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Rail passengers soon to benefit on Western Line

Rail passengers will soon benefit from the first stage of double tracking of the Western line

Service reliability is expected to improve as a result of government approval for a proposal developed by Tranz Rail and the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) for the first stage of double tracking the western railway line in Auckland.

The work will upgrade existing track to provide continuous double tracking between Mt Eden and Avondale and enable increased train frequency and service on that section. New platforms and improved passenger facilities at Kingsland Station are included in the project.

The Government owns the rail network and has given Tranz Rail and the ARC the go-ahead to begin preliminary work required for the project, and to submit a funding application to Infrastructure Auckland.

Paul Ashton, manager of Tranz Metro Auckland, says the proposal was developed by Tranz Rail engineering staff and ARC officers in order to give the most significant service improvements to suburban rail services on the Western line in the shortest possible time.

“At present there is lengthy stretch of single track creating a bottleneck which makes it impossible for us to run more frequent services on that line,” he says. “Once this work is completed, we will be able to increase the frequency and reliability of services between New Lynn and the city. In particular it will help us solve the delay problems we face during the morning peak on that section of the track.”

Gwen Bull, Auckland Regional Council Chairperson, says the decision is welcomed.

“We are delighted by the government’s decision. It signals a pragmatic, staged approach to significantly improving rail services in the west. While we are committed to full double tracking of the Western rail corridor, this decision allows the Auckland Regional Council and Tranz Rail to get the first stage underway.”

Catherine Harland, Passenger Transport Committee Chair says the work is a long overdue step in the rail service upgrade.

“Aucklanders have debated double-tracking of the western line for decades. With government behind the proposal, the talk is about to turn into on-the-ground action. The work is not a silver bullet solution to all problems for the west’s rail, but it is another step along the way, with improvements designed to meet customer demand and improve services. s services increase we We are also looking forward to obtaining more trains to fulfil growing demand.

“The next step is for a funding application to go to Infrastructure Auckland with a response expected in February,” she says.

Construction work is expected to begin on the project in the first part of 2004, and it is anticipated it will take 12 months to complete.

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