Electric Rail Landscape Changes


As Auckland heads towards the introduction of electric trains in 2013, there are more signs on the Auckland rail network landscape that electrification is coming as preparation is made for the wires and signalling.

Gantries have appeared at Ranui:

And on the Onehunga line, masts have appeared for the first time - along Princes St.

The landscape will look different along parts of the track.
Several different types of mast will be used to hold the wires at the correct height and tension to ensure proper contact with the train’s pantograph (the part of the train that connects with the power course).
Some masts are single-lever cantilevers – a single mast with a cantilever holding the wires. The alternative that will be used are a portal or a U-shaped structure spanning the tracks. The masts are about 50-60m apart but closer on curves to ensure correct tension.
Here is how various scenarios will look:

Glen Eden station


Papakura footbridge on Broadway"

Market Rd footbridge - Remuera station

Omahu Rd overbridge

Hickory Ave overbridge

Waipuna Rd

See also: Easter work: Platform extensions
More Easter rail work Photos




  1. Carl says:

    Interesting to know, how long are these going to sit here before the trains arrive?

    as in, are we waiting on all the trains to be built? or are we getting in some other elecy trains from somewhere else first to test it all?

    it maybe a stupid a stupid point, but I can’t find the answer anywhere.

  2. Matt L says:

    It is good to see the masts progressing, as of Thursday they were as far as New Lynn and they seem to have been going back this weekend filling in gaps.

    Carl - It is a good question and one I have often though about. There is still a lot to do yet but my guess is the wires will up and ready long before any trains arrive. Part of the new train contract is new electric loco’s to haul SA sets so hopefully they can be delivered sooner and be put to use testing the network

  3. rtc says:

    There will be no trains until late 2013, therefore, they will be sitting unused except for testing until then.

  4. George D says:

    Three long years of waiting… ayo!

  5. Robincole says:

    Most of the Princes St masts have been up for a month or two.

  6. Andrej says:

    I only can’t wait for the chosen manufacturer and the proposed design, already this year. Although, as it was with Matangi - the first impression can be largely different that the final one and surely, as in this case, more beautiful http://img2.scoop.co.nz/stories/images/0711/c71ea6e51ee4bddc2ce9.jpeg

  7. James Pole says:

    Interesting that they’re doing the Onehunga branch already. Would have thought that wouldn’t be the priority for electrification works. Also I hear rumours that the new carriages will be 3-car carriages, how is this going to work when the platforms there are only 2-cars long…

  8. Andrej says:

    James, initally the new electric units should be running on Western and Eastern line only and yes, they according to previous news here on AKT, will be configured as three-car units.

  9. Matt L says:

    James - To get Onehunga open last year they could only get consent for a two carriage platform as the conditions needed to get it longer were to hard for the tight timeframe. Now it is done they are going back and getting the consents needed to lengthen it.

    Also yes the plan is for 3 car EMU’s although I believe companies could submit other designs that had the same level of performance and capacity.

  10. Jeff H says:

    Does anyone know what the masts will look like through the Purewa Valley? I assume similar to Waipuna Rd in the photos above? Hope they choose the least obtrusive design for this scenic spot.

  11. urbanlocal says:

    Jeff H - The masts through Purewa Valley (and Hobson Bay) will be the same as the rest across the network.

    Interesting that we never saw visualisations of the truss canterlevers (first images above), only the ‘slimline’ and albeit more commons masts.

  12. Matt L says:

    Urbanlocal - There is a visualisation of the truss canterlever in the Waipuna Rd Pic, you can see it goes from having masts on either side to only having masts on one side, if you look closely you can see the truss (but I admit it is hard to notice unless you know what you are looking for)

  13. Carl says:

    three cars would have to be the way forward for sure.

    In Perth here we have 3 & 6 cars on two lines and the other line is 2 & 4 cars.

    3 car lines would be a good start.

