KiwiRail confirms new structure with staff
24 September 2012
KiwiRail has today confirmed the future structure of its Infrastructure and Engineering business. The final decision follows KiwiRail’s June announcement that its resourcing levels would be reviewed and weeks of consultation with staff and other stakeholders across the country. As a result, the total number of staff reductions has been revised to 158 - 23 fewer than initially planned.
KiwiRail Infrastructure and Engineering General Manager, Rick van Barneveld, said that staff will be informed this week which roles are going to be disestablished.
“We’ve worked very closely with the union and staff to ensure all those affected have the information they need, and understand the process.
“We’re pleased that more than seventy have taken up our offer of voluntary redundancy. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, some mandatory redundancies will be unavoidable. At this stage we don’t know the final number as every effort will be made to retain the skills and talents of our staff by finding other opportunities for them at KiwiRail.”
Mr van Barneveld said that the restructure of the Infrastructure and Engineering business was part of a wider programme to rebalance KiwiRail’s priorities in response to continuing economic uncertainty.
“Like most businesses, we haven’t been immune to the effects of a sluggish economy. Delivering this kind of news to our people is never easy. But it’s a necessary step for us to achieve the savings we need to make the improvements to the rail network that customers want.
“KiwiRail has a future as a business that can earn enough money to pay its own way - but it has to be different to what has failed before. We still intend to spend $750 million on the network over the next three years, which is around four times more than what was spent in 2004-5.
“Every business owner will tell you that getting through these tough times mean you need to re-evaluate your priorities of investment against your resources. That’s exactly what our business plan does and we have the balance about right,” he said.
From early October, KiwiRail will begin working with affected staff who’s roles have been disestablished with a view to securing redeployment elsewhere in the business. It is anticipated that recruitment into the new structure will be completed by the end of October.
The confirmed Infrastructure and Engineering staffing levels by region are detailed below.
Media Contact: Nick Gowland, Senior Media Advisor, 021 804 906.
Track Machine Team & Railweld
KIWIRAIL is to slash its infrastructure and engineering workforce by almost a quarter as part of its continuing drive to reduce operating expenses by $NZ 200m ($US 164m) over three years.
The state-owned railway will cut 158 positions from its 714-strong infrastructure and engineering division by the end of October. Of the 158 redundancies, 42 will be the northern region (Central North Island to Whangarei), 58 in the central area, (central North Island to Wellington) and 40 in the southern region (all of the South Island). Eighteen will be from the track machine team and rail welding which operates nationally.
More than 70 workers have already taken voluntary redundancy as part of the company's cost cutting measures. KiwiRail's total workforce prior to these latest cutbacks was 4100
Dunedin KiwiRail employees have emerged from a meeting this afternoon, at which they were told how many would be made redundant.
The Otago Daily Times spoke to some of the infrastructure and engineering division workers after the meeting, at a KiwiRail depot.
They were given details of the state-owned enterprise's employment structure and how many staff were being made redundant nationwide.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union delegates were also at the meeting, which followed another at Invercargill this morning.
The union is helping affected employees negotiate redundancy packages and apply for other positions.
For the full story, see tomorrow's Otago Daily Times.
Just two of KiwiRail's Dunedin workers will be forced to take redundancy, as nine other infrastructure and engineering employees are voluntarily leaving the state-owned enterprise, the Otago Daily Times has been told.
KiwiRail had about 70 infrastructure and engineering staff based in Dunedin, half of whom attended a meeting with management at the company's Strathallan St depot yesterday.
KiwiRail would not confirm the number of Dunedin redundancies, but others spoken to after the meeting said 11 Dunedin staff would be lost in total.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) Otago Rail Branch chairman Brian McKay said nine Dunedin workers had volunteered for redundancy.
Mr McKay said it was a good result for those happy to take redundancy packages and move on, allowing others the opportunity to stay employed.
"It opens up positions for some of the other guys whose positions will be disestablished," he said.
But, for Dunedin, the loss of11 skilled workers was regrettable, Mr McKay said.
He blamed the Government for putting KiwiRail in a "frustrating" financial position and forcing 158 infrastructure and engineering redundancies, 43 of which were in the South Island.
"KiwiRail feels like the orphan child that the Government doesn't want anything to do with.
It is effectively being starved of finances," he said.
Nine Christchurch workers also volunteered for redundancy from KiwiRail's infrastructure and engineering division, and four from Greymouth.
It meant an additional five redundancies in Christchurch, two in Greymouth and three in Southland, Mr McKay said. He did not have the Southland voluntary redundancy figure.
Nationwide, the division's 714 employees are being whittled down to 556.
KiwiRail infrastructure and engineering general manager Rick van Barneveld said redundancies were necessary to achieve savings needed to make rail improvements.
Upgrade work planned for NIMT’s Tunnel 1
A two-month long period of renewal work is
being carried out on the North Island Main
Trunk’s Tunnel 1, which runs between the
Hutt Road over bridge and the Ngauranga
Gorge road over bridge, near Wellington.
