At 11:00 pm on Monday 29 September,
the first EMU ran on the North Auckland
Line from Newmarket to Swanson — an
historic milestone marking the effective
completion of the AEP project.
“The successful run to Swanson means that
electric units have now travelled on the entire
electrified network,” says Allan Neilson, Manager
Traction and Electrical Engineering. “There will
still be some residual tidy-up work and testing
to be completed. Everything on the network is
operating safely and the infrastructure job is
now essentially done.”
The completion of the Auckland Electrification
Project (AEP) is the culmination of more than
seven years of intensive work and over a billion
dollars in government investment spanning two
major projects — DART (Developing Auckland’s
Rail Transport) and the electrification of the
Auckland metro network.
“These are two of the biggest and most
important rail infrastructure projects
undertaken in New Zealand for decades.
They have consumed around two million
hours of work and presented significant
engineering challenges. Drawing these
massive programmes to a successful
conclusion is a huge achievement,” says
AEP Project Director, Nicholas French.
The AEP has involved the installation of
3,500 foundations and masts, carrying
560 km of overhead lines across 175 km
of track and accounted for a total of over a
million hours worked.
“Throughout the electrification project, we
had some minor environmental issues, zero
medical-time injuries and just three minor
loss-of-time injuries. That’s an amazing
achievement for a project of this scale.
It’s a credit to all involved in the project —
from the crews working night shifts to string
lines to the project teams planning work
schedules,” says Nicholas.
The safety record of our staff and crews
also forms a part of a wider safety initiative
as the introduction of faster, quieter electric
trains brings with it new safety hazards and
risks for the public.
“To address these needs the deployment
of physical safety measures around
overhead wires has followed international
best practice guidelines and we’ve taken
a region-wide, multi-agency approach
to getting the safety message across to
the public. We’re working with Auckland
Transport, the New Zealand Transport
Agency and Transdev in delivering
messages to the public about always being
vigilant, attentive and responsible around
the new electric infrastructure and trains,”
Significant innovations and the use of
advanced technology also formed an
important part of the electrification project.
These included the design and build of
a new SCADA control system and an
upgrade of the Traction Control Centre in
The electrification project also triggered
complete re-signalling of the Auckland
metro network. “A key component of this
was the more effective technical integration
of the signal and traction systems,” says
Allan Neilson. “These innovations were
notable when compared to standard
The new signalling allows bi-directional
operation and Automatic Route Setting.
This enables train control to better manage
train movements around the electrified
network and minimise delays to services.
An automatic train protection system has
been introduced that has the capacity to
override drivers if they are travelling too
fast towards red lights or exceeding speed
“There has been significant focus on
deploying technology that will enable greater
levels of automation, communications and
safety across the entire network,” says
Allan, “and that’s a very significant step
The completion of AEP moves Auckland
closer to its goal of getting more commuters
out of their cars and into trains as it strives
to become one of the world’s most liveable
cities. The new electrified network will also
improve connectivity across the region and
ultimately drive further business investment
and economic growth.
Daily EMU services will not begin
immediately on all sections of the newly
electrified network including the Newmarket
to Swanson link. Auckland Transport
will progressively roll out electric train
passenger services through until 2015 and
KiwiRail will continue to provide support
during this transitional period.