Govt forced KiwiRail to backtrack on locomotives decision, documents show

Newly released documents show the government forced KiwiRail to backtrack on its decision to ditch the electric locomotives on the North Island’s main trunk line.

According to the Treasury, it’s the first time a state-owned enterprise has been directed by a minister to make a decision that didn’t stack up commercially.

The State-Owned Enterprises Act said an entity’s principle objective was to be a successful business.

In 2016, KiwiRail’s board decided to replace its 15 electric locomotives with diesel, arguing it would make the company more efficient and better able to take freight, and with less freight going by road, there’d be a positive environmental impact.

On 30 October last year the government put a stop to the plan instead promising a $35 million cash injection to refurbish the electric locomotives.

In a letter to Transport Minister Phil Twyford two weeks before the decision was announced, acting chief executive Todd Moyle made it clear KiwiRail didn’t have the money to refurbish the locomotives.

“KiwiRail has no funding for these additional costs and is unable to recoup the investment and there is no uplift in revenue associated with this decision,” he wrote.

Labour Party MP Phil Twyford.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford Photo: RNZ / Mei Heron

But a Cabinet minute written the day before the government’s announcement, showed Cabinet agreed to use its powers under the State Owned Enterprises Act to direct the company to provide a non-commercial service.

Mr Twyford said being a successful SOE was more than just about profit and loss for a particular year, and this government wanted to grow rail.

He said previous governments had left KiwiRail on financial life support with no future vision.

“That’s not how our government sees it, we’re committed to bringing rail into the heart of the transport system, instead of treating it as the poor cousin and drip-feeding it a little bit of money year after year and barely keeping it alive,” he said.

KiwiRail uses electric locomotives on the main trunk line between Hamilton and Palmerston North.

When it said it was going to switch to diesel, the Rail and Maritime Transport Union accused it of “environmental terrorism”.

The union’s general secretary Wayne Butson said the decision to go down the diesel track was the best case of reverse engineering he’d ever seen.

“What you started with as your opening premise was the decision that they wanted to have and then they just worked backwards, and they screwed the scrum, massaged the logic and the numbers”, he said.

He said at that time KiwiRail’s board were wedded to a philosophy of simplify and standardise.

“There was this mantra which said ‘we only wanted one type of wagon, we only want one type of loco and that will give us immeasurable gains over time. It will reduce the inventory that we need, in terms of spares that we need for things’. In my view it didn’t have any logic,” he said.

Mr Butson said that decision failed to consider the needs of a modern railway, which must have some level of variation in the types of locomotives and wagons it uses.

Engineer Roger Blakeley said the decision to scrap the electrics was at odds with the Labour government’s target of getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and leader Jacinda Ardern’s claimthat climate change was her generation’s “nuclear free moment”.

“With the diesel locomotives, if KiwiRail went ahead with them, it would burn an extra 8 million litres of diesel fuel per year and add around 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year. That’s what would have been the implications of a switch back to diesels,” he said.

The Palmerston North to Hamilton route was electrified in the 1980s and the plan then was to carry on and electrify the whole main trunk line from Wellington to Auckland.

It’s estimated completing the project now would cost around a billion dollars.

Mr Twyford said it’s not part of the government’s immediate work programme.

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones launches the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission

The Government has launched a new independent Crown entity tasked with addressing New Zealand’s “unprecedented infrastructure deficit”.

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission – Te Waihanga – would look at ways of fixing and further funding areas where infrastructure investment is needed.

Transport projects and urban infrastructure issues would likely be the focus of the new commission.

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said New Zealand has an “unprecedented infrastructure deficit” and the commission was tasked with addressing that.

He said New Zealand’s transport and urban infrastructure was struggling to keep up with population growth.

“This infrastructure deficit is manifesting in housing unaffordability, congestion, poor-quality drinking water and lost productivity.”

“That’s simply not good enough,” he said.

The Treasury has estimated the total infrastructure spend over the next five years would be $42 billion – more than double that of the past five years.

Jones said this showed why the establishment of the Infrastructure Commission was needed.

Overall strategy and planning would be the focus of the new body.

In a Cabinet paper, Jones said the Infrastructure Commission would also act as a “shop front” for private companies looking to invest in New Zealand.

He pointed the finger at the previous Government, accusing National of focusing on short-term projects and under-investing in infrastructure projects.

Local Government New Zealand president Dave Cull said unprecedented population growth and the need to adapt for climate change, as well as a low-emissions economy, means that New Zealand was “behind the eight ball in terms of infrastructure investment”.

