Safety Advice

Overhead Wires

In New Zealand portions of the railway are electrified, which means the trains operate from electricity transmitted through overhead wires.

The wires in Auckland and the Central North Island carry 25,000 volts which is a hundred times more powerful than the electricity used in homes.

The railway is electrified on suburban passenger lines in the greater Wellington area – including the Hutt Valley Line and the Johsonville and Kapiti Coast Lines.  These lines carry 1,500 volts.  

The first electric trains started running on the Auckland Onehunga Line in May 2014.  More electric trains will be introduced on other railway lines in Auckland over the next few years.  Information about staying safe around an electrified network is also available on the KiwiRail website and the Transdev Auckland website.

The central part of the North Island Main Trunk Line between Hamilton and Palmerston North is also electrified.  Click here for a map of the New Zealand electrified network.
Always stay clear of electric wires, and never touch them or throw objects at them.The electricity can "jump" or pass through objects and you can be electrocuted without even directly touching the overhead wires.

In New Zealand people have been severely burned or have died from coming into contact with overhead electric wires.

This TV advertisement explains the dangers. 

Read about a Hamilton teen who was lucky to survive.

Overhead electric wires on the railway are live and dangerous even when trains are not running.

Contact with overhead wires can result in extreme burns and in most cases will result in death.

Overheight loads

Be extremely careful when you are around overhead wires with high vehicles, or any tall object such as ladders, poles or masts.

Level crossings have a height restriction and vehicles which exceed that height must not cross the level crossing. 

The height restriction will be signposted at the crossing and varies for crossings around the country.

If your vehicle is higher than the height restriction sign-posted at the crossing, call (04) 474 2323 to make special arrangements. 

In any emergency around overhead wires, call 0800 808 400.        

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Latest news

Safety Leadership Award Announced

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rail industry safety expert Robert (Bob) Lupton was today announced as the inaugural winner of the TrackSAFE NZ Safety Leadership Award. 

The award was established late last year to recognise significant leadership in railway safety in New Zealand.

Chairman of TrackSAFE NZ Peter Reidy says Mr Lupton received the award for his outstanding contribution to safety over his 32 year career in New Zealand and overseas.

“Mr Lupton’s continued contribution has appreciably influenced rail safety in New Zealand across a number of organisations,” Mr Reidy says.  “He has an outstanding reputation for providing sound advice and growing and supporting those around him and is fully deserving of this special award.”

Mr Lupton has worked in a number of roles in the rail industry throughout his career, most recently as the Rail Systems Safety and Assurance Manager for the City Rail Link project.   

In that role he provided leadership, mentoring and guidance to the City Rail Link safety assurance and construction safety teams.

Among Mr Lupton’s many achievements are leading the development of the Britomart Safety Management System and responsibility for safety management during the transition to Auckland’s electrified network.  This included crashworthiness risk assessments for the new Auckland electric rolling stock.

Mr Lupton is an executive member of the New Zealand National Rail System Standards Executive committee, and continues to provide expert rail safety advice to the City Rail Link one of New Zealand's largest transport projects.

The award was presented today to Mr Lupton at Auckland Transport offices, in front of industry representatives.  Read more

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