Auckland Christmas rail closure a chance to progress major upgrades

While people are enjoying their Christmas holidays, around 1,800 KiwiRail staff and contractors will be out on the tracks across Auckland, making progress on rail improvement projects and essential maintenance. 

 The Auckland passenger rail network will be closed from Boxing Day (26 December) to 14 January 2024 for the annual network shutdown. 

 The Western Line will be closed until 19 January. Waitematā Station (Britomart) will also be closed until 21 January while CRL teams undertake necessary track work.  

“We are working to lift the standard of the Auckland metro network. This will support more reliable services for Aucklanders, encourage more people to use the trains and get the network ready for the more frequent services that will come with the City Rail Link,” KiwiRail Chief Capital Planning and Asset Development Officer David Gordon says. 

 “These quieter Christmas holiday periods, when many people aren’t having to travel to and from work, are the perfect opportunity to for us to get stuck in and carry out project, slip repair and regular maintenance work that cannot be done as efficiently at night or over weekends.” 

 “This is one of our biggest Christmas closures ever – with around 1,800 people working at 89 different rail sites across the city.” 

Mr Gordon says this holiday will see a focus on the Western Line – including slip repairs and carrying out the most invasive part of the Rail Network Rebuild (RNR).  

“As part of RNR between Newmarket and New Lynn, we will be lifting away the tracks and sleepers and digging a metre below ground level to remove and replace the compacted rock foundations under the tracks. This work is crucial to removing speed restrictions currently in place on the line and enabling more reliable and frequent rail services.” 

 “This RNR work is very labour intensive and will require the Western Line to remain closed for a week longer than the rest of the network. There is a lot to do and much of the work will need to be done 24/7. However, doing this work now means we will be able to reduce disruption to passengers later, by enabling trains to run on one of the Western Line tracks as RNR work continues over the coming months.”   

Auckland Transport Director Public Transport and Active Modes Stacey van der Putten says it’s always important to make the most of quiet periods on the network for essential maintenance work.

“We’re asking our rail customers to bear with us over the summer break while KiwiRail crews get stuck in and carry out essential maintenance jobs across the Auckland rail network,” Ms van der Putten says.

“The work these teams carry out over summer will help to ensure that Auckland’s rail network is in good shape for 2024, which will be a big year for our rail network with the return of Eastern Line services in January.”

Work over the holiday break includes: 

  • Progressing enabling works for the new Third Main Line around Middlemore Station and signaling upgrades at Wiri, as a step towards making the whole Third Main operational.  
  • Commissioning the new overhead lines between Papakura and Pukekohe, as part of the project to extend electrification to Pukekohe. 
  • Replacing rails, sleepers and ballast (the rocks that sit around the tracks) at sites across Auckland as part of ongoing maintenance.  
  • City Rail Link teams are doing significant track and civil work at Waitematā Station, at Quay Park and some work at Newmarket. 
  • Slip repair work at a number of sites on the Western Line between New Lynn and Fruitvale. 
  • Doing major civil and drainage works on the inner part of the Western Line, as part of RNR Stage 3a. 
  • Completing RNR Stage 2 on the Eastern Line, which has been closed since March 2023. 

 With RNR Stage 2 completed, current closed stations on the Eastern Line will reopen and services resume on 15 January. Because Waitematā Station will remain closed for CRL works until 21 January, Eastern Line services will run between Manukau and The Strand (near the bottom of Parnell Rise) for that week. From 22 January services will resume travelling to Waitematā. 

 Over the Christmas network-wide closure Auckland Transport will run rail replacement bus services, including on the Western Line for the additional five-day closure. More information is available at: 

 Freight trains will not run in Auckland from Boxing Day, with services resuming on 5 January.