    I have always though that 6 car trains here are a bit stupid. better to have more 3 cars trains running at a more frequent service than 6 car trains every 15 minutes.

    my opinion anyway.

    wow three years (or 2 years) in a long wait, surely they can be tested by something else before then?

  14. Carl says:

    oh and before anyone says anything, who cares what they look like, they do a job, a job that is more than 50 years over due.

    people who complain about the things look, are so wrong in the head.

    its the like idiots who don’t like the look of wind turbines on hills.

    don’t like the look of them, but still keen to complain when their power bill comes in?? lol can’t have it both ways.

    progress looks good so far though!

  15. Simon says:

    Yes Carl, we`ve been waiting so long it`s important they work properly and are reliable. However, if we want more people to be attracted to using rail it is important that they a) look good b) have added functions and services like wi-fi for example. It`s important that our new trains will be perceived by current users and non-users alike as something that can be used without cringing, without feeling like they are losers. Image is half the battle to getting more people onboard trains.

  16. Carl says:

    Simon - I was talking about the structures that carry the wires.

    not the trains.

    I have seen in the past in some idjots complaining about structures and the so called “visual effect” they can have on places.

    end of the day, if you want a service (in any field for that matter) get use to wires, poles, all sorts of things like that.

    just because they/it doesn’t look they way they think it should, they need to man up and look at the bigger picture.

    that was all I meant…

  17. Matt L says:

    Carl the tender was for 3 car trains with 24m long carriages which is the same as what exists in Perth. By comparison the SA trains we currently have are about 20m long so a 3 car EMU will be almost as long as a 4 car SA. We should have enough EMU’s for most trains to be 6 cars long and seeing as we can’t increase our frequency above 10 mins at peak due to Britomart we will need longer trains.

  18. Doloras says:

    Can I point out that, given current levels of patronage, attracting people onto trains is not our major problem? Clearly if we build it they will come, so the real issue is an ideological one defeating the roads/petrol-based thinking of Government, not “oh noes people won’t use trains with no wifi”. Clearly they already do.

  19. Jeff H says:

    The masts are going to be part of Auckland’s urban landscape for a long time so it’s reasonable to consider their form as well as their function.

    The designs chosen for the most part look OK.

    Aesthetic elements are often important in the success of many enduring designs.

  20. Carl says:

    why is “trains with wifi” so important?

    haven’t been in a service anywhere in the world that offers it?

    most 1st world countries have mobile broadband or internet via a sim card for iphone or ipad?

    why would a train need to provide wifi?

    most trips would take less than 30 mins, what are you going to run your work on the train or something? If its something that can’t be done via your existing mobile internet then I suggest you shouldn’t be on the train you should be in your office.

    serially if we are worrying about rubbish like that we are going to be a long way behind the 8 ball. taxi’s don’t provide it, buses don’t provide it, there is no need for it.

    unless of course new zealand still doesn’t have internet via sim cards? which I’m sorry actually makes me lol if it doesn’t.

  21. Scott says:

    Yes NZ has a mobile phone network biased internet. I think so much emphasis is placed on wifi is because of two reasons.
    - Firstly there are lots of places on the rail network that don’t have phone coverage.
    - Secondly mobile internet is still quite expensive here.

    In addition many devices such as the ipod touch are good for internet but can only handle wifi.

    Lobbying the telco’s to add repeater’s in the tunnels and dead spots might solve the first issue. Time will hopefully solve the second. In the meantime wifi would be really nice to have.

    “buses don’t provide it” I caught a bus to the airport in wellington that had wifi. It was awesome as i happened to have my laptop in my backpack.

  22. Patrick R says:

    Carl it’s not a question of offering WiFi instead of increasing frequency or extending the network. It’s on top of those things; a means of emphasizing one of the structural advantages of PT, namely that you are free of the responsibilities of driving, to help offset the structural disadvantages. It is essentially a marketing hit, and if you don’t think that matters, well fine. Have a look here: http://transportblog.co.nz/2011/04/21/guest-post-quick-cheap-and-cool/

  23. Patrick R says:

    Carl, exactly, I think you’ll find that link on my post.

