Project Summary

Client: Kiwirail

Project Type: Commercial

Project Timeframe: June 2022 - May 2023

Architects: WSP



Project Description

In May 2023, LT McGuinness completed construction of a new railway traffic control centre that will allow Kiwirail to monitor nearly all of New Zealand’s track and train issues in real time.

The Wellington Train Control Upgrade Project involved a fitout covering a total floor space of 2800m2 to create a facility that operates 24/7. More than 100 people will staff the new ‘nerve centre’ at the Blue Mountains Campus in Wallaceville, Upper Hutt.

It watches over almost every railway track throughout New Zealand and has been designed largely around the need for resilience. The facility has an importance level 3 which means high seismic requirements so it can remain operational after a significant earthquake. Another key feature, given the nature of its work, is around the acoustic requirements. The seismic and acoustic demands meant highly complex and detailed execution during construction.

The project was very services heavy and a large portion of the building has small rooms with very large plenum heights. These heights within small footprints provided significant challenges especially given the seismic and acoustic restraints.

Installing the right amount of bracing within the space to maintain seismic compliance was a big challenge. Early in the project, LTM modelled the key services and ran clash detection reports in the BIM space to help identify pinch points, and worked closely with a seismic engineer to design bespoke seismic bracing in accordance with the code.

Despite the technical performance requirements, the facility has a striking design that uses unconventional, mostly curved, forms throughout. The end result is a richly textured environment that is unlike any other most of the project team had worked on.

The need for a new railway nerve centre was raised after the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. The previous centre was in the Wellington Railway Station which has a relatively low earthquake rating. The new centre addresses not only seismic risks but it is also safe from tsunamis, slips, and liquefaction.

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