New Zealand DL class locomotive

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
New Zealand DL class
DL 9020 on MP4.jpg
DL 9020 on a freight train near Papakura, Auckland.
Type and origin
Power type Diesel
Builder Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock (CNR Group)
Order number 48
Model CKD-9B
Build date first 20 : 2009–2011
second 20 : 2011–2013
third 8: 2014
UIC classification Co-Co
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Length 18.5 metres (60 ft 8 in) over drawgear
18.12 metres (59 ft 5 in) over body
Axle load 18 tonnes (18 long tons; 20 short tons)
Locomotive weight 108 tonnes (106 long tons; 119 short tons)
Prime mover MTU 20V 4000R43‡
Alternator Yongji Electric Machine Factory JF205 Series
Traction motors Yongji Electric Machine Factory ZD126C
Performance figures
Power output Engine 2,700 kilowatts (3,600 hp)‡
Locomotive brake Wabtec 26L Pneumatic Air Brake
Class DL
Number in class 48
Delivered November 2010 (1st batch – 6 units)[1]
June 2011 (1st batch – 14 units)[2]
June 2013 (2nd batch - 20 units)
August 2013 (2nd batch - 10 units
April 2015(3nd batch - 8 units)
First run November 2010
Current owner KiwiRail
Sources: ‡,[3] †,[4] others[5]

The New Zealand DL class of diesel-electric locomotives was manufactured for KiwiRail by Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock Company with engines from MTU. They are the most powerful diesel-electric locomotives in service in New Zealand.[5]

Twenty locomotives were ordered in 2009 and delivered in 2010-2011, a further 20 in 2011 for 2012 delivery,[6] postponed to 2013 due to reliability problems.[7] Another batch of eight were ordered in September 2013.[8]The third batch arrived in 2015.

They were the first new-build diesel-electric mainline locomotives on the New Zealand railway network in 30 years,[n 1] The order marked one of the first steps of considerable investment in KiwiRail,[9] and the first order for a Chinese-built locomotive from a western country.[10]


The acquisition of new locomotives was first proposed by Toll NZ after they purchased Tranz Rail in 2003.[11] When Toll assumed responsibility for the rail operation, the New Zealand Railways Corporation again took over the railway network under the trading name ONTRACK. After several years of negotiations the two parties could not come to an agreement on the amount that Toll should pay for access to the rail network (track access fees), and Toll did not purchase any new locomotives while this issue remained unsolved. In July 2008, the fifth Labour Government purchased Toll Rail from Toll, renamed it KiwiRail, and merged it with ONTRACK, creating one company that controls both operations and rail infrastructure. Soon after the new company was officially launched, the State Owned Enterprises Minister Trevor Mallard announced that the government was investigating the possibility of assembling new locomotives at Hutt Workshops, then operated by United Group Rail, from imported parts.[12]

Following the election of the fifth National government in November 2008, the investment programme initiated by the previous administration was suspended pending a review. In March 2009, the government announced that it had authorised KiwiRail to invest $115m in new rolling stock for 20 locomotives ($75m), and carriages for Tranz Scenic, (now KiwiRail Scenic Journeys ($40m).[9] The locomotives were to be built in China by Dalian Locomotive and Rolling Stock (CNR Group).


The idea of building the locomotives in New Zealand as advocated by the Fifth Labour Government was promoted as a way of creating jobs at a time when the economy was entering a recession and unemployment was rising. Critics of the idea pointed out that New Zealand did not possess the necessary skilled labour in sufficient quantity for such a construction programme to proceed in a timely manner, and had not done so for several decades since New Zealand Government Railways ceased building its own locomotives - all mainline locomotives since the introduction of diesel traction in the 1950s has been imported. The alternative of importing locomotives was billed as the quickest way to obtain the necessary new motive power. A review also found that locally built locomotives would be some 70% more expensive than purchasing from CNR.[13]

Critics questioned the reliability of the locomotives,[5] citing Dalian-built locomotives in Malaysia encountering a number of initial technical problems (see KTM Class 29).[14]

On delivery, the Rail & Maritime Transport Union raised concerns over cab visibility and the locomotive's weight; KiwiRail subsequently confirmed that the locomotive weighed 105t, and that the cab meets US standards and is the same as used in a number of other countries. They also pointed out that the design reflected the need for the cab to be as strong as possible.[15][16]


The DL class are visually similar to the electric EF class locomotives used on the North Island Main Trunk line, being of similar dimensions and both twin-cab designs. The twin-cab design also provides operational flexibility as locomotives no longer need to be turned or operated in multiple when working terminating lines. They are the second class of twin-cab diesel locomotives to operate on the New Zealand network, the first being the 1950s-era DF class.