Tunnel 1 is heavily used, both by freight
services and commuter services on the
From Sunday 23 September through to
the end of November, there will be nightly
blocks of line between Wellington and
Porirua. Over the next ten weeks these will
be occurring four nights each week from
Sunday through to Wednesday between
Wellington and Porirua.
On Sunday, services departing Porirua
and Wellington from 6:14pm through to
11:35pm and services departing Porirua
and Wellington on Monday, Tuesday
and Wednesday from 9:14pm through to
midnight will be replaced by buses.
“During this time, a number of renewals will
be carried as part of the Tunnel 1 upgrade,”
says Wellington Metro Programme Manager
“It will include construction of two new
foundations and installation of two new
traction poles just north of Tunnel 1; the
replacement of existing overhead wire on
both tracks through Tunnel 1 with new
wire; and the replacement of all the overhead
line equipment that provides for support of
the wire through the tunnel and from the
traction poles 100m either side of the tunnel.
“Additionally, the overhead line system
will be converted from fixed termination
to a balanced weight tension system that
will regulate the tension in the wire to a
Michael McKeon says the work will also
include preparation for future track,
drainage and bridge works.
The renewals are being undertaken to replace
equipment which is ageing and could result
in future failures and service disruptions.
“The replacement of the old equipment
will result in extended life of the system and
increased reliability of the network, as well
as a reduction in service disruptions and
temporary speed restrictions. It will also
allow for capacity for a future increase in
timetabled services,” says Michael.
The work is part of the eight-year Wellington
Metro Upgrade Project (WMUP), which
will deliver some significant improvements
to aging overhead traction systems and
signalling across the network and further
improve and maintain the reliability of
Tranz Metro’s commuter services.
It will result in improved timekeeping for
trains, reduce the number of faults and allow
for more train services in the future.
“As we complete the work, commuters
will continue to see improvements in the
reliability of our services.
“These works have been arranged as late as
possible and have been reduced from the usual
five nights a week timetable down to four
nights a week to reduce bus replacements.”
Positive impact from new ECMT passing loop
The commissioning last weekend of a new
passing loop on the busy East Coast Main
Trunk between Hamilton and Tauranga
is already having a positive effect on rail
services along the busy route.
Commissioning started on the 900-metre
long loop at Eureka, 15 kilometres from
Hamilton last Thursday and was completed
as scheduled on Sunday afternoon says
Project Manager Daniel Beesley.
At the same time barrier arms were installed
at the Waverley Rd level crossing.
The work was part of the wider Joint Officials
Group (JOG) project which has delivered a
series of improvement to increase the capacity
of the line and improve rail safety.
Network Operations Manager, Carl Mills,
says there had already been a noticeable
improvement in train operations.
“It has given us more flexibility and ability
to recover from service exceptions or issues
on the network and combined with the new
loop at Waharoa being commissioned next
month will increase overall train capacity on
A further two loops are to be commissioned
later this year. A two-kilometre long passing
loop at Tamihana near Waharoa will be
commissioned next month. This loop is
at the mid-point between Hamilton and
Tauranga and the junction of the Kinleith
And work to extend the existing loop at
Apata in the Bay of Plenty is expected to be
completed in November.
The Hamilton signalling team led by Dave
Southey did an outstanding job, assisted
by the design-and-build contractor United
Group Limited (UGL), Daniel says.
When completed, along with the work
already done, they will double the rail
capacity of the line.
For the technically minded, the loop used
tilting signal masts and a computer-based
VPI signalling was installed.
The loop has been built on the site
of a previous shorter loop, which was
decommissioned a number of years ago,
when the main building was burnt down –
the signals, rail points machines and sleepers
were removed and used elsewhere.
KiwiRail confirms new I&E
structure with staff this week
Roadshows are being held throughout the
country this week for KiwiRail’s Infrastructure
& Engineering staff to learn more about the
decisions on staff reductions.
The staff roadshows follow KiwiRail’s
announcement on Monday that the total number
of staff reductions has been revised to 158 - 23
fewer than initially planned.
KiwiRail Infrastructure & Engineering General
Manager, Rick van Barneveld said KiwiRail had
revised its planning after consultation with staff.
“The feedback from staff over the last four weeks
has been very constructive,” he said. “Staff wanted
reassurances about safety and it was also clear that
they wanted to get the job done with the right
level of resources.
“We’ve listened to their concerns and undertaken
more in-depth analysis of the resource levels
needed to complete the work planned.
“That’s what the consultation process was always
designed to do and is why we’ve reduced the
number of staff reductions from our original
proposal”, he said.
Rick van Barneveld said while Monday’s
announcement reflected KiwiRail’s final decisions
on the future structure of the KiwiRail business,
there was still a process to work through to
determine exactly what the final picture will be at
“We’re pleased that more than seventy have taken
up our offer of voluntary redundancy. And every
effort is being made to retain the skills and talents
of our staff by finding other opportunities for
them at KiwiRail.
“Those opportunities include redeployment
into new roles or relocation into other areas.
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, some
mandatory redundancies will be unavoidable
but we won’t know exactly how many until that
process is completed.”