“Having a central agency to act as a shop front that the private sector can interact with, and having an ability to buy goods and services in bulk will be a massive benefit to regional development projects,” he said.

The Cabinet has approved just over $4 million to establish the commission and legislation establishing the body would go before Parliament in April.

The creation of the Infrastructure Commission has been well flagged – in August last year Jones announced work had begun on establishing the body.

He said Treasury had been unable to properly quantify the value of the infrastructure deficit New Zealand was facing which he said “was not good enough”.

The new body would work to quantify the level of the deficit, as well as figuring out how to fix it.

The Government received 130 submissions on what the body should look like.

“We have heard that message, and we have delivered.”

Ministers will retain final decisions on infrastructure investments, but the Commission will have an independent board and the autonomy it needs to provide robust, impartial advice.

“It will help hold this Government, and future governments, to account and we welcome that,” Jones said.

Hydrogen opportunity for NZ transport hubs

Hydrogen could play a key role reducing emissions from heavy trucks using the country’s major transport hubs, Refining NZ chief executive Mike Fuge says.

Hydrogen is challenging to store and transport, he says. Establishing a national distribution network would be difficult, just as it would be for heavy electric trucks.

But he says there is an opportunity to use hydrogen at transport hubs around the country, like at Northport – the refinery’s neighbour at Marsden Point – which has fleets of very heavy trucks travelling to and from it daily.

“There’s an opportunity, with the right sort of assistance, to turn those trucks to hydrogen,” he told BusinessDesk.

The Marsden Point oil refinery is the country’s biggest maker of pure hydrogen and has just completed a major upgrade of that capacity. It has 40 years’ experience making and using hydrogen and wants to use that as the country works to reduce emissions from the transport fleet.

Refining NZ has spent several months working on a new long-term strategy which it plans to lay out mid-year.

Fuge told investors today that the company is committed to a profitable refining business remaining at its core.

But he said the company is also looking at how it can leverage its existing assets and technical skills to play a part in the country’s energy transition.

“We see ourselves having a very active role to play.”

Many New Zealand firms are trying to assess the potential of hydrogen as a low-emission fuel for transport or industry.

Ports of Auckland has hired global energy consultancy Arup for a hydrogen pilot to test its suitability as a fuel for its straddle carriers and tugs. Hiringa Energy is working with TIL Logistics to test its potential in trucking and warehousing, while Pouakai NZ last year sought a loan of up to $20 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to test the feasibility of a combined power, hydrogen and fertiliser plant in Taranaki.

Earlier this month, Concept Consulting said hydrogen could be a good fit for return-to-base trucking operations, or for never-leave-base applications like forklifts and port cranes.

But it doubted hydrogen would be economic for industrial processing due to the volume of power needed to split it from water – in the case of electrolysis – or the high cost of capturing and storing the carbon emitted when it is made conventionally from hydrocarbons such as natural gas.

The high cost of public infrastructure also made hydrogen problematic as a fuel for long-distance trucking, Concept said.

Fuge said converting the refinery’s hydrogen-making to a clean process over time could provide a material reduction in emissions and the firm would be interested in working with the government to help make that happen.

Fuge says New Zealand’s fuel standards are already high, so offer relatively little scope for further emissions reduction.

Electric vehicles will replace more of the petrol fleet and that is less of an issue for the refinery, given its production is biased towards diesel and jet fuel, he said.

Biofuel currently needs a carbon price of about $400 a tonne to be viable, he said, but long-term the firm could bring its expertise into that sphere, particularly wood-based processes making fuel from cellulose.

Ports of Auckland goes driverless to boost container numbers

In the high-tech equivalent of “look Mum, no hands,” Ports of Auckland’s new 70-tonne straddle carriers will hurtle around at up to 22km/h, without anyone at the controls.

This Luddite’s nightmare means no human contact with the container from the time the truck driver unscrews his twist locks to just before it is hoisted by crane and deposited on a ship. For imports, it will be the same process, only in reverse.

As the port sees it, public opinion is against expansion through further reclamation, so the only way to improve productivity is through technology.

The system is now being tested, with empty containers stacked high to act as a barrier in case something goes wrong.

And something going wrong doesn’t really bear thinking about: fully laden, the port’s new carriers weigh in at 100 tonnes – not easy to stop in a hurry.

When the project is complete, the port’s 27 new blue carriers will be involved in an elaborate dance to get containers on and off ships, with the process controlled by software at head office.

