INDEPENDENT NEWS

Eastern Line Closure To Accelerate Track Repair Works

Published: Thu 20 Aug 2020 12:08 PM
The Eastern Line between Quay Park (Parnell) and Westfield will be closed for two weeks from Monday August 24 to enable KiwiRail to continue its urgent work to repair and replace worn track across the Auckland metro network.
"We recognise this will be frustrating for rail passengers, and apologise for the disruption, however these necessary works will ultimately mean a better rail network to support the services people rely on," says KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller.
Track speeds have been lowered to 40 kph across the Auckland metro network after testing indicated wear on the tracks is more widespread, with repair work required more urgently, than previously understood.
"We are accelerating our work programme to repair and replace the 100 kilometres of rail across the wider network.
"Closing the track for an extended period like this minimises overall disruption to commuters and corridor neighbours, as it allows far greater productivity for our teams.
"Work done across a 14-day closure would take more than 100 days if done only piecemeal at night and over weekends, as we are doing currently. While this stoppage will enable us to make significant progress, there will be further work required before we can return this section to full line speed.
"We are currently working with AT to develop the programme, both for completing the necessary work on the Eastern Line and carrying out the work across the rest of the network. That is likely to involve further stoppages similar to this one.
"The right access to the track will allow us to substantially complete the work in about six months, and in a way that enables a progressive return to normal line speeds.
"Agreeing that programme will also allow us and AT to provide advance notice to the public and commuters about which areas of the network we'll be working on next.
"We have the necessary rail to do the job and will use about 200 people, a mix of KiwiRail staff and contractors."
The work was anticipated - though was originally planned over a longer timeframe - and is part of the $1billion programme to modernise the Auckland metro network and prepare it for the growth that will come with the City Rail Link.
While the work progresses, we will continue to investigate the cause of the rapid degradation in the rails in Auckland, which KiwiRail is not seeing elsewhere on its network.
Specialist rail grinding equipment, which will be used to remediate some of the rail, will arrive from Australia shortly.
Auckland Transport recognises that the track renewal and upgrade works need to progress.
"This work will permit a return to higher speeds and shorter travel times for our train customers compared to the current reduced 40kph speeds as quickly as possible," says Mark Lambert, AT executive general manager Integrated Networks.
"The extent of the closure is disappointing and impact on customers during these works is acknowledged.
"I can relate to this as a user of the Eastern Line, however, progressing with the works now and with urgency will create the least disruption overall."
AT will be providing information for customers and we will be putting in place bus replacements for the period of works. This information will be on the Auckland Transport website and shared through AT social channels and the AT Mobile app.

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