Auckland rail project wins prestigious award

19 May 2016 2:02PM

The successful electrification and re-signalling of the Auckland urban rail network which has helped transform public transport in New Zealand’s largest city has won a prestigious Australasian award. 

In Melbourne last night (May 18) KiwiRail’s Professional Head of Signals and Telecommunications John Skilton accepted the Railway Technical Society of Australasia’s  joint 2016 Biennial Rail Project Award on behalf of KiwiRail, Siemens and Hilor.

The electrification involved installing 80km of electrified rail, 3500 masts and portals, six substations, 154 new signals huts, 382 new signals and 235 new point machines on the Auckland network.

“It was one of a series of projects in which KiwiRail has been involved which has helped transform Auckland’s urban rail network, and allowed the purchase and use of modern electric units to replace ageing diesel-hauled trains,” KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy says.

“We are proud of this contribution to Auckland. Without it, it is likely that thousands more car trips would be being made every week in an already congested city.”  

In the early 1990s passenger trips in Auckland were barely averaging 1 million a year on the city’s trains. There were still fewer than 3 million trips a year before Britomart opened downtown in 2003. There were 11 million train trips being taken before electrification was completed in late 2014 and there are now more than 16 million passenger journeys a year, with Auckland Transport predicting 20 million a year in 2017.

RTSA judges said the Auckland electrification project, “stood out to the RTSA award judging panel because of its role in transforming public transport in New Zealand’s largest city, and its use of innovative technology including the first operational use in the Southern Hemisphere of European Train Control System automatic train protection technology”.

Mr Skilton thanked the Government and Auckland Transport for their foresight and backing of the project which had enabled an average 20 per cent increase in train patronage in Auckland for each of the past two years.

The RTSA award was shared jointly with Australian miner Roy Hill for its hi-tech 334km railway that shifts iron ore to the coast from the company’s Western Australia mine. Trains are loaded at the mine using a state-of-the-art loading system run by remote control from Perth.

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