Trentham To Upper Hutt Double Tracking Goes Live
Commuters were able to travel on the new double-tracked section of rail line between Trentham and Upper Hutt for the first time today, marking the completion of a two-year project aimed at enabling more people and freight to travel on the Hutt Valley Line.
The project, one of several in the Wellington Region aimed at improving the network, involved installing a second track for 2.7 kilometres between Trentham and Upper Hutt. This means the Hutt Valley Line is now double tracked all the way from Wellington Station to Upper Hutt Station, removing a bottleneck at Trentham where trains have often had to wait to allow other trains to pass.
Other upgrades include new platforms and shelters at both Trentham and Wallaceville stations, improved parking facilities and level crossing safety upgrades.
“Today’s opening is significant,” says KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer - Construction Delivery Robert Gibbes. “The double-tracking will help increase resilience and capacity on the Wellington rail network.
“This project is part of a major programme of works underway to improve the Wellington region’s rail network.
“We’ve spent the past three and a half years renewing the overhead line equipment across the region. Some of that infrastructure dated back to the 1930s. We’re also making a number of improvements to the Wairarapa Line and we have a significant programme of works underway at Plimmerton Station.
“The works we’re doing will transform the Wellington rail network and prepare us for the predicted growth in passenger and freight traffic.”
Greater Wellington Chair and Deputy Chair of its Regional Transport Committee Cr Daran Ponter noted the broader gains from the progressive upgrading by KiwiRail of the regional rail network.
“The improvements we’re seeing to regional transport are an integral part of managing climate change. The better the network, the more attractive it is to passengers, leading to higher loadings, fewer trips in private cars and lower emissions.”
The double-tracking project has received several accolades. In July, KiwiRail and its partners Downer and Aurecon won Engineering New Zealand's Innovation Award for the digital technology used in the project. Earlier this month, the project won the Australasian Rail Association’s Innovation and Technology Award for 2021. The project is also a finalist in the Construction Accord Beacon Awards.
Planned events to mark the completion of the Trentham to Upper Hutt double-tracking project had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, Mr Gibbes says.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t have hosted a public event to properly thank everyone who has been part of this successful project – including the local community and neighbours who have been very patient.”
“COVID-19 has made our work difficult at times. Restrictions on the movement of people and goods have an impact on project timelines, mainly because we’ve depended at times on resources in Auckland and Australia. It’s been challenging, which is why it’s great to see this project completed.”
The opening of the new underpass at Trentham Station last Wednesday was preceded by a karakia, attended by a small group of people and led by Kaumātua Matiu Jennings, who also blessed the site when works began in 2019.
On Friday, Remutaka MP and Minister of Education Hon Chris Hipkins unveiled heritage photos installed in the underpass, as well as three murals created by students from Trentham School. The event was attended by the students and their teachers, as well as Hutt South MP Ginny Andersen, Cr Ros Connelly, and representatives from KiwiRail, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Downer and Aurecon.