Hutt Valley Traction Upgrade project – 2021

When completed this upgrade will deliver a more reliable service to the Hutt Valley, but does mean there will be frequent off-peak bus replacements until 2021.

KiwiRail and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) are working together on Wellington metro rail network improvements that will deliver a more reliable rail service and keep commuters moving. We need access to the rail for some of this work, so the electricity will need to be turned off and some trains stopped.

For more information on the project you can also visit the Wellington Metro upgrade page on the KiwiRail website. (external link)

Buses will replace affected train services.The Metlink website will be updated regularly with details.

Key facts

  • Project completion date: 2021
  • Number of traction poles to be replaced: 1274
  • Existing poles: Wood
  • New poles: Steel masts
  • Total depth of holes to be dug: 5km+

For the project 1274 timber poles that carry the overhead wires for electric trains on the Hutt and Johnsonville Lines and the Wellington Station area will be replaced with steel masts on reinforced steel concrete foundations.

At the same time all overhead wires and insulators, connections to substations and most switching will be replaced, feeder cables shifted. The signals power supply in Hutt Valley will be replaced too.

This work will complete the major project which commenced in 2008 to renew all remaining legacy overhead line equipment dating from the original electrification projects back in the 1930-50s. While the system is maintained to a high standard, with fittings and wires renewed when necessary, the age of the poles means that complete replacement is now necessary to avoid service disruption.

Delivering this heavy work in the environment of an operating electric railway is challenging. We need to drill and pour steel reinforced concrete foundations. Typically they're three metres deep, with some as much as six metres. The total depth of holes to be dug is over five kilometres. We'll build and move signals cabling into new underground ducts, install the masts and string the new wires, and then remove the old poles and wires. The original system will remain live and in service during the day.

This is quite a juggling act as we can only do much of the work on this busy section of the rail network with the power off when there are no trains running.

We are carrying out the work in off-peak evenings, weekends and holidays to minimise disruption to the thousands of rail commuters who use the line every day. 

Some aspects of the job can be noisy and we are investigating ways to avoid piling operations after midnight so our corridor neighbours are disturbed as little as possible.

We aim to have the $98 million project finished by 2021. This means regular bus replacement will continue on the Hutt Valley Line until 2021.