Signaling Progress


Auckland rail commuters are the first in the world to enjoy many of the benefits of a state of the art new signalling system to be turned on across a large chunk of the rail network this weekend.

And while the terms ‘hot swap capable’ and ‘hot standby’ may not mean much to your average commuter, the prospect of fewer delays to their journeys should certainly be noticed!

KiwiRail staff and contractors will work in shifts around the clock from late tonight until early Monday morning to commission the new signalling along approximately 24 kilometres of track along the southern line from Westfield to Wiri, all of the Eastern Line and the Manukau Branch line.

This weekend’s work will see the largest single section yet commissioned. It will mean 85 kilometres of track, covering the busiest and most complex sections of the network, including the Newmarket and Westfield Junctions, is operating under new signalling.

The project is on schedule for completion with work well underway for new signals to be turned on along the final outer sections of the western line during the summer network closure and the southern line during the first quarter of next year.

The new signalling system controls signals, points and level crossing alarms on the network is used on many rail networks around the world, including London Underground, Queensland Rail, ARTC, Beijing Metro, Madrid Metro.

It replaces Auckland’s outdated and outmoded signalling equipment, some of it 50 years old, and will allow for more frequent and flexible rail services and improved safety measures.

One feature is the bidirectional running that enables trains to run both directions on both tracks.

Auckland is the first rail network in the world to have the most up to date version of the system, WestRace Mk II.

The latest version, is expected to deliver many advantages, both for the travelling public and KiwiRail signals team, being more versatile, faster operating, and easier to maintain than its predecessor.

Amongst the many enhancements in the latest version is its hot swap (modules can be swapped out for maintenance without shutting system down) and hot standby (double-up of key components so if one or the other fails the system operates without interruption) capabilities.

The WestRace Mk II system is an updated version of the older WestRace Mk I type interlocking and has been developed over the past four years by an international team of engineers located in Spain, Australia and England.

A team of the Spanish developers were on hand in New Zealand in May when it was first commissioned on the section between Newmarket and Westfield.

The centralised interlocking has the main processor located at one central locality with ‘Object Controllers’ for inputs and outputs distributed about the network.

Those controllers communicate with the main processor via a fibre optic cable system, reducing the copper cable requirements with main cable route containing 1 power and 1 fibre optic cable only.

There is built in redundancy with the communications systems, with dual communications paths between every Object Controller and the Interlocking, and provision for an alarm when a signal lamp fails

Prior to May all commissionings have temporarily utilised the Mk I WestRace which will be replaced by Mk II after the Rugby World Cup.

Once completed the Auckland Metro signalling network will include:

  • 200 new equipment cabinets
  • 250 new points machines
  • 400 new signals

The re-signalling is part of the $500million Auckland Electrification Project.  The $90million signalling contract was let to Invensys (then Westinghouse Australia) in 2009.

The KiwiRail team has been progressively installing and commissioning the new system since September last year with priority given to those sections of the network critical for Rugby World cup rail operations.  This was done to ensure the new system was well established and allow trial rail operations for Eden Park games in the run up to the tournament.


Nov 2010           Morningside to Newmarket

Jan 2011           Newmarket Junction to Britomart

May 2011          Nemarket to Westfield, Onehunga Branch

July 2011          Westfield to Wiri

Manukau Branch

Westfield to Quay Park (Eastern Line)

Jan 2012           Morningside to Swanson

Wiri to Papakura

The redevelopment of Papakura station will progress throughout 2012 with several signalling stages  starting Easter 2012.

This weekend’s services:

Train services will be affected from 8pm tonight,(Friday) with a progressive ramp-down of services until the full closure takes effect from 10pm.

The entire network will also be closed to trains on Saturday and Sunday, with two early-morning services from Otahuhu also affected on Monday morning.  Replacement rail bus services will be provided and special timetables will be in place, including additional special rail bus services to the Warriors game on Sunday.

People attending the Warriors match at Mt Smart on Sunday can take special rail bus services departing from Britomart and Papakura to Penrose Station.


Buses will replace many train services from 8pm and all train services from 10.00 pm

Saturday  and Sunday 

Buses replace all trains

Monday buses will replace:

The 5.10 am service from Otahuhu to Britomart via Glen Innes

The 5.17 am service from Otahuhu to Britomart via Newmarket





  1. Matt L says:

    We have a signalling system from Spain and we might be getting our trains from there as well

  2. George D says:

    So, the trains might actually run on time?

    I’m excited! Happy to lose weekend trains (for yet another weekend) in order to have more punctuality in the system. This should also allow for later upgrades of pedestrian crossings (with auto-gates). Hoping there are no implementation issues!

  3. GJA says:

    @ George - The train might run on time, if they don’t break down…

    At least we are moving in the right direction, resolving one issue at a time.

  4. KarlHansen says:

    I like the idea that we actually get best-practice / state of the art stuff, not another “if it works, it’s good enough for train users” off-the shelf solution from 5 years ago.

    Now we only need to make sure that we don’t do the same thing our railways-responsible ministers have been doing for the decades gone by, and what our roading minister is now proposing doing even to his own network (skimp on maintenance).

  5. Paul in Sydney says:

    Top marks Auckland

  6. Simon says:

    A chill ran down my spine when you mentioned it’s the same system used in London.
    One can only hope you weren’t referring to the perpetually suspended Jubilee Line.

  7. Dan says:

    Well the new fantastic signals are working a real treat so far….In my 3 train journeys this week I have been delayed by an hour in total due to issues with the signals at Westfield. I know this is a Kiwirail problem but the mutes who work for Veolia do not help by telling passengers nothing or next to nothing when there are problems.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>