The locomotives use a 2.7MW German-built MTU 20V 4000R43 engine, expected to have 5–10% increased fuel efficiency over other locomotives,[4] Wabtec braking equipment, and ZD126C traction motors. The cab layout incorporates design elements from British Rail Class 60 with a near-central pedestal controller.[17] They also have the same Co-Co wheel arrangement as the DF and DX classes, as opposed to the Bo-Bo-Bo layout of the EF’s.


Introduction and tests[edit]

The first six arrived at Mount Maunganui on 20 November 2010,[1] and were moved to Te Rapa, Hamilton three days later for commissioning and driver training.[18] A ceremony to mark commissioning was held at Te Rapa on 10 December, attended by many KiwiRail staff, including CEO Jim Quinn. Guests included Prime Minister John Key and Minister of Transport Steven Joyce. CNR officials were also present, with the chairman of CNR Cui Diangao explaining to media that this was the first time that Chinese locomotives have been exported to a developed country.[19]

The first six were used for driver training and rail system compliance testing,[4] and the New Zealand Transport Agency gave the locomotives certification for New Zealand in May 2011.[2]

The remaining 14 of the first batch had been manufactured by April 2011,[20] and were shipped by the Tasman Trader, arriving in Auckland in June 2011.[2] They were then towed to Te Rapa by two of the earlier arrivals.

Second batch[edit]

A further 20 units were ordered in June 2011.[4] and first rolled off the production line on 13 March 2013,[21] incorporating changes based on experience with the first batch. CNR Dalian says they are achieving significantly higher levels of reliability than specified in the contract.[21] Ten locomotives of the second batch arrived on 19 June 2013, and a further 10 on 8 August 2013.

Third batch[edit]

A third batch of eight locomotives was ordered in September 2013.[8][22][23] This batch arrived on 15 March 2015.


The locomotives were initially deployed into service on the upper NIMT, the ECMT and the Mission Bush, Kinleith, Murupara and Mt Maunganui branches, operating both KiwiRail general freight services and service operated by KiwiRail on behalf of the Port of Tauranga's MetroPort operation. In some cases these replaced services previously operated by two locomotives in multiple, also eliminating the need to turn the locomotives, though it has been noted that they are regularly turned anyway.[24]

In 2012 KiwiRail undertook testing of a DL locomotive along the lower North Island main and branch lines. Following the introduction of the second batch DL locomotives were introduced to operations along the Marton - New Plymouth Line - including the milk trains to Fonterra's Whareroa complex near Hawera - and the Palmerston North - Gisborne Line, the latter as far as the current operating terminus in Napier. They are also cleared for the branch lines but currently only see sporadic operation on these.[citation needed]

The introduction of the DL class has allowed KiwiRail to transfer all but three of the DX class locomotives to the South Island.[25]

Commissioning issues[edit]

The DL class initially had poor reliability with availability only 50% of that of the rest of the fleet. In in one instance a weld on an alternator fan failed resulting in the blade breaking off. As a result KiwiRail employees were told not to enter the alternator compartment and to keep doors to the area closed when the engine is running.[26] The locomotives also experiencing technical problems with a wide variety of internal components.[7] KiwiRail stated that the teething problems were normal on new locomotives and that reliability was improving.[26] The Rail & Maritime Transport Union claimed that the problems were beyond those usually experienced with new locomotives.[7]

As a consequence of the problems experienced production of the second batch of units was put on hold in mid-2012 pending resolution of the design issues.[7] On 31 July 2012 KiwiRail announced that the fleet achieved its highest mean distance between failures (MDBF) rating, outperforming the DX class locomotives by 3000 km.[27]


In February 2014, all 40 DLs were taken out of service for tests after samples from one locomotive tested positive for asbestos in a resin used for sound-proofing.[28][29] In March 2014 KiwiRail reported that tests had shown small (5%) amounts of white asbestos in a soundproofing compound in five locomotives, with no asbestos in the remaining 34, and with no airborne asbestos or asbestos dust found. It was reported that the risk from asbestos was minimal that levels of asbestos were insignificant.[30] An asbestos removal plan was instigated and the first locomotive was returned to service in April 2014.[31] The second generation locomotives were to be returned to service during April 2014, and were expected to have all asbestos removed over the following 12 months; the first generation units to remain out of service until all asbestos containing materials were removed.[31] In August 2014 two DLs of the first generation returned to service.[citation needed]

Class register[edit]