Rick van Barneveld said that staff in locations
and disciplines where further staff reductions are
required would have their roles disestablished and
will then be invited to reapply for roles in the new
structure. A recruitment process will commence
from next week and staff who are not appointed
into the new positions will be given notice of
redundancy and re-deployment opportunities will
then be explored.
Railways employees working on the tracks sparked a bush fire in South Taranaki yesterday.
It was a repeat of an incident six years ago when railways staff triggered a fire in the same spot, principal rural fire officer John Gunn said.
Hawera fire staff went to the blaze in Upper Taumaha Rd in Manutahi at 1.30pm but called in rural fire services, Waverley station and Beck Helicopters when the fire started to spread through vegetation.
He said it was mainly gorse and toi toi that burnt down and a boundary fence on a neighbouring property was damaged.
Mr Gunn said it took almost six hours to put out all the spot fires and a helicopter was dumping water on the blaze for more than two hours.
"It's probably going to get busier with these sorts of fires because there's lots of logging remnants left over from trees blown down during the weather bomb," he said.
"There's heaps of vegetation rubbish that needs to be burnt and I just hope people do it carefully."
More than a dozen people fought yesterday's blaze and rural fire officers would be returning to the area this morning to check it was totally out.
Wairio Line trials may provide sleeper solutions
Trials of wooden sleepers from eucalyptus
and radiata pine trees on the Wairio Line in
Southland could determine what wood is
used for sleepers in the future.
While concrete is the material of choice for
sleepers on most of the network, wood is
still preferred on bridges, level crossings and
turnouts for reasons of weight and resilience.
Problems with imported hardwood sleepers
deteriorating prematurely have prompted
KiwiRail to look at alternatives which
include sourcing New Zealand hardwoods
suitable for use on the network.
Current supplies available in New Zealand do
not meet KiwiRail’s durability requirements
particularly in terms of handling the loads
imposed by the trains, especially in high stress
areas such as bridges, turnouts and curves.
KiwiRail Infrastructure & Engineering
General Manager Rick van Barneveld
confirmed that eucalyptus and treated
radiata pine sleepers are being trialled on the
recently re-sleepered Wairio Industrial Line
He said discussions had also been initiated
with New Zealand Dryland Forests, an
organisation promoting the merits of
New Zealand-grown eucalypts.
“We’re also aware that New Zealand sleepers
are being trialled on the privately operated
Kingston branch line,” he said.
Farm forestry advocate Denis Hocking says
New Zealand can grow hardwoods suitable
for railway sleepers.
He says the global supply of high-quality
durable hardwoods is diminishing, increasing
the importance of sourcing local wood and
he’s an advocate for a tallowwood option.
“It has been regarded as suitable only for
Northland, but contrary to this official
advice, it is performing well on the northern
faces of my Rangitikei sand dunes,” he said.
“It is a species I have written about before
and has many redeeming features. Certainly,
KiwiRail and the lines companies would
liove to know that there was a resource of
tallowwood in the country.”
Rail grinder a network first and a smooth operator
A smoother ride for passengers and freight is just around the corner as KiwiRail’s newly commissioned rail grinder began operations on the East Coast Main Trunk line today.
The RR24M-30A Rail Grinder, owned and operated by Australia-based Speno, extends the lifespan of the track through smoothing and removing defective metal from the railhead resulting in faster and more reliable train journeys.
It’s the first time systematic rail grinding has been undertaken on the New Zealand network.
Mark Gullery, KiwiRail’s Track Engineering Manager, said that the grinder would bring significant benefits to its maintenance operations.
"Over time the rail track head develops stress points, defects and metal build up from the steel wheels travelling on the track," he said. It’s a problem that every rail network around the world has to deal with - it shortens the life of the rail track meaning we had to replace it more frequently than we would have liked."
"Rail grinding will significantly enhance our operations as the track access time required to complete re-railing can be avoided thereby minimising disruption to train services.
Testing in the Tauranga area has already proved the grinder’s value. "On Wednesday of last week 3km of track was completed between Tauranga and Te Maunga over four hours and the next day loco engineers were asking if we had re-railed the section of track overnight. That’s the scale of improvement the grinder is making.
"It also has long term cost saving benefits as less track and wheel maintenance will be required and trains can travel with less effort thereby creating fuel savings."
Over the next two years, the rail grinder will slowly work its way around the primary rail routes moving onto the North Island Main Trunk line after it’s completed its work on the East Coast Main Trunk line, vital routes that form the "Golden Triangle" connecting Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland.
As it moves along the track, the grinder will be followed by a hi-rail fire tender to manage any potential fire risk caused by sparks from the grinding. More than half the length of a football field, Mark Gullery said that the rail grinder was sure to turn some heads in the coming weeks.
"It’s quite a sight when you see it in operation actually. No one would have seen this type of thing on the rail network before and experience overseas is that some people see the sparks and think that something is wrong with one of our trains.
"Rest assured, we’re working with the local authorities and doing everything we can to keep local communities informed," Mark Gullery said.
KiwiRail says it has experts seeking immediate solutions to the dust problem at its yard in Temuka.
