Major rail projects are completing extra works while Australia and New Zealand are under lockdown measures.
In Sydney, a number of projects are taking advantage of lower commuter numbers and relaxed regulations around work hours to progress ahead of schedule.
In Parramatta, work on the light rail project is running seven days a week after the NSW government introduced changes to legislation to expand standard construction hours on weekends and public holidays. Works are being conducted from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 6pm on Church St, and from 7am to 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.
According to a Transport for NSW (TfNSW) spokesperson, all works are being done to minimise the impact on the local community.
“All reasonable measures to reduce noise impacts will continue to be implemented, including using the quietest equipment possible, placing machinery and vehicles as far away from properties as possible, conducting high noise generating activities during weekdays where possible, and implementing respite periods as required.”
In Parramatta, disruption is being minimised by scheduling utility works in non-peak periods, using sound blankets, directing lighting towers, and turning off equipment when not in use.
With the Sydney CBD experiencing extremely low traffic volumes during the lockdown period, work on the Sydney Metro City & Southwest has been able to increase. Lane closures previously only possible on weekends have been implemented on weekdays and extended work hours are in place at Central Station.
In Chullora, the construction of the new Digital Systems facility has extended hours over one weekend and will use extra hours where necessary.
Elsewhere in NSW work hours on the New Intercity Fleet maintenance facility have been extended to 7am to 6pm, seven days a week. Extended working hours are also being looked at for station accessibility upgrades at Fairy Meadow, Mittagong, Hawkesbury River, Wyee, and Waratah.
“All community members and stakeholders are thanked for their patience as work continues on important transport infrastructure across NSW,” said the TfNSW spokesperson.
Across the Tasman, KiwiRail has been conducting a significant maintenance program on the Auckland network. Lower commuter numbers during lockdown have allowed KiwiRail to lay over four kilometres of new rail on the Eastern line, said KiwiRail chief operating officer, Todd Moyle.
“We are able to use this time to carry out a great deal of work in a short timeframe. Normally this work would need to be completed during weekends across several months.”
Works will continue until Monday, April 27 and include replacement of worn rail between Glen Innes and Sylvia Park. The Eastern line not only serves commuters but freight rail services from the Port of Auckland.
“We’ve worked closely with Auckland Transport to arrange for this work to be done now so there will be a more reliable network for commuters once COVID-19 levels fall and businesses reopen,” said Moyle.
The slowdown in traffic on the commuter network allows a rare opportunity for continuous track work that would normally be done at weekends or overnight to minimise disruption.
“We’re doing this work now, while we have the opportunity, to avoid future disruptions to commuters and to ensure they get a great service once they return to work,” said Moyle.
Physical distancing measures are in place at all work sites.
Daytime freight services are being rerouted via Newmarket while commuter services are replaced by buses.