Workers assemble railway tracks at the old Wingatui rail-yard to test the safest way to replace the tunnel tracks later this year. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The Wingatui rail tunnel is on track for some new tracks.
Kiwirail staff have recently been seen building what appear
to be a set of tracks from a large pile of concrete sleepers
at the old Wingatui rail-yard.
A Kiwirail spokeswoman said three sets of 75m lengths of
track were being assembled at the yard to test the safest and
most suitable process for replacing the tunnel tracks, which
were scheduled for renewal.
Although the rail track only was due for renewal, it was
decided to remove all the old sleepers while the work was
going on, which also meant they could rebuild the track bed.
That would mean less maintenance was required over the next
While the test tracks were being assembled now, the actual
work in the tunnel would take place over four days in
mid-May, when all of the track sets would be built and
The work would involve replacing 705m of track and 1421
sleepers in the 896m-long tunnel.
No trains would be running on the track to Wingatui during
the installation, except for work trains, which would be used
to assist with moving materials, discharging ballast and
finalising track level and position.
Some work would be done before the main body of works,
including surveying, drainage, clearing outside of the
tunnel, material relocation and shaping inside the tunnel,
and the cleanup would take about a week afterwards.
The job would require heavy machinery, and a specialised fan
would blow fresh air through the tunnel while men and
machinery were working inside.
''There will be a certain degree of noise produced from the
works as per any large scale civil works, but we will attempt
to mitigate this as much as possible and keep our neighbours
Most of the heavy works would be either inside the tunnel or
north of the tunnel where fewer people would be affected.
A letter drop would inform neighbours who might be affected,
including the hours of work, she said.