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City Rail Link moves closer to connection

A major step towards connecting City Rail Link (CRL) to the existing rail network will be carried out this Matariki long weekend.

New CRL signalling systems will be integrated with those already in operation, allowing trains to operate seamlessly and safely between the new tunnels and the existing network.

The work will be carried out by KiwiRail and Link Alliance on behalf of City Rail Link Limited during a full rail network closure for the Matariki weekend (28 – 30 June). Other work during the closure includes electrification and Rail Network Rebuild work from Papakura to Pukekohe,  Middlemore station upgrades and the new western power feed.

KiwiRail chief infrastructure officer Andre Lovatt said CRL will be a game changer for how people travel across the city but the complexities and challenges of connecting new infrastructure with existing systems should not be underestimated.

“There will inevitably be integration complexities that result in disruption for passengers as we continue to carry out the huge scope of work to get ready for City Rail Link,” he said.

“We have designed this signalling system integration to minimise the risk of disruption to passengers in the morning peak following the Matariki network shut. This includes completing all the signalling data updates at the same time to reduce interface risks and reduce the likelihood that normal train operations at Waitematā (Britomart) will be disrupted, even if the CRL elements aren’t completed during the long weekend.”

CRL’s chief executive, Dr Sean Sweeney says that evidence from projects overseas tells us the testing and commissioning phase, which the CRL project has entered, is the most complicated phase of building a new railway.

“New Zealand has never built an underground metro railway before. Simply put, it is a case of not always knowing what we don’t know until we commission and test it,” he said.

“Before passengers can use City Rail Link, we need to carry out a huge programme of testing, commissioning and system integration in conjunction with our partners, KiwiRail and Auckland Transport. Not only do individual systems need to work as planned, but all the systems need to work together, as expected.”

Auckland Transport Director Public Transport and Active Modes Stacey van der Putten said rail replacement buses will be operating for those who need to travel during Matariki weekend while this vital piece of work is being completed.

“We are very aware our rail customers have experienced frequent disruptions lately, including recent industrial action,” she said. “We’re grateful for their ongoing patience and support while our partners work hard towards making rail easier, better connected and more reliable for Aucklanders.”