New Zealand EF class locomotive

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New Zealand EF class locomotive
Palmerston North railway station platform.JPG
EF Class backing onto a Wellington to Auckland train, March 2007.
Specifications
Power type Electric
Builder Brush Traction, Loughborough, United Kingdom
Build date 1986 – 1988
UIC classification Bo-Bo-Bo
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Length 19.6 metres (64 ft 4 in)
Locomotive weight 107 tonnes (105 long tons; 118 short tons)
Electric system(s) 25 kV 50 Hz AC catenary
Current collection
method
Pantograph
Traction motors 6
Top speed 105 km/h (65 mph)
Power output 3,000 kW (4,000 hp) (continuous)
Career
Class EF, previously Class 30
Number in class 22
Number 30007 – 30249
Nicknames "Toasters"
Locale North Island Main Trunk between Palmerston North and Te Rapa
First run 1988 – 1989
Disposition 17 in service
2 scrapped
3 out of service

The New Zealand EF class locomotive (originally Class 30) is a class of 22 25 kV 50 Hz AC electric locomotives that operate on the North Island Main Trunk between Palmerston North and Te Rapa (near Hamilton) in New Zealand. They are the only class of electric locomotives in revenue service in New Zealand.

The EF class was built by Brush Traction in Loughborough, United Kingdom between 1986 and 1988 to run on the new electrified central section of the NIMT. The locomotives, at 3,000 kilowatts (4,000 hp), are the most powerful locomotives to operate in New Zealand, and the design of the class has been used in designing other electric locomotives overseas, including the Le Shuttle Eurotunnel Class 9 electric locomotives that operate in the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France.

Background[edit]

The North Island Main Trunk is a 681-kilometre (423 mi) long rail line that links New Zealand's capital Wellington and New Zealand's largest city Auckland, and is one of the major backbones of the country's rail network. The line was completed in 1908 and opened the following year, and included various engineering feats on the central section between Hamilton and Palmerston North, including the Raurimu Spiral and numerous viaducts – five of which are over 70 metres (230 ft) high.

Electrification of the North Island Main Trunk was first proposed as early as 1918 due to coal shortages during World War I, and later was proposed in the 1950s when diesel locomotives started to replace steam. The section between Wellington and Paekakariki was electrified in 1938 at 1500 V DC to prevent steam build-up in the long Tawa tunnels under the Wellington hills and to provide banking on the steep seaside section from Paekakariki up to Pukerua Bay. This electrification has since been extended further north to Paraparaumu in 1983 and again to Waikanae in 2011.

Following the oil shocks of the 1970s, the National government, led by Prime Minister Rob Muldoon, launched the "Think Big" energy development projects. One of the projects involved the electrification of the 411-kilometre (255 mi) central section of the NIMT between Palmerston North and Te Rapa. This section was chosen for the topography of the line between these two cities, and the advantages electric locomotives had over diesel in this area. The 2,050-kilowatt (2,750 hp) DX class diesel-electric locomotives, then the mainstay of the NIMT and only recently introduced themselves, could handle 720-tonne freight trains on the section, but could only average 27 kilometres per hour (17 mph) when climbing the 1 in 52 gradient of the Raurimu Spiral. A more powerful locomotive however, in this case an electric locomotive, could haul a 900-tonne freight train up the same section of track at a speed of 45 kilometres per hour (28 mph). Electric trains also had their advantage with the oil shocks of the time with New Zealand being dependent on oil from the rest of the world to supply diesel locomotives. Meanwhile, New Zealand's electricity supply is mainly generated from renewable hydroelectricity (hydroelectricity generated 84.5% of New Zealand's electricity in 1980[1]), and therefore electric trains do not have to rely on imported oil to operate.

Service[edit]

Introduction[edit]

The electrification of the central section began in 1984, with the government setting aside NZ$40 million to purchase a fleet of 25 kV AC locomotives to operate the new electrified line. The contract to build 22 electric locomotives was let to Brush Traction of Loughborough, UK. The first two locomotives, numbered 30007 and 30013, arrived in 1986 and were used in the testing of the new electrification system, while the remaining 20 locomotives were introduced after the electrification of the NIMT was completed.

