Errr I think this is telling to go for Electrification
A fellow citizen (Mr Rob Ford) has filed a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) request to Auckland Transport on the cost of getting batteries either retrofitted to the existing electric train fleet in Auckland or possibly as addition when more EMU’s are purchased (most likely as part of the City Rail Link package).
The full LGOMIA chain can be read here.
The context around the LGOIMA is that electrification and our electric trains only go as far as Papakura on the Southern Line. The old diesels are needed to shuttle passengers between Pukekohe (the last actual station on the Southern Line) and Papakura where passengers have to transfer over. To electrify and build two new stations (Paerata and Drury South) would cost $110m as of 2013. Given that the Drury South Special Housing Area, and heavy industrial complex are both already under construction and the fact the Wesley College SHA (the largest at 4,500 homes over 30 years) is due to start earthworks either late this year or early next year the two new stations are going to be needed very fast.
Now there are headaches with funding and politics to get the wires to Pukekohe and the two (although Council wants three now) stations built hence an apparent interim solution to put batteries into the EMUs to allow them to run between Papakura and Pukekohe until eventual electrification is done.
An excerpt from the LGOIMA:
What is the estimated cost associated with purchasing a new battery train and retrofitting an existing unit?
Battery powering Auckland’s new EMUs to enable operations outside the electrified network is still
under investigation but analysis completed so far is promising. Further engineering investigations are
required to determine the most appropriate battery technology and how to integrate the battery and
existing EMU systems for best control and operation. Delivering the required range and speed
performance within mass and volume limitations, while maintaining fire safety and whole of life cost,
isn’t the easiest problem to solve.
When the work is further advanced accurate cost estimates will be undertaken and decisions made on
whether retrofitting or building new vehicles provides the best outcome. Your request for this
information is therefore declined under section 17(g) of the LGOIMA as the information requested is
The total project cost including 57 x 3 car EMUs, depot, on-board signalling equipment and all
associated activities was $630m. The price premium to include batteries and associated control
equipment is somewhat difficult to predict due to the rapidly developing battery market which is
experiencing cost reductions. Our current planning estimate is for a 20% cost premium.
Source: LGOIMA via fyi.org.nz
Now I interpreted the 20% premium is $126m (of the $630m total cost quoted above) while others have said that 20% premium on fitting a battery is on the individual EMU unit. In both cases they are right depending on what you are trying to achieve. If we are looking at four new EMU’s just to shuttle between Papakura and Pukekohe then yes the 20% premium applies to the individual unit. BUT Auckland Transport and Transdev Limited do not like running dual fleets (we had that with the diesels and still have it now with the diesel/EMU mix) and would want to retrofit the entire fleet to give that homogeneous fleet (hence the $126m cost). One benefit of retrofitting the entire fleet is that if the mains power goes out (it has) the EMUs would have enough battery power to finish their runs.
The point though is do we want to sink $126m on retrofitting the fleet with batteries or just hurry up and electrify the line for $110m and get two stations put in as well?
I believe electrification would be the priority
A big thank you to Mr Ford for his LGOIMA request in the cost/benefits of putting batteries into the EMUs.