Ontrack NZ have been spending a considerable amount of money recently, upgrading our precious railway lines.

The transport dilemma New Zealand has been facing for decades hinges on whether we abandon the railways or keep and improve them. The notion that railways should replace heavy trucks is, in our opinion, ill-founded as the sheer convenience of trucks means for most freight this is a very sensible mode of transportation!

With the cost of liquid fuel more than doubling in just 3 years, the benefits of exploring alternative modes of transportation are very real! Electrification of more of our railways could potentially bring further benefits to New Zealand.

Railway remains, potentially, the most efficient and safe mode of transporting large volume & mass long distances. To make the railways more efficient and cost-effective to customers, the basic infrastructure must be reliable, capable of being added to and improved, and safe.

The modern railway line requires accurate positioning in position and height, and track separation (gauge). Most derailments occur as a result of poor track alignment, foundation support & gauge setting. Rolling stock must be kept in good condition so it does not wear the tracks out and the tracks too must be maintained so they don’t wear the rolling stock out! Ensuring the latter two requirements are met is not easy as the bodies responsible for each are not one and the same

Land & Marine Surveying have extensive experience of railway surveys. Wade Roest, our senior surveying technician, worked for the London Underground for two years while abroad. The tolerances for track setting-out are typically 5 times tighter than those for conventional road surveys, which means the correct equipment and methods are vital!

The improvement work that is being done on our rails can be done while the tracks are still in use, but this means safety and 3rd party interferences have to be factored into the contracts.

Our software suppliers 12d Solutions have recently added a special railways design module that will assist us enormously with performing all manner of railway surveys and redesign of track alignments as required. The module deals with all manner of design geometry, out of straightness surveys, offset targets used in field survey, control levels & positions and gauge variation on corners.

The information we collect can be integrated with the rail-provider’s dynamic data and used in the design process to improve the lines.

We hope to be a part of improving New Zealand’s railway system