Wellington Metro Upgrade Project

In May 2011 Government announced an $88.4 million funding package over eight years to continue to transform Wellington’s rail services.

Over the next eight years the WMUP will deliver some significant improvements to aging overhead traction systems and signalling across the network. This will further improve and maintain the reliability of our commuter services.

The work undertaken during the now completed Wellington Region Rail Programme (WRRP) to prepare the lines for the introduction of the new Matangi trains delivered some great positives. These included double tracking to Waikanae, constructing a third track into Wellington Station and improving the traction overhead to carry more power. This work resulted in increased train speed, improved timekeeping for trains, reduced the number of faults and allowed more train services. The WMUP, currently underway, will build on this and result in an even better network.

Years of under investment in the network prior to the WRRP work meant the lines were in need of major works to support the Wellington commuter system. The good news is that we have and are continuing to make good progress on upgrading the network to be able to better support a modern and reliable commuter service.

As we complete the work, commuters will continue to see improvements in the reliability of our services. Sometimes we will have to close the lines in order to complete the work without the interruption of passenger services. For information about any planned disruptions please visit www.metlink.org.nz 

Wellington Traction Renewal Project

Queen’s Birthday weekend 2013 saw the commencement of a major electrical renewal on the Wellington rail network.

New overhead electrification hardware was installed between Redwood and Muri.  The project was originally scheduled to take four years. 

Fast-tracking the renewal saved several million dollars and the upgrade provided another length of first class system, future proofing the Wellington area electrically.

The new equipment is more sustainable and manageable, so that we can put more emphasis on preventative maintenance.

Around 850 foundations and new poles were installed and a communication duct will be laid between Takapu Road and Muri Stations, which provides a new power supply for the signals’ fibre optics.

Wellington’s traction system has many parallels with Melbourne’s and the new technology matches similar upgrades in the Australian city.

The Queen’s Birthday weekend work was an opportunity to “bed in” the projects new processes and people before work began in June. Up to 40 traction pole foundations were delivered during the holiday. Most of the works will be delivered at night or during the day while trains operate, minimising the impact on train passengers. The project is being delivered by a joint venture between Fulton Hogan and Australian rail specialists, John Holland. 

Funding for the project has been provided by the Ministry of Transport. 

Upgrades continue on Wellington network

An upgrade to signalling equipment on the Wellington network will begin this year and is expected to be completed before the end of the 2014 financial year.

Older technology will be completely replaced at Petone and Porirua, with underground ducted cables and new state-of-the-art 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.

Work will take place over weekends, including holiday long weekends and the Christmas shut-down.

The Tamper comes to Town

Another  KiwiRail monster machine can now be seen on the Wellington rail lines as a brand new MK VI Tamper machine makes its way around the network. 

Area Manager, John Humphrey, says “This state-of-the-art machine, manufactured by Harsco Rail, is equipped with the latest technology and we’re very much looking forward to putting the tamper to work to support our rail maintenance programme on the Wellington network.”

In 2013, KiwiRail unloaded shipments of six brand new rail maintenance machines, three new ballast regulators and three new MK VI Tampers from Australia and the United States.

Tamper machines pack or “tamp” the ballast under the track. If this foundation is not properly formed and maintained, the track wears out more quickly and the ride is rougher for people and freight.

The Tamper is operating on the Wellington network between March and May 2014.

Easter Block of Line 2014

Easter 2014 Wellington Metro network teams concentrated their efforts on the North Island Main Trunk Line, between Wellington and Waikanae and worked through the holiday to get the work done.

Traction upgrades continued throughout the holiday weekend as new pole foundations were set in place between Kenepuru and Porirua while new overhead wiring cables installed in the Paremata and Plimmerton areas.

Wellington Area Planner, Mark Breslin, said “We worked on quite a few specialised bridge and track maintenance and renewal tasks as well as vegetation clearance north of Pukerua Bay.  There were sleepers replaced at turnouts at Porirua Station and on the Waikanae River Bridge and maintenance tasks carried out on two bridges south of Tawa as well as the Linden Station pedestrian overbridge. ” 

Mr Breslin said, “We did track maintenance at numerous sites, including a six kilometre stretch south of Redwood.  We needed to de-stress a section of line along the coast between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay.  This involved cutting and re-welding the rail to make it more resilient in high temperatures.  We tested track stability as well.”

Level crossing information for Wairarapa

Drivers and pedestrians are advised to take extra care at level crossings during holiday periods.  When maintenance and renewal work takes place on the Wellington network, more freight trains may be rerouted through the Wairarapa.  There is always a warning sign or signal at level crossings to help road users cross the tracks safely. It may be a give way or stop sign, flashing lights and bells or, on busy roads, barrier arms which come down when a train is coming.  Treat a level crossing as you would any other intersection - obey the signs, and always look and listen for trains. Take care, and be aware, EVERY time.

To find out how the planned works affect passenger travel, please check the Metlink website www.metlink.org.nz