The locomotives are able to generate a continuous power output of 3,000 kilowatts (4,000 hp), making the class the most powerful to operate on the NZR network. They also feature the unusual wheel arrangement of Bo-Bo-Bo, which had been previously used on the EW class and the DJ class. The advantage of using the Bo-Bo-Bo arrangement over the traditional Co-Co arrangement is that it provides greater flexibility for New Zealand's lightly laid and sharply curved tracks, resulting in less wear on the rails.

The locomotives are supplied electricity from 25 kV AC overhead lines. These lines draw electricity from New Zealand's national grid at four locations along the electrified section: Bunnythorpe, Tangiwai, Taumarunui, and Hamilton. The locomotives are fitted with regenerative braking as well as regular air brakes, so the traction motors can be turned into generators when the locomotive is coasting downhill and feed electricity back into the overhead lines and the national grid.

The EF class were nicknamed "Toasters" by New Zealand rail enthusiasts due to their boxy shape.

In service[edit]

The EF class were first used to haul freight trains along the central section of the North Island Main Trunk. Freight trains travelling from Auckland would be diesel-hauled to Te Rapa, change there to an EF locomotive and be hauled to Palmerston North where they would be changed back to a diesel locomotive to continue to Wellington. This remains the practice today, although trains that do not traverse the length of the central section (such as the Karioi-Wellington pulp trains) are entirely diesel-hauled to save switching the locomotives. Similarly, freight trains that are destined for or originate from the Marton - New Plymouth Line are diesel-hauled for 30 km section of the NIMT between Palmerston North and Marton.

Prior to the Stratford - Okahukura Line being mothballed usual operating practice was for the services originating from Auckland/Hamilton and Stratford to meet at Taumarunui and exchange trains there, with an EF regularly hauling the Hamilton-Taumarunui-Hamilton legs. With the mothballing of this line most services now run direct between Palmerston North and Te Rapa.

EF 30163 hauling The Overlander near Waiouru on 22 March 2003
EF 30013 on the North Island Main Trunk in 'bumble bee' livery

Electric-hauled passenger services originated later, due to the New Zealand Railways being skeptical about electric locomotives on passenger trains, and because the then daylight NIMT service, the Silver Fern, utilised diesel-electric rail cars. When the locomotive-hauled Overlander daylight service replaced the Silver Fern in December 1991, EF class locomotives began to be used to haul it across the central section, and later, the locomotives were used on the overnight Northerner passenger service until it was cancelled in November 2004. The EFs were not used initially on the Northern Explorer, however KiwiRail experimented for a short while with towing the whole consist - including the diesel locomotive - over the central section. However the need for locomotives for freight services curtailed this.

Upgrades[edit]

With the EF class being relatively young there have been very few upgrades to the locomotives. Only heavy repairs are undertaken at the main Hutt Workshops near Wellington which, due to the unelectrified section between Palmerston North and Waikanae (and Wellington's electrification being DC rather than AC), the locomotives must be towed to by a diesel engine to access the workshops. All other work is carried out in Palmerston North. EF 30105 has recently returned from Hutt, after having the transformer repaired. (2013)

An upgrade programme was undertaken over 1993 and 1994 which saw the 20 remaining locomotives receive transformer work and overhauled traction motors. This work was undertaken at the Hutt Workshops with EF 30007 the first to be treated after having been out of action for some time prior.

From June 2006, the locomotives have been fitted with AAR style couplers, each weighing over 400 kilograms (880 lb), to allow them to pull heavier trains. EF30203 was fitted with full AAR drawgear during 2012, all locos are planned to be fitted. (2013)

In July 2010 it was announced by KiwiRail that EF 30065 and EF 30128 were to be assessed to see if they are able to be made ready to again enter service on the NIMT, having been held in open storage (along with EF 30186) for many years at Palmerston North as surplus to operational requirements. It is hoped that reinstating the locomotives will help to ease pressure on the working fleet, especially as locomotives are currently regularly out of service for maintenance, modification and re-branding. EF 30065 was placed on second-hand bogies and moved to Hutt Workshops in August 2010 to begin the assessment, followed by EF 30186 in September, though it was not mentioned in the original announcement. EF 30128 followed to Wellington in April 2011. It is anticipated that one of the locomotives will serve as a parts source to return the other two to service and the remaining hulk scrapped.

