Delivering Strong and Efficient Transport Connections for a better New Zealand

Rail in an important part of New Zealand’s transport system. Delivering strong and efficient connections for a better New Zealand is a key focus for the government. In early 2020, the Government announced a 110 million investment to upgrade and properly maintain the Northland Rail to bring it up to the same standard as the rest of New Zealand’s rail network.

The Northland Line is over 100 years old and rail freight services are often disrupted due to weather events. The rail tunnels & bridges on the main north line are very old so the line has lower weight limits and lower speeds than the rest of the network. This means it cannot carry the same freight volumes as elsewhere on the network. Not only does this cost money, but valuable time also and time is money.

With freight volumes in the Northland region expected to increase from the current 18 million tonnes a year to 23 million tonnes by 2042, it was obvious that the Northland Rail network needed attention.

This investment will bring many benefits:

  • Allow for KiwiRail to grow their freight services in and out of Northland, helping to take heavy trucks off the region’s roads.
  • Allow speed restrictions to be lifted, reducing the rail freight journey time to Auckland by approximately 1.5 hours.
  • Save money by making rail services more robust and reliable, reducing the number of line disruptions.

The investment included upgrades to 5 bridges on the line, one of these being Bridge 168, located South of Whangarei. Moddex was contracted by United Civil Construction on this project to supply guardrails to both sides of the bridge.

Low lifetime cost of ownership

Due to the bridge’s proximity to water, a guardrail that could withstand corrosive conditions was required. Our modular marine grade aluminium system was a perfect solution as aluminium creates a passivation layer that helps resist oxidation and corrosion.

Outstanding corrosion resistance meant that our moddex aluminium system required less maintenance than a steel and galvanised product. This was of particular benefit for the client. Due to the bridge’s remote location and being a main rail line for transportation, access for maintenance would be difficult and time consuming.  The total lifetime cost of ownership of Moddex’s aluminium solution was significantly reduced due to lower maintenance cost. 

Unique Design Process  

Moddex’s end-to-end design process ensured everything fit when it came to site. Our CAD team produced design intent drawings off the client’s structural drawings, which showed in 3D from different angles with all the dimensions clearly detailed. These were then shared with the main contractor and architect to be checked off against site dimensions to ensure a perfect fit on site.

Once the design intent drawings were signed off, our drafting team proceeded with shop drawings and a detailed installation set out drawings. This design intent process provided a visual check that everything was correct, streamlining the production and installation process. The end result was a fully compliant, fit-for-purpose solution – not to mention a happy client!

The handrails fit together so perfectly – no issue in the locking together of this purchase.

United Civil Construction

If you need pre-engineered, modular, ready to assemble handrail with minimum risk, talk to our expert team by calling 0800 663 339 or emailing We look forward to hearing from you.