16 November 2021
KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and City Rail Link are finalising plans for an unprecedented Christmas works programme to improve and upgrade the Auckland metro rail network.
While Aucklanders enjoy the summer holidays and patronage on the network is traditionally light, the network will temporarily close so that work on several projects can go ahead safely and efficiently between 26 December and 23 January. KiwiRail will have more than 1000 people working across the network and City Rail Link (CRL) will have 200 at its Mt Eden site.
“With the Government’s $1.5 billion investment in Auckland’s rail network, there is a massive programme underway to develop a world-class rail service for Aucklanders,” says KiwiRail Capital Projects and Asset Development Manager David Gordon.
“The Christmas shutdown allows us to get a huge amount of work done over a short period of time. Our projects would take years longer to complete without the ability to make big strides during intermittent shutdowns so we thank Aucklanders for their understanding.
“It will take a few years but, once complete, the network will allow a more frequent and more reliable train services for Auckland Transport’s passenger trains and greater capacity for freight trains.”
KiwiRail will focus its Christmas works on the project to bring electrification to the line between Papakura and Pukekohe, continue construction on the third main line through the busiest part of the network between Westfield and Wiri, replacing track in the complex entry to Britomart Station, and carrying out necessary track repairs across the metro area. Years of under-investment in the track infrastructure, while more and more services run through Auckland, means parts of the network are in urgent need of modernising.
All this work needs to be complete or well advanced before City Rail Link (CRL) opens.
The CRL project team will use the summer closure to accelerate work at the big and complex Mt Eden site where tunnelling operations are based. CRL is being connected to the North Auckland/Western Line and a new Mt Eden Station is under construction.
“It allows us to build construction momentum again after all of Covid’s disruptions,” says Francois Dudouit, Project Director for the Link Alliance delivering the main CRL contract. “Getting the job done as quickly and as safely as we can benefits wider Auckland, and, just as importantly, helps reduce disruption for our neighbours.”
To achieve the most work in the available time, the network will close to all passenger trains with buses replacing trains on all lines from 26 December to 16 January.
From 17 January to 23 January track work will continue at Britomart Station and at CRL’s Mt Eden site. Buses will replace trains on the Western Line, and between Newmarket and Britomart for other services. Eastern Line trains will use The Strand Station in Parnell during this time.
Auckland Transport would like to remind customers that scheduled buses may be quicker for some customers than the rail replacement services. Customers are encouraged to use the Journey Planner or AT Mobile app to find the most suitable alternative.
“Working on a network that operates 24/7, 365 days a year is a complex undertaking, which is why we try to do as much as possible during network closures,” says Mr Gordon.
“We plan works in a way that minimises overall disruption and we will give commuters and rail corridor neighbours notice of the changes that are likely to affect them.
“However, we know that some inconvenience and noise is inevitable, and we apologise in advance for that and thank Aucklanders for their patience.”
For more information about bus replacements, please see: AT.govt.nz/railclosures
For more information about Auckland rail improvement work over the Christmas shutdown: www.kiwirail.co.nz/akl