For 18 months residents in the Hally Tce area have been enduring dust clouds caused by heavy trucks and machinery crushing shingle on to the unpaved yard surface.
An ECan spokesman who assessed the problem recently described the dust clouds as "like being in the Sahara".
He says it was worse than last year. Enforcement action was taken on Tuesday when ECan served KiwiRail notice.
The offending party must comply with the notice which states they cannot discharge dust beyond their boundary which contravenes the Resource Management Act air quality rules.
They have the period of time stated in the notice to act.
KiwiRail spokeswoman Jenni Austin says "we have plans in place
to better manage the dust nuisance reported by neighbouring residents while we work through the process of the site upgrade. We are planning to apply a dust suppressant to the site."
She says KiwiRail was having the site graded last week, loose gravel removed and then, weather permitting, dust suppressant would be applied.
"The suppressant is an emulsion widely used on roads, hard stands, haul roads and construction sites to seal the surface of unpaved areas and minimise dust."
Hally Tce resident Robin Collins says she is pleased something is finally being done but she wasn't just concerned about herself.
She says she had heard that some of the workers at the yard were coughing up lumps of dirt.
"It's a health and safety issue," she says. Timaru KiwiRail freight manager Tony Oldman says several experts are looking at both short term and long-term fixes.
Ms Austin says "in terms of the site reconstruction, we are still working through the preliminary design stage.
"The remediation work planned is a major project and involves a complete pavement reconstruction, both of the substrate and the surface, and the installation of new stormwater drainage, so the design and consenting phase may take some time before we can start the physical works.
"However we hope to be in a position to begin the works early next year as we have already indicated."
Mr Oldman is grateful to the Temuka people for putting up with the "annoyance" and is looking forward to a "long term fix".
Repair work begun on Tauranga rail bridge
Repair work has begun on the pedestrian
and cycle pathway on Tauranga’s Matapihi
The 88-year-old bridge crosses the Tauranga
Harbour joining downtown Tauranga to the
Matapihi peninsular. It carries the East Coast
Main Trunk Line to the Port of Tauranga
and the Pulp and Paper mill at Kawerau.
The pathway along the side of the bridge
was added at the end of the 1950s because
of numerous deaths and injuries to people
walking over the rail bridge on the train
While the repair work is underway the
bridge pathway will be closed.
The repair work, which is due to be
completed by the end of January 2013,
involves replacing the timber decking, beams
and struts as well as the steel supports. The
ramps at each end of the bridge will also be
upgraded and the handrails will be replaced
with slightly higher ones to meet current
Most of the work will be done using a special
platform that will hang under the bridge.
Up to 200 pedestrians and cyclists use the
pathway on the bridge every day. While
the bridge is closed Tauranga City Council
is providing a free mini bus service for
Matapihi residents between Matapihi and
Fulton Hogan will be doing the work on
behalf of Tauranga City Council.
Otira Tunnel washed during Coal Route shut-down
It is not often infrastructure and engineering staff get the opportunity to give the interior of the Otira Tunnel on the Midland Line a wash, but a week-long block of line this week has proved the perfect opportunity.
It’s one of a number of jobs being carried out on the Coal Route between the West Coast and Canterbury while trains are not running.
West Coast Area I&E Manager Liam Fay says high-powered water jets are being used to wash coal dust through the ballast and out of the tunnel.
"It’s a slow and cumbersome job, as you can imagine, with eight kilometres of tunnel and because it’s such a bottleneck, the work can only be done at certain times."
Liam Fay says the biggest project during the block of line has been a concrete sleeper lay on the Stillwater-Nakawau Line that trains use to bring coal down from The Stockton Opencast Mine.
A total of 1,370 sleepers were laid over almost a kilometre.
"We have just about every employee on the West Coast deployed on this job, he says, "It’s a huge focus of our resources, but an important piece of work."
Back on the Midland Line, Liam says non-destructive testing (NDT) by the Speno car has identified any welds that need strengthening. He says it’s critical that they are addressed within the recommended time frames.
Insulated joints are being installed for new signals at Aitkens.
"As usual, down here, weather and natural events impact significantly on our work," says Liam. We have a significant piece of work taking place on the SNL in the Buller Gorge where we are taking rock from a cutting and placing it in a subsidence slip down below the track.
"This has involved bringing in a few diggers, creating a route down to the slip and then levelling out a platform to work from and to place the rock. We’ll also be carting in ballast to prevent lateral movement in the heat.
"It’s pretty warm over here at the moment too, so, in addition to the Block of Line activity, we also have call outs for our heat alarms.
"Alarms are activated when the rail temperature hits over 40° and if we have the resources we immediately send out a team in a hi-rail truck to check for any buckles, lateral movements or mis-alignments in the rail.
"It’s certainly been a busy week down here on the Coast."
KiwiRail enters into bulk fuel supply contract
KiwiRail has entered into a bulk fuel supply contract with Mobil Oil New Zealand Limited for the supply of diesel and associated services to KiwiRail.
The contract has an initial term of five years from 1 October 2012. The parties may agree to extend the term for a further five years.
The total value of fuel supplied during the initial term will be dependent on the volume of fuel used by KiwiRail and fuel price movements, but is anticipated to be in the range of approximately $435 million to $495 million in aggregate over that five year period.
KiwiRail helps with walkway beside railway line
KiwiRail has installed a pedestrian level crossing over the railway line near Tawa north of Wellington for Wellington City Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency as part of a shared walkway and cycleway that follows the rail corridor.
The completion of the level crossing, and the section through Grasslees Park marked the end of Section 2 from Redwood Station to Linden Park (incomplete).
It coincided with the route’s official opening on Saturday by the Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade Brown and naming of the pathway.
KiwiRail was represented at the opening by Logistics Production Contracts Manager Chris Paice who is also secretary of the Tawa Porirua Stream Walkway Committee.
"It provides a safer cycling route and encourages more people to get about on foot or by bike," he says. "The 5km walkway will link to nearby streets, the shopping centre and other key spots like railway stations, schools, recreational areas and parks."
The pathway is a project of Wellington City Council and the Tawa Porirua Stream Walkway Committee.
The route follows the rail corridor and will provide a new shared pathway from Willowbank Park (Takapu Road Railway Station) to Kenepuru Railway Station.
It provides a safer cycling route and encourages more people to get about on foot or by bike. The shared path has been developed in three sections, with Section 1 at the southern end. Construction started in the middle (Section 2) of the shared path and will work north into Section 3. Section 1 will be the last section to be completed.
At the official opening, the Chairman of Tawa Shared Pathway Project Mr Brett Gillies thanked KiwiRail and all the other organisations involved for their help in making the project a reality.
Chris Paice says Celia Wade Brown biked all the way from Island Bay to attend this event and despite the wind the was a momentous occasion, interrupted opening only by a KiwiRail Freight service heading northwards.
Tawa Valley Pathway was the winning name for the route. It remains available to KiwiRail to use as and when needed.
Bouquets from dustless Temuka residents
KiwiRail has been receiving bouquets rather than brickbats from Temuka residents over the past couple of weeks, following the completion of works to reduce the dust being generated at the busy CT site.
A dust suppressant applied to the yard in late October appears to have been successful in dampening down the tension and neighbours have been quick to comment on the difference, says Facilities Manager Craig Parker.
"Everyone seems to be very pleased with the results and we have even had one woman ring to says she was planning to wash her house that weekend to celebrate," Craig says.
Initially only the part of the site used for the CT operations was covered with the suppressant and there were a few small hiccups with dirt being tracked off the site onto neighbouring roads. However a road sweeper was arranged to clean the streets, and the suppressant has been spread through site activity across the wider site.
The Temuka yard is due for an upgrade early next year with the installation of new drainage and paving
‘Hard grind’ on busy rail section producing results
Grinding the New Zealand rail network is proving to be a "hard grind" but as the RR24M-30A rail grinder inches through the Waikato, the early results are encouraging says Mark Gullery, Manager Track Engineering (Track Engineering)
"During the first two months of operation we have concentrated on the ECMT and South Hamilton section of the NIMT and so far we have completed 50 kilometres of track," he says.
"Some sites are needing as many as nine passes to correct the shape and remove surface defects. So, in fact, we have actually done over 240kms of grinding."
The sections of the NIMT and ECMT being ground carry some of the highest levels of rail traffic in the country. Grinding the rail will improve the ride quality, prolong rail life and slow deterioration of sleepers and track ballast.
"One of the Track Engineering team saw the improvement first hand last week when he was travelling on the EM80 track recording vehicle," says Mark Gullery. "He noted how much better the rail vehicle ran with a smoother ride and better steering."
"We are very excited and will be comparing the recording results with interest over the coming days."
The grinder’s testing and start-up phase took a little longer than expected because of the need to iron out some gremlins and teething problems.
To prepare the machine for shipping from Australia to New Zealand it was cleaned with an acid base wash. The consequences have been electrical connections and smaller rubber components needing replacement.
"This has all been done and we are now seeing a much more reliable day to day delivery," says Mark Gullery.
There has been a step-change in activity this month as the machine owner Speno has moved from one crew operating the machine to two. This has enabled the availability of the machine to be maximised.
Mark Gullery says this means the operation will be in nearly full time use between now and Christmas on the NIMT and ECMT routes.
The plan is for the grinder to continue to work in the "Golden Triangle" between Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland.
The Auckland Metro area is the target for early 2013, before the machine heads south to tackle the "Milk Route" in the lower North Island in June, July and August. From there it will work its way down the country, completing Wellington area before crossing to South Island.
"Fire risk is still our biggest challenge with the team using water sprays, cannons and hi-rail support vehicles," says Mark Gullery.
"If the risk is too high we just can’t work which is frustrating but safety must come first for our staff, our customers and our neighbours.
"Staff should be aware that whilst the grinder looks very spectacular, especially at night, they should not approach the machine or try and get a better look. Rogue grinding sparks can fly out and cause harm or injury."
He says it should also be noted that immediately after the grinding process thousands of tiny steel fragments can be left on the rail head.
