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admin 07.03.2015

By Matt L, on October 24th, 2013The first of the trains is in the country and undergoing testing with the good news being that the testing is going well with the train performing well. The first EMU operated successfully under its own traction power within the depot on 30 September following the first weeks of static testing and commissioning in preparation for dynamic testing from the weekend of 5 October. The second train is in transit to New Zealand, due to dock around 4 November, with the following trains due to be shipped at 2 weekly intervals. So all up the electric trains are 54% cheaper to run on a per kilometre basis than our existing trains which is a massive difference. As mentioned the costs above only represent one part of the cost of running the rail network and many of those costs will not change with the introduction of the EMU’s. The big thing that would impact on the operational costs from running more trains is the need for additional staff. Being able to run more services for the same amount of money is the kind of story that Auckland Transport need to be shouting from the roof tops. It would be interesting to compare these operating costs with other transport options: ferry, bus, LRT. Depreciation costs on the new trains will be significant compared to the assets they replace.
The business end of running the new trains must be about delivering an improved EBIT line from passenger and revenue growth as much as driving savings. Unions definitely have a role to play, but resisting the benefits of technology is not one of them, IMO. From the perspective of the union members though who are TMs though, you’d be pretty annoyed if you had been paying for union membership and the union not advocating for your job to be retained.
I take it you’re pretty fit from not taking all those staff less elevators about the place. By idling they consume fuel and also require that the ventilation fans at Britomart be running at a higher rate than they would otherwise need to be.
So surely, the reduced costs of Britomarts ventilation bill should be included as well by AT?
Technically, when idling, the immediate cost per km would be $? ($infinite) (not $0) as it is using fuel while not moving anywhere.
They presumably include idling and out of service running in the per km figure, averaged across.
Matt, did they give you a figure on which trains the diesel figures were based on, or was it averaged across the whole fleet? The reason I ask is that the EMUs are both bigger and faster, meaning they can move a lot more people at a given number of service kilometres. I think what Nic means is that if you compared the cost *per seat-kilometre* then the cost advantage of the EMUs would be even greater than the 54% differential quoted in the post. Basically, the running costs of an empty EMU is under half that of the same empty Diesel unit. Which in theory means with EMUs the farebox recovery percentage automatically goes up – even if everything stays the same passenger number wise?
So, what we have here in a nutshell is that the EMUs are the brand new Airbus 380’s of the PT world, compared to the old DC-8 and DC-10 diesels we have in use now.
Good news, but won’t the cheaper running costs only slightly offset the government loan repayments for the new trains?
Electric trains are generally larger in terms of capacity, faster and quieter than those that run on diesel engines.


Since the first public railway opened in England in 1825, rail transport has spread rapidly around the world. Street tramways were a popular form of transport in major cities throughout the world during the 19th and 20th centuries. Trams were abolished in Brisbane in 1969 when a major program of freeway construction commenced.
The first electric suburban Set 01 stands at Roma Street station next to the newest Set 278 in November 2009. In 1899 the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company purchased three electric locomotives to haul ore on its underground rail system.
Electrification of Brisbane’s suburban railways was not seriously considered by the Queensland government until the late 1940s. Coal haulage from central Queensland mines to ports at Gladstone, Hay Point and Abbott Point comprise a significant proportion of all freight on the Queensland Government’s rail network. Rail travel in Queensland sped into the future when the Rockhampton Tilt Train entered service in 1998. The French Train a Grande Vitesse (TGV) was the first regular high–speed service in Europe. Railway engineers have long dreamed of creating a rail system that does not use wheels and eliminates direct contact between train and track.  Maglev is the solution. Maglev – or magnetic levitation – works on the principle of magnetic forces that opposite poles attract and like poles repel. Very powerful magnets, known as superconducting magnets, are used to propel, lift and guide the train along the track. To see our content at its best we recommend upgrading if you wish to continue using IE or using another browser such as Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome. The first of Auckland’s fleet of new electric trains are on track to arrive from Spain within 12 months. In a report to this morning’s Auckland Council Transport Committee, it was confirmed that the first train would leave Spain, where the manufacturer CAF is building it, in June and arrive in Auckland in August.
Production of the trains began at the CAF factory in Spain’s Basque country last month two weeks ahead of schedule. In the meantime, good progress is being made on the electrification of Auckland’s rail network ahead of the arrival of the new trains. KiwiRail is on target to have the necessary infrastructure in place by the time the first train arrives. Some quick calculations suggest that on the current rail network the trains run about 3 million kilometres per year and so based on that figure it suggests fuel and maintenance costs are currently about $24 million per year. This is especially important with so many people concerned about rates and council finances. In the long run they seem more likely to reduce productivity and thereby lower overall employment in the wider economy. By extension this will reduce the number of services we run, thereby reducing the number of train drivers that are needed. This would be a better allocation of the same labour resource as it would provide more peak services.
Anyway if we are looking are future big increases in rail frequency all this will mean is not hiring new staff, and reallocating existing staff to services than need them. I suppose a better figure would be average cost per km from the end of the previous trip (to include terminus idling) to the end of the current trip.


Work was commenced but abandoned during the 1950s in favour of diesel electric locomotives. Since 1974 more than 1000 km of track has been electrified including the Brisbane suburban network and the main north coast line from Brisbane to Rockhampton.
The advantages of electric locomotives soon saw diesel replaced by electric locomotives including. Passengers enjoy many luxuries including comfortable seating and modern video and audio systems.
These vehicles can travel at over 200 kph on dedicated tracks and provide a high level of comfort for passengers. Development continues and researchers predict that trains could travel at average speeds of 400 kph in the future.
Resignalling has been completed, the wires are already up on the Onehunga line and on the western line from Swanson to Avondale and 75 per cent of the mast foundations required for electrification are in place.
We have put up with the current fleet of aging diesel trains for too long,” says Mayor Len Brown. We all suspect that because the trains will be running on electricity that they will be cheaper but the question is just how much cheaper. The good news is that thanks to Auckland Transport I now have some information that can help to answer that question.
By comparison running the same frequencies with electric trains would save about $13 million per year. So good for passengers, good for the city, good for the environment and good for the  accountants. Hence inflating the demand for labour for onboard staff depresses the demand for labour elsewhere.
Be a shame to talk up a storm in a tea-cup without having some more information what is being argued by either side. Even more so if we only ramp up security after we have run down the safety reputation of our system, and lost patronage because people are afraid to get mugged on board. Long distance transport of freight by rail is economical and minimises impacts on the environment. They moved heavier loads at faster speeds and at the same time made savings in fuel and maintenance. High-speed trains have developed as an alternative to air and road travel as airports and roads become increasingly congested. That’s not too bad however the real benefit comes in the future when we want to run more services. That should mean we can improve both peak and off peak services for little or no additional overall cost and boosting frequencies can have a really positive effect on patronage. Trains such as the Tilt Train have made travel much faster and recent developments such as Maglev technology aim to make train travel faster, quieter and more sustainable.
The cost per kilometre for running our new electric trains compared to what we have now is below. We could easily see the number of service kilometres double from what they are now and so the good news is that if that were to happen, the train operating costs would still be less than what they are now.



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