Key: In service Out of service Auckland Transport service Preserved Overhaul/Repair Scrapped
TMS No. Introduced Current Livery Status Allocated to Notes
9008 November 2010 KiwiRail In service North Island
9014 November 2010 KiwiRail In service North Island
9020 November 2010 KiwiRail In service North Island
9037 November 2010 KiwiRail In service North Island
9043 November 2010 KiwiRail In service North Island
9066 November 2010 KiwiRail In service North Island
9072 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9089 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9095 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9106 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9112 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9129 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9135 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9141 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9158 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9164 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9170 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9187 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9193 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9204 June 2011 KiwiRail In service North Island
9210 July 2013 KiwiRail Under repair North Island Under repair at Hutt Workshops for asbestos removal.
9227 July 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9233 July 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9256 July 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9262 July 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9279 July 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9285 July 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9291 July 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9302 July 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9319 July 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9325 August 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9331 August 2013 KiwiRail Under Repair North Island Under repair at Hutt Workshops for asbestos removal.
9348 August 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9354 August 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9360 August 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9377 August 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9383 August 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9400 August 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9417 August 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9423 August 2013 KiwiRail In service North Island
9446 KiwiRail Commissioning North Island
9452 KiwiRail Commissioning North Island
9469 KiwiRail Commissioning North Island
9475 KiwiRail Commissioning North Island
9481 KiwiRail Commissioning North Island
9498 KiwiRail Commissioning North Island
9509 KiwiRail Commissioning North Island
9515 KiwiRail Commissioning North Island

See also[edit]

  • KTM Class 29, similar locomotives manufactured by Dalian Locomotive Company


  1. ^ with the last being the DF class, which entered service in 1979–1981


  1. ^ a b Jon C. (11 November 2010). "First New DL Locos Arrive". 
  2. ^ a b c "DL Locos Arrive Soon". 25 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Strategic engine delivery begins". Railway Gazette International. 7 October 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d "KiwiRail orders more Chinese locomotives". Railway Gazette International. 27 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "New Horses On The Horizon". New Zealand Railfan (Mosgiel: Triple M Publications) 15 (2): 5. March 2009. ISSN 1173-2229. 
  6. ^ "KiwiRail Orders Another 20 Chinese Locomotives". Otago Daily Times. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Production of KiwiRail trains on hold". Radio New Zealand. 30 July 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "KiwiRail places third order for CNR Dalian locomotives". Railway Gazette International. 9 October 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "$115m approved for KiwiRail". (New Zealand: Fairfax New Zealand). NZPA. 2 March 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009. 
  10. ^ "KiwiRail's first Chinese locomotive arrives next month". Railway Gazette International. 22 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "Billion-dollar buyback". The Dominion Post. 25 May 2008. 
  12. ^ "Govt may assemble Kiwirail locomotives in NZ". (New Zealand: Fairfax New Zealand). NZPA. 13 July 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2009. 
  13. ^ "NZ built locomotives 70% more expensive". KiwiRail (NZ: KiwiRail). 14 December 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "Readymade Train Wreck". The Malay Mail. 10 October 2008. Archived from the original on 13 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "New locomotives too heavy, says union". 16 December 2010. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Major problems with new locomotives: union". (Otago Daily Times). 16 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "Loco drivers get feel for new loco cab" (PDF). Express (KiwiRail Staff Newsletter) (21): 1. 19 November 2009. 
  18. ^ Jon C. (23 November 2010). "Photos: DLs Towed To Te Rapa". 
  19. ^ "KiwiRail gets early Christmas present". (TV3 (New Zealand)). 10 December 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  20. ^ 4月7日 大连造20台内燃机车全部交付新西兰. (in Chinese). 8 April 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "Second batch of KiwiRail locomotives roll out". Railway Gazette. 22 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "CNR Won Overseas Order". MENAFN. 24 September 2013. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ NZ Railfan (December 2012).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "Railfan" 20 (1). Triple M Publications. December 2013. ISSN 1173-2229. 
  26. ^ a b "More problems with KiwiRail's Chinese-made trains have been revealed.". Radio New Zealand. 21 July 2012. 
  27. ^ "New rolling stock proves its worth". KiwiRail. 31 July 2012. 
  28. ^ "Testing of Locomotives underway to ensure staff safety". KiwiRail. 1 March 2014. 
  29. ^ "Concern remains over asbestos train". Stuff/Fairfax. 4 March 2014. 
  30. ^ Planning underway for returning DL locomotives to service, KiwiRail, 17 March 2014 
  31. ^ a b Joint Approach for reintroduction of DL locomotives, KiwiRail, 8 April 2014 


  • "Down at the Station". The New Zealand Railway Observer (Wellington: New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society) 66 (1): 31. April–May 2009. ISSN 0028-8624. 

External links[edit]