KiwiRail will make significant progress on several major rail projects around the Wellington region this Christmas, taking advantage of the annual network shutdown to work without interruption.
The Wellington region’s rail network will be closed to commuter trains from 26 December 2023 to 7 January 2024, with the Wairarapa Line staying closed until 14 January. Nearly 1,000 people will work on rail maintenance and projects across the network, with several sites operating 24/7 to maximise productivity.
KiwiRail Chief Capital Planning and Asset Development Officer David Gordon says that while important maintenance will be carried out during the shutdown, most of the planned activity relates to the Wellington Metro Upgrade Programme - a $700 million programme of works to upgrade existing rail infrastructure and build capacity to support Greater Wellington Regional Council’s plans for rail.
“We’re hitting some significant milestones this Christmas. Some of our key long-term upgrade projects are coming to a close, while others will be kick-started. We appreciate that this work can be disruptive, but it’s our best chance to make progress, and it allows us to keep disruptions to a minimum during the rest of the year.”
Metlink Group Manager Samantha Gain says: “This critical piece of work has been a long time in the planning and will help keep our rail network running. This time of year, when fewer people are travelling on the network, is the best time to roll out essential maintenance programmes and make the best use of the funding allocated for these works.”
The complex re-signalling work at Wellington Railway Station will continue, alongside much-needed work on various tracks, foundations and platforms. This project is a major step towards modernising Wellington’s rail network and will improve safety in what is New Zealand’s most complex railway junction.
Round-the-clock work on the Kapiti Line will see the completion of the last major portion of the Plimmerton Station upgrade project. The upgrade, which includes adding a third track and platform at the station, will allow commuter trains that currently run from Wellington to Porirua to be extended to Plimmerton, helping with capacity at peak times. Bridge 23 (just north of Paekākāriki) will also be replaced.
KiwiRail will conduct maintenance on the Hutt Valley Line, largely between Ava Station and Taitā Station.
On the Wairarapa Line, renewal work will begin inside the Maoribank and Remutaka Tunnels to update the original track from 1955, and the old wooden bridge (Bridge 56) near Matarawa will be replaced. Capacity-building upgrades will start with work on a new passing loop at Woodside Station and the Fitzherbert St level crossing in Featherston.
Mr Gordon adds an important reminder: “Although commuter trains will be suspended, a range of rail vehicles will still be out on the tracks. Drivers and pedestrians should obey signs and signals at level crossings, and look both ways before crossing – just like always.”
Metlink will be replacing commuter trains with buses during the network closures. For information on services and bus replacements, visit www.metlink.org.nz
More information on KiwiRail’s upcoming works can be found here: https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/our-network/our-regions/wellington/where-we-are-working/