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Powering up Belfast

Northern Christchurch, Belfast

Orion has commenced a major project to increase the capacity and resilience of the power network to support future growth in northern Christchurch.

We’re laying a new underground, 66kV cable which connects a new substation under construction on Blakes Road, Belfast, with our existing Marshlands Zone substation in Prestons Road, Marshlands.

We’ve engaged Isaac Civil Construction to carry out the work.

What are we doing?MarBel Update 6

Work started in mid-February 2021 and will continue until early 2022.

To install the new 4.1-kilometre cable, we’re trenching in the roadway along Prestons, Marshland, Belfast and Blakes Roads.

We’re doing the work in sections, digging a trench between a series of cable joint bays, installing reinforced concrete at the bottom of the trench then installing the new cable. The cable is then encased in thermal concrete before the trench is backfilled and the road surface repaired.

For more information, call our Customer Support team on 0800 363 9898, day or night.

Please click here to sign up for regular email updates and information about the cable installation.

Power Supply

There will be no disruption to your power supply throughout this work.


Work on Prestons Road

MarBel Prestons Road 11

The next phase of the project involves installing a new 66kV cable on Prestons Road. To do this essential work safely, Prestons Road between Marshland Road and Te Korari Street, will be temporarily reduced to one-way westbound from Monday 28 June for up to six weeks.

There will be traffic management and detours in place, and this will affect how you travel through the area.

Prestons Road detours

Travelling east and north

Travelling east and north 11.06.2021

Traffic travelling east along Prestons Road will need to detour along Marshland Road, Mairehau Road and Burwood Road to Prestons Road.

Traffic travelling north along Marshland Road will need to turn onto Mairehau Road and follow the same detour.

Travelling east and north key11.06

There will be delays at the Burwood Road roundabout, particularly at the morning and evening peak. We will have manual traffic control at the roundabout during these times to help keep traffic moving. However, expect delays at the roundabout, and leave plenty of time for your journey.

Travelling south

Travelling south1106.21Traffic travelling south on Marshland Road will need to detour onto Lower Styx Road and Te Korari Street to Prestons Road. The current one-way on Lower Styx Road will be reversed to enable the detour.

There will be no left turn east from Marshland Road to Prestons Road at the intersection.

Note, the work on Prestons Road will not start until Belfast Road is opened to two-way traffic.

We appreciate these detours will put pressure on residents travel in and out of the area, and we Travelling east and north key11.06apologise for this.  We will be working as quickly as we can to complete these essential works.

Earlier feedback

Earlier this year, residents let us know that the work on Prestons Road would affect their daily travel. We delayed this phase of the project to see if there were changes we could make. We investigated a range of alternatives, including a second access to Prestons Park from Mairehau Road, but unfortunately we were unable to make alternative arrangements.

In March, we did some more investigation work along Prestons Road to look at ground conditions and locate underground services. This has allowed us to shorten the work time on Prestons Road and will reduce the time that the detours will be in place.

We have also scheduled the work over the term two school holiday to try and reduce the impacts on daily travel. Our contractor, Isaac Construction will have extra crew on the ground, and will be working longer hours, to get these essential works done as quickly as possible.

Property access and parking

During the day, access to properties on the side of the road where we are working will be temporarily restricted while we trench past. We will place metal sheets over the trench, so you can access your property. The Isaac team will keep in contact with you so you can move your vehicles if needed.

There will be no street parking available on the side of the road where we are working. Please put your bins out as usual before 6am on your collection day. The Isaac team will move and return them if needed.

Update on other Traffic Management

As we are laying the new 66kV cable in the road we need to have traffic management in place to enable us to do our work safely. The following measures will be in place:

  • Marshland Road near the Prestons Road intersection. Two-way traffic will be maintained past the worksite. Lane capacity will be reduced for southbound traffic on Marshland Road.
  • Marshland Road near the intersection with Lower Styx Road and Hawkins Road and Belfast Road. The traffic management in this area is for the intersection upgrade and Marshland Road bridge widening. We are working with the contractor here to install the 66kV cable.
  • Belfast Road. Once we have completed the works on Belfast Road it will be opened to two-way traffic. There will be temporary traffic lights in place around the joint bay on Belfast Road while we work in this small area. We may also use traffic lights when working on other small areas on Belfast Road.
  • When Belfast Road is opened to two-way traffic, Guthries Road will be fully opened.
  • Blakes Road will remain closed, between Belfast Road and Silver Fern Farms until July.

We understand the traffic management may be inconvenient for you and we thank you for your patience while we do these essential works.

Cable Drum

Interesting stuff

Cable installation

The 66kv cable install involves three cables in each trench. Each cable is 100mm in diameter and weighs 15.4kg per metre. There will be a total of three x 4.1kms of cable laid between the new substation on Blakes Road and the substation on Prestons Road.

The cable arrives to site on a large drum. The drums are loaded into position using a crane. You might see security people on site at night and on the weekend while the cable is being delivered and laid. This is to make sure the cable isn’t damaged.

Each of the cables takes about two hours to lay. 

Cables passing through ductsThe cable is pulled from the cable drum at one joint bay along the trench via a winch at the next joint bay.

The cable slowly moves across temporary rollers at the bottom of the trench and there are crew working in the trench to make sure the cable moves smoothly.

Where the cable moves through a duct, for example under the Marshland-Belfast Road intersection, the crew apply a lubricant to help it move smoothly.

Once the cable is laid, it is encased in thermal concrete for protection. Once both sections of cable are laid at a joint bay, the two sections are joined together.

We’re making good progress with the project. At the end of March, we laid our first cables down a section of Marshland Road outside approximately 448 – 518 Marshland Road (between Joint Bays 1 and 2).

MarBel Trenching 30

In mid-April, we laid cables along a section of Belfast Road from the intersection with Marshland Road to outside approximately 187 Belfast Road (between Joint Bays 3 and 4).

Our next planned cable lay is along Belfast Road (between Joints Bay 4 and 5) in mid-May.

Project Details

Work Notices
210611 Prestons Road Update
210422 Guthries Road Update
210618 Powering up Belfast FAQ

Past notices:
210413 Blakes Road Traffic Impact
210330 Belfast 66kV udpate
210330 Blakes Road Traffic Impact
210301 Prestons night work
210225 Belfast 66kv start Work Notice


  • Jan 2021 – early 2022
  • New Belfast Zone substation in Blakes Road
  • 4.1 kilometres of 66kV cable


  • Increased resilience
  • Increased capacity
  • Increased reliability of supply