Hillside workshops redevelopment

Just like cars and trucks, locomotives, rail wagons and carriages must be maintained and it’s workshops like KiwiRail’s one at Hillside that make that possible.

The workshops are currently undergoing a major redevelopment, giving a new lease of life to a site that has played an important role in New Zealand’s rail heritage and will continue to play an important role supporting KiwiRail’s mainland operations.

What is planned for Hillside?

The redevelopment is the result of significant Government funding to build a wagon assembly facility and replace the mechanical workshop. It 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 45 new jobs. About 10 per cent of the new intake are expected to be apprentices or trainees
  • New shared offices and workshops. With KiwiRail’s infrastructure staff to move in, a total of 170 staff are set to work on site
  • A new traverser, heavy lift jacks, and electric shunt engines
  • A much more appealing frontage on Hillside Road

Project progress

Building the new facility is supporting the local economy with around 200 construction jobs across the demolition and construction phases.

First stage: Demolition

Two unused buildings were demolished in mid-2020. From September 2021 demolition began in earnest, starting at the northern end of the site and working southwards towards Hillside Road.

South Island firm TAGGART has carried out the necessary demolition work which is due to be completed in the first half of 2023.

Due to the age of the buildings, we tested for and confirmed the presence of asbestos. The demolition works have been carefully managed to ensure work was undertaken in line with relevant asbestos regulations and WorkSafe NZ guidelines and standards.

Despite the presence of asbestos in some areas, KiwiRail expects more than 95 per cent of demolition materials will be recycled, with much of this destined for re-use in the redeveloped Hillside site.

Second stage: Construction

In June 2022 KiwiRail signed a contract with Otago firm Calder Stewart to build the new workshop. The first permanent piles were in the ground before the end of the year and construction will continue through 2023.

The layout of the rail yard that forms part of the Hillside complex is also under redevelopment. Ground works for the new rail yard started in late 2022. Where possible KiwiRail is looking to re-use and recycle so old concrete slabs will be crushed and re-used in the track formation for the yard and second-hand rail will be used for the new track layout.

Construction of the new office block and Network Services building will start in 2023 and continue into 2024.

Artist’s impression of the new Mechanical Workshop interior.

New mechanical workshop 960 x 540

Third stage: Operation

While construction activity at the site will continue into 2024, we expect elements of the new workshop to begin operation by early 2024.


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.

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Newsletters:  May 2023