, which is today.
The Kiwirail BIM is one of the most interesting to me as they are starting to show some ambition for the rail network whereas up until recently most of their focus has been on day to day survival.
Most of the BIM is fairly straightforward, talking about the organisation and the rail network. Where things start to get interesting is when they start talking about sustainability and that includes this section
As well as the new ferries, progress towards a low-carbon future for KiwiRail will likely be dependent on:
- Further network electrification where the economic and carbon case is clear (usually on intensively used routes).
- On less intensively used routes where electrification is not justified, a combination of battery and hybrid technologies should be phased in as rolling stock approaches scheduled replacement. This includes:
- Bi-mode locomotives – can operate on electrified network or diesel engine. Provide continuous journey along partially electrified routes without a change of locomotive and eliminates unnecessary diesel usage.
- Tri-mode locomotives – combination of bi-mode and hybrid technology in one trainset. Can run on electrified network, diesel engine, and battery power
I think this is the first time we’ve seen them talk publicly about wanting further electrification and looking at hybrid technologies, though they’re still really just monitoring developments in this space. It is however significant given just three years ago they were looking to turn off the electrified section in the Central North Island in favour of running more diesel trains – elsewhere they note that the refurbishment of their existing electric locomotives is expected to be complete by 2023.
It also ties in with the most interesting section which is looking at potential future investments.
Just a few comments on these:
Electrification – One of the powerful opportunities that things like hybrid technologies allow is that we could then set up an ongoing electrification programme where every year a set amount of funding is provided to wire the network. We currently run bespoke projects where every time we have to bring in the expertise and set up temporary supply chains etc. Overseas, continuous programmes have seen the cost of electrification (per km) fall as it allows rail providers and suppliers to invest in personal, processes and gives certainty to suppliers. Hybrid technologies mean we too can follow that route and mean that we wouldn’t need the entire Auckland to Hamilton corridor to be finished before it’s of any use.
Stratford to Okahukura Line – A paywalled article from BusinessDesk suggests the cost to reopen the line is around $40 million.
Level Crossings – I would hope the $2 billion they suggest includes more than just Auckland as otherwise it would put the cost per crossing at close to $65 million each – which is huge given many will likely just be closed and not grade separated and that Newmarket project a few years ago cost just $10-15 million.
Auckland Metro Network – It’s good to see Kiwirail talking about the need for a fourth main, it’s just a shame it couldn’t be being done at the same time as they’re adding the third.
While not part of this BIM, there was also an interesting article on Stuff that suggests the government are looking at the future state of Kiwirail and if it stays as a commercial entity.
Kiwirail’s future as a commercial state-owned enterprise (SOE) may be numbered in the wake of the impact of the Covid pandemic, a government document suggests.
Ministers have asked the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport to consider Kiwirail’s “entity form”, a briefing paper released by Treasury on Tuesday stated.
“Public benefit expectations and public funding of KiwiRail are increasing and so the SOE Act may not provide sufficient levers to achieve ministers’ ownership objectives for KiwiRail,” the department advised.
Treasury said it wanted to engage with ministers about its objectives and priorities for Kiwirail, “including its corporate form.”
Giving the current and increasing role Kiwirail play, making changes here seems like good idea.
Waka Kotahi NZTA
Waka Kotahi’s BIM isn’t nearly as interesting as Kiwirail’s but there are a few things in there worth noting, such as this map highlighting their current capital projects
They note that some of their big NZ Upgrade Programme projects are due to start construction this year including widening the Southern motorway from Papakura to Drury, Takitimu North Link (Tauranga Northern Link) and Penlink.
Project NEXT, the new national PT payment system gets a mention
Project NEXT is a partnership that aims to procure a national system for paying for public transport tickets – using mobile phones, credit cards or paywave. The integrated national system will replace Auckland’s HOP, Wellington’s Snapper and Canterbury’s metrocards with a single ticketing solution.
Waka Kotahi is the lead agency within the Project NEXT partnership, consisting of ourselves, Auckland Transport, and 11 regional councils. Our role will be to procure the national ticketing solution on behalf of all public transport authorities and to provide back office services.
A streamlined payment system is aimed at increasing public transport use and is one of the many ways Waka Kotahi is looking to make public transport more attractive and to reduce dependency on car travel.
The request for proposal (RFP) for the national ticketing solution was released in April 2020, with responses due back later this year. The RFP evaluation period will then begin, with a view to selecting and contracting with a preferred supplier in 2021.
We would expect the build to commence early to mid 2021, with roll-out from early 2025.
Of course, they already have a ticketing system in use that the explicitly brought to become the national system but they’re starting from scratch.
Tolling – Waka Kotahi are concerned about the funding of the transport system, saying “funding sources are not sufficient to fund the NLTP and/or meet ministerial and stakeholder expectations“. They also say they’re working with the ministry to “to develop road pricing options to secure a sustainable funding stream for the NLTF”
Part of that is clearly around tolling as they are keen to make use of it in more situations, noting:
However, with the assessment of Ara Tuhono – Pūhoi to Warkworth, and the introduction of the NZ Upgrade Programme, Waka Kotahi is widening the use of tolling permitted under the existing legislation but also looking to initiate work into the current legislative constraints tolling encounters. This work is the first step to Waka Kotahi working closely with the Ministry of Transport on considering the need for legislative change.
Earlier this year they consulted on tolling the new Puhoi to Warkworth motorway when it opens but it appears the actual decision on whether to do so will be up to the government. They also state they are going to do tolling assessments on the big new road projects included in the NZ Upgrade Programme (Penlink, Tauranga Northern Link, Omokoroa to Te Puna, Otaki to North of Levin, Whangarei to Port Marsden and Mill Road). Assessing them for tolling doesn’t mean it will happen – although it’s worth noting the government said when announcing it that Penlink would be tolled.
Let me know if there’s anything that stands out to you that I’ve missed.