En­ergy Ef­fi­ciency

en­sur­ing the elec­tri­cal re­li­a­bil­ity of the Wa­ter­view Tun­nel


THE WA­TER­VIEW TUN­NEL is sig­nif­i­cant in trans­form­ing the way peo­ple and freight move around Auck­land. Dubbed the big­gest change in travel pat­terns since the open­ing of the Auck­land Har­bour Bridge in 1959, it has been rev­o­lu­tion­ary for the City of Sails.

Along with pro­vid­ing more con­nec­tions in the trans­port net­work to sup­port growth and en­sure greater re­li­a­bil­ity, the Wa­ter­view Tun­nel serves to free up lo­cal roads and gen­er­ate more trans­port op­tions, in­clud­ing bus lanes, as well as walk­ing and cy­cling con­nec­tions.

While these ben­e­fits are a sig­nif­i­cant win for lo­cals and trav­ellers alike, they are only made pos­si­ble when a num­ber of com­po­nents, in­clud­ing elec­tri­cal, are suc­cess­fully in place and man­aged. That is where Sch­nei­der Elec­tric stepped in.

Four years in the mak­ing, the tun­nel spans three lanes and is 2.4 kilo­me­tres long. The elec­tri­cal de­sign and plan­ning is the back­bone of the struc­ture, en­hanc­ing safety and re­li­a­bil­ity for the thou­sands of Auck­land mo­torists who use the road daily. The tun­nel is home to an im­pres­sive ar­ray of elec­tri­cal com­po­nents: 4,000 lights, 62 ventilation fans, 50 kilo­me­tres of cable trays and 400 kilo­me­tres of cabling and wiring.

Mak­ing sure the elec­tri­cal equip­ment was de­liv­ered on time to the project con­struc­tion team fell to Sch­nei­der Elec­tric. The com­pany was ap­pointed sole sup­plier for the elec­tri­cal com­po­nents, de­liv­er­ing the tun­nel’s con­trol in­fra­struc­ture through its EcoStrux­ure plat­form

– a com­pre­hen­sive pack­age in­cor­po­rat­ing high- volt­age and low-volt­age equip­ment, trans­form­ers, switch­boards, switchgear, bus­duct sys­tems, cir­cuit break­ers, PLCs, vari­able speed drives, soft starters and mo­tor con­trols.


De­sign­ing the sys­tem’s switch­boards and manag­ing their in­te­gra­tion into the WCA sys­tem was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of Auck­land’s Lynn Elec­tri­cal, a key switch­board builder part­ner of Sch­nei­der Elec­tric. As safety was a ma­jor de­sign con­sid­er­a­tion, a key de­ci­sion was made to split the tun­nel’s power sup­ply into two parts, re­quir­ing iden­ti­cal switch­boards at both ends of the tun­nel. This halved the dis­tance of the cable to 1.2 kilo­me­tres per side, greatly re­duc­ing volt­age drop prob­lems.

Auck­land switch­board man­u­fac­turer MGE, an­other key switch­board builder part­ner of Sch­nei­der Elec­tric, built the 690-volt switch­boards, in­clud­ing the switch­boards that sup­ply the vari­able speed drives for the 62 fans and the moulded case cir­cuit break­ers.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the de­sign also in­cor­po­rated built-in re­dun­dancy, with two sep­a­rate power sup­ply sys­tems and sep­a­rate switch­boards. This meant that if one sys­tem was to fail, the back- up is im­me­di­ately avail­able and en­sures mo­torists can con­tinue with­out dis­rup­tion.


Light­ing and drainage de­sign were also key to the project. Side ex­its are lo­cated at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals through­out the tun­nel, al­low­ing peo­ple to safely evac­u­ate in the event of an emer­gency. Large pumps also work to take care of any flood­ing. These sys­tems, along with other tun­nel con­trol sys­tems, de­mand real-time mon­i­tor­ing.


Op­er­a­tors mon­i­tor­ing the traf­fic through the tun­nels are aided by the in­tel­li­gent trans­port sys­tem (ITS), pro­vid­ing in­stant ac­cess to vi­tal real-time data, such as which fans are run­ning, how fast they’re run­ning, which pumps are be­ing used, which lights are on. It also mon­i­tors the power sup­ply, and gen­er­ates im­me­di­ate alerts if a prob­lem is de­tected, pro­vid­ing a com­pre­hen­sive, real-time over­view of the in­fra­struc­ture, all sup­ported by mul­ti­ple cam­eras feed­ing vi­su­als to the con­trol room screens. ITS is par­tic­u­larly use­ful for tun­nel main­te­nance. If a light, pump or fan fails any­where in the tun­nel, the op­er­a­tors can eas­ily pin­point its lo­ca­tion be­cause the ITS sys­tem is mon­i­tor­ing all the pan­els, trans­lat­ing into a speed­ier fix and the tun­nels’ con­tin­ued re­li­a­bil­ity.

Sch­nei­der Elec­tric con­tin­ues to man­age its tech­nol­ogy in the Wa­ter­view Tun­nel to en­sure the ul­ti­mate safety and re­li­a­bil­ity for its users for years to come.

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