The replacement of KiwiRail’s oldest diesel shunting locomotive with a modern zero-emissions equivalent symbolizes the transformation underway at KiwiRail, said interim chief executive David Gordon.
Transport Minister Michael Wood and Climate Change Minister James Shaw joined KiwiRail staff and other guests at a small event at the Hutt Workshops in Wellington this morning to mark the retirement of the old TR56 bypass engine 85 years old.
It is being replaced with a new battery-powered shunt, as part of the government’s $1.6 billion investment in replacing KiwiRail’s aging locomotives and wagons and upgrading mechanical facilities.
“TR56 began working in New Zealand in 1936 and since the late 1960s has been based in the Hutt Workshops – bringing locomotives, coaches and wagons in and out of the workshop. It has served us well all these years, but we have entered a new era,” says Gordon.
“Its replacement offers improved control and safety and is fully electric. It’s part of a revival across KiwiRail that prepares us for a low-carbon future.
Mr Gordon says diesel trains already have 70% fewer emissions than heavy trucks, per tonne of freight carried. However, KiwiRail has focused on further reducing its environmental footprint.
“Like the government, we are aiming to be zero carbon by 2050 and, as a start, we are committing to reducing our overall emissions by 30% by 2030.
“Government support is helping us achieve this by funding the renewal of our aging fleet of Interislander locomotives and ferries with more efficient, low-emission replacements.
“Rail currently only carries about 12% of New Zealand’s freight. If we want to reduce transport emissions, rail must transport more. New low-emission locomotives and ferries will improve service reliability and encourage more Kiwi businesses to put their goods on the rails.
Low-emission investments include:
- KiwiRail has received 14 new 300 ton battery powered shunts and 2 new 110 ton shunts, for use in workshops, and is currently working on purchasing at least 35 larger shunt motors, with the aim that they will be electric or hybrid-diesel.
- KiwiRail has signed a contract with Spanish manufacturers Stadler for 57 fuel-efficient, low-emission locomotives for the South Island. They will be built to the highest European emissions standard (Stage 5) and should start arriving in 2024.
- KiwiRail is modernizing and extending the life of many of the North Island’s electric locomotives, which run between Hamilton and Palmerston North.
- KiwiRail has signed a contract with South Korean shipyard Hyundai Mipo to build two large rail ferries to replace the current Interislander fleet. These new ferries will use batteries and shore-based charging to reduce current ferry emissions by 40%. Ferries are expected to arrive in New Zealand in 2025 and 2026.
The retired shunting locomotive, TR56, is donated to the Rail Heritage Trust of New Zealand, which
will lease it to Silverstream Railway in Upper Hutt. It will be used to pull passenger cars on the short stretch of line owned by the heritage railway.