More than 1,300 people will be out on the tracks in Auckland and Wellington over the Christmas break, making progress on rail improvement projects and undertaking essential maintenance.
The Auckland metro rail network will be closed to commuter trains from 26 December 2022 to 15 January 2023 and the Wellington network closed from 26 December to 3 January for KiwiRail’s annual network shutdowns.
KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer – Capital Projects David Gordon says the Christmas holiday period gives KiwiRail a dedicated period of time to progress major rail improvement projects and undertake essential routine maintenance that is needed to keep trains running.
“While everyone is on holiday it is the perfect opportunity to for us to get stuck in and upgrade both the Auckland and Wellington rail networks. In Auckland we’ll have around 1,100 staff and contractors out on the tracks, with a further 250 people working across the Wellington region.
“More than $1.5 billion is being invested to improve the Auckland rail network ahead of the City Rail Link beginning operations, and more than $600 million to support growing patronage on the Wellington network.
“The extended rail corridor access, without commuter trains running, allows us to get a huge amount of work done over a short period of time. It is a much more productive and efficient way of working, allowing us to progress projects more quickly and cost effectively than if we only worked during intermittent shutdowns over weekends. It also gives us a solid block of time to get more maintenance done, compared with working at nights or on weekends.
“While commuter services will not be running during the line closures, a range of rail vehicles will be out on the tracks in both cities and freight will still be moving in Auckland. It’s important that people be cautious when walking or driving up to level-crossings, obey the signs and signals and look both ways before crossing the tracks.”
In Auckland, work includes progressing three major NZ Upgrade Projects (Wiri to Quay Park/Third Main, Papakura – Pukekohe electrification, and Southern Stations) and track improvements near Ports of Auckland, off Tamaki Drive; KiwiRail and Link Alliance will continue track works at Waitematā (Britomart), Newmarket and Maungawhau/Mount Eden – to support the City Rail Link (CRL); and we will be making a start on Stage 1 of the Rail Network Rebuild. These are all large-scale rail projects, which have been going for around two years. Combined with CRL, these projects will deliver a much improved, more reliable railway for Aucklanders – with more frequent trains.
Over the Christmas break, teams in Auckland will also be carrying out general maintenance, such as replacing worn rail and sleepers. Track maintenance machines - tampers, ballast cleaners and rail grinders - will be operating across the wider network. While most of the work will be done during the day, some sites will continue into the night. Maintenance machines can also work day and night.
To keep New Zealand’s supply chain functioning, KiwiRail will continue running freight services into and out of Auckland. The Christmas works will have minimal impact on scheduled freight.
In Wellington, KiwiRail will be making the most of the nine-day period when no passenger and freight trains will be running on most of the network. Only the Johnsonville Line and the Kāpiti Line north of Paekakariki will remain open.
Work over Christmas includes commissioning new signalling on the Kāpiti Line between Porirua and Plimmerton, as part of a project which will allow more trains to turn around at Plimmerton Station. This project, which is expected to be completed in early 2024, is designed to build capacity and enable more train services on the Kāpiti Line.
During the holiday we will also continue installing visual monitoring equipment north of Plimmerton on the Kāpiti Line, which will allow speed restrictions to be lifted in some slip-prone areas; replacing the tracks and other improvements in two Kāpiti Line tunnels, to improve reliability; track and turnout replacement work on the Hutt Valley Line, north of Petone; and track work around Trentham Station.
KiwiRail is working with freight customers affected over the nine-day period by the Kāpiti Line closure.
Auckland Transport, in Auckland, and Metlink, in Wellington, will be replacing commuter trains with buses during the network closures. More information is available at: