21 May 2023

KiwiRail to base train control operations at regional hub in Upper Hutt

6:21 am on 21 May 2023
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The new centre to control train movements throughout the country will have a low risk of tsunami, liquefaction, ground shaking and slips, KiwiRail says. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

KiwiRail is moving its national train control operations centre, which controls train movements across most of the country, to Upper Hutt.

Project director Carl Mills said the combination of the Christchurch and then Kaikōura earthquakes highlighted the resiliency risk of having a single site for the whole country.

Its current location at Wellington Railway Station is also close to a faultline.

"Our positioning in the central city wasn't as resilient as we could be," he said.

Chief executive Peter Reidy said the move to Upper Hutt was part of a wider investment in "modernising train control".

"We are also replacing Train Control's 25-year old computer system with a modern system which will provide greater automation, resiliency, and safety across the national rail network," he said.

The new site had "an excellent resilience profile, with low risk from tsunami, liquefaction, ground shaking and slips", Reidy said.

In 2021, KiwiRail signed a 25-year lease with developers Willis Bond for office space at the new Blue Mountains Campus in Upper Hutt.

KiwiRail's new space is in the refurbished Buddle Building. It takes up 2700 square metres, which includes a 1300 sq m control room.

The campus is the government's first official regional hub, with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment set to join KiwiRail in the building later this year.

Reidy said KiwiRail was also looking at options for Wellington metro operator TransDev to co-locate its relevant teams in the building, "which will ensure better integration of KiwiRail's track infrastructure with commuter train operations".

Another train control centre is also being built in Auckland.


Photo: SUPPLIED: KiwiRail

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