Rail Grinder a smooth operator

21 November 2012 9:09AM

A smoother ride for passengers and freight is just around the corner as KiwiRail’s newly commissioned rail grinder makes its way along the East Coast Main Trunk line.  The RR24M-30A Rail Grinder, owned and operated by global contractor, Speno, extends the lifespan of the track through smoothing and removing defective metal from the railhead, resulting in longer lasting rails.

KiwiRail’s General Manager for Infrastructure and Engineering, Rick van Barneveld , said that the grinder would bring significant benefits to KiwiRail’s maintenance operations and prolong rail life.

“Over time the rail track head develops stress points, defects and metal build up from the steel wheels travelling on the track.  It’s a problem that every rail network around the world has to deal with - it shortens the life of the rail track meaning we had to replace it more frequently than we would have liked.”

“Rail grinding will significantly enhance our operations as the track access time demands to complete re-railing can be avoided thereby minimising disruption to train services.  It also has long term cost saving benefits as less track and wheel maintenance will be required and trains can travel with less effort thereby creating fuel savings.” 

Over the next two years, the rail grinder will slowly work its way around the primary rail routes moving onto the North Island Main Trunk line after it’s completed its work on the East Coast 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 Hi-Rail Fire tender to manage any potential fire risk caused by sparks from the grinding.  More than half the size of a football field, Mr van Barneveld said that the rail grinder was sure to turn some heads in the coming weeks.

“It’s quite a sight when you see it in operation actually.  No one would have seen this type of thing on the rail network before and experience overseas is that some people see the sparks and think that something is wrong with one of our trains.  Rest assured, we’re doing everything we can to keep local communities informed,”  he said.

The improvements are part of KiwiRail’s decade long programme of investment to improve New Zealand’s rail network so that it can pay its own way and deliver the highest levels of service for customers.  More than $750 million is being invested in the rail network over the next three years.


Media Contact: Sarah Pomeroy, Senior Communications Advisor, 021 804 906