New Zealand Palmerston North to Te Rapa electrification

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What was the EXACT date that electric working started on the entire section? I can only find "June 1988"

Did it open all at once or were electric locos working on part of the electrified area before it was opened throughout?

Thanks,

Martin Baumann
 
Tonymercury Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: Botany NSW
Deleted
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
As no one else seems to be able to answer this question, I beleive the electrification was completed in 2 stages with Palmerston North to Taumarunui being completed in 1988 and the remainder to Te Rapa in 1989 but I do not know the exact dates.
 
GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Slightly off topic but was there ever an intention to link Palmerston North with the 25kv overhead and to have dual voltage locos? It just seems a shame to have two disconnected sections of electrification.
 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner

Yeah there was, but the technology was too expensive at the time...Also the then Labour government thought the project was a massive folly and simply couldn't cancel it as too much progress was made.
There is Japanese technology availiable and a locomotive of dual voltage exists. It would be more a strain on the DC line as even all three Ea locos running at once can tax the network somewhat.

I,d be more inclined to link the NIMT to the new Auckland network more than anything. Now there's a folly if one!
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Of note buried deep in the Auckland plan is a proposal to electrify as far as Pukekohe in the first 10 years.

As for duala system locomotives with 3 phase drives this is simple and all the standard European designs are capable of being produced in any combination of the standard electrification systems. However for Wellington it is the capabiltiy of the overhead to deliver enough amps that will be the limiting factor.
 
duttonbay Minister for Railways

Official opening was over the whole electrified section on 24 June 1988.

Observer 194 (Winter 1988) says:

Power was switched on for the firs time on 2 March 1987, between Palmerston North and Bunnythorpe, and trial running began between Palmerston North and Marton from 19 May. Energisation of the overhead proceeded in stages, and the last section, Te Awamutu to Te Rapa was switched on from 9 May 1988. The entire system was officially launched on 24 June by the Minister of Railways, Mr Prebble ...

There is also this note under the heading "Class 30 Electrics":

... the first train to be hauled southwards out of Taumarunui by a class 30 electric locomotive was express goods No. 639 on Wednesday 2 March 1988. The locomotives on this occasion were 30059 and DX5039. The first Class 30-hauled train into Taumarunui was Auckland-bound express goods 668 on Thursday 3 March with 30088 and DX5026.


Rails magazine had these reports:

Jan 88: Marton-Taihape energised on 27 October 1987
Mar 88: Taihape-Taumaruni energised 11 January 1988
Jun 88: Electrification will be officially opened June 24. Official train to run Palmerston North to Hamilton .. the first passenger train to be hauled by a Class 30. Meanwhile power was to be turned on over the final Taumaunui-Te Rapa section ... on 9 May, with full commercial operation starting about the end of last month. [May].

I can't find any reference to any actual date of the "full commerical operation".
 
millsy Station Staff

I seem to recall it was approved in 1979-80 and then started in 1984. It is my understanding that Prebble pretty much bagged Think Big, the electrification project and rail in general on his opening speech.

Every time I'm in in that part of the country I have to say I am pretty impressed by the catenary. Though I've never seen an EF loco in action  Sad

Interesting that the electrification came on stream just as NZR was winding itself down...
 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner


Smile The 'Ef' class have a distinctive aureal sound as they whistle past...Equipped with ditch lights long before it became Rail Standard in NZ because of their quiet nature, also a higher pitch horn exclusive to the class gives you notice when these massive locos are around.
 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner


Exclamation A quick reminder that Gunzel Quarterly aka NZ Railfan June 2011 edition does have a long winded artical by Karl Morris regarding the Japanese EH500 class dual voltage locomotives, their adaptation to NZs loading gauge and how it would be easy to extend the DC line up to Palmerston North...
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
I hav't seen the June issue yet but will be interested in what Karl says. Basicaly with modern 3 phase drives there is little extra required to make them dual voltage and as such any loco that fits the NZ loading guage should be easily produced in a dual volt version. However I still believe the capability of the Wellington overhead to deliver enough amps will be the limiting factor.
 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner


Sad Major work would be needed for the Wellington Dc lines...But really easy to do. At the moment the three EO class locos in operation cope but they do have to be carefull since the lines were downrated after the EW class finished in the 1980s.
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
I'm not so sure about the easy to do bit not to mention the cost.

