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Wairarapa rail work to rack up $375 million

Multiple investments into KiwiRail’s work on the Wairarapa Line’s infrastructure means that – once the seven year project is complete – about $375 million would have been spent, equating to just over $4.4 million a month.

Further work in coming years in preparation for the arrival of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s hybrid trains is included in the $375m project budget – including platform upgrades and a new train depot/stabling at Masterton.

The Times-Age requested further information on the project through the submission of an Official Information Act [OIA] request.

The OIA asked for further details related to speed restrictions, the costs of the Wairarapa project – including where the money came from and how the budget was designated to the region – and an update on its progress.

“The Wairarapa work is CAPEX – totalling about $375 million, as part of a more than $870 million government investment in the wider Wellington Metro network,” the KiwiRail response said.

“Greater Wellington Regional Council also contribute towards general maintenance of the Wellington Metro Network, as the main user of the network, along with NZTA and KiwiRail.”

The Times-Age asked for the benefit to cost ratio [BCR] of the project and how this was calculated but KiwiRail could not provide this data.

“As the rail projects are across the Wellington region, there is no specific BCR for the Wairarapa aspects of the work.”

Further information was also requested about the recent vibration issue, where funding would come from to fix it, what mitigations will be implemented to prevent disruption to services in future, and whether KiwiRail will be investigating the frequent delays experienced by Wairarapa commuters.

“Regarding delays to Wairarapa line passenger services, for context, there have been speed restrictions on the Wairarapa Line for many years, due to its poor state and historic under investment,” the KiwiRail response said.

“For example, in 2017 these totalled 10-11 minutes.

“The timetable for Wairarapa service has about 10 minutes contingency in it, for the most part not noticed by passengers.

“The time delay increased significantly once upgrade work started on the line in 2020, to more than 15 minutes and at times up to around 20 minutes for short periods of time.

“This is a side effect of doing the work while trains continue to operate, with time needed for work at different sites to be completed and settle in.

“Speed restrictions currently total around 15 minutes, including about six minutes to stop the carriages vibrating.

“The other speed restrictions relate to the Remutaka Tunnel [three minutes], safety related restrictions at some level crossing, areas where newly renewed infrastructure is still bedding in and where a repair is needed.

“These speed restrictions will progressively be removed as work is done, such as Remutaka Tunnel work being carried out this coming Christmas.

“There are other factors contributing to service delays, which can be greater than 15 minutes.

“These include time for shunting movements at Wellington Railway Station and at Masterton, and Transdev crewing issues.

“Wellington shunting will be helped with track/signals changes planned to be made at the end of this year.

“Masterton shunting will be improved in the coming years with additional infrastructure funding to support GWRC’s new hybrid trains.

“Crewing has been an issue Transdev has had to manage for some time.

“KiwiRail is working closely with Metlink/GWRC to resolve the recent vibration issues.

“Through various trials and testing we have been able to confirm that the track infrastructure is within our engineering codes and tolerances for new track construction, which is the same standard we construct track to around the country.

“The problem is around how the wheels of the Wairarapa carriages interact with the rail.

“Transdev have re-profiled the wheels on one of their Wairarapa carriages and this has alleviated the vibration problems.

“KiwiRail is working with the council and its maintenance provider to confirm the final remediation solution.

“We will update you on progress, when we can.

“KiwiRail is also aiming to grind the relevant Wairarapa sections of rail once the fire ban is lifted.

“Grinding is a normal maintenance activity that protects the quality and performance of the rail.”

Work on the Wairarapa rail infrastructure started in 2021 and is expected to be completed in 2028.

1 COMMENT

  1. Kiwi Rail 🚈? The CEO and top Managers need to go before another Stuff up??? THE LAST LOT OF UPGRADES ? Most of it has been built WRONG? Consultants got the GAP between the lines WRONG and closing Rail crossing 🛤 WRONG.

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