New Zealand Commercial Design Trends Series NZ Commercial Design Trends Vol. 30/6 - Page 116

Project Auckland rail electrification Location: Auckland Deevelopers: Auckland Transport and KiwiRail CHANGE OF DIRECTION Faster, smoother, quieter – the multi-faceted electrification of Auckland’s rail system has streamlined public transport to signal the city of the future Rapidly growing cities need a public transport system that can keep up with the pace of change. But providing such a system takes decades of planning and a huge investment in infrastructure. This has been the reality for Auckland City, which is only now reaping the rewards of the single largest investment in public transport infrastructure ever seen in New Zealand. The electrification of the city’s rail network, first proposed many decades ago, is now set to transform public transport and help ease traffic congestion throughout the region. The $1.1 billion electrification project has been a co-ordinated joint venture between Auckland Transport and its operational partners, KiwiRail, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), the manufacturer of the new trains, and Transdev (formerly Veolia Transport Auckland), along with funding partners New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Council. The project, which has involved the purchase of 57 electric trains, has seen a complete overhaul of 114 SEARCH | SAVE | SHARE AT Auckland’s rail network, with station upgrades right across the region and a new maintenance depot built at Wiri. Auckland Transport project director Lloyd Major says the decision to electrify was prompted by the need to provide an upgraded, faster, cost-efficient rail service. “Ensuring passengers are comfortable, well informed and safe were also key objectives,” he says. “These trains accelerate faster, are quieter and more energy efficient. They include the latest developments in railway technology, which will make rail travel far more enjoyable, and ultimately get people out of cars and onto public transport.” Nick French, KiwiRail electrification project director, says the project follows four years of intensive work by KiwiRail to double track the rail system – Project DART. This has improved capacity, allowing more trains to operate, and reduced previous bottlenecks on the rail network. French says urban design considerations were Preceding pages:With their ultra-modern design and sleek blue and yellow livery, the first of Auckland Transport’s new electric trains are making their presence felt in the city. The rail electrification project by KiwiRail has involved major infrastructure changes throughout the region. Above:Passenger services have also been improved. The new trains provide platform-level boarding, and have spacious, light-filled carriages. Right:Solid beam conductors minimise the visual impact of the electrification at Britomart station. KiwiRail says urban design was a key consideration. Photography on these pages by Vaughan Scott and Jamie Cobel