Bikes on Busses!

The article below was published online on the Stuff website on May 9th. Its about time we saw bike racks on Wellington busses – I first used them in Christchurch in 2010! Even cities in the US have bike racks on their busses!

Big ups to the student groups that lobbied the local bodies to get a discount on student fares. Continue reading →

More Roads to ease the congestion?

The original piece by Michael Barnett was published on Stuff on 9 May, 2017.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Otaki MP Nathan Guy visit the Transmission Gully worksite.

OPINION: Travellers on the NZ Transport Agency’s new $630 million Kapiti expressway are questioning its benefits. Some peak hour travellers report a doubling of travel times.

One only needs to look at Auckland to see the folly of building more and more motorways to solve congestion and our leaders continue to offer this as the solution. On a recent tour of the Transmission Gully project, Transport Minister Simon Bridges brushed off suggestions that this will simply move the “chokepoints” further along Wellington’s motorway. Continue reading →

Toshiba targets European hybrid locomotive market

This is an example of railways using technologies to their advantage. Judging by the uptake of Hybrid cars, and more recently electric cars, electric is the way of the future!
GERMANY: Japan’s Toshiba and DB Cargo have agreed to undertake a feasibility study for the joint development and subsequent purchase of an initial 100 battery-diesel hybrid locomotives for shunting and short-distance freight operations. Test vehicles are expected to be available by the end of 2019. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Toshiba has supplied Japan Freight Rail Co with locomotives powered by a lithium ion battery topped up using a small diesel engine.

Continue reading →

KiwiRail to Dump Electric Trains – Dominion Post

The following article was first published in the Dompost in January. A list of other articles, opinion pieces and documents that relate to KiwiRail’s Electric Trains can be found here

KiwiRail has announced plans to ditch its North Island electric rail fleet and replace with diesel freight engines – a decision derided by environmentalist and Opposition MPs. 

But chief executive Peter Reidy says the switch will improve reliability and efficiency for Kiwirail’s customers.

Plans to replace 16 electric trains – each about 30 years old – which operated between Hamilton and Palmerston North would see diesel locomotives begin operating in phases over the next two years.


An electric freight train is to become a scarcity in the next two years.

Continue reading →

KiwiRail “EF Q and A”

KiwiRail’s reasoning or defense for quitting Electric Trains is published below, and can also be found on their website. I’ve added a few comments in blue.

A list of other documents found online media is in this post 

Why is only part of the NIMT electrified?

The project was one of the so-called “Think Big” projects of the Muldoon era and a response to the oil price shocks of the 1970s and early 1980s. A factor in the decision was that the diesel locomotives at the time were not powerful enough to transport the freight up the gradients in the central North Island, meaning a second locomotive had to be used. Electrifying the relatively level sections of line between Wellington and Palmerston North and between Te Rapa and Auckland was not considered economically justifiable at the time. Technology has advanced to the point that diesels can now deliver this horsepower. The DL locomotives are powerful enough to negotiate the gradients without needing to be doubled up.

NZ first used DX class locomotives in 1972. Compare this with the Chinese DL locomotives, and they are the same weight, horsepower and drive system. Just that 1972 was 14 years before the first EF locomotive.

The poor reliability of the DL locomotives means that they are often doubled-up  Continue reading →

KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line

I can’t read this with a straight face.

The title implies that KiwiRail have been mulling over the ‘decision’ for a while, just that they had to write a press release and make it seem credible to get it over the line. Then they gave up, wrote some drivel, and released it the day before Christmas in the hope that no-one would see it. Happy reading, especially the bit where the CEO drags Air New Zealand into it.

A list of Electric train press articles is here.

KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line

21 December 2016 11:11AM

KiwiRail will improve its reliability and efficiency for customers by employing an all-diesel fleet on the North Island Main Trunk line, KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says.

The small fleet of almost 30 year old electric trains that currently operate only between Hamilton and Palmerston North will be phased out over the next two years and replaced with diesel locomotives. The decision allows for the electric infrastructure on the line to remain in place and be maintained to a safe standard for any future use.

The North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) runs from Auckland to Wellington but is electrified only between Hamilton and Palmerston North. Mr Reidy says KiwiRail is essentially running “a railway within a railway” by having the electric section.

“Imagine having to change planes at Hamilton and again at Palmerston North, just to fly from Auckland to Wellington. That’s not efficient, it’s more costly and ultimately delivers a less reliable service.

Continue reading →

KiwiRail de-Electrification

KiwiRail has decided to axe the electric locomotive fleet running between Palmerston North and Hamilton. This post aims to document all the news media on the topic.


The below article was published on the Scoop website in Scoop website in August 2015. In the 18 months since this was written, it seems like nothing has happened on the BRT front.

BRT in Wellington is a white elephant; a time waster. A “seen-to-be-doing-something” project.

It has no merit, except for lining the pockets of consultants who claim to be experts in the field, or at least are leveraging that. In reality, if the project was about real-world outcomes and the consultants got paid based on the physical outcomes, and not writing pre-determined reports, they would have gracefully told their customer how retarded they are and suggested something better, or run a mile. Continue reading →

Upper Hutt Station – Second Track, Second Platform

Probably the biggest choke point on the Hutt Valley train line is between at Upper Hutt and Trentham, where commuter trains leaving Upper Hutt have to negotiate a stretch of single-track between the two stations. Continue reading →

Container Hubs in the Hutt Valley

The big growth in rail transport around New Zealand recently has been around container terminals (CT) or intermodal hubs, where containers are railed between the hub and a seaport with the benefit of taking the container closer to its destination without having to contend with road traffic near the port.

Examples around the country are numerous, from a container hub between Lyttleton and Woolston to longer distances like between Palmerston North and Tauranga.

At the moment, the Hutt Valley and Greater Wellington region have no such arrangements, despite the local port, CentrePort, being a major port for the lower north island.

Ironically, Lower Hutt did have a container hub on the Gracefield Industrial Line, but it closed in April 2002, as a result of the Car Assembly Industry closing in New Zealand, and a subsequent drop in freight going to Lower Hutt in General.

straddle crane, container crane

Straddle Crane at the Wiri Inland Port. Small cranes like this are used to move containers around the site and between trains and trucks

Continue reading →