Of course another option would be that when replacing the Ganz EMU's in about 15 years time build the replacements as Dual system and re-energise the overhead north of a change over point between Porirua and Paramata at 25kv ac (11kv if the insulators on this section have not all been replaced with 25kv capable insulators). This means that the high current draw required to lift freight over the Pukerua Bay hill will no longer be a problem and it is possible to limit the current draw to match the 1500v dc system for the remainder of the route into Wellington. Closing the gap to Palmerston North at 25kv ac will be considerably cheaper than at 1500v dc.
 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner


Confused Err... although you are talking about 15 years in the future, I doubt that GWRC factored this into the massive Matangi unit order?

Bringing the Ac lines down to Levin or Otaki would be a better fit as the Dc line would still have passenger growth potential north from current Waikanae.

Had've NZGR gone with Dc for the NIMT way back in 1956, then we wouldn't be talking about this...Diesel was suppose to be a stop gap measure, with the mighty EE Df and DG classes leading the way...but then along came that famous first batch of EMD road switchers from America and the rest was history.
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Confused Err... although you are talking about 15 years in the future, I doubt that GWRC factored this into the massive Matangi unit order?

Bringing the Ac lines down to Levin or Otaki would be a better fit as the Dc line would still have passenger growth potential north from current Waikanae.

Had've NZGR gone with Dc for the NIMT way back in 1956, then we wouldn't be talking about this...Diesel was suppose to be a stop gap measure, with the mighty EE Df and DG classes leading the way...but then along came that famous first batch of EMD road switchers from America and the rest was history.
- alexjc


No problem with the Matangi's if you convert the line north of Porirua as the matangi's can still be used Wellington to Porirua and all other lines. Having a changeover at Levin or Otaki is of course another option that also makes more sense these days than Palmertson North.

Of note the Dc electrification plan was already ditched in favour the 11kv Ac system as used in Sweden, Germany etc before 1956. The cost of providing all those substations for 1500v dc being the killer. Of course in many ways with 25 kv technology just evolving at the time the delay has been for the better in the end.
 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner


Sad Politically, Wellington wouldn't stomach the idea of duel volt units after shelling out $$$ for the Matangi's. The idea of linking the two networks is for Locomotives that could run Ac/Dc.

There was never any intention to operate EMUs...But extending the Dc line to Levin, although as expensive as bringing the Ac line south, seens a logical compromise. By 2020 the EF class will just be past 'middle age' and as their components become hard to obtain (a problem already - typical Buy British trap) then with the Auckland network linked to Te Rapa, a new fleet is feasable.
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
One of the problems is that when the Ganz EMU's are replaced a further round of beafing up the electric supply will be required. By simply restricting the Matangi's to part of the network it then becomes possible to move the substations from the part that they will not run on the beaf up the supply elswhere. The additional cost of building dual voltage emu's will be largely repaid by the reduced costs in providing for the Dc network power upgrade. I don't see that as being a problem politically. It just requires thinking ahead.
 
RTT_Rules Minister for Railways

Location: Dubai UAE
I thought one of the benefits of 1500VDC was that its relatively easy to upgrade. ie if you want to run high HP, just plug in another rectiformer or 10 along the route.

Anyway why worry about the southern end when you havn't done the Nth end. Once a spark can arrive at Auckland, then figure out something for the Wellie end.

Regards
Shane
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
I agree that the northern end will need to be sorted before any prospect of filling in the gap in the wires at the southern end of the NIMT, but by planning ahead the costs will be reduced when it is decided to tackle the job of stringing wires south of Palmerston North.

Increasing the current carried in the overhead for either sysyem is relatively simple whilst you remain within the ability of the overhead to deliver the amps to the trains pantograph. With the Dc system as you say you simply create an extra supply point between 2 existing substations. With the Ac system you can often get away with even less, simply increasing the weight of the conductors supplying the existing substations and adding an extra transformer and smeg switch gear. This normally works out cheaper than creating a completly new substation.

The problem as I see it with the Wellington 1500 V dc system is that I do not believe the current overhead can deliver sufficient amps to a single freight train to climb the banks each side of Pukerua Bay at an acceptable speed.
 
alexjc Deputy Commissioner

The problem as I see it with the Wellington 1500 V dc system is that I do not believe the current overhead can deliver sufficient amps to a single freight train to climb the banks each side of Pukerua Bay at an acceptable speed.
- wanderer53


Smile True...

Karl Morris did say that 'EH' class would simply blow the system apart and that's what would require a beefy upgrade.

Would agree with the common theme here, close the obviously potential gap between Te Rapa and Auckland first!
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Its the logical thing to do.
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
Electrification of the NIMT almost came 30 years earlier
One of the most interesting stories to
emerge along the path to the electrification
of the North Island Main Trunk Line was
the failed attempt to introduce it more
than 30 years earlier.
In 1949, the General Manager of the
Railways Department, F W Aicken
advocated electrification of the entire
line, according to Wikipedia, in spite of
protests from his engineering staff.
Following the Second World War railway
services suffered from skill, locomotive
and coal shortages. Aicken believed
electrification could relieve the coal
situation and prevent high expenditure
on imported fuels.
Aicken sent a technical mission of
four senior officers overseas in March
1949, and travelled overseas himself
to negotiate a tentative contract with
a British construction company. The
Chief Mechanical Engineer and Chief
Accountant specified and costed the
system and Aicken was able to complete
a substantial report justifying the
NIMT electrification and submit it to
the Government.
Staff from New Zealand Treasury, the
Public Works Department and two expertsfrom Sweden commented on the proposal
and in December 1950 the Government
granted approval in principle. However,
Aicken fell out with the then National
Government, and retired as General
Manager in July 1951.
With the change in regime the
electrification proposal disappeared.
A Royal Commission on Railways
established following Aicken's tenure,
rejected the proposal.
Aicken's successor, H.C. Lusty,
terminated the tentative consultancy
contract and ordered DA class dieselelectric
locomotives.
A key assumption of Aicken's report was
that traffic on the NIMT would grow by
50 percent from 1948 to 1961. Since a
diesel-electric locomotive was in fact
a travelling power station, the savings
through electrification compared to
diesel could be regarded as the difference
between the cost of buying bulk electrical
energy generated substantially from
New Zealand resources and the cost of
generating electricity in small plant using
imported diesel fuel – although there was
also significant expenditure on traction
overhead and other new capital works to
take into account.
The 411 kilometre section between
Palmerston North and Hamilton was
electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz AC and opened
in June 1988. The project was essentially
a response to the oil price shocks of the
1970s and early 1980s. An overall cost in
excess of $100 million had been projected
but the final cost was about $250 million.
A significant proportion of this sum paid
for civil works on realignment of the rail
corridor and improved signalling.
The economic benefits of the project were
reduced by the fall of the price of oil in
the later 1980s and the deregulation of
land transport, which removed the longdistance
monopoly NZR held when the
cost benefit report was written. However
Electrification's advantages were reflected
in the economic evaluation in the report,
which showed a rate of return of 18
percent. Sensitivity analysis showed that
this high rate of return gave the project
robustness against lower traffic volumes
than expected.
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
NIMT electrification milestone reached this week
As KiwiRail engineers work on the
electrification of the Auckland rail
network, the business paused this
week to remember a milestone in the
electrification of the North Island Main
Trunk Line.
On March 2, 25 years ago, a ninekilometre
section of line between
Palmerston North and Bunnythorpe was
electrified – the first section of Trunk to
be energised.
Electrification of the North Island Main
Trunk Line between Palmerston North
and Hamilton was one of the “Think
Big” projects, introduced as a response
to the second oil price shock in the
early 1980s.
A number of KiwiRail engineers and
staff members worked on the project,
including Palmerston North’s Dave
Coleman and Wellington’s Allan Neilson.
Today, Dave Coleman is a traction
trainer passing his knowledge and skills
on to others, At the time, he was the
local traction manager responsible for
the building and commissioning of the
sub-stations along the route and was part of the team that carried out the final
inspection of the overhead wires prior to
acceptance from the contractor.
“It was one of the big moments in my
career. It was such a large project,” he said.
Twenty-five years ago, Allan Neilson
was a senior engineer working on the
signalling associated with the project.
Today he’s KiwiRail’s Manager Traction
and Electrical Engineering.
“It was a major milestone in the careers
of the people involved,” he says. “It
was a huge, exciting project. It dwarfed
anything of the kind done before that.”
Allan Neilson says the experience gained
on the North Island Main Trunk has been
valuable as the business works through the
electrification of the Auckland network.
Although contractors did the physical
work of erecting the traction poles and
wiring, the then New Zealand Rail
handled all the issues associated with
electrification.
There were obvious ones like signalling,
sub-stations, earthing and bonding, and
electrical protection for property and
structures. But there were less obvious, but equally important issues, like educating
people about the presence of high voltage
wiring along the rail network.
“We did a lot of work on making the
general public and different groups that
cross the network, aware of the dangers
that electrification brought with it.
“We’ve also been fortunate enough to
retain a lot of the skill and knowledge that
was developed at the time,” he says.
Dave Coleman remembers the mid 1980s
as a time when staffing levels were being
reduced. The practical effect of this
was turning people who had worked in
some other rail discipline, into traction
systems staff.
It also meant having to make do with
a minimum of equipment and very
basic facilities.
“I had a group due to start work in
Hamilton on a Monday morning at
7.30,” he said. “I told Head Office they
didn’t have a vehicle, didn’t have any tools
and they didn’t have a depot.
“I managed to get a second-hand truck
and an old building for a depot that was
falling down.”
 
