Round-the-clock effort on Wellington rail network this Christmas

18 December 2013 3:03PM

KiwiRail staff will be working around the clock during the holiday break to complete essential maintenance tasks on the Wairarapa and Hutt Valley Lines. 

KiwiRail’s Wellington  Metro Upgrade Manager, Michael McKeon, says, “While the trains aren’t running, our teams will be working back-to-back to install new sleepers on the rail bridges at Pomare and Ava.” 

“Meanwhile,” he says, “The rail bridge which crosses the Mangatere Stream 2 ½ km south of Carterton will be replaced.  Signals will be upgraded at Petone and overhead wires replaced near Woburn and north of Trentham.  Vegetation will be cleared at a number of sites and work will be done to protect the rail line and the sea wall from erosion along the waterfront between Ngauranga and Petone.”

Mr McKeon says, “An upgrade to replace manually-controlled signalling equipment at Petone and Porirua with the latest computer-controlled signalling equipment is expected to be completed before the end of the 2014 financial year.  This Christmas, older technology will be completely replaced at Petone, with underground ducted cables and new signalling equipment installed. Generator backed-up power supplies will also be provided. The new technology will bring improved reliability and be easier to maintain and service.”

Bridge 65, near Dalefield, Carterton, will be replaced by a brand new concrete and steel structure on 27 – 29th December.  The new bridge has been placed on temporary piers beside the old bridge while the permanent piers for the new bridge have been built, meshed inside the structure of the old bridge.  Mr McKeon says, “The old bridge will be demolished and the new bridge jacked sideways onto its waiting piers.”  He says, “Both structures held up well during recent floods in the district.” 

The new bridge is part of a commitment to investment in infrastructure on the Wairarapa Line by KiwiRail and Greater Wellington Regional Council.  Longer term planning is under way to determine a programme for replacement of all remaining timber pier bridges on the Wairarapa Line.

Some repair and strengthening work of the seawall will take place on the waterfront area between Ngauranga and Petone to provide further protection from storm erosion.  Mr McKeon says, “Significant damage to the track and seawall was caused by storms and high seas in June this year.  KiwiRail quickly restored the rail line and then undertook additional measures to protect the infrastructure from further erosion.  This Christmas, our teams will continue with this work, using special incident funding made available by Greater Wellington Regional Council.”

Paul Swain, Wellington Regional Council’s public transport portfolio spokesman, says investment in the region’s rail infrastructure is critical. “It’s not a nice to have, it’s something we need to do. As the Wairarapa region grows and more people choose to live there and commute to Wellington each day, a safe, well maintained rail system becomes even more important.” 

“And a resilient rail line between Petone and Ngauranga is crucial to the region. While KiwiRail did an amazing job to get the line operating again in a few days, we saw the congestion chaos that resulted when it was out of action. We need to do whatever we can in the short term to avoid that happening again. In the long term, I’m hopeful we’ll get a much more lasting solution for this vital corridor.”

Buses will replace trains between Wellington and Upper Hutt for both Hutt Valley and Wairarapa train lines from Boxing Day until Sunday 5 January 2014. 
Buses will replace trains between Wellington and Masterton from Friday 27 December 2013 until Sunday 29 December 2013.  

Reduced services will operate over the Christmas and New Year holiday period, from 25 December until 3 January. Normal timetables resume on Saturday 4 January 2014. 

For information about bus replacements on the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa lines and Christmas and New Year holiday timetables see