The NZ Herald reports that the rail upgrade work taking place over the next couple of weeks – which will involve significant improvements to big chunks of the network in preparation for electrification – has swung into action:
About 200 rail workers threw themselves into a hectic summer construction programme throughout Auckland yesterday, including erecting the first of 3500 power supply masts for the $1 billion electrification project.
Several masts were erected through the Newmarket railway junction and above a new platform being built at the Baldwin Avenue station on the western line, as work began elsewhere around the region demolishing bridges and lowering tracks to create enough head-room for electrification.
I went to the cricket match at Eden Park yesterday and there were a number of KiwiRail staff around Morningside Station doing upgrade works.
Although five bridges are being replaced between Papatoetoe and Papakura and the 800m Purewa railway tunnel is being lowered this summer, Mr French he said the premier job of the season was probably the re-signalling around Quay Park.
That is needed to ensure trial runs of “bi-directional” Rugby World Cup rail operations can take place early in the New Year, in which trains will run in the same direction on both sets of tracks from Kingsland Station.
The first such trial is due on February 19 for a rugby clash between the Auckland Blues and Canterbury Crusaders at the opening of the Super 15 season at Eden Park.
I would agree that the signalling work at Quay Park is the most interesting and useful part of the upgrade works that will happen over this break. Not only will it allow bi-directional running of trains for one-off events like matches at Eden Park, it will also enable Britomart to handle a few more trains at peak times. That should it won’t be too long before we can have 10 minute peak frequencies on the Western Line.
I’ll try to get out and about – particularly around Baldwin Ave station – over the next week and a bit to take some photos of what’s happening.