"Whilst the shiny surface is tempting to touch and explore the new surface with your fingers - don’t - the tiny fragments can get lodged in your skin and cause discomfort or even infection. After a day’s traffic and some rain things are back to normal."
A fact sheet and video clip of the Rail Grinder are now on the website.
Milestone for Christchurch mechanical staff
Pouring concrete today in the replacement mechanical depot at Middleton yard, Christchurch was a milestone for Christchurch Mechanical staff. It was a significant step towards completing a temporary servicing facility to replace the building badly damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes. Full story next week.
Rail grinding – from corrugation to asphalt
"The difference is dramatic," is the view of KiwiRail’s Infrastructure and Engineering General Manager, Rick van Barneveld, after experiencing first hand, the RR24M-30A Rail Grinder in operation this week.
Rick was in Hamilton on Tuesday to meet Speno Rail Maintenance Managing Director, Ben Lombardo, from Perth, who was at the Te Rapa KiwiRail yard, to talk about rail grinding internationally, and to follow up on the grinder in New Zealand as it completes its first 100 km in a two-year programme of grinding across New Zealand.
Given that rail in New Zealand has never been "ground" before, a ride on the grinder was highly informative experience for Rick, accompanied by Engineering and Standards General Manager, Peter Steel and Track Engineering Manager, Mark Gullery, as was the inspection of the rail afterwards to see the before and after effects.
"I liken it to driving on a paved asphalt road compared to a lightly corrugated gravel road in a very old vehicle with hard suspension." said Rick.
Outlining the benefits to a Waikato Times reporter at the site, he said investment in the rail grinding operation stacked up financially.
"We’ve been procuring a lot of new wagons and we’re really keen for them not to be hammered and to get the best performance out of them. The grinding will make an extraordinary difference. We also expect a noticeable reduction in the noise and vibration of Metro trains with the smoother rail surface." he said.
Speno operates its rail grinders in 52 different countries across the globe, Ben Lombardo said, working for virtually every railroad system.
"In Australia we grind the heavy haul lines in the Pilborough, where trains can be handling axle loads of up to 42 tonnes and carrying 300 million tonnes of iron ore. We also do the passenger lines in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
"Speno International has extended its reach in international markets, where we not only cover urban networks, but also operate on the high speed railways in Europe and Japan, where train speeds can be up to 300 km per hour."
In New Zealand, the rail grinder is being operated by experienced Australian-trained crews. It has been included in Speno’s contract that they must recruit a minimum number of New Zealand employees during the first year and train them to work with the operating crew on the grinder.
In its second month of operation, some of the New Zealand crew are already well under way with their training.
Ben Lombardo’s enthusiasm for his company is evident. "We see our people as being our greatest asset and our business success is because we have extremely close relationships with our clients.
"Rail grinding brings great benefits: increased customer comfort and significant improvements in wheel and rail wear reduction, which can increase the life of the rail by two to four times. It also means a significant reduction in rail fatigue defects.
"It’s great to see what we’ve done here today," he said, "This New Zealand operation will bring a significant improvement to the ride quality and benefits to the infrastructure of your railroad."
Te Horo trials for new points-machine
Points machine installation is set to get a whole lot easier with the trial of a new GE Transportation CTS-2 points- machine at Te Horo north of Wellington.
While things are still at the trial stage the initial results are promising. "We’re always trying to improve reliability and reduce life cycle costs and it looks like the new machine could do that," says Signals and Telecommunications Reliability Engineer, Ben Calcott.
The new Italian-built machine has significant advantages over conventional machines. Unlike conventional machines, it comprises a motor unit and a point- lock and detection unit mounted in a steel sleeper.
Since the sleeper houses all equipment there are no external rods for point movement, locking and detection. This will make tamping and turnout maintenance easier improving track stability.
The new modular design also allows individual components to be replaced without removing the sleeper. This means that other parts can remain in service while components are being replaced.
When replacement of a motor is needed, for example, the point-lock and detection unit can remain in position. This means that train movement can be maintained while the motor is replaced because locking and detection of the point blades is still possible.
Napier Structures Gang completes major viaduct repair
Expert workmanship and planning by the Napier Structures Gang and Central Region Structures Field Engineer Hamish Fenwick has led to a very cost-effective repair of the Mangatewainui Steel Viaduct (Bridge 151 PNGL near Dannevirke).
Structures Leading-Hand Mark Goodman together with Structures Maintainer Joshua Mansfield completed a major repair of a critical steel truss.
Hamish Fenwick says the Napier Structures gang did a superb job, "the gang’s expertise in steel work and scaffolding has resulted in a high quality and very cost-effective repair." Hamish also has high praise for I&E Design/ Structures Engineer Jennifer Critchley’s computer modelling of the critical steel truss joint. "To ensure that we did not overstress the joint during the repair work, it was essential that we worked from an excellent computer model and Jennifer’s model was just that," says Hamish.
Joshua Mansfield (Pictured) built the scaffold work platform around the bottom chord of the steel truss. To do this type of work Joshua, a certified advanced scaffolder, needs to be in top physical shape. "Fitness," he says, "is a key part to scaffolding." Outside of work Joshua keeps fit by practising combined martial arts and is also a keen surfer.
