THE $NZ 500m ($US 429.3m) Auckland electrification project included the construction of a 7650m2 maintenance and service centre on a 4.4 hectare site at Wiri for the 57 three-car trains being supplied by CAF, which will also maintain the fleet until 2026.
Windhoff was awarded a contract in March 2012 by Auckland Transport (AT) to supply workshop equipment comprising underfloor lifting plant, lifting jacks, a road-rail shunting vehicle, and a bogie turntable. While the workshop was officially opened by Auckland's mayor Mr Len Brown just over a year later, this was not the end of the project for Windhoff.
The first of the new CAF trains was due to be delivered in August 2013 to enable the final phase of commissioning to start. But the on-site team had to demonstrate that the equipment would meet the many demands of both CAF and the operator Transdev.
Coupling of the ZRW 35 AEM road-rail shunter with the new trains proved to be one of the greatest challenges for Windhoff's engineers. When manufacturing of the shunting vehicle started, design work at CAF for the trains was still underway. This meant some information was lacking and arrived late and other changes presented subsequent challenges.
Particular attention was paid to the pneumatic system as the shunter's integrated system had to be adapted to make it compatible with the trains. During coupling, the shunter's pneumatic system must connect with the train brakes, a mandatory feature for the safe towing and positioning of the trains.
The ZRW 35 AEM shunter also has to manoeuvre a three-car train precisely over the underfloor wheel lathe to enable wheel reprofiling when they reach their wear limits. Data communication between the static wheel lathe and the mobile shunter requires special attention as the train must not move during wheel reprofiling.
A solution was found by implementing a special remote radio control arrangement. When operating in the wheel lathe area, the shunter can be controlled exclusively by a remote radio control rather than the driver. The shunter's remote radio control system communicates with the wheel lathe's electronic control system while dedicated safety locks ensure overall safety.
New Zealand is situated in an active seismic zone and experiences more than 50 earthquakes a year. While the North Island is not as badly affected as the South Island, it was vital to ensure the safety of personnel working under the trains, which are nearly 70m-long and weigh 140 tonnes.
Meeting the earthquake resistance specifications for the underfloor lifting plant and the lifting stands was a major challenge. Following many meetings with experts from Auckland Transport and CAF, we found a solution.
The load introduction points of the lifting stands were designed to have three-sided enclosed pockets for the lifting pads of the train to rest in. This unique arrangement prevents the trains from "vibrating off" the lifting elements in the event of an earthquake.
Wiri is the first maintenance depot in New Zealand to be fitted with an underfloor lifting plant. The system was successfully demonstrated to the CAF team, Auckland Transport's project manager Mr Tim Barrett and Windhoff's site manager Mr Michael Brinkmann, when a train was elevated in near complete silence.