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.

Bridge Screens

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.

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  1. Oh please be the last Christmas shutdown. I’ve got lots of stuff I wanted to use the network for this summer.

    Looking forward to next year and the arrival of the first electric train.

    I also hope at some stage AT can look at phasing for Newmarket, effectively a connecting station now, so that western line trains aren’t pulling out as I arrive on my southern line train and I wait another twenty minutes for the next one.

  2. this one should be the last.

    I’ll believe it when next January ends, but I certainly hope so. Having the entire network effectively shut for close to 10% of the year hurts those who would otherwise rely on the system, and prevents the continuity needed for real sustained growth. If you can’t rely on a mode of transport, you’re much less likely to use it consistently.

    1. I agree, though I think it’s better to do it this way than have the project drag out for twice as long by trying to keep the network open the whole year long.

      Interesting to look at what overseas cities manage though – I know that Paris has converted some of its lines to driverless while keeping them live the whole time. Madrid completely reconstructed complex signalling systems while keeping the system live across all normal hours.

      I think that perhaps if we tried harder we could make the closures much shorter – as per overseas cities where extensive closures just aren’t an option typically – but as per usual in Auckland there’s a bit of a “well the only people who matter are the peak time commuters” attitude as well as a “hardly anyone catches the trains so who cares” attitude as well.

  3. Puhinui station is supposed to be upgraded in the first half of next year, is there in indication that Te Mahia and Takanini stations will have upgrades
    before the electric trains?

    1. The opposite, I should think. Electrification works have halted at Greenlane and apparently at Mt Albert while those station upgrades take place, but the wires are up alongside Takanini already. Indications are also that Te Mahia will be closed.

  4. I had hoped from my limited observation that greater than 60% of the electrification was completed. With 40% left to do I guess that will likely mean network closures every second weekend for next year as well.
    I know the outcome will be improved service but as a train user, this is tough going. No wonder pax numbers are down. No continuity of service.

  5. Seeing it’s the end of the year and the Herald has been wheeling out best of lists, will this blog be having one? Would be interesting to see thoughts on best transport or urban design initiatives locally or globally in the year.

    1. I’m working on a bit of a recap of the year for sometime next week. Hadn’t been planning on a list of the best initiatives though, perhaps one of my fellow bloggers can have a look at that 😉

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