$126m to Retrofit EMUs With Batteries vs $110m for Pukekohe Electrification?

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
not held.

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.


And away she goes on her maiden trip from Papakura to Britomart on the Southern Line.
And away she goes on her maiden trip from Papakura to Britomart on the Southern Line.





5 thoughts on “$126m to Retrofit EMUs With Batteries vs $110m for Pukekohe Electrification?

  1. Sort out rail electrification to Pukekohe; just get on with it. All this procrastination only drags out the already ridiculous situation we have in regards to the lack of continuity and it also taxes people’s patience. My message to John Key is; forget the pandas instead put taxpayer’s money into community essentials. There’s no point in talking to the world about reducing our carbon footprint if we don’t take responsibility for our own carbon issues. Provide a decent rail system which will encourage vehicles off the motorways. It’s a no brainer.

  2. I don’t disagree if that is the cost then you would just do the electrification, however I don’t think the figures you are mentioning are right because why would AT consider doing it if cost around the same it is illogical. So it must be cheaper or it wouldn’t be “Promising”

    Also the signalling wouldn’t have to be upgraded since the signalling from Swanson to Papakura only needed changing as the old signals can’t work with the 25kvAC since we are just using the batteries we could theoretically operate the trains on a non ETCS system with 2tph & a few freight trains the safety risk is minimal especially since we are talking double track so no head on collisions. Nearly all the near misses under the old signalling were train drivers speeding on their way home anyway after last service anyway.

    It wouldn’t really be a mixed fleet though as the CAF engineers would be trained on 99% of the EMU systems already & would just require a little training. The only difference is they would use batteries rather than 25kvAC traction between Papakura & Puke.

    I expect the plan will be buy 2 – 4 new EMU’s and upgrade 2 – 4 EMU’s

    Though lets hope that Papa-Puke is in ATAP tbh

  3. I don’t think you are reading it right, I don’t think they mean it would be 20% of $630 as that included 57 EMU’s, the Depot at Wiri and upgraded stabling yards at the Strand & Henderson. Basically the EMU’s worked out to 9 million odd per train. I think AT are saying that ordering the extra trains for Puke as you would need extra and not all 57 need to be upgraded would be 20% more expensive so a new EMU with battery functionality would be 10-11 million EMU.

    Or at least that is how I read it otherwise it wouldn’t be “promising” and AT would just spend the money on the infra instead. So if we assume 4-6 new trains with this new ability then it would be 60 million odd which isn’t great but it is 6 extra trains that we need anyway.

    1. Except as I said AT and Transdev will not want to run a dual fleet (they are now with diesel/EMU combination and prior to that pre EMU with 4 different diesel classes) given operations and rotation of the fleet that happens.

      So you might as well go the whole lot and retrofit the fleet out especially if we want to eliminate shuffling around after a disruption.

      Looking at the $60m you have quoted you might as well go use that as a deposit on the Pukekohe Electrification given the CRL package at $2.84b was meant to include more trains and level crossing separations anyhow (or so it was told).

      As for signalling and and the yards? The Pukekohe-Papakura stretch would need to be upgraded to the same as what the rest of the network was (part of the $630m) and given the batteries are likely to be large Lithium Ion batteries that aircraft use (not to the same size of course) handling, storage, fire safety facilities will need to be in place given the mess those batteries cause when something goes wrong.

      In the end we might as well just sink the $110m into the electrification and be done with it.

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