KiwiRail says its new order of 15 class DL diesel-electric locomotives will not predetermine their electric train service that runs between Hamilton and Palmerston North.
The company has bought 20 electric trains. There are 16 operating electric locomotives. Ten are required to operate on any given business day.
KiwiRail has signed an agreement with CRRC, a Chinese train manufacturing company, to build the new locomotives.
Despite asbestos problems with the older DL fleet, Radio New Zealand reported, "KiwiRail has spent at least $12 million clearing the material from the engines, and documents show that 24 - at least half of them - that had been given the all-clear still contain asbestos."
KiwiRail says it does its own quality control checks to make sure its contract conditions are met.
The company says, "CRRC had to meet considerable costs as a result of its failure to adhere to the contract condition that the locomotives were asbestos-free. This provides a strong incentive to ensure the new build is asbestos-free. KiwiRail will also be conducting its own quality control checks to ensure that the contract conditions are adhered to."
The fourth batch of DL class engines "will be basically the same as the current DLs with agreed modifications to braking and steel collision strengthening to embrace ongoing improvements to the performance and reliability of the fleet," says KiwiRail.
KiwiRail needs to add 15 locomotives to its fleet to be able to keep moving the 16 percent of New Zealand's freight that it transports annually.
"Going into 2018 without new locomotives would mean a shortfall in capability and a loss of revenue," says KiwiRail.
"Twenty-three locomotives are expected to reach the end of their useful life between now and the peak freight period in 2018, even with the refurbishment of other locomotives."
When the new trains enter service in 2018 they'll be part of the North Island rail network.
Photo Credit : Tommy Secker