Wellington Scoop

KiwiRail to buy 57 new low-emission diesel locomotives from Spain

loco from swiss

News from KiwiRail
KiwiRail and Stadler Rail Valencia have signed a binding contract for the delivery of 57 new, state-of-the-art locomotives. The locomotives, which will be made in Spain, will begin arriving and enter service in New Zealand between early 2024 and 2026. The contract price for the new fleet is NZ$403 million.

KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says he is delighted to have signed the contract for the new locomotives, following a robust international procurement process which attracted the world’s top four locomotive builders.

“These are the latest-generation locomotives, which will set up KiwiRail’s South Island freight business for many decades ahead.

“For rail to play its proper role in New Zealand’s freight system, we need our services to be on time, every time. Right now, our 65-strong South Island locomotive fleet has an average age of 47 years. Our machines have been used for 17 years, on average, beyond their economic life. The fact that some of our machines are closer to 60 than to 50 – means reliability is a real issue.

“Some of our machines have had three complete rebuilds over their lives, at significant expense. And we’ve still been using 1970s technology in those rebuilds.

“The dual-cab locomotives Stadler Rail are building for us are state of the art. Not only will they meet the European Union world-leading emissions standards and see significant reduction in our fleet’s exhaust emissions, they will be fuel efficient and equipped with a range of onboard technologies to optimise energy use, including a system that can switch off the engine when the locomotive is idling.

“Each new locomotive will also be significantly more powerful and efficient than our current machines. This means there will be less need to use multiple locomotives to pull heavy trains – reducing fuel use and potentially reducing fleet CO2 emissions by 20 – 25 percent. It also means KiwiRail is future-proofed for the freight growth expected in the decades ahead by having locomotives that can pull larger trains.

“Onboard diagnostics systems will give us real-time information about the health of our locomotives and enable us to predict when faults could potentially occur, improving overall reliability of the fleet. This is a major advance beyond the 1970’s technology we have been using in our South Island fleet.

“KiwiRail has worked closely with the Rail and Maritime Transport Union and our locomotive engineers, as we developed the machines’ specifications and I would like to thank them for their invaluable input.

“It’s a pleasure to work with Stadler. Their professional interactions, quality of engagement and state of the art designs ensure we are partnering with a company that will deliver an outstanding outcome for KiwiRail and for New Zealand.

“I want to acknowledge the Government and our Ministers in supporting KiwiRail with funding to replace our aging rollingstock. Signing this locomotive contract is another important step in rebuilding New Zealand’s railway. I know these locomotives will serve KiwiRail, our customers, and our nation well.”

Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson also welcomed the locomotive purchase.

“This is a quality product which will help KiwiRail to provide a safe, sustainable and reliable service to Kiwi businesses well into the future,” he says.

News from Stadler
Stadler and KiwiRail have signed a long-term framework agreement with a first call off for the supply of 57 diesel mainline locomotives. The order value of the call off amounts to around 228 million euros. This is the first contract for Stadler in New Zealand.

KiwiRail and Stadler have signed a frame contract and a first call off for the development and construction of 57 diesel locomotives for mainline service. KiwiRail is a New Zealand government state-owned enterprise, which is responsible for New Zealand’s national rail network, and operates New Zealand rail freight and between-island ferry services. For more than 150 years, New Zealand rail has connected communities, delivered goods and people around the country.

Under this contract, Stadler will supply a latest state of the art Co-Co monocoque locomotive, narrow gauge, customized to KiwiRail requirements and specific operational schemes, incorporating well service proven components and systems. The new locomotives will be used for freight and passenger rail operation predominately on the South Island, with its challenging track topography.

Following Stadler’s focus on providing sustainable solutions for railway transportation, the locomotives will be compliant with the latest European emission standard (Stage V). This results not only in a substantial reduction of nitrogen oxides and particulate emission and in the consequential cost to environment and public health, but also in optimized combustion, lowering fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. With its decision for Stadler Stage V locomotives, KiwiRail underlines its clear commitment to provide a highly energy efficient and low emissions mode of transport to New Zealand .

The two-cab, narrow body locomotives will be equipped with a diesel engine providing an installed diesel power of 3000 kW, that will in many cases allow KiwiRail to operate its trains with less locomotives than in the current services.

