Rail Grinder

In October 2012, KiwiRail began deploying the RR24M-30A Rail Grinder on its network. The rail grinder extends the lifespan of the track by smoothing and removing defective metal from the railhead, resulting in faster and more reliable train journeys.

A rail grinder of this type and scale has never been used on New Zealand’s rail network before. It’s a state-of-the-art machine, more than half the length of a football field.

With 24 high speed grinding stones set at controlled angles, the grinder restores the rail to its correct shape.

The RR24M-30A Rail Grinder is owned and operated by Australia-based Speno, who have more than forty years’ experience in rail grinding and will operate it under contract to KiwiRail. The grinder will be leased for two years and operated on more than 2,800 km of track.

Over the next two years, the rail grinder will slowly work its way around the primary rail routes. It will start on the East Coast Main Trunk line before moving onto the North Island Main Trunk line, vital routes that form the “Golden Triangle” connecting Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland.

As it moves along the track, the grinder will be followed by a dedicated Hi-Rail fire tender to manage any potential fire risk caused by sparks from the grinding. KiwiRail is also working closely with local communities and authorities to keep everyone informed.

Our video shows the rail grinder in action.

The grinder is huge, it can sometimes be loud and it creates sparks as it travels along the track. While this may look exciting, we recommend people do not try to get a closer look.