“It feels funny when you see this giant machine coming straight towards you,” says the port’s automation project manager, Ross Clarke.

The Auckland Council-owned port is under pressure from New Zealand First to relocate to Whangārei, and the Government is conducting a comprehensive upper North Island logistics and freight review to ensure New Zealand’s supply chain is fit for purpose in the longer term.

The review will guide the development and delivery of a freight and logistics strategy for the upper North Island. This includes a feasibility study to explore moving the location of Ports of Auckland, with consideration to be given to Northport.

Clarke says the new straddle carrier technology, alongside the port’s three new cranes that arrived last year from China, is seen as a game changer.Can we resuscitate our struggling sharemarket?

Automation will increase its terminal capacity from just over 900,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent units) a year to 1.6-1.7 million, the port says.

Auckland will be the first New Zealand port to partially automate its container terminal.

At the same time, the port says the straddle carriers will save as much as 10 per cent on fuel use. There should also be less impact on neighbouring communities as they will require less light and will not make as much noise as conventional, manned carriers.

The new Konecrane carriers will deliver more capacity because they can stack four containers compared to just three for the existing carriers. This, combined with changes to the terminal layout and past reclamation work, is expected to increase capacity by 80 per cent.

They come with a positioning system called Locator – a type of ground-based GPS that boasts an accuracy of plus or minus 3cm.

Clarke says that given its constrained area, something had to be done to grow the port.

Auckland's new automated straddle carriers can stack containers four high. Photo / Leon Menzies
Auckland’s new automated straddle carriers can stack containers four high. Photo / Leon Menzies

“If we didn’t do something to increase that capacity then the business’s throughput, and therefore revenue and profit, would be capped.

“We can’t expand the footprint of the terminal – the public have been clear about that,” he says.

“Dwell times” – the time it takes for exports inside terminal gates to be loaded onto a ship and imports onto a truck or train – are already low by world standards.

“So the only other avenue to increase the storage capacity is to stack more densely and we are going up with automated machines.”

Automation means stevedoring roles will go, but Clarke says the number of jobs lost is likely to be less than the original estimate of 50.

“The chances are that with the new cranes, and the increased throughput, the reduction in jobs might not be that much at all,” he says.

“Implementing automation helps fund the investment in the new technology. Reducing jobs was never the ambition – it’s just an outcome.”

Clarke says the port has trouble recruiting enough staff to deal with current demand, and there are vacancies it can’t fill.

“With the business growing, and the number of unfilled jobs that we have at the moment, the actual level of redundancies might be quite small.”

The high-tech carriers will initially work with the port’s new, $60 million, 82.3m high cranes which weigh in at 2100 tonnes apiece, against 1200 and 1300 tonnes for the older cranes.

The port says that with these new cranes, and the new deepwater berth they will sit alongside, the port will be able to handle the biggest ships coming to these shores.

They can lift four containers at once, weighing up to 130 tonnes combined, a New Zealand first. The current cranes can lift two containers, weighing up to 65 tonnes.

The new cranes can service ships carrying more than 11,000 TEU, which the port expects will offer some “future-proofing” against increases in the size of ships.

Ports of Auckland is only the second port in the world to automate as a “brownfields” development – most automated ports are built from scratch.

Clarke says maintaining the port’s day-to-day operations while the project is underway has been a big challenge.

Initially the northern third of the terminal – where the new cranes are – will be automated while the southern part will continue with manned straddle carriers.

Once it is satisfied that the technology is working to plan, the port company will complete the rollout for the rest of the terminal.

The first stage goes live in February next year, followed by the second stage in April.

Clarke says that by the middle of 2020, the port should have a fully operational automated container terminal.

NZ Herald

KiwiRail pleased with early Northland studies

KiwiRail says it is pleased with work undertaken to date on a potential extension of its rail network to Northport at Marsden Point.

The firm began geotechnical work in late October on a route for a 20-kilometre spur line from Oakleigh, running east toward Marsden Point.

The final drilling was completed today and further exploration work will continue this year, acting chief executive Todd Moyle said in a statement.

“Our investigations have focused on areas where the most significant engineering works would be needed,” he said.

“Concurrently we are looking at how we can upgrade the North Auckland Line between Auckland and Oakleigh. The tunnels on that line are old, low and narrow. We have had two significant derailments on the line in recent months due to a lack of funding for maintenance. It has been unable to carry passengers for the past year and freight options are restricted.”

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones visited the drilling site today.

