KiwiRail apologises for commuter rail disruption today

KiwiRail apologises for the widespread disruption caused to Wellington train commuters today, following a fault to the overhead power lines in the Hutt Valley this morning.

“We know it’s important to have a reliable transport system and no one wants to see trains stop,” says KiwiRail Group Chief Operating Officer Todd Moyle. 

“We are hugely apologetic about the disruption caused to commuters today.

“It has been all hands on deck since early this morning as our teams work to identify the issue and carry out the necessary repairs and inspections so we can get trains running again.

“Preliminary investigations indicate the outage was caused by a fault with one of the new masts being installed by contractors on the Hutt Valley line, as part of the $300 million project to upgrade the Wellington metro network.

“Some of the structure was installed incorrectly and made contact with trains passing beneath it.

“What happened today is unacceptable and we accept responsibility.  The contractors involved will not be doing any more of that work until we have thoroughly investigated the cause of the incident, and ensured processes are in place to ensure it does not happen again.

“As a safety precaution, we also needed to conduct checks across the wider network to ensure there were no further issues.

“We have been liaising with Metlink throughout the outage to ensure the quickest return possible to scheduled services.

“There is a huge amount of work ongoing in Wellington to improve the reliability and capacity of the network. 

“This includes replacing the aging overhead power system – masts and wires – that power the trains, on the Hutt, Melling and Johnsonville lines.

“That work has been underway since mid-2018, and until now has been carried out without incident.

“We have been making good progress and are two thirds of the way through the job of replacing more than 1274 old timber poles and more than 70 kilometres of overhead wires.

“Delivering this type of project is always a juggling act as much of the work can only be done when there are no trains running and the overhead power system is turned off.

“We work in evenings, weekends, and holidays to minimise disruption to the thousands of rail commuters who use the line every day."