Keeping Auckland's rail network running

Our teams work around the clock seven days a week making sure the track and other infrastructure are well maintained so train services can operate safely. And as services continue to increase, so will the amount of maintenance needed to keep trains running safely.

We are also currently delivering a programme of works to prepare the network for the additional services that will run on the network when the City Rail Link opens. This includes adding new track to ease congestion, extending electrification and building new stations; and delivering city-wide upgrades to modernise the underlying track infrastructure.

If you use the trains

We understand that any track closures or journey delays are frustrating. We are working to minimise overall disruption for passengers and for those who live and work alongside the rail corridor.

To keep our teams safe, much of our work must be done when no trains are running. We work closely with Auckland Transport to plan maintenance activities. We do our best to close the network at times when fewer people are travelling – eg, overnight, at weekends and public holidays. However, there are times when it makes more sense to close the track for an extended period, as it allows far greater productivity for KiwiRail's work teams and minimises the overall disruption.

To find out more about travel during track closures visit here.

Living by the rail line

If you live near the rail corridor you are likely to notice a lot more work being done on the rail network, particularly at night or over weekends.  

We do our best to work as quickly and quietly as possible, but some activities do create noise. We aim to give advance notice to neighbours when disruptive work is planned, such as times when we need to work through the night, or over several days.  

As maintenance and construction activities increase, KiwiRail is encouraging neighbours to:

Our work 

Our teams carry out several different types of work on the rail network:

  • Short notice maintenance activity
  • Planned maintenance works
  • Major track renewals
  • Network upgrades 

Short notice maintenance activity

These usually involves urgent track repairs and maintenance that have been noted through our regular routine inspections and need to be done immediately to ensure that trains continue to run safely. The work will usually take place at night, and there is not always time to advise nearby residents in advance. However, it is usually able to be completed within a short time frame.

Regular planned maintenance activities

These activities are usually planned in advance and happen regularly across the Auckland network and include:

  • Destressing – this stretches and tightens the rail to reduce track issues when rail heats and expands in summer
  • Rail repairs and welding – keeps the lengths of rail securely joined
  • Mud spots – cleaning up the foundation the rail and sleepers rest on
  • Drainage works to clear drains and culverts
  • Test trains and general track inspection works

Some of these activities require specialist machines and take place a few times a year. These include:

  • Rail grinding – changes the shape of the rail to reduce the stress on it as trains pass, and removes damaged rail
  • Tamping – lifts the ballast (the stones beneath the track that give support) and then compacts it beneath the sleeper
  • Ballast cleaning – a large machine scoops up the ballast, washes dirt out of it and replaces it beneath the sleepers 

Most of this work is not particularly noisy so we will only give advance notice in instances when it may be more disruptive than usual.

Major track renewals

Much of Auckland’s rail network was built around 100 years ago. While we have replaced rail and sleepers across the network in Auckland the base that they sit on (formation) has been untouched and there are sections where this has deteriorated. 

Repairing this is extremely challenging - the track has to be removed, existing formation dug out and new gravel brought into form a firm and resilient base. We’re also working to replace the older sleepers and worn rail across the network, and to clear and improve drainage.

This work cannot be done when trains are running, so we close sections of the network to do this work.  We plan our works carefully so we can complete each job as quickly and efficiently as possible, minimising overall disruption to rail users and corridor neighbours. This can mean working day and night for several days at a time.

As this can be disruptive, we will give residential neighbours advance warning of our activities.

This video shows the activities involved for major track upgrades. Find out more about this project here

Network upgrades

These are major projects to improve the rail network so it can support more frequent and reliable train services. These projects are usually delivered in a fixed location across several months or years.

Corridor neighbours will always be given advance notice of these works. Current projects being delivered by KiwiRail include:

Projects being delivered by other organisations include: