KiwiRail will make significant progress on several major rail projects around the Wellington region this Christmas, taking advantage of the annual network shutdown to work without interruption.
The Wellington region’s rail network will be closed to commuter trains from December 26, 2023 to January 7, 2024, with the Wairarapa Line staying closed until January 14. Nearly 1000 people will work on rail maintenance and projects across the network, with several sites operating 24/7 to maximise productivity.
KiwiRail Chief Capital Planning and Asset Development Officer David Gordon says that while important maintenance will be carried out during the Christmas period, most of the planned activity relates to the Wellington Metro Upgrade Program – a $700 million body of works to upgrade existing rail infrastructure and build capacity to support Greater Wellington Regional Council’s plans for rail.
“We’re hitting some significant milestones this Christmas. Some of our key long-term upgrade projects are coming to a close, while others will be kick-started. We appreciate that this work can be disruptive, but it’s our best chance to make progress, and it allows us to keep disruptions to a minimum during the rest of the year,” he said.
Metlink Group Manager Samantha Gain said the critical piece of work had been a long time in the planning and would help keep the rail network running.
“This time of year, when fewer people are travelling on the network, is the best time to roll out essential maintenance programs and make the best use of the funding allocated for these works,” she said.
The complex re-signalling work at Wellington Railway Station will continue, alongside much-needed work on various tracks, foundations and platforms. This project is a major step towards modernising Wellington’s rail network and will improve safety in what is New Zealand’s most complex railway junction.
Round-the-clock work on the Kapiti Line will see the completion of the last major portion of the Plimmerton Station upgrade project. The upgrade, which includes adding a third track and platform at the station, will allow commuter trains that currently run from Wellington to Porirua to be extended to Plimmerton, helping with capacity at peak times. Bridge 23 (just north of Paekākāriki) will also be replaced.
KiwiRail will conduct maintenance on the Hutt Valley Line, largely between Ava Station and Taitā Station.
On the Wairarapa Line, renewal work will begin inside the Maoribank and Remutaka Tunnels to update the original track from 1955, and the old wooden bridge (Bridge 56) near Matarawa will be replaced. Capacity-building upgrades will start with work on a new passing loop at Woodside Station and the Fitzherbert St level crossing in Featherston.