Rail Grinder a smooth operator

08 October 2013 11:11AM

A smoother ride for passengers and freight is just around the corner as KiwiRail’s rail grinder makes its way into Wellington along the North Island 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 prolongs rail life and will bring significant benefits to KiwiRail’s maintenance operations. 

“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 have to replace it more frequently than we would like.” 

“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 last eleven months, the rail grinder has slowly worked its way around the primary rail routes moving onto the North Island Main Trunk line after completing work on the “Golden Triangle” routes connecting Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland. 

In July, it was brought to Wellington briefly to grind the Johnsonville Line.  This time it will be on the Wellington network from 26th September until late December, operating on the Kapiti and Wairarapa Lines.  

As it moves along the track, the grinder will be followed by two Hi-Rail Fire tenders to manage any potential fire risk caused by sparks from the grinding.  Mr van Barneveld said that the rail grinder was more than half the size of a football field and was sure to turn some heads in the coming weeks. 

“It’s quite a sight when you see it in operation actually.  No one will 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.  

$82.4 million will be invested by KiwiRail, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Government over the next three years to maintain and improve the performance of the Wellington rail network. 

For more information visit http://www.kiwirail.co.nz/infrastructure/infrastructure-and-engineering/improving-the-rail-network/rail-grinder.html 

The RR24M-30A Rail Grinder will be on display at Wellington Railway Station on Saturday 12 October as part of the New Zealand on the Move celebration of 150 years of rail in New Zealand.


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