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An electrifying start

BY ROMY UDANGA
Last updated 05:00 25/02/2010
ready
Photo: NEIL DUDDY
GETTING READY: KiwiRail’s Auckland electrification project director Murray Hood says the masts and portals that will first appear over the skyline of Otahuhu will be the first visible signs of the electrification of Auckland’s rail network.

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The first signs of KiwiRail's electrification of the Auckland network will be seen in Otahuhu in three to four months.

Auckland electrification project director Murray Hood says the masts and portals that will carry the overhead wires will start appearing at the Westfield station in the third quarter of this year.

"The $80 million traction component of the electrification project involves constructing about 3500 masts and portals and stringing wires around the Auckland rail network," Mr Hood says.

The contract was awarded to a consortium of New Zealand’s Hawkins Infrastructure – which has just finished building Newmarket station – and Australia’s Laing O’Rourke.

Mr Hood says the works will be implemented in five phases.

The section from Otahuhu to Britomart and the segments between Newmarket and Morningside and Penrose and Onehunga will be done in phase 1.

The rest of the Western Line from Morningside to Swanson will be phase 2.

Phase 3 will go south from Otahuhu to Puhinui and will include the new Manukau Rail Link.

Phase 4 will complete the rest of the southern section from Puhinui to Papakura and Phase 5 will be the eastern loop from Westfield to Quay Park.

Mr Hood says six types of masts and portals will be used to cover the 80km of rail corridor from Papakura to Swanson, including the Onehunga and Manukau branch lines.

"The infrastructure has to be completed before the rolling stock arrives in 2013," he says.

The electrification of Auckland’s rail system involves creating height clearances, upgrading signalling and construction of traction.

Bridge raising and track lowering at 28 sites across the network started in 2009 and should be completed by 2013.

Resignalling is already under way with the $90m contract awarded to Westinghouse Rail Systems early last year. It is expected to be completed in early in 2012.

The rail system will be powered from the national grid at Penrose and Southdown. The two sites will be independent and on their own will be able to provide enough power to run the entire train system.

Six substations will also be built throughout the rail network.

The power needed to run the trains will be less than 1 percent of Auckland’s current capacity

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- Manukau Courier

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