Work has started on Auckland’s first new rail route since the eastern line was built more than 70 years ago.
The $50 million Manukau rail link had a quiet start this week soon after Ontrack received the go-ahead to build the 1.8km of new track that will connect Davies Ave in Manukau city centre to the southern railway line at Wiri.
Ontrack is working with Manukau City Council and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority to create the new rapid transit link that will transform Hayman Park into a new transport interchange, business hub and education centre.
It’s responsible for the earthworks, track, signalling and future electrification; ARTA will contribute the bus, rail services and the new station; and the council is responsible for station access, a bus interchange and city centre enhancements, which include the newly announced Manukau Institute of Technology campus at Hayman Park.
Ontrack project manager Paul Crawford says the rail link is a real milestone for the network.
"This is the first new rail route to be built in Auckland in nearly 80 years. It’s also exciting because we’re extending the reach of the network into a community that hasn’t yet experienced the benefits of rail transport."
Mr Crawford says the main construction is scheduled to start in August and trains are expected start rolling by the end of 2010.
Manukau mayor Len Brown is pleased work’s begun sooner than expected.
"I am a very strong advocate of public transport and see the implementation of public transportation in our region as being crucial to the building of Auckland going forward.
"In the last three years we’ve seen a 300 to 400 percent increase in patronage on the southern rail line with a lot of scope for even further quantum shifts in numbers.
"It was great to announce with MIT last week that a tertiary campus is planned for the same site as the rail station."
MIT’s Hayman Park campus is expected to be ready for students at the start of the 2012 academic year.
"The campus and station will attract a lot more people to the city centre and help kickstart further investment," Mr Brown says.
Council transport manager Chris Freke says the rail infrastructure might eventually be extended to the eastern part of Manukau.
"It will be very significant for the Manukau community if the infrastructure is extended into Botany, Pakuranga and then back into Panmure in the future."
The Manukau station is expected to become one of the country’s busiest and will be a major transport hub for buses and trains.
"And for people to easily associate the road network with the station, the council has approved renaming the section of Wiri Station Rd between Great South Rd and Lambie Drive to Manukau Station Rd after all works have been completed."
The transport interchange will be convenient for people coming to the city centre and have space for at least eight bus bays, Mr Freke says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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