All EF have finished a light upgrade, to ensure reliability, until a planned control system upgrade is fitted. The upgrade included replacing the obsolete Locolog Event Recorder/Vigilance system with the latest generation system known as Tranzlog. Tranzlog also includes fault recording.(2013)

EF30013 was fitted with a replacement air compressor as a trial during 2012, all locos will now be fitted with replacement air compressors. The original compressor has become uneconomic to rebuild and is becoming increasingly difficult to keep functioning. These locos can be recognised by a new louvre being fitted to 2B side of the loco.(2013)

Livery[edit]

Three EF locomotives on a freight train north of Feilding. The first locomotive is in the International Orange livery.

Of the 17 EF Class locomotives currently in service, nine are painted in a livery other than the original International Orange scheme that they were introduced in:

The remaining three locomotives not in operational service (EFs 30065, 30128 and 30186) are all presently painted in the International Orange scheme. No EFs were ever painted in the Toll Rail "Corn Cob" scheme.

The rust removal and repaint into the new KiwiRail scheme began in September 2009 with EF 30163, followed by EF 30059 in February 2010, EF 30134 in March 2010, EF 30249 in April 2010 and EF 30226 in July 2010. It is expected that the remaining units will be rebranded in KiwiRail livery as they go through extended maintenance. So far, the KiwiRail repainting has been done in Wellington, which means the locomotives must be towed (as part of a diesel hauled freight service) to and from Wellington. The units painted in International Orange have the road numbers displayed in large type in the centre of the body (with the exception of EF 30007), while the other schemes have them in smaller type on the cabs.

Withdrawal and disposal[edit]

Two EF class locomotives have been withdrawn from service:

EFs 30036 and 30088 were withdrawn from service following a derailment caused by a washout at Oio (north of Raurimu) on 7 August 1991 that also killed the locomotive engineer. After recovery from the site the two heavily damaged units were stored at Hutt Workshops until the decision was made that it was both uneconomic to repair the units and they would be surplus to existing requirements. Both units were scrapped at Hutt Workshops – EF 30088 was completed in April 2003 and EF 30036 in February 2007 – with usable salvaged parts used to support the remainder of the fleet.

As noted above three further units – EFs 30065, 30128 and 30186 – have been in long-term out-of-service storage at Palmerston North as surplus to operational requirements. All three have since been moved to Hutt Workshops.

EF class outside New Zealand[edit]

The EF class design was used as the basis for the Le Shuttle Eurotunnel Class 9 locomotives used in the Channel Tunnel by the Eurotunnel Shuttle Service, as a proven design was required. The Le Shuttle locomotives were also built by Brush, Loughborough, UK and were scaled up to the standard rail gauge and larger loading gauge used in Europe.

Class register[edit]

Key: In service Out of service Auckland Transport service Preserved Overhaul/Repair Scrapped
TMS number Introduced Withdrawn Current livery Notes
30007 October 1987 International Orange Has black waistband not used on other locomotives. Lacks large numbers on carbody present on other International Orange units
30013 January 1988 Tranz Rail black (Bumble Bee)
30036 January 1988 August 7, 1991 Scrapped, February 18, 2007.
30042 February 1988 Tranz Rail black (Bumble Bee)
30059 February 1988 KiwiRail
30065 March 1988 International Orange In outside storage at Hutt Workshops
30071 February 1988 Tranz Rail black (Bumble Bee) Lacks 'TR' logo on carbody that is present on 30013 & 30042
30088 February 1988 August 7, 1991 Scrapped, April 11, 2003.
30094 March 1988 International Orange
30105 November 1988 International Orange
30111 February 1988 International Orange
30128 March 1988 International Orange In outside storage at Hutt Workshops
30134 March 1988 KiwiRail
30140 May 1988 International Orange
30157 March 1988 International Orange
30163 May 1988 KiwiRail
30186 July 1988 International Orange In outside storage at Hutt Workshops
30192 August 1988 Tranz Rail blue
30203 Oct 1988 International Orange
30226 September 1988 KiwiRail
30232 Apr 1989 International Orange
30249 Feb 1989 KiwiRail

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ "Energy Data File". Ministry of Economic Development. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2009. 

Bibliography[edit]

Channel Tunnel Trains by P.W.B. Semmens & Y. Machefest-Tassin (1994, Channel Tunnel Group Ltd, Folkestone, Kent) ISBN 1872009336