Engineering, Passenger Rail

Hutt Line’s aging overhead wires to be replaced

KiwiRail has signed a $49 million contract with JV Rail (a partnership between Fulton Hogan and John Holland Australia) to replace the overhead line system that supplies power to Metlink trains on Wellington’s Hutt Line, which services five million commuter journeys every year.

The project is to involve replacing the existing timber poles with steel masts, renewing all the overhead wires and, simultaneously, replacing the system that supplies power to the signals on the Hutt line and with one that is situated underground.

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy, who signed the contract at Greater Wellington Regional Council offices this week, said the replacement of the systems was “vital” for the continued resilience of the network and a “big win” for Wellington’s commuters.

“Our infrastructure teams work incredibly hard to keep things running smoothly but the current systems are reaching the end of their life,” Reidy said.

“Without this replacement programme commuters would have faced increasing disruptions to the service as the wooden poles reach the end of their lives.”

The $49 million contract with JV Rail is part of a $98.4 million four-year project funded by the Central Government to replace the overhead power system between Wellington Station, Melling and Upper Hutt, and Ngaio and Johnsonville.

Expected to reach completion in 2021, the whole project will involve the replacement of 1274 existing poles and 38 kilometres of overhead wires.

Barbara Donaldson, the chairperson of the Greater Wellington Sustainable Transport Committee, called the signing a “major step forward” for the Hutt Line, but said more investment would be necessary for the network as a whole.

“Significant investment is needed on the infrastructure due to the aging nature of the network and we are hoping for further investment to upgrade the rest of the infrastructure to unlock capacity and provide a modern, reliable service for all commuters in the Greater Wellington region,” Donaldson said.