Thursday, July 18, 2024

Electric locomotives back on track

The Government is welcoming the return of a stalwart of the New Zealand’s rail sector, with today’s completed refurbishment of the first electric EF locomotive.

“The Government is upgrading New Zealand’s transport system to make it safer, greener, and more efficient for now and future generations to come. Rail is a key component of the system and is well suited to efficiently moving large volumes over long distances,” Transport Minister, Michael Wood said.

The Government invested $35 million in the refurbishment, extending the life of KiwiRail’s fully electric EF locomotive fleet for at least another 10 years.

“It’s great to see the first one completed here today,” the Minister said.

“These locomotives are around 35 years old, and as with any machine that age, they have some challenges. The easy thing would have been to get rid of them and just use diesel locomotives on the line. But that would have been a wasted opportunity. Instead KiwiRail has worked with local businesses to replace key components and have their electronic systems modernised, significantly improving their performance and reliability.

“I look forward to seeing the fleet progressively refurbished and returned to service over the next two years.” 

“Not only will the refurbished locomotives continue rail’s low emissions, their improved reliability will allow them to be used more often – helping get more freight onto rail.”

Budget 22 saw a further $349 million investment in a programme to replace KiwiRail’s aging locomotives, wagons and upgrade its mechanical facilities.

The latest investment allows KiwiRail to buy up to 29 more lower-emissions locomotives and 140 specialist wagons to help move more freight by rail, reducing emissions and congestion, Minister Wood said.

“We have made significant investments in our national rail network, with $5.8 billion committed since 2018 to lift the network to a resilient and reliable standard through the Rail Network Investment Programme, and for separate improvement projects like electrification between Papakura and Pukekohe and reopening the Napier to Wairoa line.”

“As a Government we are continuing to invest in critical infrastructure to boost jobs and the economy is a key part of the Government’s recovery plan,” he said.

The EF fleet carries freight on the electrified section of the North Island Main Trunk Line between Hamilton and Palmerston North.

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