Vital nation-wide emergency network for KiwiRail

Communication is the key to a healthy, safe and productive workplace as KiwiRail is very well aware. “We operate our rail network with just a single Locomotive Engineer in attendance on our mainlines,” says Myles Dyeming Senior Telecommunications Technician, KiwiRail Network.

“To ensure the safety of our personnel, so they can operate effectively and in emergencies, we need to provide continuous radio coverage over the entire length of these track sections, which are often in remote and inhospitable parts of the country.

That’s where CSP comes in as they are helping with the design and manufacture of specialised poles and masts for our network.”

Myles says that approximately 100 radio repeater sites throughout New Zealand are required to safely operate the KiwiRail network right across the country.

These range from trackside locations to helicopter access only, mountain top sites.

In addition, KiwiRail also has 40 tunnels around the country that are over 100m long and which require their own internal radio repeater system.”

We are staging a move away from a purely analogue radio network to a much more advanced digital radio system, which requires a higher capacity data radio link,” says Myles.

CSP has been assisting by providing custom-designed steel pole and mast solutions to replace many of our wooden poles to support the upgrade to high capacity, resilient microwave links.”

KiwiRail - a support for Civil Defence

With KiwiRail often called on to transport large quantities of supplies during emergencies such as drinking water and food, and then recovery materials, Myles says it is important that their systems can withstand extreme weather events and natural disasters. “These custom-designed CSP poles are an important piece in providing a solution designed to Importance Level 4 (IL4) - the highest specified building standard.”

“These new pole/microwave link combination masts are able to maintain service in up to 170 km/hr wind speeds while surviving 230 km/hr wind gusts and are an important part of the integrity of our system and for the benefit of all of New Zealand,” he says.

During the challenging weather conditions brought on by cyclone Gabrielle KiwiRail was able to maintain communication via their network throughout.

“CSP has also helped us with the manufacture of number of 12m radio site poles, which we are currently waiting for the civil work to be completed on prior to Installation.”

A unique installation approach

Using their own rail lines, KiwiRail have devised an ingenious method for the installation of their specialised communication masts. “We use a special rail vehicle we call a ‘Low Loader’,” explains Myles. “It is a purpose-built, self-propelled machine for carrying road vehicles such as concrete trucks and large materials to remote sites without any road access - using our own rail network. It also has a large 20m reach hydraulic knuckle crane for lifting the communications masts into place.”

“Working with Mike and Laurence at CSP has been a pleasurable experience, from pole concept, through evolution of the designs to final production.”