Unsung Heroes Of The Year


They don’t get to open train stations or have the sort of family Christmas break most Kiwis have.

Again this weekend and every day from Boxing Day, they’re the workers who toil in the hot sun in unpleasant conditions to make the rail improvements we have been enjoying this year.

Photographing them now for three years almost every weekend and right through the summer break, I’m amazed at their skill and dedication and respect their hard work to get things built on time. Some of the work such as at New Lynn and Grafton /Khyber Pass was difficult and complex. They’re now starting the sophisticated work to get the network upgraded for electrification.

When I first started filming, a few were suspicious I was a plant to spy on them. These days, they’ve super friendly and helpful, letting me poke my camera safely up close or tip me off about what’s happening.  So thanks, guys, really appreciate it! A few lately have even asked if they can be photographed so they can be on “Auckland Trains!”

We need to salute them for actually turning the improvement plans into reality.

Here are some of them in action:




  1. Chris says:

    Good to see some recognition of these hard workers. Their work and more importantly skill in doing a very good quality job is critical to the country.

  2. karl says:

    Yeah, at least you can’t REALLY outsource construction…

  3. Have you ever considered an accurate price comparison between the costs and efficiency of road and rail construction in NEW ZEALAND to that of China, USA, and other countries. Our standards are VERY SLOW, EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE, VERY inefficient, and ridiculously over priced. The Constant reconstruction or faulty labour and materials required for every project, the enormous time it takes in New Zealand to complete minor projects that are inflated as major projects and the Construction companies ARE NOT SUNG HEROES. They are a rip off and its outrageous.

    These projects are too small minded, far from future proof TO EXPENSIVE for the passengers, rip off to the Government and the Tax payer and embarrassing in comparison to international standards.. ITS STILL cheaper to drive by a long shot! December 2010.

    Compare the price from Onehunga to Sylvia Park. You will have to travel to the central City from Onehunga, all the way to Papakura and come back again with three stops …See if your car can get you there cheaper and quicker by car… Go figure it will!;)

  4. karl says:

    Hillsborough resident - cherry-picking an inefficient connection (and also probably assuming off-peak traffic) and then arguing that that shows our rail network is inefficient is being disingenious at best. Try comparing cars and trains going from Onehunga to the CBD, during peak time, instead. You know, the route the Onehunga Line was constructed for?

    I am not quite sure whether you are calling for better rail, or trying to tell us that rail is crap and we shouldn’t be investing.

  5. Railman says:

    I am afraid I have to agree with Hillsborough resident… As far as infustructure goes.
    The railways has suffered from years of neglect that cannot and will not be cured in a couple of years, probably closer to 10 and beyond. Maintance machinery needs to be upgraded and more advanced tampers. Here, once a track has been reballasted and tampered a settling period where max speeds over the site are anywhere between 25-40kmh. The same job in the UK will be done overnight and virtually no speed restriction would be put in place.
    As far as his/her example of going from Onehunga to Silvia Park by train, you are comparing apples with oranges because of course that particular journey is not suitable for rail travel completely

  6. joey says:

    Surely nobody would be suggesting that we create conditions for these guys to emulate the Chinese labour environment? Maybe Hillsborough resident would like to don a set of overalls and spend a shift or three in a pair of size ten steel caps. These guys do hard work . . . VERY hard work.


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