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Council push for electrification

Council push for electrification

Waitakere City is urging the Auckland Regional Council to electrify the western rail line to enable more environmentally friendly electric trains to replace the current diesel trains.

The ARC is currently looking at whether the system should be electrified, the cost of electrification and funding options.

Waitakere City Council’s view is that electrification is by far the best option, says Deputy Mayor Carolynne Stone.

“Electric power is renewable, produced in New Zealand and except in exceptional circumstances, it is generated using non-polluting methods. Electric trains are also very quiet to run. These are all vital considerations in residential areas. On the other hand, diesel engines are noisier and diesel is burned like petrol, creating poisonous fumes that pollute the atmosphere,” she says.

Electric trains are more expensive to buy and there is a cost to install the overhead cables, but these costs are offset by considerably lower operating and maintenance costs, so electrification is the cheaper option, overall. This advantage will increase year by year.

“This cost advantage is clearly acknowledged in the draft Rail Business Plan, currently being developed by the ARC, Auckland Regional Transport Network Ltd and Infrastructure Auckland,” says Cr Stone.

“All sophisticated, major cities around the world have chosen to go electric. In fact, many developed countries, especially in Europe and Asia, have electrified their entire national railway system. So, why would we accept a lesser standard here in Auckland – especially when it is sustainable, costs less to run and is environmentally friendly?” she says.

“The western rail line runs through a number of town centres and residential neighbourhoods. It is vital that the rail system is one that minimises noise and air pollution – because people are living and working right next to the rail line.”

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