The new Auckland Rail Operations Centre (AROC) opened in March this year in Ellerslie.

AROC is the result of collaboration between Auckland Transport, Auckland One Rail, and Kiwi Rail and is a central location where all three agencies can monitor and control the rail network. Essentially it is like an air traffic control, but for trains. The facility carefully monitors items such as the order of the trains, separation distances, and routes. The centre will monitor 3700km of rail with over 100 control staff.

Earlier this month, a group of Fire and Emergency people were given a tour of AROC led by Carl Mills (Kiwi Rail, Project Director - Control Systems Integration) and Glenn Gowthorpe (City Rail Link, Head of Testing, Commissioning & Emergency Management).

District Manager Vaughan Mackereth, National Infrastructure Advisor Jon Harris, and Group Managers Dave Hatton, Dave Woon, Chris Delfos, Barry Fox went along on the tour. Representatives from St. Johns, NZ Police, Auckland Council, Auckland Emergency Management, and Link Alliance were also present.

Carl said before the facility was built, all rail networks were handled in one facility in Wellington.

‘The earthquakes in Christchurch and Kaikōura highlighted the resiliency risk of having a single site for the whole country. The network is now mostly split evenly between the Auckland and Wellington Centre. However, if one facility were to suffer damage, the other centre can monitor and control the whole network. The only limitation would be acquiring enough trained staff.’

Jon said the facility itself is a great accomplishment and represents substantial resiliency.

‘It is built to withstand extreme weather, earthquakes, and other disasters. The centre has built-in redundancy, including two generators and two separate servers. The servers and generators are physically separated by 2-hour fire walls, to make it unlikely that both would be damaged in an incident. The centre will provide greater automation and safety across the national rail network and is built to handle the future rail expansion planned in Auckland.

‘We appreciated the opportunity to see this impressive facility in person. In the case of a large emergency, we would be able to send a liaison to the centre to help coordinate response and resources.’

AROC Control Room

AROC Controllers

AROC Train Controller

Photos courtesy of KiwiRail

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