While the rail system is shut to trains over the next few weeks, quite a lot of important works will be taking place. I’ll try to get out and about over my break to take some photos of what’s going on, but here’s a summary from Auckland Transport:

While most Aucklanders are enjoying their Christmas holidays, train stations and other parts of the rail network will be getting an upgrade.

Auckland Transport with partners KiwiRail and NZTA are making full use of the annual rail network closures to continue their extensive rail construction and maintenance programme.

Starting Boxing Day, the old Mountain Rd Bridge near Panmure Station will be demolished to make way for a new bridge as part of the AMETI Panmure transport project. This will allow for a new road next to the rail line, as well as allowing for electrification of the rail network. KiwiRail are currently carrying out preparatory ground work at two other overbridges; Morrin Rd and Orakei Rd ahead of building replacement bridges with enough clearance for electricity lines to run underneath.

Track enabling work at the proposed location for the new Parnell station is well underway including lowering and realigning the tracks over a 600m track section. Replacement bus services are in place to replace trains between Newmarket and Britomart.

Further back at Ellerslie, the $8 million station upgrade which includes relocating the Southern Line tracks to create space for an additional northbound motorway lane is progressing well. Already the old concrete ramp has been replaced with a set of stairs and a second passenger shelter has been added to the platform. When the seven month project is complete the station will have additional shelters and improved accessibility measures including new lifts for pedestrian access connecting to bridges over the motorway and train lines.

At the southern end at Papakura, the station is being upgraded to meet future patronage growth and modernise existing platform amenities. At the same time KiwiRail is undertaking a rearrangement of the tracks to provide a dedicated freight line through the station as well as optimising track and platform layouts ahead of the new electrified network.

Papakura is the southern extent of electrified railway and will provide integration for the continued diesel services south of Papakura to Pukekohe.

Auckland Transport Project Director for Rail Improvements Nick Seymour says: “The overall intention of the station upgrade programme is to improve the functionality of stations from both a passenger experience and a transport efficiency perspective.

“We have a lot to do in a short space of time and will be working around the clock in some locations. It is our intention to work as quickly and quietly as we can and return to normal services with minimal impact on surrounding businesses and communities.

“Although we understand there will be inconvenience for passengers the station enhancements will result in greater amenity and passenger comfort, with modern platform furniture, increased CCTV coverage, and improved access for mobility users.

“Working with both the NZTA and KiwiRail means a saving on time, money and minimum disruption to the roading and rail networks,” Mr Seymour says.

Auckland’s rail network is being upgraded to enable more frequent and reliable commuter services, and prepare for electrification in time for the delivery of Auckland’s new electric trains. Auckland trains will be out of action over the Christmas and New Year period with commencement of some southern services from the 4th Jan 2012. Full opening of the Auckland rail network is scheduled for the morning of 19th January 2012.

It seems that Parnell, Ellerslie, Panmure (for AMETI works) and Papakura will be the most interesting places to see the works that are happening. I also imagine that KiwiRail will be taking the opportunity of a closed network to also put up a lot more electrification masts and foundations.

I’m always amazed at how much work gets done in the short shutdown period. And I also give thanks to all the workers slogging away while we enjoy our holidays.

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  1. Have to say I was impressed with how they ran the replacement busses on the Western Line last week – seemed to work quite well as any train getting close to Grafton Station ended up with about 5 buses out the front to take everyone straight away.

  2. You forgot (or weren’t aware of) the third main between Wiri and Homai.

    I’d like to see due consideration given to running express rail buses Britomart-Otahuhu then all stops from there and run all stops from Britomart to Otahuhu with a connection at Otahuhu.

    The railbus trip stopping all stations is too long.

    Britomart-Manurewa by train is 40 minutes, by railbus it is 73 minutes. That is unacceptable.

  3. Okay, is it just me, or does any one else see the great irony of shifting the train station over to make way for more road… Surely we should be encouraging taking public transport instead?

    1. And from Wednesday the trains are back although at a limited capacity
      Western Line: Newmarket-Henderson/Swanson/Waitakere

      Rail buses everywhere else still.

      Might take a nosy around over the week and check out what they have done so far as I see Ellersile is basically done with the platform and track moved, now just waiting on the connection enchancements (the lifts) to be completed.

      And if I had one word of advice this would be it:
      If you are travelling by train tomorrow, extra patience would be needed and I would allow upwards of double the travel time (from normal) to get to your destination tomorrow.

      Hopefully it won’t happen but we might have some teething issues as the new signals and points are brought up, the DMUs might be needing a jump start after sitting idle over the Christmas/New Years, the rails need to be de-rusted and there might be some speed restrictions in place, and as we all know and hate – getting a bus and train to line up at the same stop is something out of Mission Impossible Ghost Recon so you can figure out that one there.

      But for now its time to work out what is for dinner tonight while the rail buses are running around

  4. Trying to be patient with the rail bus replacements but it’s rather difficult after situations like tonight. Was at Britomart for the 5.10pm eastern service and none of the buses were labelled so nobody had a clue which one was which and half the time the staff didn’t either. Between the bus arriving and the short time for me to find it the bus was completely full. The next bus finally arrived and then sat at Britomart completely full for 10mins before leaving. That bus broke down in the middle of St Heliers/GI and they tried to transfer everyone to the bus behind which was already full. Replacement had to come in from Wiri. Luckily I could get picked up, others were organising taxis or just walking. Obviously breakdowns can’t be avoided but could they not learn from last year and ensure that the buses can meet passenger numbers and consistently be labelled as to where they are going?

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