We await KiwiRail’s explaining the benefits of two systems on the Main Trunk Line…

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.


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