Hutt Valley Line

Infobox rail line
name = Hutt Valley Line
color = CE0808

logo_width =

image_width =
caption = EM 1367 leading a southbound 4-car set, near Epuni on the Hutt Valley Line.
type = commuter rail
system = Metlink
status = Open, passenger and freight
locale = Hutt Valley, New Zealand
start = Wellington
end = Upper Hutt
stations = 18
routes =
ridership =
open =
close =
owner = ONTRACK
operator = Tranz Metro
character = Urban
stock = DM-class EMUs
EM-class EMUs
linelength =
tracklength =
notrack =
gauge = RailGauge|42
el =
speed =
elevation =

The Hutt Valley Line is the marketing name of the electrified train service operated by Tranz Metro on behalf of Metlink on the section of the Wairarapa Line railway between Wellington and Upper Hutt.


The Hutt Valley line was the first railway out of Wellington, preceding the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company's west coast route, which was later acquired by the New Zealand Railways Department and incorporated into the North Island Main Trunk. The first proposal for a railway line from Wellington to the Rimutakas was put to the Wellington provincial government by Robert Stokes in 1858, and five years later the government gave support to the idea. In 1866, the government's investigating committee approved the line and the Wellington, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa Railway Ordinance was passed on 2 July 1866. It authorised a line to be built to either standard gauge of 4 ft 8.5 in, or a narrow gauge of RailGauge|42, but sufficient funds could not be raised in England and the railway proposal was temporarily abandoned.Geoffrey B. Churchman and Tony Hurst, "The Railways of New Zealand: A Journey Through History" (Auckland: HarperCollins, 1991), pg. 151.]

In 1870, Premier Julius Vogel included a railway from Wellington to the Wairarapa in his "Great Public Works" policy, and while in London to raise funds for a number of projects in this policy, he was approached by contractors Brogden & Sons. They received a contract to survey and construct the first portion of the line, from Wellington to Lower Hutt, and construction began on 20 August 1872, with the first sod turned at Pipitea in Wellington. The railway took longer to construct due to the difficulties associated with stabilising the shoreline of Wellington Harbour. In July 1873, the railway reached Kaiwharawhara, followed by Ngauranga in early 1874 and Lower Hutt on 14 April 1874. Steam locomotives had now arrived to work the line and a service began, with four trains daily each way (three on Sundays).

Construction of the next section to Upper Hutt along the western bank of the Hutt River proceeded swiftly. On 11 May 1874, a contract was let to Charles McKirdy [David Leitch and Brian Scott, "Exploring New Zealand's Ghost Railways", rev. ed. (Wellington: Grantham House, 1998), pg. 42.] , and the line was opened to Silverstream in December 1875; this included a 272-metre bridge across the Hutt River just before Silverstream, and in other locations thousands of bags of cement had to be used to stabilise the railway's route alongside the river. The line opened to Upper Hutt on 1 February 1876. Kaitoke was reached on 1 January 1878, followed by the first section into the Wairarapa on 12 August 1878 to Featherston. [Leitch and Scott, "Ghost Railways", pg. 39.] This section descended the Rimutaka ranges via the Rimutaka Incline.

Pipitea terminus in Wellington was destroyed by fire on 16 January 1878. A permanent replacement on Featherston Street opened on 1 November 1880; it was moved to near the intersection of Thorndon and Lambton Quays in 1885 and later became known as Lambton Station. It was replaced by the present Wellington Railway Station on Bunny Street in 1937. Other work around Wellington focused on straightening the route alongside the harbour. This was approved in 1903, began in 1904, and by 1911 the entire line between Wellington and Lower Hutt was duplicated and straighter.Churchman and Hurst, "The Railways of New Zealand", pg. 154.]

Deviation and electrification

The original route was built along the western bank of the Hutt River to provide the most direct route from Wellington to the Wairarapa. In 1925, the passage of the Hutt Valley Lands Settlement Act contained a provision for a branch line railway from Petone to Waterloo. [ [ Hutt Valley Lands Settlement Act 1925] ] Its construction was easy, though it included a 233-metre bridge over the Hutt River, and it opened on 26 May 1927. It was soon followed by the Gracefield Branch to the Railway Department's new Hutt Workshops on 1 April 1929.

After World War II, the Hutt Valley experienced a significant growth in population and extension of the Hutt Valley Branch to Taita was approved. It had been built to Waterloo as double track, but the next section to Naenae was single track, opening on 7 January 1946. On 14 April 1947, it was opened to Taita, with the section from Waterloo to Naenae double track. The final section from Naenae to Taita was duplicated on 22 February 1953. A proposal to extend the Taita line to link up with the original Hutt Valley main line had been approved in February 1946, and in the early 1950s this was carried out. On 28 February 1954, the section of the old main line between Melling and Haywards (now Manor Park) was closed, leaving the Lower Hutt to Melling section as the Melling Branch, and on 1 March 1954 the Taita to Haywards section began operating and the Hutt Valley Branch was incorporated into the Wairarapa Line. [ [ Valley Signals - Hutt Valley Timeline] ]

At this time, the railway was electrified. Electrification had been approved in response to post-WWII coal shortages, with the first section of electrification opened on 14 September 1953 from Wellington to Taita. The old bridge over the Hutt River to Silverstream was found unsuitable for electrification and a deviation was built to the north with a new bridge. There were proposals to build a line directly from Taita to Silverstream through the Taita Gorge, eliminating the route across the river to Haywards and then back over it to Silverstream, but this was found unsuitable due to the nature of the soil through the gorge. A portion of the original line replaced by the new route to Silverstream has been preserved by the Silver Stream Railway.

