Today marked an important milestone in the progress towards electrification with the official opening of the Wiri Depot. We have covered the building of the depot over a number of 8 months or so from when it was just a bunch of steel framing back in November, to when it was looking more like a building in February until it was getting close to completion early last month. Now the building is completed and most of the equipment is in place which means that train maker and maintainer CAF, train operator Transdev as well as Auckland Transport can now start moving in. With so many people involved and there was quite decent turnout to have a look around the facility. Here is the press release from AT:

Maintenance and stabling facility opens for Auckland’s new trains

The Mayor describes the maintenance and stabling facility for Auckland’s new trains, officially opened today, as a major step towards a modern, efficient integrated transport system Auckland can be proud of.

Earlier this week, Auckland Transport handed over parts of the $100 million facility at Wiri to train operator Transdev (formerly Veolia) and train manufacturer Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) to commence the fit-out in preparation for the arrival of the first train in September.

“This opening heralds a time of great change in Auckland. The depot will be home to our new fleet of electric trains which will start arriving soon and go into service next year, “ says Len Brown.

“Along with the City Rail Link, integrated ticketing on trains, ferries and buses and Auckland Transport’s New Network, there is a bright future for Aucklanders sick of gridlock and poor public transport options.”

The 4.4 hectare site is on part of the old Winstones Quarry in Wiri and had to be filled with tonnes of rock before work could start on construction.

The purpose-built facility comprises a 7,650 square metre maintenance building, train wash, six kilometres of rail track sidings, stabling for 28 three-car trains and a cleaning platform so the inside of the trains can be vacuumed and washed. There is also a locally operated points system so all train movements can be controlled on-site.

The depot has permanent in-ground lifting jacks, a wheel lathe, overhead gantries and lifting cranes. It has a state of the art protection system to ensure the personal safety of people working close to the overhead wires.

Outside, most of the rail sidings have been laid on more than 8,000 cubic metres of specially quarried ballast excavated from Pokeno. A large number of overhead gantries have been erected to run wiring for electricity to the trains and there is a driver footbridge between the depot and the Main Trunk Line allowing drivers to switch trains without having to bring them into the depot.

Auckland Transport chairman Dr Lester Levy says, “The new trains will result in a major improvement to the level of passenger service which will encourage more people to switch from cars to public transport.

“This state of the art maintenance and stabling facility is ready to service and house those trains. This facility has been designed with safety and efficiency of the maintenance workers top of mind. This site was nothing more than a hole in the ground two years ago and it is a credit to all those involved to see it finished on time and within budget.”

Spanish company Construcciones y Auxillair Ferrocarriles (CAF) is building a fleet of 57 three-car high-powered train sets to carry passengers on the Auckland suburban rail network. These new state of the art trains have been designed to meet the specific needs of Aucklanders and feature the latest in terms of safety, comfort and reliability.

“As the trains travel more swiftly than the current fleet they will be able to shave approximately 10 minutes off the travel from Papakura to Britomart allowing the service to run more often and get passengers to their destinations more quickly”, says Mr Brown.

The first train is due in Auckland in early September and will be taken to Wiri for certification and driving training before going into commercial operation next year.

And here are some photos of the depot and opening.


Len cutting the ribbon to open the depot

Len Cutting the Ribbon

Len speaking at the opening which sounded very campaign like.

Len speaking

The tall yellow objects are mobile lifting jacks while the yellow plate on the floor is are built in lifting jacks.

Mobile Lifting Jacks

A little battery powered shunter to help move the trains around the depot.

Depot Shunter

Depot Shunter 2

One of the maintenance bays

Maintenance Bays

The bogie turntable which allows for the train bogies to be taken off and moved to the shed in the background to be cleaned.

Bogie Turntable

A control panel, not sure exactly what it controls but I liked the “Not for Persons” sign.

Not for Persons

Outside the depot the old Wiri station has been upgraded to allow for drivers to swap shifts. The station is accessed by a bridge that connects to the depot.

Wiri Platform

Drivers Bridge

All up the depot is looking great and contains world class equipment so congratulations to all involved. I believe that now the construction has finished the focus will shift to getting everything ready for the arrival of the first electric train which is only two months away. It will certainly be an exciting few months as we approach its arrival.

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  1. Presumably that panel can control anything you want it to, but you’re not supposed to use it to control persons, due to the ethical issues that would raise. Hence the “not for persons” sign.

    Forgive the moment of levity, I don’t mean to “derail” the conversation.

    1. I think it is more to make sure that certain heavier persons don’t sit down on it and trigger all sorts of “train wrecks”.

  2. Someone there mentioned the panel is to control the ‘in-floor’ jacks if I remember correctly Matt.

  3. The tracks alongside the old Wiri platform (2nd to last photo), show little yellow tiles, is this some new technology (like in America where trains disobeying signals trip an emergency brake upon passing one) or just a guide for the drivers? Pretty sure I’ve never seen them before.

    1. It’s hardly new technology. I worked on London Underground in the sixties and every signal had a trip that would release the Westinghouse brakes if the train went through on red.

    2. They are balises for the European Train Control System Automatic Tran Protection System. Unlike mechanical train stops, ATP also monitors train speed as well as movement authority exceedances

    3. Wellington’s got automatic train stops just like London’s (and had them since 1938, I think) – but Auckland’s ETCS is something else entirely, much much more sophisticated!

  4. A lot of speeches, including a real tub thumper from Len who is looking very pleased these days, what stood out from all the technical types was how impressed they all are with the sophistication of the kit and the quality of the whole facility. This was especially the case for the Geordie that Transdev have brought down to run the trains; his eyes were on sticks. In all his years working on rail he’d new seen such a facility.

    I guess this is one big advantage of having run the system down so far; we can’t do a little upgrade so when we finally do invest we end up with the best and newest.

    Onward; things are just getting better and better.

    1. Yes I have often thought that one advantage to Auckland being so far behind the times was that we have needed to do something much more special to catch up. If the rail network had followed a similar path to that of Wellington we wouldn’t have had the fantastic Newmarket station, New Lynn station or what being built in Panmure. Even just the level of quality of the typical suburban stations we now have seems to be a step above.

  5. Will any of the existing trains be maintained at Wiri ? Surely with such a great facility operating costs of the current “heritage” fleet could be reduced if maintenance could be conducted here.

  6. How many sets can be maintained using this facility? Will the depot have the ability to handle any new trains that may be added as part of future development?

  7. I haven’t seen any reportage in the Herald about this – not newsworthy enough for them! Is there anything in the Sunday Herald ? We don’t subscribe for the Sunday edition.

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