Views through carriage windows will be a little different for passengers on resumed Western Line services in Auckland, after an ambitious and successful program of holiday work at City Rail Link’s Mt Eden Station site.
Their trains will ride on 1.3 kilometres of new track through the busy site – a switch critical to connect the Western/North Auckland Line with CRL at a redeveloped Mt Eden Station.
According to Dale Burtenshaw, North Auckland Line Construction Manager for the Link Alliance, CRL’s main contractor, teams worked “flat stick, including double shifts, in some pretty sweaty summer temperatures over the holidays to complete a big step for the project”.
“Importantly, we’ve regained a lot of construction momentum lost to the COVID lockdowns and restrictions,” he said.
The country’s largest transport infrastructure project took advantage of KiwRail’s maintenance closure of the Western/North Auckland Line over Christmas/New Year – known as a Block of Line – to make the switch.
Trains, passenger and freight, running in both directions continue to use a temporary single line through Mt Eden.
The previous line has been removed for necessary construction in that corridor with trains now using the new one on the northern side of the redeveloped Mt Eden Station.
It is anticipated that both lines will return to dual track operations in mid-2023. The tight construction timetable work required close collaboration between Link Alliance, KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and rail specialist contractors Martinus and Siemens.
Completing a successful switch involved around 200 working on the tracks, signalling, installing electrified overhead lines and bonding and earthing them, and associated civil works.
“Exceptional teamwork produced an exceptional outcome towards an improved rail network for Aucklanders,” Burtenshaw said.
The Link Alliance acknowledged the support of its Mt Eden neighbours. “Their patience and understanding during some long hours of work certainly helped contribute to our success,” he said.
Other Mt Eden work included relocating safety hoardings, earthworks for new retaining walls and utilities, building a new haul road, and works to prepare for the second drive of CRL’s Tunnel Boring Machine, Dame Whina Cooper, later this year.
Further Block of Line closures at Mt Eden are planned for March and April to help deliver a CRL project that will allow Auckland to grow and prosper.