  24. Mike F says:

    Patrick R
    Sorry did not realise that link was on your post.

  25. Patrick R says:

    And Mike sorry for confusing you with Carl….

  26. Paul in Sydney says:

    Free Wifi – nice to have

    Sydney has a couple of trials going
    – Main CBD station platforms have free Wifi
    – A six mouth free trial on its Metro 10 Bus service

    And promises by pollies for a continued roll out

    And Sydney Ferries has 96% of its fleet with free wifi (30min session twice a day, after that its a paid service)

    I think the free Wifi is a nice sweetener for the traveling public, Maybe Britomart could have a free wifi trial too

  27. Hayden says:

    Carl, what a depressingly stark and ugly world we’d live in if we only considered the function of what we built and disregarded aesthetic value.

    Also, I’ve been on plenty of train and bus services that have wifi, both in NZ and Europe. While it’s definitely more a nice-to-have than a necessity, I think the benefits - particularly for tourists who might not have the luxury of a mobile data plan - can’t be disregarded so quickly.

  28. Carl says:

    Hayden - hows about they just hurry up and get them up?

    something that should have been done 25 maybe even 50 years ago in the first place.

    secondly, Vodafone and Telcom (excuse my words here) actually need to just FUCK UP and make mobile web cheaper.

    every man and his dog and his kid has it here in australia and it is not badly priced.

    these idiots have a grasp on everything, not allowing common average everyday people to enjoy there life and go about there own.

    we have to settle for a train operator to have to fork out more money (which of course we end up paying for anyway) to upgrade their trains even further to cover something else they shouldn’t have to.

    train companies and operators should provide one thing, decent on time PT.

    telco companies should provide wifi or mobile internet.

    they need to work together and start seeing that most people in real world countries actually already have this stuff and have it reasonably priced.

    I hear today Telecom are putting their prices up…. phone charges in any other country are coming down and staying down.

    honestly, NZ, get on with the job and make stuff happen! its stuck in a time warp

  29. Mike F says:

    First time I’ve seen swearing on this site. Hope it doesn’t catch on.

  30. Anthony says:

    ^^^*nods head*^^^

  31. Carl says:

    what are we all 5 here? as if you have never used or seen the words used before.

  32. Jon C says:

    @Carl Swearing is not allowed here because once you start people will end up swearing at each other and the debate goes downhill fast.

  33. mark says:

    I agree with the comments - it takes only a little more effort to change something from starkly utilitarian to beautiful (or at least okay), and it’s worth it. Just look at some of the street furniture we have in our cities - a lamp post doesn’t NEED any design. But it improves our city if it has.

    That said, the truss cantilevers and other elements don’t look so bad in my view.

  34. Patrick R says:

    Agreed mark, we all must work towards lifting the quality of design impacts in this country, but just knowing you’re moving along on renewably generated emissionless electrons is pretty beautiful…..

  35. mark says:

    It is. Bring on the electrons!

    [And some pretty trains to ride them with]

  36. max says:

    Oh, and also:

    There is nothing in machinery, there is nothing in embankments and railways and iron bridges and engineering devices to oblige them to be ugly. Ugliness is the measure of imperfection.

    H. G. Wells

  37. John Gilbert says:

    If the increased order for EMUs means that no electric locomotives are to be ordered for the Auckland electrification - as originally planned - what is to happen to the expensively and excellently converted ex-BR carriages - in which my wife and I have ridden between Papatoetoe and Britomart in the course of recent visits from the UK to NZ? Surely such a large financial investment is not going to be wasted?

  38. Matt L says:

    John – At this stage we don’t know what will happen with them, we will still be using them until 2015/16 until all of the EMU’s are in place and by that stage some of them will be over 10 years since they were refurbished. Some are already showing their age so another 4-5 years could see some of them ready for scrap. They could also possibly be sold to somewhere else but at this stage I don’t think anyone really knows

  39. Santhosh G says:

    Does anyone know where the masts are being fabricated?


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