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Work underway at KiwiRail’s Hillside Workshops

The largest workshop at KiwiRail’s South Dunedin Hillside Workshops is set to come down as a major redevelopment of the historic site gets underway.

This month specialist contractors will arrive on site to prepare to demolish the 140 metre long, 17 metre high former fabrication shop, making room to construct a new mechanical workshop. The adjacent tinsmiths' shop which currently houses the staff lunchroom is also being demolished.

KiwiRail’s Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says while the fabrication shop has a treasured history, its age and dilapidated condition means that it is no longer fit for use by the company.

“Thanks to Government investment, we are looking ahead to a brand new facility that will see this once proud site revitalised. The new mechanical workshop will allow up to 20 locomotives, wagons or carriages to be worked on at a time and we will have new equipment including a traverser, heavy lift jacks, and electric shunt engines.”

In May the Government announced a further $85million investment to build a new wagon assembly facility which will see KiwiRail assemble wagons on site rather than import them already fully assembled.

Building the new mechanical and wagon facilities is expected to create around 250 construction jobs.

“We are already seeing South Island jobs created by this project, with specialist contractors engaged to manage the demolition work,” says Mr Miller.

“Once we get to the construction phase it will create business for local material supply companies and when the site is up and running more than 100 KiwiRail people will be working from Hillside. These are all people living and spending in the local community which will benefit Dunedin.”

Demolition of the fabrication shop is expected to take around seven months. Deconstruction will start at the northern end of the workshop and work southwards to Hillside Road. The demolition programme is being closely managed due to the presence of asbestos inside the buildings.

The workshop will be deconstructed progressively from the inside, with the external walls retained to provide an enclosed space while the steel framing is brought down. Continuous air testing will be undertaken to ensure the safety of workers and the public.

Detailed design of the new workshop building and adjacent buildings is being carried out. The schedule for its construction and further demolition of other buildings at Hillside is yet to be confirmed. Design work for the wagon assembly facility is at an early stage.

The new site is expected to be operational by mid-late 2023.

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