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New locomotives to replace South Island fleet 


Fifty-seven brand new low-emissions locomotives will boost KiwiRail in the South Island, provide more reliable services for current customers and attract new customers from road through better economics. 

KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller said KiwiRail and Stadler Rail Valencia have signed a binding contract for the delivery of the locomotives, which will be made in Spain and begin arriving and enter service in New Zealand between early 2024 and 2026. The contract price for the new fleet is NZ$403 million (€228 million). 

Miller said there had been a robust international procurement process which attracted the world’s top four locomotive builders. 

 “These are the latest-generation locomotives, which will set up KiwiRail’s South Island freight business for many decades ahead,” he said. 

 “For rail to play its proper role in New Zealand’s freight system, we need our services to be on time, every time. Right now, our 65-strong South Island locomotive fleet has an average age of 47 years.  

“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. Not only will they meet the European Union world-leading emissions standards and see significant reduction in our fleet’s exhaust emissions, they will be fuel- efficient and equipped with a range of onboard technologies to optimise energy use, including a system that can switch off the engine when the locomotive is idling. 

 “Each new locomotive will also be significantly more powerful and efficient than our current machines. This means there will be less need to use multiple locomotives to pull heavy trains – reducing fuel use and potentially reducing fleet CO2 emissions by 20–25 per cent. It also means KiwiRail is future-proofed for the freight growth expected in the decades ahead by having locomotives that can pull larger trains.” 

Stadler Executive Deputy Chief Executive Officer Ansgar Brockmeyer said the company was fully committed to a long-term partnership with KiwiRail.  

“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,” he said. 

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