Auckland rail network ready for first electric train passenger services

01 April 2014 4:04PM

The $500 million project to electrify Auckland’s rail network reached its most significant milestone moments ago when the Prime Minister and KiwiRail staff officially energised electric rail infrastructure into Britomart, New Zealand’s busiest transport centre. 

The move will enable the first electric train passenger services to operate between Onehunga and the city later this month and marks a major step forward for rail in Auckland.  

“Today symbolises a step change for Auckland’s integrated transport network,” says KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy. “What we have achieved through world-class engineering, construction capabilities and the deployment of new technology is a modern electrified network that will improve journey times, reliability and ultimately encourage more people out of their cars and onto trains.”

The installation of overhead lines involved 650,000 hours’ worth of construction activity, the installation of 3,500 masts, carrying 560km of 25kv overhead wires across 175km of railway tracks.

“The complexity and scale of this project is comparable to recent rail upgrades in some of the world’s largest cities,” says Mr Reidy. “Some of the equipment on the network had not been upgraded since the 1960’s so we have achieved a giant leap forward.”

KiwiRail also placed significant emphasis towards deploying state of the art technology that will enable greater levels of automation, communications and safety across the network.

This includes the implementation of a new train control system that overrides drivers if they are travelling too fast towards red signal lights and advanced automated signalling equipment that is a ‘world-first’ for New Zealand and replaces equipment that has not been upgraded for more than fifty years. 

“The government has invested $1.7 billion in the upgrade of Auckland’s metro rail network and new electric trains, delivering a reliable network with frequent services. This is providing a viable alternative mode of transport for many Aucklanders and will achieve increases in rail patronage also playing a part in reducing congestion,” said Prime Minister Hon. John Key.

Over the next six months KiwiRail will progressively complete and commission other parts of the network to coincide with Auckland Transport’s planned rollout of electric passenger services.

Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive, David Warburton says, “The introduction of electric trains marks the start of a new era in public transport for Auckland. We are on target as we count down the days until we introduce modern trains to Auckland, line by line until we have all 57 trains in place near the end of 2015. With such an attractive mode of transport, we are looking forward to increasing numbers of Aucklanders making the choice to leave their cars and get on board”.

The first electric trains passenger services will run along the Onehunga Branch Line on 28 April.


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