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.