How It’s Looking: Electric Masts


More masts have been appearing in preparation for rail electrification.
Besides Newmarket and Baldwin Ave, masts have been erected further out west.
The masts will be about 50-60m apart but closer on curves to ensure correct tension.
There will be six different types of masts and portals covering 80kms of rail corridor from Papakura to Swanson, including the Onehunga and Manukau branch lines. The different different types of masts 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).
Here is how it’s looking at Ranui:

KiwiRail says 3,500 masts and portals will be erected around the Auckland rail network to carry the overhead wires.
The system will be powered from the national grid at Penrose and Southdown. Both will be independent and will on their own be able to provide enough power to run the entire system.
There will also be six substations around the rail network, and the power needed to run the trains will be lessthan 1% of Auckland’s current capacity.
This is how stations will look when the wires are added.

Here are photos from various locations :

Summer Rail Programme series: How It’s Looking At…

Integrated ticketing posts

Baldwin re opens

Baldwin Ave- last day

The new DL locos

Glen Eden

Baldwin update with 10 days to go

St George update

Baldwin update

Rossgrove Tce and Baldwin update

Homai Browns Rd, Manurewa

Church St East, Penrose

Waterfront trams

Bridge St, Papatoetoe

St George St, Papatoetoe rail bridge replacement



Baldwin Ave

Quay Park

Purewa Eastern Line track work

Manukau’s new station
a href=”” target=”_blank”>Auckland CBD Shared Spaces development




  1. mark says:

    Oh, they are so ugly, they should be ashamed the way they clutter up the neighborhood. I will call my Councillor and… Oh, wait, those are my local power lines in picture 3…

    Kidding aside, I don’t think they look all that great, but it’s still great to look at them, finally!

  2. Matt L says:

    The masts currently extend to Sturges Rd while the bases have been poured to about fruitvale Rd. It will be interesting to see the actual look once the wires start going up as that is when I think we will start to see complaints..

  3. GJA says:

    Mark, how do you make 3,500 masts and 80kms of wires look pretty?

    I prefer “visual pollution” to air, vibration and noise pollution. Not to mention having more reliable trains.

  4. Luke says:

    I think the serious complaints will come when the masts are put up along Hobson Bay and Orakei Basin, but I think thats being done near the end so it will be far too late.

  5. mark says:

    “Mark, how do you make 3,500 masts and 80kms of wires look pretty?”

    You can, but we have no budget for it. Also, any “sculptural” or “artistic” masts (I am thinking of something that almost looks like wrought iron scrollwork) would still split people into haters and likers. These will do.

  6. James B says:

    Well I’m looking forward to seeing the masts appear outside my house. It will provide a visual reminder that electrification is not far off.

  7. Patrick R says:

    Anybody know what the electricity costs v. diesel costs are…? Another 1% of AK’s power use, that’s quite a bit, good job we all own those power companies….!? [mostly, and for now].

  8. Luke says:

    over about a 30 year timeframe electricity is much cheaper. also I would expect that in the long term electricity prices would rise less than diesel prices.
    not to mention the other benefits such as better acceleration, higher comfort, less breakdowns

  9. Nick R says:

    In terms of the ‘fuel’ costs, electricity is factors cheaper.

    That together with the cheaper purchace cost of electric trains makes it cheaper to electrify the network and buy new EMUs than to simply buy the same amount of DMUs.

  10. Patrick R says:

    Thanks Luke and Nick, but does anyone have actual figures?

  11. Feijoa says:

    I was curious, but couldn’t find any exact cost comparisons. They must exist somewhere, presumably in the electrification cost/benefit study.

    I did a quick calculation though, and worked out the cost of 1kWh ‘at the wheel’ at about $0.13 for electricity and $0.41 for diesel. There are a few factors I have not included as I couldn’t find the numbers:

    1. Regenerative braking. This would reduce the cost of the electricity option significantly (maybe halve the power cost?)
    2. Loss in wire network. This might add a few percent to the power cost
    3. Lower weight of electric option. Would reduce the power costs
    4. Idling time - diesels will keep using some fuel even when stopped
    5. Auxiliary power savings are even better for electricity than diesel generated

    All up I’d guess the fuel costs would be 6 or 7 times lower for the electrics. The purchase and maintenance costs are significantly lower for the electrics too. That makes Nick’s factors-cheaper comment correct, but I’d be interested to see the full operating savings amounts.

  12. Carl says:

    From Papakura


    don’t worry about Puke, same old story, and its really getting tired, someone explain to me why we got roped into the super city? oh thats right, to collect our money.

    great so now it will be catch a train to Papakura, and then switch.

    I’m sorry but that is a joke.

    how does a city like Perth, which roughly has a slighter small population, have a system that is a million times better, yet we probably started out with less users.

    honestly there is nothing super about Auckland.

  13. mike says:

    Wow Kiwi Rail overhead lines good for Auckland compaired too old diesel pulled trains,no pullution except for traction motor noise and faster transport too and from station,has too be better than old diesel pulled trains around Auckland I use be a traction lines person and used trains daily when loved them great way too travel.
    Some comments about ugly wiring must like diesel fumes polluting Gods Own Country.

  14. Carl says:

    no pollution? lol where do you think the power to drive all this is coming from?

  15. Matt L says:

    Carl - NZ still gets around 3/4 of its power from renewable sources of which Hydro is the majority and Geothermal also making up a decent amount.

  16. Carl says:

    I’d like to know where the power for this is coming from?

    be an interesting question to find out and ask if anyone knows.

  17. Anthony says:

    I think nz only has 3 or 4 major fossil fuel power stations currently, but i checked out the porposals and Castle Hill North East of Masterton is meant to have a massive wind farm with about 572MW being produced. Not to mention the Tidal Plants under consideration in Cook Strait and Kapara that would add over 200MW to the grid.

    I think by then renewable energy will be well over 85%.


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