22 April 2020
KiwiRail is taking advantage of lower commuter numbers on the Auckland network, with a significant track maintenance programme underway on the Eastern line.
The change in commuter patterns due to COVID-19 has given KiwiRail the chance to lay more than four kilometres of new rail on the heavily used line, says Chief Operating Officer Todd Moyle.
“We are able to use this time to carry out a great deal of work in a short timeframe. Normally this work would need to be completed during weekends across several months.
“We’ve worked closely with Auckland Transport to arrange for this work to be done now so there will be a more reliable network for commuters once COVID-19 levels fall and businesses reopen.
“From Saturday 18 April through to Monday 27 April, our teams are working on the Eastern line to get the track in optimum condition, including replacing sections of worn rail between Glen Innes and Sylvia Park.
“The Eastern line is important for both the city’s commuters and Ports of Auckland’s rail freight which heads out to the rest of the country along this route.
“We’ve been able to master safe working practices for the team on the ground, who are specialised at this kind of work which corrects ongoing wear and tear to the track.
“Our track workers will be geared up with personal protective gear and construction activities will take place under strict physical distancing measures.
“We’re doing this work now, while we have the opportunity, to avoid future disruptions to commuters and to ensure they get a great service once they return to work.”
While the trackwork is being carried out, freight services for Ports of Auckland are running via Newmarket during the day. Night freight services continue to operate along the Eastern line. Commuter services are being replaced with buses.
The majority of work on the busy Auckland commuter network is usually done at weekends or overnight, to minimise disruption to commuters.