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Digital engineering

Digital Engineering is a collaborative way of working, using digital processes to enable more productive methods of planning, designing, constructing, operating and maintaining our assets.

In 2018, KiwiRail embarked on a significant portfolio of capital work designed to bring transformational change to New Zealand’s rail network. To successfully deliver this portfolio and to support the growth of the wider business, and the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry as a whole, KiwiRail pioneered new ways of working that recognised the importance of continuous improvement in how it operates.

The Digital Engineering Programme vision recognises the important role KiwiRail plays in the New Zealand AEC industry and the programme seeks to Pioneer KiwiRail’s digital journey to transform the industry.

In early 2019, KiwiRail began a digital engineering pilot to support the delivery of its capital projects portfolio. Through the success of the pilot, KiwiRail has now developed a digital ‘way of working’ which uses the international standard ISO19650.  There are a number of resources on this page that will help when delivering KiwiRail projects.

Digital Engineering Objectives

  • Provide a place where people can access and consume data
  • Reduce risks during the construction phase
  • Create a rich and accurate as-built record of the asset
  • Increase efficiency in the way we work

Snapshot of the Wairarapa Level Crossing Simulator produced by the Gamification team.

The simulator visualises the new level crossing upgrades in Wairarapa as part of the Wellington Metro Upgrade Programme (WMUP).


Digital Engineering team recognised in Construction Sector Accord study

Our Digital Engineering team have had their work recognised as a case study in a report produced by The Construction Sector Accord.

The Value Case for ‘Digital First’ document explores the potential benefits of working more with data and embracing digitally enabled methods, and outlines what’s holding us back from fully embracing digital in the New Zealand construction sector.

Digital Engineering Programme Director Derek Jannings says this recognition is testament to the forward-thinking and innovative efforts by the Digital Engineering team over the last five years to support Capital Projects & Asset Development (CPAD).

“We always aspire to make positive change within the industry and be a part of shifting the innovation dial, as the construction industry has typically been slow to see the benefit of digital.”

Case studies were undertaken both internationally and nationally to leverage knowledge that is suitable for the New Zealand’s construction and infrastructure industry.

Access the case study here: Digital Guidance Suite: Case studies


The Trentham to Upper Hutt double-tracking project was part of KiwiRail’s digital engineering pilot. The lessons from this project have helped form the basis for KiwiRail’s digital way of working, which is now being adopted across the capital works portfolio.
The benefits of digital technology for KiwiRail, and potentially for communities, range from improved productivity and efficiency to better safety and sustainability outcomes.

Already, our investment in digital innovation is paying off. In July 2021, KiwiRail and its partners Downer and Aurecon won Engineering New Zealand’s Innovation Award, for the digital technology used in the Trentham to Upper Hutt double-tracking (T2UH) project. In September 2021, the project team were awarded the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Innovation Award, and in November the Australasian Rail Industry Innovation & Technology Award for their collaborative approach, digital innovations, and digital shields which were used during the works to protect people and machines in the rail corridor.

The project was also selected by the Construction Sector Accord as a Beacon Project, which champions the construction sector’s most transformative and innovative approaches, and was a finalist in the inaugural Beacons Awards.

For more information about our awards, take a look at our resources page.

2022 Supreme Award winners at the annual New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards. Top: L-R: Siva Sivapakkiam (COO Rail Operations), Alistair Cumming (Group GM Zero Harm), Andy Lyon (Programme Director – Digital Engineering), Reuben Butcher (Downer), Rachel Robertson (Downer) and Ian Sloane (Aurecon). Bottom: The KiwiRail team.

Double Supreme


To support the digital delivery of projects, KiwiRail has developed a digital engineering framework. Version 4 of the DE Framework is segmented into a suite of documents. This enables specific technical information to be covered in a specific document, for the right audience.
This diagram outlines the suite of framework documentation available to download via the resources page.

Doc Structure Landscape