KiwiRail's new Chinese-made locomotives may be too heavy for
the rail network, have driver visibility problems and be too
dangerous for drivers to move between their two cabs, says
the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU).
But KiwiRail says the new locomotives are lighter than the
electric locos that run between Hamilton and Palmerston
North, cab visibility complies with international standards
and denied that they posed any danger for drivers.
The first six of state-owned KiwiRail's 20 new fuel
efficient, diesel electric locomotives, costing about $75
million, are due to be running between Auckland, Hamilton and
Tauranga before Christmas, with the remaining 14 expected
The DL locomotives have been built by Dalian Locomotive and
Rolling Stock, part of the CNR Group to upgrade the ageing
stock. The first six were unveiled in Hamilton last week.
RMTU general secretary Wayne Butson said there were concerns
about the locomotives because "they look bloody heavy''.
He said the union had tried to get KiwiRail to run them over
the weigh bridge but it had not done so and was relying on
the maker's specifications.
There were also some visibility issues for the drivers and a
risk assessment of the double cab locos found drivers could
not walk through the unit because of the voltage hazard and
almost everything that moved lacked guards, he said.
KiwiRail's mechanical general manager Lloyd Major said the
locos had been weighed and were 105 tonnes, which was lighter
than the electric locos (EFs) that currently run between
Hamilton and Palmerston North (108 tonnes) and similar to the
existing DX fleet.
As for the cab visibility, Mr Major said it complied with USA
federal railway standards and was the same as used in a
number of other countries.
"One of the key issues is to make the cab as strong as
possible to protect the loco engineer against collisions _ as
you aware, there are many vehicle drivers who do not obey
level crossing warning signs and devices.''
Three RMTU members spent time in China during the design and
build of the locomotives and their views were taken into
consideration, Mr Major said.
The locomotives had a cab at each end and were not designed
for engineers to move from one cab to another.
Loco engineers currently exited the cab to move from one loco
to another when locos were used back to back - a longer
journey than they would have to make with the new locos, Mr
Mr Butson said the union was working through the problems
It was happy to see the Government investing in rail with the
first mainline class locomotives purchased in more than 30
years, but they could have been made at home. If the
locomotives had been built in New Zealand they would not have
had any issues, he said.
KiwiRail could not confirm a date tonight for the
introduction, but said they were going through a normal