On 19 July 1954, the railway was duplicated to a point north of Haywards, and on 21 November a single track on the new Silverstream deviation was brought into use. Duplication from Haywards was completed to Trentham on 26 June 1955. On 24 July the electrification was completed to Upper Hutt and diesel-hauled suburban passenger services north of Taita ceased. [Valley Signals - Hutt Valley Timeline]

Later in 1955, the Rimutaka Incline was replaced by the Rimutaka Tunnel, allowing much quicker travel from the Hutt Valley to the Wairarapa. This involved re-routing the Wairapa Line north of Upper Hutt; the Kaitoke route to Summit in the Rimutaka Range at the western end of the incline was closed and replaced by a line through Maymorn to the tunnel.


Passenger services

The original route was operated by C, D, and L class steam locomotives in the 1870s and 1880s. In 1905, D 137 was utilised in trials on the Hutt Valley Line of a "railcar" service between Lower and Upper Hutt [David Jones, "Where Railcars Roamed" (Wellington: Wellington Tramway Museum, 1999), pg. 4.] based on a concept the Railways Department's General Manager had witnessed in the eastern United States. This involved D 137 hauling a carriage that seated 24 first class passengers and 48 second class passengers, and had a guard's compartment. However, it was not economic and grossly over-powered, and accordingly, it was soon taken out of service and the Railways Department pursued research into genuine railcars, culminating in various classes covered by the general RM class designation. [D. B. Leitch, "Railways of New Zealand" (Melbourne: Lothian Publishing, 1972), pg. 192.]

On 11 December 1897, the Wairarapa Line was completed to its junction with the Palmerston North - Gisborne Line at Woodville, allowing the commencement of the Napier Express from Wellington through the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa to Napier in the Hawkes Bay. This was the premier service on the Hutt Valley Line until early 1909, when it was re-routed via the west coast route that the Railways Department had recently been acquired from the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company. [J. D. Mahoney, "Kings of the Iron Road: Steam Passenger Trains of New Zealand" (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1982), pg. 51.] Its replacement was the Wairarapa Mail, an express train that ran the Napier Express's former Wellington to Woodville leg. Through the Hutt Valley, the express was typically hauled by WW class tank locomotives. [Mahoney, "Kings of the Iron Road", pg. 81.] In 1936, the Wairarapa railcars were introduced to the Wairarapa runs, decreasing the frequency of the express and ultimately leading to its cancellation in 1948. No named provincial express has operated on the Wairarapa Line since this time. [Mahoney, "Kings of the Iron Road", pg. 83.]

Suburban services in the 20th century prior to electrification were typically hauled by WAB and WW class tank locomotives. Prior to full electrification, services beyond Taita were operated by DE class diesels. Full electrification saw duties shared between DM/D class multiple units and carriage trains hauled by ED and EW class electric locomotives, the latter class ordered for the Wellington electrified network when the Hutt Valley electrification project was approved. The EDs were withdrawn by 1980 and EWs by 1983.

In 1982-83 the EM/ET multiple units were introduced, taking over most services, and today DM/D multiple units used on the Hutt line since 1953 are used only at peak times . The introduction of the FM class EMUs from 2010 will provide extra passenger capacity, and enable the remaining DM class EMUs to be withdrawn.

Commuter trains run frequently throughout each day by Tranz Metro, with stops at 18 stations. [MetLink, [] ] This service is augmented by Tranz Metro's commuter service from Masterton in the Wairarapa, the Wairarapa Connection. It operates several times daily and is hauled mainly by DC class locomotives.

Freight services

From December 1897 until the acquisition of the WMR in December 1908, the Wairarapa Line was part of the Railways Department's primary route out of Wellington. Once the west coast route of the North Island Main Trunk Railway was available, all freight that could be diverted was sent via that line due to the costs and inefficiency of sending it over the Rimutaka Incline. Accordingly, the Wairarapa Line declined markedly as a freight route, though it became more desirable as a secondary route to the NIMT once the Incline was replaced by the Rimutaka Tunnel. Today, Toll Rail freight trains operate daily through the Hutt Valley between Wellington, Masterton, and Napier. Non-revenue services are also operated regularly to transfer equipment to and from the Hutt Workshops. Since the demise of the ED and EW class, all freight trains have been operated by diesel locomotives.

Stations listed from Wellington to Upper Hutt

*Wellington Station

*Kaiwharawhara Station
*Ngauranga Station
*Petone Station
*Ava Station
*Woburn Station
*Hutt Central Waterloo Interchange

*Epuni Station
*Naenae Station

*Wingate Station

*Taita Station
*Pomare Railway Station Station
*Manor Park Station
*Silverstream Station
*Heretaunga Station
*Trentham Station
*Wallaceville Station
*Upper Hutt Station

See also

* List of Wellington railway stations
* Wairarapa Line

External links

* [ Photo of train by harbour and signals c1928]
* [ Photo of new Hutt bridge c1927]


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