Hillside workshops redevelopment

Hillside Workshops in South Dunedin are currently undergoing a major reconstruction, giving a new lease of life to a site that has an important place in NZ’s rail heritage.  

The new mechanical workshop will be used for the domestic assembly of new wagons, along with the maintenance, repair and overhaul of locomotives and wagons, and projects to support our mainland operations.  

Network and mechanical engineers based at KiwiRail’s current Strathallan and Cumberland Street sites will also move into new staff facilities at Hillside. More than 100 staff will be working at the facility once it is fully open.  

This project is being funded with $105 million of Government investment. 

Hillside Workshops are currently undergoing a major redevelopment.

What is planned for Hillside?

The redevelopment includes: 

  • A new mechanical workshop where up to 21 locomotives, wagons (or carriages) can be worked on at a time 
  • A new wagon assembly facility, within the workshop building, where two wagons can be assembled a day. KiwiRail expects to assemble around 1500 wagons over three years, creating around 45 new jobs.  
  • New shared offices and workshops.  
  • A new traverser, heavy lift jacks, and electric shunt engines 
  • A redeveloped rail yard 
  • A much more appealing frontage on Hillside Road 


Artist’s impression of redeveloped Hillside Road entrance.

Construction update

Construction at Hillside Workshops is on track and the full facility is expected to open mid-2024. We plan to open part of the facility earlier to allow wagon assembly to commence in early 2024.  

Work is progressing on the mechanical and staff office buildings at Hillside. The office façade is  complete. 

Staff office and workshop buildings (December 2023).

In the rail yard, the beams and cabs for the new traverser have arrived on site and 13 of the 14 track turnouts have been installed. The traverser is a sideways-moving platform that transfers trains across rail sets, enabling rolling stock to enter and exit different bays in the workshop.  

The mechanical building and rail yard (December 2023).

NZ firm JJ Nivens is building the traverser and it is being brought to Hillside in sections.

Construction jobs 

Building the new facility is supporting the local economy with more than 200 construction jobs across the demolition and construction phases. Calder Stewart are our main construction partner for the mechanical workshop. 

South Island firm TAGGART carried out the necessary demolition work which was completed in late 2023. 

Cutting trips to landfill 

We have removed 24 buildings on site that had reached the end of their useful life. We are committed to environmental sustainability and have recycled more than 90% of the demolished materials from Hillside to reduce the volume of new materials required.  

In particular, all of the concrete structures have been demolished, broken up and crushed. The crushed concrete is being used in the new formation build-up of the rail yard. 

We recycled:  

  • 30 tonnes of native timber 
  • 2965 tonnes of metal 
  • 8280 tonnes of concrete 

Heritage buildings  

The oldest building at Hillside, known as the machine shop, has been earthquake strengthened and is being used for inventory storage. As a timber building, it was more straightforward to reinforce to meet seismic safety standards compared to some of the other old buildings.  

The machine shop, built around the 1870s, has been strengthened and repurposed.

Hillside Roll of Honour 

The names of Hillside workers killed in the First and Second World Wars are recorded on a Roll of Honour, located near the Manager’s Building on Hillside Road. The two gold-engraved granite plaques have temporarily been removed and will be relocated to a new location in the landscaped area outside of the new office building along Hillside Road. 

The war memorial is being preserved and incorporated into the re-developed site.

Learn more about preserving Hillside’s history here: Preserving Hillside's history 


More information and contact details

We’re mindful of how work may affect our Hillside neighbours. 

If you have any queries or concerns about our planned activities, please email: contactus@kiwirail.co.nz or phone: 0800 801070 extension 43042.

Latest news


Hillside Redevelopment newsletter December 2023

Hillside Redevelopment newsletter May 2023