Final push for rail replacement on Southern line

11 February, 2021

Trains will not run on Saturdays and Sundays between Papakura and Pukekohe through to the end of March as KiwiRail finishes work to repair worn rail on the Southern line.

The Pukekohe line is the final section of the Auckland rail network that requires re-railing since KiwiRail began urgent work on the tracks last August, says KiwiRail’s Chief Operating Officer Todd Moyle.

“We know train users on this line typically travel longer distances so we have planned our work for weekends and evenings to avoid interrupting their weekday travel plans.

“To maximise productivity for KiwiRail teams working on the line, freight trains will also not run on weekends during the day.

“We appreciate any disruption to travel plans is frustrating and want to assure the public that hundreds of KiwiRail staff have carried out an immense amount of work, carrying out repairs around the clock in order to get the job done as quickly as possible.

“This week trains returned to the Eastern line after a two-week closure while worn rail track and sleepers were replaced. This temporary closure was the last of the weekday track closures we have introduced since last August to undertake work on worn rail.”

From this week, current planned rail replacement work between Swanson and Papakura has been finished, meaning trains can return to their 10-minute frequencies during peak across the entire Auckland network. KiwiRail teams are working at night to destress the new rail and to carry out other finishing work to avoid impacting daytime services.

“So far we have replaced more than 112km of damaged rail which is 84 per cent of the required re-railing work overall. At the same time, we’ve replaced close to 20,500 sleepers and destressed 95km of rail track.

“We fully appreciate the disruption this has caused Aucklanders and thank them for their patience as we carried out this urgent work.

“We’re continuing to work with Auckland Transport to investigate the cause of the Rolling Contact Fatigue which damages the rails, as well as the best long-term maintenance solution so future asset management issues like this aren’t repeated.

“A number of improvements to rail in south Auckland are in the pipeline, and work is already underway to prepare for the extension of electrification from Papakura to Pukehoke.”

New overhead masts will be built along 19km of track between Papakura and Pukekohe to power electric trains for passengers, and Pukekohe station will be redeveloped to allow for more services and longer trains.

Enabling works began late last year and are on-going, including the construction of access tracks and ground investigations.

Trains will not run between Papakura and Pukekohe on weekends from Saturday 13 February to Sunday 28 March, with Auckland Transport running rail replacement buses. Buses will also replace trains on this line from 9pm weeknights.

For the latest information on closures and rail replacement buses visit AT.govt.nz/railclosures

For more information about KiwiRail’s track repair work visit www.kiwirail.co.nz/what-we-do/projects/amp/upcoming-work/