New Zealand First has driven an investigation into the feasibility of relocating Ports of Auckland to Northport. That is being considered by a five-member working group tasked with developing a broader strategy to better integrate transport logistics chains in the upper North Island.

The cost of the new spur line was estimated at $100 million a decade ago. Bringing the Auckland to Northland line up to standard to handle major freight volumes has previously been estimated at more than $2 billion.

Jones, a list MP, lives in Northland and is a fan of rail. Tourism and freight projects of state-owned KiwiRail have so far received close to $90 million from the Provincial Growth Fund he oversees, including funding for the Northland spur study.

KiwiRail chair Greg Miller says significant agricultural and horticultural investment going into Northland will require an efficient supply chain.

The Provincial Growth Fund will allow a renewal of regional rail and there is a growing acceptance of the wider benefits rail brings by taking trucks off roads, reducing road maintenance costs and improving road safety, he says.

“There is a long way to go in Northland but we are heartened by what we have found so far.”

Interislander ferries to be replaced with rail ready fleet


KiwiRail has confirmed plans to replace its three ageing Cook Strait ferries with two new, larger, purpose-built rail ferries.

The Aratere

The Aratere. Photo: RNZ

Interislander’s current fleet, comprising the Kaitaki, Kaiarahi and the Aratere, is due to be replaced by 2024.

KiwiRail’s decision follows a two-year consultation process which found rail-enabled ferries were the most cost effective, efficient and best in the long-term.

The new boats will be able to carry more people and freight, and be faster, making six return sailings a day, the maximum.

The decision represents a shift by KiwiRail, which in the past dismissed rail ferries as “very rare and really expensive”.

KiwiRail acting chief executive Todd Moyle said that was a different era, when KiwiRail was comparing the cost of second-hand ferries versus buying new ones.

But investigations found there was little difference in the price of a new rail ferry and a new non-rail ferry.

“They’re an inter-generational investment,” Mr Moyle said.

“These are going to be around for 30-odd years so we need to make the right decision to ensure that we’ve got that long term resilient outcome.

“We’re a rail company we want to grow rail, we see that as being really critical for New Zealand.”

Rail and Maritime Transport Union general secretary Wayne Butson said KiwiRail’s decision represented a shift to sanity.

Only one existing ferry, the Aratere, can take rail. The other two rely on a system which involves loading containers off railway wagons onto rubber wheeled trailers, then driving the trailers onto the ferries.

This is a lengthier process, which Mr Butson said was also more labour intensive.

“Using rail ferries, you can have three people that load 1500 tonnes of freight onto the ferry. If you use road bridging you’ve got 30 people doing the loading and unloading.

“Safety issues around [the] interface between the passengers and the vehicles is significantly heightened.”

Mr Butson said in recent years KiwiRail had been dogged by short-term thinking, as shown by its decision to close workshops in Dunedin.

“We’re now all struggling with the difficulties that the closure of Hillside poses when you’re in a KiwiRail that’s trying to grow quickly to meet the needs of New Zealand, and also the wishes of the current government for increased wagons, carriages, locomotives.”

Mr Moyle said the new ferries would not come cheap, with Mr Moyle estimating they would cost more than $200 million each.

A more accurate estimate will be known later this year.

Any potential job losses could be dealt with by attrition

Mr Moyle denied the decision was dependent on the will of KiwiRail’s political masters, saying process began under National.

“The rail-enabled element is only one component of these ferries. We’ve had the largest tourism season on the Interislander and also commercial vehicles, trucks and other elements, so we’ve got the three bits that work on the ferry.

“We’ve had to make the decision based on all the elements.”

Both the union and KiwiRail said staff had welcomed the announcement even though it could signal job losses.

But Mr Moyle said reductions in staff numbers could be mostly dealt with by attrition given the new ferries were five years away.

The ships would likely to be built in Europe or Asia.

Mr Moyle said while the bulk of the ferries would be a standard design, there will be elements that are customised for Cook Strait like the lower decks and the passenger areas.

Mr Butson said designing the ferry from scratch had its advantages.

“There are now new hull configurations which are able to deal with the wake issue in terms of the [Marlborough] Sounds.”

CargoChain – NZ’s blockchain solution for global logistics

18 December 2018 – Jade Logistics Group, New Zealand’s leading port software company today announced a new business called CargoChain that it believes will revolutionise the way that cargo information is shared across the global supply chain.

The CargoChain platform was borne out of witnessing first-hand an inability to share supply chain information amongst multiple interested parties. David Lindsay, CargoChain CEO said “we observed this first with ports and then looked across the entire supply chain, and the problems were the same. Siloed, important information that supply-chain actors didn’t have, but needed, to make better decisions”.

