New Zealand state-owned enterprise KiwiRail has signed a new contract with JV Rail to upgrade its electrified train service Hutt Line.

The NZ$49m ($34.05m) contract was signed with Fulton Hogan and John Holland Australia, the two companies that will work together on the project under the name JV Rail.

As part of the upgrade, the firms will replace the overhead line system that provides power to Metlink’s commuter trains operating on the Hutt Line.

KiwiRail and Greater Wellington Regional Council will be working together on the project, which will also feature the replacement of the existing timber poles with steel masts and the overhauling of the overhead wires.

The system that provides power to the Hutt Line signals will further be substituted with a new solution, which will be deployed underground.

“Without this replacement programme, commuters would have faced increasing disruptions to the service as the wooden poles reach the end of their lives.”

Under this project, a total of 1274 existing poles and 38km of overhead wires will be replaced.

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KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy said: “Replacing these systems is a big win for Wellington rail commuters. It is vital for the resilience of the network.

“Our infrastructure teams work incredibly hard to keep things running smoothly but the current systems are reaching the end of their life.

“Without this replacement programme, commuters would have faced increasing disruptions to the service as the wooden poles reach the end of their lives.”

The project is expected to be completed in 2021.

Reidy said that this project is part of an ongoing, NZ$ 98.4m ($68.38m) four-year programme that aims to replace the overhead power system between Wellington Station, Melling and Upper Hutt, as well as at Ngaio and Johnsonville.

The programme is being funded by the central government.