Major Projects & Infrastructure, Products & Resources

City Rail Link a game changer for New Zealand

With teams ready to mobilise for tracklaying and overhead wiring works, Martinus is continuing its commitment to New Zealand’s rail infrastructure boom.

The City Rail Link (CRL) is a game-changer for Auckland. Not only will the project have a significant impact on improving transport links for the people of Auckland, it is also the largest transport infrastructure project ever to be undertaken in New Zealand.

The underground 3.4km twin-tunnel rail link is up to 42-meters below the Auckland city centre and will transform the downtown Britomart Transport Centre into a two-way through-station that better connects the Auckland rail network and will allow the rail network to at least double in capacity.

Recent award of works

Martinus Rail was recently awarded the supply, installation, and commissioning of track and overhead wiring contract totalling $48 million for Link Alliance’s City Rail Link project.

As part of the works, Martinus will supply and install all the rail, slab track, ballasted track, rigid overhead conductor bar and overhead line equipment works on this major rail project between Britomart and Mt Eden Stations. The project team is expected to mobilise in early 2021 and remain on site for two years to deliver the works.

This is the biggest New Zealand contract Martinus has secured to date and marks a significant milestone in the company’s short working history in New Zealand. Martinus has been working closely with KiwiRail over the past five years on the Turnout Renewal Program, supplying and operating flashbutt welding facilities across the country, and recently supplying and installing a complex slab track scissor crossover through an ECI agreement at Britomart East over the Christmas shutdown period.

Martinus chief executive officer, Treaven Martinus, said the largescale rail contractor is looking to replicate its service offering to Australian rail projects within the New Zealand market.

“Since gaining extensive experience delivering metro rail projects and large complex rail projects in Australia, our plan was to expand the business across to New Zealand. This has allowed us to grow our team in size and in experience including civil, design, engineering, overhead wiring, signalling, high voltage power upgrades and of course track, which means now we are able to deliver line-wide packages and that’s what we are doing now,” said Martinus.

“We’ve successfully established our plant department in Brisbane to service major rail projects across Australia and now we are looking to do the same in New Zealand and invest further into our plant and equipment for specialised rail construction.” 

Growing the team and supporting local jobs

Martinus chief operating officer Ryan Baden said the recent award of works for CRL will see the New Zealand team grow from 40 to 200 in the next 12 months.

The company has successfully expanded their in-house capabilities by providing pathways for training and apprenticeships and is working with universities to provide work experience for students. Martinus has hired people from adjacent industries including military, hospitality and tourism, then provides the right support and training to ensure the person succeeds.

“We have recruited expertise locally but we have also brought in other expertise. The only way we’re going to have success in New Zealand is by building a self-sustaining business,” said Baden. “It’s the same in every market and our clients want to be dealing with locals to support local industries and contribute to job creation.”

We have seen firsthand the benefits of working with local suppliers and manufacturers to service many of our projects and our approach remains the  same here.”

Baden said the project team are already engaged with local suppliers and subcontractors to assist with the provision of materials and services.

“We are very proud of the culture we have at Martinus and we aim to maintain it as we expand to different markets – our culture is one of our biggest points of difference and we have attracted the right people who live the Martinus family values.”

Martinus’ has always had a flexible working culture and the systems in place to support their staff.

“When COVID-19 restrictions came into place our business was ready and our people easily adapted to working from home because we have always had that flexibility,” said Baden. “Even though our management team hasn’t been able to physically be in New Zealand, we have still maintained strong working relationships with our New Zealand team and our clients.”

Partnership

Martinus has invested more than $40 million in expanding their extensive range of plant and equipment. This fleet is complimented with six locomotives that Martinus purchased from KiwiRail.

“It was perfect timing for Martinus that KiwiRail were renewing their current locomotive fleet. The gauge and specifications of the locos were aligned to our requirements for the Carmichael Rail Network project” said Baden. “These locomotives will be used for construction only to haul our ballast and sleeper wagons.”

While the fleet sets Martinus up for any number of projects around Australia and New Zealand, as the past year has shown, there are any number of unpredictable events that could occur in the meantime and require new thinking to ensure projects get over the line. In New Zealand, Martinus has a contract to provide flashbutt welding services to KiwiRail’s Woburn depot and around the network. Of course, getting people there has not been possible so the company’s plant team has come up with a unique fix.

“Our plant team have come up with a solution to train a local operator via video link under the supervision of our project team in New Zealand. One of our Australian based operator/fitters has been providing non-stop online training for carefully selected Martinus fitters and operators in New Zealand. This initiative has allowed us to continue on despite travel restrictions and resulted in minimal delays to KiwiRail’s re-railing projects.,” said Baden.

“The awarding of this complex railway systems project is a big step in our New Zealand expansion strategy, we look forward to working collaboratively with Link Alliance , which is delivering CRL’s main tunnels, stations, and services contract, and KiwiRail to deliver important social infrastructure rail projects for the people of New Zealand.”

Once the CRL project is completed, it will add the equivalent of 16 motorway lanes during peak hour traffic. It will also create a number of direct and indirect jobs in New Zealand, and where possible New Zealand manufacturers will be maximised.

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