Lindsay adds that following five years of R&D, CargoChain has created a cargo information sharing and innovation platform that supports the distribution of previously unavailable cargo information, as well as the development of third-party applications. “We believe that the collaborative and independent nature of the CargoChain platform is a first for the global industry.”

“The proposition is made even more powerful as today’s consumers are demanding trust while those involved in the supply chain require full transparency and visibility. We saw the need for a digital platform that provides this by sharing trusted information amongst all supply chain actors.

“CargoChain is one of the few supply chain solutions in the world that has blockchain as an integral working part of its platform to provide this trust.”

“Blockchain is currently right at the top of the technology hype cycle and most companies understand its importance but are really struggling to understand how they might use it in their business. CargoChain takes this pain away, as it already delivers a working blockchain solution for our customers”.

While blockchain is an important part of CargoChain, Lindsay notes that the platform itself provides significantly more to supply chain actors.

CargoChain’s ultimate vision is to empower the supply chain by providing its platform to application developer communities globally.

“We want to allow developers to solve the world’s supply chain problems for all logistics players, large or small.”

Initial CargoChain applications are already in development for a number of Australian and New Zealand customers, along with pilots for other significant supply chain projects. In New Zealand there is also significant interest from major food exporters, driven by the need to prove complete provenance with an emphasis on food trust and safety.

Maritime New Zealand Chair appointed

Hon Phil Twyford
Minister of Transport

MEDIA STATEMENT

17 December 2018

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford today announced the appointment of Jo Brosnahan as Chair of the Maritime New Zealand Board.

Jo Brosnahan has been appointed for a three year term to 30 June 2021.

Phil Twyford says Jo Brosnahan is a very experienced board member with strong governance and leadership skills.

“She brings a good understanding of the maritime sector and has broad experience working with ports and harbours as the former CEO of Auckland Regional Council and Northland Regional Councils.

Maritime NZ’s core roles are to regulate the maritime sector, promote safety and maintain safety infrastructure, and respond to environmental incidents and emergencies at sea.

“Our Government is rebalancing the transport system toward better safety, access and value for money. We are creating a more modern, sustainable transport network.

“Maritime NZ has an important role to play in keeping New Zealanders safe on the water and protecting our environment. Jo Brosnahan will be great leader for the maritime community and will help support them to ensure our seas are safe, secure and clean.

“I’d like to acknowledge the work of the previous chair Blair O’Keeffe and thank him for his commitment during his two years on the Board,” Phil Twyford said.

ends

Will new rail freight hub attract $200m in new business?

A freight train stops traffic at a level crossing.

A new freight centre in Palmerston North is expected to provide spinoffs for Manawatū, bringing more business to the region.

The Provincial Growth Fund’s $40 million investment in KiwiRail for planning and buying land for the freight centre might be just the beginning, unlocking growth.

Spearhead Manawatū chief Craig Nash said the development would attract another $200m in investment into the facility, and create new business opportunities.

“It will have four times the productivity of the current site.

“The goal is to be the fastest and lowest-cost freight hub in New Zealand, that meets or exceeds best-in-the-world standards.”

A more efficient transport network, including a planned ring road around Palmerston North and replacement for the closed Manawatū Gorge route, would tie in with the freight centre as part of a broader transport hub.

Palmerston North's railway yards, viewed from the Milson Line overbridge.
MURRAY WILSON/STUFF
Palmerston North’s railway yards, viewed from the Milson Line overbridge.

There are already about 12,000 freight train services operating to, from, or through Palmerston North each year.

They carry a variety of freight, with pulp and timber accounting for 24 per cent of the 2.5 million tonnes that pass through.

Finished dairy products account for 19 per cent of the tonnage, with bulk wine, milk, meat and other produce making up the balance.

​KiwiRail’s sales and commercial group manager Alan Piper said freight volumes were expected to increase by 60 per cent over the next three decades, and KiwiRail wants to secure or improve its share of the market.

Rail was two-thirds more fuel-efficient than road, with every wagon on the rails meaning one less long-distance truck on the roads.

But Piper said KiwiRail would work with the trucking firms on the project, as freight arriving or being loaded on the railway still needed to be delivered by road.

“We are not competing with trucks. It’s about how we work with road transport to create the most efficient distribution centre we can.”

Palmerston North's rail freight yards are expected to move to land near the airport.
MURRAY WILSON/STUFF
Palmerston North’s rail freight yards are expected to move to land near the airport.