Another layer of dust suppressant was applied to the KiwiRail yard in Temuka on Friday, a procedure that will be ongoing until the site is completely upgraded, starting in February.
Long suffering neighbours of the Hally Tce site are pleased it is receiving more suppressant after enduring about 20 months of dust clouds caused by heavy trucks on the shingle yard.
Enforcement action was taken in October when ECan served KiwiRail notice under the Resource Management Act air quality rules.
The suppressant agent, requires regular reapplication to maintain its effectiveness.
KiwiRail general manager operations and freight Aaron Templeton said the second layer was delayed temporarily until some potholes were fixed in the yard.
Timaru Herald understands that the suppressant costs about $30,000.
"We don't know how long it lasts because it varies depending on the site and the weather conditions. In the old days we used to use diesel," Mr Templeton said.
A nearby resident who did not want to be named said she had been really pleased with recent communication with KiwiRail and she hoped the Timaru District Council maintained the roads around the yard, such as Denmark St.
"It would be good if they got a team and cleaned it up."
Poor drainage meant that when it rained, mud had been dispersed on to the road.
Plans for the permanent upgrade of the yard include better drainage and sealing the yard.
Bridge project blessed
Orange Hi-Vis vests stood out in contrast to a backdrop of heavy skies and towering crane arms as KiwiRail staff, contractors and representatives of Waikato Tainui solemnly crossed three separate bridges on Tuesday morning in a ceremony of blessing and remembrance.
During the Christmas Block of Line, slick teamwork and meticulous preparation saw the three new concrete bridges installed in a window of just 72 hours, near the tiny Waikato settlement of Rangiriri.
KiwiRail’s General Manager, Network Performance, David Gordon attended the blessings and officially opened the bridges. He said, "This section of line between Auckland and Hamilton forms part of our two most important routes; the Main Trunk between Auckland and Christchurch and the MetroPort, between Auckland and Tauranga. The Waikato/Bay of Plenty/ Auckland triangle is the engine room of New Zealand’s economy and rail has a major part to play in the area."
"When the Crown bought back the network from Tranz Rail in 2004, the biggest risk we faced was the amount of structural timber in the network. Samuel Grave and his team have been diligent in getting this out of the system steadily, in a programme that will continue for another 20 years at least. The bridges here at Rangiriri were some of the last timber-piered bridges in the Golden Triangle and replacing them brings us very close to our goal of being timber-free between Auckland and Tauranga by 2015."
He added, "This project would not have got off the ground without the direction the tangata whenua of this area gave us, and the relationship they allowed us to build."
Project Managers, Robin Scott and Peter Dautermann, said the bridges had to be designed for a minimum life span of 100 years, with innovation in design a key consideration. Robin Scott said, "These bridges will be more reliable, safer and reduce future maintenance requirements."
Robin Scott said engagement with the local community and Waikato Tainui began early on in the planning process. He said, "These bridges cross waterways that have huge significance here. Bridge 282, for example, crosses the "Unnamed Stream." It is thought to have been the final resting place for warriors who lost their lives in the Battle of Rangiriri in 1863. 150 years on, this has not been forgotten and the success of this project was very dependent on a good working relationship with Waikato Tainui."
Local kaumatua, Major Herewini, explained the importance of the morning’s blessings, saying that the bridges and those who built them had now become part of the history of the place. Also in attendance were kuia, Elsie Davis and representatives from the Ng? Muka Development Trust and the Tainui Raupata River Trust Environmental Unit. The gathering provided an invaluable opportunity for knowledge exchange, with many conversations taking place on environmental, cultural and engineering matters.
Robin Scott says minimising ecological damage is important. In partnership with the local community, the old bridge timber will be removed and site and wetland planting and reconstruction will take place. The Battle of Rangiriri will be remembered in a commemorative event in November this year.
Tamper and Stabiliser crews vital to Auckland BOL
Tamper and stabiliser crews played a vital role in ensuring that track upgraded or renewed during The Block of Line (BOL) on the Auckland network over Christmas was fully operational when normal services were resumed.
Two tampers and one dynamic track stabiliser were deployed to ensure that all track works undertaken during the shutdown could be successfully completed and returned at line speed. As with previous Christmas shutdowns there was a huge amount of worked planned for the Auckland network and much required tamping and stabilising to be completed before the track could be put back in service.
Field Engineer, National Resources, Matthew Wadsworth, says the crews in these track machines put in a fantastic effort with all work completed as planned and to the highest standard. "They made incredible progress and even managed to find the time to rush down and tamp the derailment site on the Mission Bush branch line so trains could start running again."
Matthew says that as is the case with any major shutdown there were a few challenges along the way but the teams proved adaptable and achieved all objectives.
At the end of the shutdown, the tamper crews had completed tamping 17.9 km of track, 31 turnouts and six ballast deck bridges and the stabiliser crew had fully stabilised 9.6km of track.
This says Matthew is a phenomenal amount of work and a real testament to the capabilities of the teams on each respective machine.
