Point of Order was lamenting in an earlier post how the taxpayer has to suck up the $35m cost of the of the Ardern-Peters government’s decision to retain electric locos, soon to be refurbished, on the Main Trunk Line between Hamilton and Palmerston North.
This in effect was a reversal of the decision taken two years ago to ditch the North Island electric locos and replace them with diesel-powered engines.
What Point of Order failed to mention in that earlier post is that the latest batch of KiwiRail’s new DL class diesel-electric locomotives has arrived at the Port of Tauranga.
The 15 engines, ordered in 2016, are joining the 48 the national rail operator already has on its books, bringing the total number in the class to 63.
So the reduction in emissions from the “dirty” diesels which the ministers were boasting would result from the decision to retain the electric locos is a bit of a mirage on their part.
The diesels, after unpacking and initial testing at the Mount Maunganui KiwiRail yards, will be transferred to Hamilton to be commissioned. They’re expected to see service on all main lines in the North Island, including the East Coast line through Tauranga, and the North Island Main Trunk.
The move to add a further 15 locomotives to the DL fleet was made by KiwiRail following its controversial decision to mothball the Main Trunk electrification.
Last year, as the incoming government, the Labour-led coalition pledged to direct KiwiRail to reverse the decision to discontinue using electric locomotives on the Main Trunk.
The state-owned company insists it needs the new locomotives regardless of the electrification issue to replace ageing engines in its fleet.
So good luck to KiwiRail as it copes with the doubling-up of service facilities, inventory, training and maintenance required with two separate systems on the Main Trunk line, which it earlier argued was one of the compelling arguments in replacing the electric locos with diesels.
Maybe it has found a way of ensuring that doubling- up doesn’t add to inefficiencies and unreliability.
Or maybe not.