Piper said moving from Tremaine Ave to a location near the airport would create new opportunities for businesses and industries that relied on a quick and efficient network for moving goods around New Zealand, and the lower North Island in particular.

The northeast industrial area was ideal as it was on the main trunk railway line and near the airport.

He said the Government’s injection would pay for planning and buying land.

“And then it’s up to us. Although it might not be us paying for the buildings.”

Palmerston North's rail freight yards are on the move.
MURRAY WILSON/STUFF
Palmerston North’s rail freight yards are on the move.

Nash said having KiwiRail and the New Zealand Transport Agency working together on distribution plans was vital to ensuring the planned regional freight ring road connected well to the new site.

It would make Palmerston North more attractive for a range of industries and manufacturers.

“It will be a major change for central New Zealand, and will unlock potential for companies to move here. It will be bringing the world closer to where we are.”

 

Ports of Auckland to build hydrogen production and refuelling facility

In a first for Auckland, Ports of Auckland has committed to build a hydrogen production and refuelling facility at its Waitemata port. The company, and project partners Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail, will invest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles including port equipment, buses and cars as part of the project.

Ports of Auckland Chief Executive Tony Gibson said “We have an ambitious target to be a zero emission port by 2040. In order to meet that target we need a new renewable and resilient power source for heavy equipment like tugs and straddle carriers, which are difficult to power with batteries. Hydrogen could be the solution for us as it can be produced and stored on site, allows rapid refuelling, and provides greater range than batteries.”

Ports of Auckland will fund the construction of a facility which will produce hydrogen from tap water. The process uses electrolysis to split water into hydrogen (which is then stored for later use) and oxygen, which is released into the air. Demonstration vehicles will be able to fill up with hydrogen at the facility, which will be just like filling up a car with CNG or LPG. Hydrogen is used in the fuel cell to create electricity which powers the car. The only by-product of the process is water.

“If this trial is successful”, said Mr Gibson, “the technology would have a very wide application. It could help Auckland and New Zealand towards energy self-sufficiency and our emission reduction goals. Trucks, trains and ferries could also run on hydrogen – something which is already being done overseas – which would be a significant benefit for the community. Hydrogen powered vehicles are quieter and emit nothing more than clean water.”

The project partners will provide technical support and will purchase hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the project. Global hydrogen experts Arup are also helping support this project through the development, design and delivery phases.

Mayor Phil Goff said, “I welcome this trial. It is a first for New Zealand and shows Auckland’s desire to lead on climate change action and meet our ambitious emissions reduction targets.

“With 40 per cent of emissions in Auckland coming from our transport system, alternative energy sources to power vehicles, such as electric and hydrogen, are critical to meeting the target of global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“With infrastructure in place, hydrogen has the potential to power our buses and other parts of our vehicle fleet both reducing global emissions and cutting back on air pollution in Auckland such as in Queen Street where carbon levels are very high,” says Mayor Phil Goff.

Auckland Council’s Chief Executive, Stephen Town, says, “We’re proud to collaborate with the Ports of Auckland, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail on this innovative hydrogen project – a first for New Zealand. It is important for organisations like ours, as signatories to the Climate Leaders Coalition, to continue leading on climate change action; it’s also important for us to push the boundaries with ambitious projects that demonstrate leadership here in Auckland. Trialling new technology to reduce emissions and signalling a smarter economic future is important for our city’s people, places and prosperity.”

KiwiRail Acting CEO Todd Moyle says KiwiRail is delighted to be part of this ground-breaking project. “KiwiRail is committed to a sustainable future and has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. While rail is an inherently sustainable form of transport with 66% fewer carbon emissions than heavy road freight, new fuel sources like hydrogen have enormous potential for the future of transport in New Zealand.

“Just weeks ago, two hydrogen-powered trains with a range of 1000km per tank began operating commercial services in Germany. If successful with passengers, there is no reason why the next development could not be hydrogen-powered freight trains.

“Joining forces with Ports of Auckland in this project will allow us to explore how KiwiRail could use this new technology as we deliver stronger connections for New Zealand.”

Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison says AT is committed to clean technology and is very interested in the possibilities of hydrogen power. “This could be part of the answer for our fleet of buses and harbour ferries. The idea of a vehicle which only produces water as a by-product is very exciting.”

The project is currently in the planning phase, and Ports of Auckland is about to start stakeholder engagement before applying for resource consent in early 2019. The facility is planned to be operational by the end of 2019.