Downer are remodelling both Wiri and Westfield junctions to separate slow moving freight trains from faster commuter trains in Auckland for our client, KiwiRail. The objective of the Wiri to Quay Park project is to improve capacity for future growth on the North Island Main Trunk line (2 lines, up and down mains) by providing an additional track (3rd Main).This will assist both freight and passenger rail services ahead of the City Rail Link project going live in late 2024 and will provide improved rail links between key freight hubs, KiwiRail's Westfield freight yard, Southdown Freight Terminal and Ports of Auckland.
Package 1 is the first of four packages to be completed and includes complex track, overhead line, civil and signalling works at the two busiest junctions on New Zealand’s rail network.
Intricate planning was integral for this project due to rail access constraints and the majority of the work having to be done over weekend BOL's, public holidays and nights.
Some of the main challenges for the team were limited access into the corridor while working around trains, key integration and communication with stakeholders and safety, particularly with a lot of plant restricted areas and the challenges of COVID.
COVID delays meant the team had to reorganize the rail programme and the Westfield commissioning, which was initially scheduled over the Christmas Block of Line, however due to the unavailability of Siemens (an automation company) the team were forced to move the commissioning to Easter, which created a challenge of carrying out fourteen days of work into four.
The reprioritisation of the project resulted in a large amount of planning from the team and the implementation of the T-minus process, which required the Block of Line (BOL) to be planned 12 months in advance.
Due to the constrained location, the team developed a solution to divert rail traffic through sidings to enable work on the main lines (usually not allowable). Bi-directional Block of Lines also provided a more efficient solution for working on the tracks.
To implement this approach, the construction team needed to upgrade various points along the corridor, outside the Wiri to Quay Park scope. New overhead lines were proposed and installed by Downer to provide greater network resilience, future proof the wider network for maintenance, and minimize isolation lengths to avoid further disruption. This event took months of planning and detailed coordination with KiwiRail to complete the works within the Block of Line, operational requirements, and electrical isolations.
Through robust planning and contractor client communication, the team managed to complete the Westfield commissioning over four days at Easter, as opposed to the 10 days over Christmas, which was initially planned, this demonstrated programme and budget benefits to Kiwi Rail. Working alongside KiwiRail, with both parties being co-located on site, also helped to build strong relationships, which bodes well for future packages.
Package 1 was delivered on time and budget was met, and the TRIFR (the rate of recordable injuries that occur per million hours worked) was 1.97, which is well below industry average.
The Easter BOL co Line was a huge success for all parties involved. There was a lot of hard work put in by many and
the detailed planning helped to set the team up for success, coupled with the improved line speed track through Downer, completed at the end of 2021.