The now annual Christmas rail shutdown has started for some parts of the network. The rail network closes fully for Christmas day and from Boxing day all lines will be closed as works are done to upgrade the network until Monday 7 January when parts will reopen. Crucially though, Britomart will stay closed while works are done in there and like last year when the line between Newmarket and Britomart was closed, passengers will be need to catch a bus for that final part of the journey.
Here is a bit of a summary of the works taking place around the network this Christmas:
- In Britomart, the new track arrangements will enable trains from both main lines to access all platforms, and run on either of the two tracks in and out of Britomart. This will enable much more flexible train movements in and out of the station, faster recovery from operating incidents, fewer delays as trains wait to get into the station and allow for further timetable improvements.
- The footbridge at Point Resolution in Parnell will be replaced.
- In Panmure work continues on the new Panmure Station and the old Ellerslie Panmure bridge will be demolished so that it can be rebuilt higher and wider to cater for electrification.
- At Otahuhu, major work is happening to re-arrange and upgrade the junction so that freight trains can enter and leave the Otahuhu rail yards at much faster speed and that should help to minimise delays for commuter services.
- At Papakura work continues on upgrading the station
- Between Papakura and Westfield, Kiwirail are expecting to finish stringing up the overhead wires. They are focusing on this section over the closure as it is the busiest in terms of normal train movements so the hardest to close. By the end of the shutdown they expect 60% of the network will have been wired up ready for our new electric trains.
- Out west at Mt Albert work is going on to upgrade the station. The old ramp from Carrington Rd has already been removed and works this shutdown will include getting all of the piling completed for the new pedestrian bridge
- Screens will be installed on bridges that cross over rail lines around the network to help prevent people from getting to the wires. More on this below.
- There will also be all sorts of other typical maintenance tasks carried out all around the network.
As mentioned above, screens are being installed across the network to help prevent people from getting close to the wires. Elsewhere in the country these are usually just a boring wire mesh but in Auckland, work has been done to make them more interesting and attractive. Here is what they look like.
For the various timetables and info, go here, are the key dates to remember are:
- Saturday 22 December to Monday 24 December 2012: Otahuhu to Pukekohe on Southern Line, Eastern and Manukau Lines closed with Bus Replacements.
- Monday 24 December: Reduced peak service on Southern / Eastern Lines.
- Tuesday 25 December 2012: No rail or rail bus replacement services.
- Wednesday 26 December 2012 to Sunday 6 January 2013: Full network closure. Bus Replacements operating across all lines.
- Monday 7 January to Sunday 20 January 2013: Eastern Line (Westfield to Britomart) and Newmarket Branch Line (Newmarket to Britomart) including Britomart closed with Bus Replacements.
I can’t remember the last time we didn’t have a Christmas shutdown however thankfully this one should be the last. In an internal staff newsletter Kiwirail describe this shutdown as the last big push. That is because my understanding is that they need to have everything ready for when our new trains arrive. I’m looking forward to a time when we don’t close our rail network for weeks on end every single year.