Government invests additional $35 million in keeping electric trains going

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 31, 2018

The Government is investing $35 million in electric locomotives (EFs) to help meet its long-term emissions goals and boost the economy. The 15 electric trains will be refurbished by KiwiRail and will continue to run between Hamilton and Palmerston North.

The refurbishment of the trains and electric control system is funded with an additional $35 million over four years. This is additional to the $4 billion for public transport and rail under the National Land Transport Programme.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says refurbishing these trains in New Zealand was the right decision for the long term and that replacing electric locomotives with diesel would be a step backwards.

“By refurbishing these locomotives here, we‘re creating jobs in KiwiRail‘s Hutt Workshop and supporting our local rail industry. It just makes sense,” Peters says.

KiwiRail acting chief executive Todd Moyle says KiwiRail‘s decision in late 2016 to retire the EFs was based on the funding available at the time. As part of that decision, KiwiRail committed to continuing to maintain the overhead cables and electric infrastructure on the NIMT, which left the way open for future use if desired.

KiwiRail has been talking with the Government about the possibility of further electrification and is also exploring the use of other fuel sources. Moyle says rail is an environmentally sustainable form of transport, with freight shifted by rail producing 66 percent fewer carbon emissions than freight moved by truck.

“We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and are actively working to reduce our carbon footprint.

“This month, KiwiRail took possession of 15 new locomotives which were ordered before the EF decision was made. These are critical to boosting our busy North Island fleet, allowing a cascade of other locomotives to replace the oldest South Island engines, which average 46 years of age,” Moyle says.