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Most Ambitious Rail Shutdown Almost Complete

Most commuter trains are due to resume running in Auckland from Monday following KiwiRail successfully delivering an unprecedented work programme across the city while the rail network has been temporarily closed.

Eleven out of 13 projects across many different worksites are expected to be completed by Sunday, before the rail network partially opens to passenger rail on Monday, 17 January.

“This has been the most ambitious temporary Christmas closure in the Auckland metro area that we’ve ever undertaken, with more than 155,000 hours of labour going into it so far” says KiwiRail Acting Chief Executive David Gordon.

“It is the single biggest mobilisation of resources for a temporary closure with 1100 people working day and night on the network to make it more resilient and reliable, and to advance some major infrastructure projects which are proceeding thanks to Government investment through the NZ Upgrade Programme.

“We haven’t finished yet but so far we’ve laid 17,000 m3 of ballast (the small stones that form the track bed), almost 4km of new formation (the bedrock which the track sits on), more than 5km of new rail track, and the installation of 16 complex track structures including turnouts, crossovers and scissors (these allow trains to move from one track to another).

Work has been carried out across 31 different sites in Auckland, and already some major milestones have been achieved. Freight trains are now reconnected from Northland on the Western Line. Link Alliance and KiwiRail have worked together to put in a new track from Kingsland to Grafton Station.

At Britomart Station, a concrete slab 75 metres long was poured and rail tracks were replaced at the entrance to the station.

“We have tight deadlines to get a large amount of work done safely in a short amount of time during these network closures and I would like to extend my sincere thanks to our staff and contractors who are giving up time during the summer holiday period to get the job done,” says Mr Gordon.

“Our thanks also extend to the people of Auckland – to commuters and to rail corridor neighbours – for their patience while we undergo this necessary work. This progresses a $1.5 billon suite of projects which will enable a world-class rail service for Auckland Transport’s passenger trains and greater capacity for freight trains.”

Progress was made on projects to extend electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe, continue construction on the third main line through the busiest part of the network between Westfield and Wiri, replacing track in the complex entry to Britomart Station, and carrying out necessary track repairs across the metro area.

The last two projects the Auckland teams are focusing on during this rail network shutdown are work on City Rail Link at Britomart and Mount Eden. These are due to be complete on 23 January.

Next week, from Monday 17 January to Sunday, 23 January, buses will replace trains on the Western Line, and between Newmarket and Britomart for other services. Eastern Line trains will use The Strand Station in Parnell during this time.

From Monday, Auckland Transport will have a new provider, AOR, which will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the passenger rail network.

“This will result in better accountability and responsiveness on the issues that matter most to our customers,” says Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison.

“It is a far more comprehensive agreement than previous contracts, which will enable better integration of all aspects of operations – from the rail investment in the City Rail Link, to the purchase of additional electric trains in the future.”

KiwiRail’s freight trains are already back up and running with the rail network due to open fully on 24 January.

While this temporary shutdown of the rail network is nearing completion, KiwiRail is already gearing up for the next one over Auckland Anniversary weekend 29 – 31 January. KiwiRail will be undertaking works at Westfield, Pukekohe and general upgrades on the northern line.

Major works on the rail network were also carried out in Wellington, Mount Maunganui and Northland over the Christmas and new year period. Upgrades and improvements were made to Plimmerton Station and the rail infrastructure on the Wellington network. In Northland, 2500 sleepers were laid and 1.75km of rail track in Kaiwaka, near Oneriri crossing as well as bridge strengthening work and general track maintenance in Mount Maunganui.

For more information about Auckland bus replacements, please see: AT.govt.nz/railclosures

For more information about Auckland rail improvement work over the Christmas shutdown: www.kiwirail.co.nz/akl

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