Waltham Mechanical Hub

A new rail mechanical facility is being built at KiwiRail’s Waltham yard in Christchurch, further strengthening our South Island operations.

Waltham will become the main South Island locomotive, passenger carriage and wagon maintenance facility. With 47 new low-emission locomotives due to join the South Island fleet from 2024, this purpose-built mechanical hub will support the future resilience and efficiency of our operations.

The new mechanical maintenance building and eastern rail yard (November 2023).

The hub will bring together KiwiRail staff from existing sites in Addington, Middleton, and Waltham into a single, modern facility.

The 9,400 square metre building will house 25 maintenance berths, an underfloor wheel lathe and other specialist rail maintenance equipment such as a wheelset drop table and locomotive axle weigh systems. Thirty two office-based staff will move into the hub to support the maintenance activity.

Funding for the Waltham Mechanical Hub comes from the Government’s Crown Infrastructure Partners Shovel-Ready Fund and recent Budgets.

Construction timeline 

Demolition began on site in September 2021. Once the site was cleared, construction of the new facilities commenced.
The maintenance building and western rail yard improvements are now complete (December 2023). Work to complete the hub will continue into 2024 and includes finalising eastern rail yard works and converting the existing passenger maintenance building into an inventory store.   
New rail has been installed to provide access to the workshop bays in the new building. In total KiwiRail will install 32 track turnouts in the yard (a mixture of new and refurbished) and five kilometres of track. There is another kilometre of new rail installed within the building and its concrete aprons. To date, 16 track turnouts and around 3km of track have been installed. 

The locomotive and passenger maintenance facilities will be up and running early in 2024 with the full hub expected to be completed by the end of 2024. 

Interior view of the new mechanical maintenance building.

Sustainability initiatives  

On the north facing roof of the maintenance building, we have installed 774 solar panels. The panels can produce approximately 356kW of power. This will provide the majority of the building’s electricity requirements.  

Solar panels installed on the new mechanical building roof.

Re-use and recycle

Where possible we have avoided sending waste material to landfill by re-using and recycling construction materials. This includes: 

  • Following demolition works, concrete was separated from steel on site. The steel was taken to a local scrap merchant for recycling and concrete was sent to a crusher and repurpiosed into construction aggregates. 
  • 6000 tonnes of asphalt went to a construction company for recycling and reuse.  
  • All 5 km of rail track in the yard are second-hand, reused from other parts of KiwiRail’s network. 


The project won the HEB Circular Economy (Reduce/Reuse/Recycle) of Construction Materials award in 2023 and was a finalist in the WasteMINZ Conference, Expo + Workshop Awards for Excellence in the contaminated land management category. 

Local jobs

Our main construction partner for the project is South Island firm Calder Stewart. HEB Construction is carrying out rail yard civil works. The hub build has supported around 100 construction jobs and sees money going back into the local and regional economy.  

New automated train wash

As part of the redevelopment at Waltham, a new train wash and service facility opened in 2021.This is where carriages for Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine trains come before and after each journey for servicing, maintenance and a clean.

The new train wash system is fully automated and uses smart technology to recognise the type of carriage being cleaned. Once the brushes and rollers have down their work, the carriages are dried, ready for their next adventure.

Go behind the scenes and see our new automated train wash in action.

We partnered with HRS Construction for the train wash build. Our main electrical contractor for the project, Aotea Electric Canterbury, won gold at the Master Electricians New Zealand Excellence Awards 2022 for their work on the Service Centre. Read more here: Master Electricians Awards Of Excellence Gold Winners | Aotea Electric Canterbury