KiwiRail Media Update: Withdrawal of DL Locomotives for Testing

Published on : Saturday, March 8, 2014

KiwiRailLogoTesting of 33 of the 40 DL Locomotives has been completed and sent for analysis to an accredited laboratory. The full results are expected by the end of this week.


The locomotives were grounded last Friday, after confirmation was received that a sound proofing compound used in them contained asbestos.


Three types of testing have been undertaken which include Visual Risk Assessments, Swab Testing and Air Sampling Testing.


“With the safety of our people our priority, we will not resume using the DL locomotives until the full results have been received.   However, preliminary results so far from air tests taken from 11 locomotives show no presence of airborne asbestos fibres. Our intention is to have the testing independently validated before we determine the appropriate next steps,” says KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy.


The tests are being analysed by one of only two laboratories in New Zealand accredited for this type of analysis.  This laboratory is already very busy carrying out analysis as part of the Christchurch rebuild and so swab samples will take 2- 3 days for a full analysis, which is longer than we had initially been led to understand.
Mr Reidy acknowledges the withdrawal of the DL fleet has had some impact on rail freight services.
“Our focus is on safety operating key scheduled services, and prioritising critical freight loadings.  We are liaising closely with customers who are being supportive as we work through the situation, and understand the necessity to clarify any safety risk.”


“We have already brought additional locomotives to the North Island from the South Island to support this effort, and have more on standby to bring across, once the weather settles and ferry crossings resume their normal schedule.”


Additional notes

In Australia asbestos was found in the lagging material used in the exhaust systems of those trains. Those trains were built by CSR.


When that news broke we sought assurances from our manufacturer – CNR – that there was no asbestos. That assurance was given.  Additionally we arranged for a certified asbestos management company to conduct tests on the lagging material used in the exhaust systems in our DL locomotives.  That test came back showing no asbestos in that material – as per our specifications.


The last mainline locomotive built at Hillside was a steam locomotive in 1956.

The last shunt locomotives built  at Hillside was in 1978

The last mainline locomotive rebuild at Hillside was in 1980.

All the heavy overhauls and upgrades in recent years have been done at Hutt Workshops

The decision making around the procurement of new locomotives included consideration of a New Zealand built option using the Hutt facility.  That would have meant a 36 month lead time, compared with an 18 month lead time for the Chinese option.


A brand new, like for like, locomotive build would have been at least double the cost of a locally built option. This also didn’t include the significant cost to upgrade the Workshop facilities, develop the necessary technical expertise or the warranty risk, and the subsequent wind down costs, once the fleet was built.

Source:- Kiwi Rail


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