Each of the two cabs will be designed in close cooperation with KiwiRail and according to the latest European standards aiming to achieve an ergonomic, comfortable and safe working environment for KiwiRail’s engineers.

KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller said the locomotives represent a new era for rail in New Zealand.

“The 57 locomotives will replace our South Island fleet, which has an average age of 47 years. Stadler’s high quality, fuel efficient, more powerful locomotives will allow us to improve service reliability to get more South Island freight off New Zealand’s roads and onto rail. The low emission locomotives are also an important step in KiwiRail’s plan to be emission neutral by 2050.”

Furthermore, Greg Miller added: “It’s a pleasure to work with Stadler. Their professional interactions, quality of engagement and state of the art designs ensure we are partnering with a company that will deliver an outstanding outcome for KiwiRail and New Zealand, and enable our South Island fleet to take advantage of technology advancements well into the future . I’m already looking forward to seeing the first new locomotives heading down our Kaikoura coast in 2024.”

Peter Spuhler, Executive Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer ad interim of Stadler, commented: “It is a great honour for Stadler to be able deliver our modern and innovative locomotives to New Zealand for the first time. We thank KiwiRail for this contract and look forward to a successful partnership.”

Dr Ansgar Brockmeyer, Executive Vice President Marketing & Sales and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Stadler, added: “We are very proud to have signed our first contract for New Zealand and are fully committed to a long-term partnership with KiwiRail. With our wide portfolio of modular and customized vehicle solutions, green traction concepts, digital solutions and tailored expert support services, we indeed see the opportunity to provide further value to KiwiRail and New Zealand mobility beyond the delivery of the first project.”

About Stadler

Stadler has been building trains for over 75 years. The provider of rail vehicle construction solutions has its headquarters in Bussnang in eastern Switzerland. It has a workforce of around 13 000 based in various production and engineering locations as well as more than 60 service locations. The company is conscious of its social responsibility for sustainable mobility and therefore stands for innovative, sustainable and durable quality products. The product range in the field of mainline railways and city transport includes high-speed trains, intercity trains, regional and suburban trains, metros, tramways and trams. Stadler also manufactures main-line locomotives, shunting locomotives and passenger carriages. It is the world’s leading manufacturer in the rack-and-pinion rail vehicle industry.


  1. Matthew Beardsworth, 12. October 2021, 10:27

    Hope this means the next electric locomotives for the NIMT will be Stadler-built too. [via twitter]

  2. Andrew, 12. October 2021, 10:28

    Those of us who live beside the Wairarapa line are wondering how we’ll be woken up in the morning now. Might need to get an alarm clock. [via twitter]

  3. Keith Flinders, 12. October 2021, 12:10

    This is welcome news for South Island rail, especially. But I think Andrew in the Wairarapa need not hurry to purchase an alarm clock.

    In 2017 I was a co-author of an opinion article in which we looked at various aspects, including dual mode (electric/diesel) locomotives manufactured by Stadler which would have negated the need to change locomotives at both Te Rapa and Palmerston North. Dual mode locomotives would have utilised the existing electrification between those two centres, diesel elsewhere. Hopefully further electrification would follow, especially south Auckland to Te Rapa.

    The existing 19 or so remaining electric locomotives on the NIMT were to be refurbished as promised by the 2017-2020 Labour Government. To date I haven’t heard how this project is progressing, if in fact it is.

  4. Dave B, 12. October 2021, 17:48

    The important thing about Stadler Rail is that it is a Swiss train-building company although it has various subsidiaries such as Stadler Rail Valencia in Spain. The Swiss are among the best in the world when it comes to provision of railways and trains. We will not be disappointed, even if the initial cost is higher than certain other suppliers might charge. Well done KiwiRail for arranging this deal. A relationship with this Swiss company and access to Swiss rail know-how may well benefit New Zealand in other respects also.

  5. K, 12. October 2021, 18:01

    So it looks like KiwiRail has abandoned its Hydrogen initiative. First the new ferries being ordered had their hydrogen fuel capability removed, and now there is no mention of hydrogen capability for this new purchase.

  6. Brian Norton, 14. October 2021, 20:51

    Yes a Swiss locomotive hauling the TransAlpine to Greymouth and Middleton vice versa would be awesome, plus hauling the coal wagons as well – 100% behind Kiwirail.


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