Electrified North Island main line to convert to diesel as more new locos arrive

FIFTEEN more DL class locomotives ordered by KiwiRail in 2016 from CRRC in Dalian, China arrived at the port of Mount Maunganui, near Tauranga, on October 10.

They were transferred to Te Rapa (Hamilton) for commissioning two days later.

KiwiRail now has 63 of the Chinese-built locos and eight more are on order. The 108-tonne DL is equipped with the 2,700kW (3,620HP) MTU 20V 4000R43 20-cylinder engine.

The latest 15 DLs were hauled by two DL locomotives – Nos. 9233 and 9133 – resulting in an amazing 17-loco movement. The train is seen crossing the Wairoa River, near Te Puna, just west of Tauranga, on its way from Mount Maunganui to Te Rapa on October 12. ROBERT SWEET

It is likely the arrival of this latest batch of locos will lead to the withdrawal of the EF class Tri-Bo electric locos, built by Brush at Loughborough in 1986, on the North Island main trunk between Hamilton and Palmerston North.

KiwiRail has announced plans to decommission the electric locomotives from March 2019, replacing them with diesels.

During New Zealand’s election in September 2017, the coalition government – consisting of Labour, NZ First and the Greens – all said they would reverse the decision to decommission the electric locos.

However, a year later there has been no progress to reverse the decision.

Our thanks to Robert Sweet for some of the information in this report.

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