wanderer53 Sir Nigel Gresley

Location: front left seat EE set now departed
When you look at the map of the North
Island, the sections of line not electrified look
small, particularly as the electrified Auckland
and Wellington networks stretch southwards
and northwards respectively.
The point is not lost on advocates for the use of
renewable energy who argue for the complete
electrification of the line.
Work done back in 2008 provides useful
perspective to this argument. It concluded that
to justify electrification, a route should be all
or most of the following: at or near capacity,
densely trafficked, steeply graded, involve
a long tunnel or be adjacent to an existing
electrified route.
The routes to meet these criteria were
Westfield-Te Rapa, Hamilton-Mt Maunganui
and Otira-Arthur’s Pass. The first two (in
practical terms one Westfield-Mt Maunganui
route) meet the density and adjacency criteria
while Otira-Arthur’s Pass meets the grade and
tunnel test. This is deviating from the North Island Main
Trunk, but given the density of traffic between
Auckland and Mt Maunganui, it would make
no sense to electrify simply to Hamilton.
Another consideration is the incompatabilty
between the Wellington network extending as
far as Waikanae and the Trunk at Palmerston
North.
The cost estimate at the time for the two
most likely routes was in the vicinity of $900
million – undoubtedly more at today’s prices.
Obviously the lion’s share would be taken by
the Westfield-Mt Mauganui route.
The conclusion reached was that money on
this scale could be spent on other projects
which provided significant gains in transit
time, capacity and reliability rather than on
electrification.
Of course, as the NIMT electrification project
itself demonstrated, we don’t know what’s
around the corner. One of the reasons why it
got the green light originally was the impact on
the country of rising oil prices.
There are plenty of analysts thirty years later
who have predicted the end of peak oil. But
for a rail industry that always has to make the
best of a tight budget, today’s realities are more
urgent than tomorrow’s possibilities.
Extension of electrification should remain an
option but ultimately it ranks as a distant priority.
Kevin Ramshaw
Express Editor
 
Been_Benuane Junior Train Controller

I'm shaking my head over some of the above posts talking about extending electrification on the NIMT and buying dual-voltage locomotives and even multiple units.

In hindsight it seems to me as though electrification of the NIMT was not the best investment of NZ's money. And I would expect getting the line Dieselised again would be considered before they ever thought of extending the electrification.
Dual-voltage locomotives (like Electro-Diesel locomotives) are expensive and only a niche best-solution. There is nothing wrong with the current arrangement of switching locomotives at Te Rapa and Palmerston North and there's not likely to be anything wrong in the foreseeable future.

So what would even be the advantage (if any) of extending the electrification to Auckland? I'd be surprised if the electric supply on the NIMT and the electric supply currently being installed in Auckland have the same power ratings. You might want to investigate it the EF locomotives could even use the future Auckland network before you start forming strong opinions.
 

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