Electric trains to stay on track
The Government is keeping electric locomotives on the North Island Main Trunk Line running 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 and shareholding Minister Winston Peters says refurbishing these trains in New Zealand was looking to the future of our environment and economy.
“We’re making the right decision for the long term. 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,” says Winston.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford says this decision supports the Government’s wider $4 billion package in public transport, rapid transit and rail.
“Rail connects regions with the cities and helps create a more modern, sustainable transport network. Keeping the electric trains shows that we are continuing to invest in the future,” says Phil.
Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw says New Zealand can’t move to a zero carbon future by moving away from clean energy.
“Choosing to invest in clean, electric transport is essential to meeting the challenge of climate change.
“Keeping the electric trains on-track is the right thing to do for the future of rail, particularly as we investigate options for further electrification of the network and the role of hydrogen-fuelled trains,” says James.
The Government continues to work with KiwiRail, including through the Future of Rail project, to consider how the Government’s environmental objectives can be supported through investment in rail.
The project will assess the effectiveness of New Zealand’s current rail operations and identify the role it can play in supporting urban development and the growth of our freight and tourism sectors.
Rail workers celebrate decision to keep electric trains running
The Rail & Maritime Transport Union welcomes the decision to keep KiwiRail’s electric locomotives running on the North Island Main Trunk.
The government has honoured its campaign pledge, committing an extra $35 million to refurbish the 15 electric engines currently in operation between Hamilton and Palmerston North.
“We’re thrilled to see the Labour-led government protecting Kiwi jobs,” says RMTU General Secretary Wayne Butson.
“Union members, environmental campaigners and industry experts have all spoken out about the importance of investing in electric rail, and we clearly have a government that listens to the people.”
If KiwiRail had been permitted to go ahead with its plans to replace the EF Class electric locomotives with DL class diesel engines imported from China, it would have added an extra 12,000 tons to New Zealand’s carbon footprint while jeapordising local jobs.
The plans were announced in 2016, despite internal studies suggesting the DL locomotives are unreliable, overly expensive and at risk of asbestos contamination.
“Our position has always been that New Zealand must electrify more of our rail network, not less,” says Mr Butson.
“The highly skilled workforce in KiwiRail’s workshops can now build a modern, sustainable fleet of locomotives that will be the envy of the world.”
The RMTU and its allies in the International Transport Workers Federation are part of the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy initiative, a global campaign to prevent damage to the environment, create green jobs for transport workers and campaign for climate justice.