NEW Zealand railway KiwiRail has signed an agreement with Stadler for the supply of 57 diesel mainline locomotives worth around €228m. The order, part of a wider framework agreement, is the first in New Zealand for the Swiss manufacturer.

The Co-Co monocoque 1067mm-gauge locomotives will be manufacture at Stadler’s facility in Valencia, Spain, and will be customised to meet KiwiRail’s requirements and specific operational schemes. The locomotives will be introduced for freight and passenger rail operation predominately on the South Island network, which features challenging track topography, between early 2024 and 2026. KiwiRail says the procurement process “attracted the world’s top four locomotive builders.”

The locomotives will be compliant with the latest European Stage V emission standards, resulting in a 25% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions and a 30% reduction in particulate emission as well optimised combustion, lowering fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The two-cab, narrow body locomotives will be equipped with a diesel engine providing 3MW of power, allowing KiwiRail to haul trains with fewer locomotives. Each of the two cabs will be designed in close cooperation with KiwiRail and according to the latest European standards aiming to achieve an ergonomic, comfortable and safe working environment for KiwiRail’s engineers.

The locomotives will be equipped with an auto engine start stop (AESS) system, which can switch off the engine when the locomotive is idling, saving fuel; a driver energy reduction and advisory system to support the locomotive and drivers to achieve optimal energy performance; and a train handling system to manage asset fatigue and energy performance.

A new remote diagnostic system will also provide KiwiRail with instantaneous fleet location, speed, fuel tank status and battery main switch status; a summary of mileage and energy consumption; fault records; and locomotive condition.

“Right now, our 65-strong South Island locomotive fleet has an average age of 47 years,” says KiwiRail group chief executive, Mr Greg Miller. “Our machines have been used for 17 years, on average, beyond their economic life. The fact that some of our machines are closer to 60 than to 50 means reliability is a real issue. Some of our machines have had three complete rebuilds over their lives, at significant expense. And we’ve still been using 1970s technology in those rebuilds.

 “The dual-cab locomotives Stadler Rail are building for us are state of the art. Onboard diagnostics systems will give us real-time information about the health of our locomotives and enable us to predict when faults could potentially occur, improving overall reliability of the fleet. This is a major advance beyond the 1970’s technology we have been using in our South Island fleet.”

“We are very proud to have signed our first contract for New Zealand and are fully committed to a long-term partnership with KiwiRail,” says Dr Ansgar Brockmeyer, executive vice president marketing and sales, and deputy CEO of Stadler. “With our wide portfolio of modular and customised vehicle solutions, green traction concepts, digital solutions and tailored expert support services, we indeed see the opportunity to provide further value to KiwiRail and New Zealand mobility beyond the delivery of the first project.”

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