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Rail networks in Auckland and Wellington will benefit from faster approvals in a bill introduced to parliament in New Zealand.
The bill names 11 projects that will benefit, three of which are rail projects. The first is the upgrade to Britomart station in downtown Auckland which will enable City Rail Link to operate at full capacity once services begin.
The next project is the electrification of the Pukekohe line from Papakura and the construction of three rail platforms. Auckland Metro services will then be able to terminate at Pukekohe, decreasing emissions from transport and avoiding the need to change to diesel-hauled services.
The third project is a suite of small projects across the Wellington Metro network known as the Wellington Metro Upgrade programme. These projects include upgrading drainage and stations, new tracks and storage yards, as well as the creation and operation of a gravel extraction site. Once complete, the works will increase passenger and freight capacity between Masterton, Levin, and Wellington.
If passed, the projects will be assessed by Expert Consenting Panels, which will place appropriate conditions on the projects, allowing them to proceed.
“Accelerating these projects will create opportunities for more employment and a boost to local economies,” said Environment Minister David Parker.
The bill also includes the provision for KiwiRail to undertake repair, maintenance, and minor upgrade works on existing infrastructure within the rail corridor as a permitted activity. This would mean the state-owned enterprise would not need a resource consent.
The fast-track law will exist for a limited time and will self-repeal in two years.
Utility relocation works underway on CRL
Workers on Auckland’s City Rail Link are currently having to contend with what the project terms a “spiders’ web” of utility networks underneath city streets.
At the site of the upcoming Aotea station, a gas main threatened to disrupt construction works, said Link Alliance site engineer Abhi Amin.
“That pipe wasn’t in our scope – not buried below the service lane where we thought it would be. Its location was exactly where we didn’t want it to be – in the ceiling right in the way of our planned piling for a diaphragm wall to support the new station,” said Amin. “Shifting it quickly became a critical part of the construction programme.”
Parramatta Light Rail is progressing significant works in the Parramatta CBD. From 8pm, Thursday, April 9, until 5am, Monday April 27, the intersection of Phillip and Church streets will be closed to allow utility works.
The works involve replacing an existing water pipe with a concrete covered pipe. The work will allow for water service operation to continue during light rail construction and operation.
Works to be done at the intersection include excavation, isolating and draining the existing water main, covering the water main and reinstating the roadway.
Buses, cars, and pedestrians will be diverted around the construction site.
Other works on the Parramatta Light Rail project are also continuing, such as the change from heavy rail to light rail on the former Carlingford Line. The project is considered an essential service and is therefore progressing as scheduled.
Meanwhile, the project is encouraging locals and subcontractors to continue to support local eateries whose foot-traffic has been impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdowns.
Underground utility work plagued the construction of the Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail line, with Transport for NSW settling for $576 million with contractor Acciona due to extra costs involved in underground utility work. Although the Parramatta CBD is not as dense as the Sydney CBD, early work was done to identify utilities that are owned by 15 different providers and the program has used an underground 3D digital model to find where utilities are located.