The successful deployment of the tamper and stabiliser crews during the shutdown has also significantly reduced the chances of temporary speed restrictions occurring as a result of the new works.
"They really did themselves proud and we owe a big thank you to every member of the teams involved," says Matthew.
The crews were:
Auckland Mk3 Tamper:
Suva Tuivaiti, Roy Wellsford, Pat Hirini, Phil Mana
Tauranga Mk 6 Tamper:
Junior Wharekura, John Raimona, Brian Crawford
Dynamic Track Stabiliser:
Neil Katene, Chris Hogg, Cayle Mackie
Top: Mk3 Tamper at Newmarket
Centre: Mk3 Regulator at Newmarket
Bottom: Dynamic track stabiliser at Tamaki
Fresh paint, planters of marigolds and rooms full of people are having a positive impact on Palmerston North's once-forlorn railway station.
But a couple of Palmerston North women, Margaret McKenzie and Lila Matheson, want to see it revitalised and bustling again, in time for its 50th anniversary in October.
Mrs McKenzie said she was shocked to see how rusted and boarded-up the building looked when she took a train trip early last year.
She contacted owner KiwiRail's property office, and was pleased with the response.
The pillars, seats and walls along the platform have been painted, planter boxes overflow with marigolds, and the courtyard is mostly free from litter or graffiti.
And at the western end of the platform, a large area has been leased to the Palmerston North Cadet Unit, which fills the rooms with up to 32 trainees once a week and most weekends, and to After School Adventures, which uses it every weekday afternoon.
Unit commander Captain Bonnie Hudson said there had been no problems with safety or security since the cadets moved in two years ago and spruced up the interior.
A wholesale blinds business is tucked away in another section, and upstairs areas have been refurbished as KiwiRail's training rooms.
But still, Mrs McKenzie sees rusty and boarded-up doorways and untidy stacks of gear inside windows, and wants citizens, city and regional councils, and bus operators, to take another look at breathing new life into the building.
Her hope is that regional coaches can be lured to the railway station, supported by a regular shuttle service to the central city and the airport, with other facilities for the travelling public put in place.
Operations such as a cafe, an art gallery, and a railway museum would be ideal tenants, she said.
Tranzit, operator of InterCity buses, is looking for an alternative to its Pitt St terminal, but has rejected the railway station because it is too far from the city centre.
"I don't accept that," Mrs McKenzie said.
The city council and Horizons should put pressure on the bus operators to reconsider, she said.
Mayor Jono Naylor said there had been many attempts over the years to tidy up the railway station, but the achievements of a working bee he led six years ago had soon been undone.
The station had been a "tacky" introduction to Palmerston North, but far more visitors arrived by air or by road and those were the city entrances that had to be the priorities.
"There are no easy answers, and ultimately it's up to KiwiRail as owners. There's not enough people to justify the council spending money on someone else's building.
Ad Feedback "But that's not to say we would not support someone else doing something."
A KiwiRail spokeswoman said as well as the painting and interior refurbishment, money had been spent on extra lighting and CCTV surveillance and on locking the car park out of hours to reduce vandalism.
KiwiRail was keen to find more tenants to fill the building, she said.
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
OUT OF ORDER: Work on Dannevirke's closed Christian St footbridge is set to start immediately after KiwiRail handed over ownership to the Tararua District Council.
KiwiRail has handed over a well-trodden Dannevirke footbridge to the Tararua District Council in order to get it up to scratch for the school term.
Representatives from KiwiRail and the council met on this week to discuss the future of the footbridge after safety concerns about the popular access way were raised last November.
The Christian St footbridge, which crosses the railway lines running parallel to Queen St and links Dannevirke High School with High St, the town's main thoroughfare, has caused concern among the community.
The footbridge, owned by KiwiRail, was vested into the council's possession yesterday, subject to KiwiRail completing the necessary repairs prior to the transfer taking place.
The council issued KiwiRail a notice to fix the footbridge before Christmas after finding it too dangerous to use due to a "rotten structural member".
Council building officer Russell Palmer said the instability of steps and ladders made it unsafe for the public to use, so the council was forced to close it.
Mayor Roly Ellis said something needed to be done before the school term started back because of the risk it posed to the public.
"I impressed on KiwiRail the urgency of it and that people will still try to be stupid and use it.
"I think they realised the seriousness of it ... we came to an amicable agreement on it where they said 'look, if you don't take it over, then we're going to rip it down'.
"It's a very satisfactory outcome because it's a bridge that's used heavily and especially during school time. The last thing we want is children crossing the railway lines when it's dangerous."
The bridge would undergo a complete restructure from the ground to the top of the steps, starting immediately, Mr Ellis said.
KiwiRail will cover the costs of fixing the footbridge, but both the council and KiwiRail were tight-lipped about an estimated cost.
A spokeswoman said KiwiRail was happy to have worked with the council to find a solution that ensured access in a way that met the community and KiwiRail's needs.
The public are urged to use safe options to cross the railway track while repairs are being undertaken - they include a crossing on Cole St, 600 metres from Dannevirke High School's gates on Grant St, and another 700m away on Allardice St.