Auckland's Southern train line to close for weeks, just as Eastern line reopens

LAWRENCE SMITH/Stuff
Transport Minister, Phil Twyford, on possible causes of Auckland's worn tracks.

Auckland commuters will be swapping train carriages for bus seats as KiwiRail shuts down the Onehunga line and part of the Southern line for four weeks for repairs.

The move follows four weeks of the Eastern line between Ōtāhuhu and Britomart being closed for repairs. The Southern line between Newmarket and Penrose, and the Onehunga line, will close on September 21, the same day as the Eastern line opens.

Bus replacements will be operating along both routes for commuters to use while the tracks are out of action.

The Southern Line will close on Monday, while the Eastern Line re-opens after four weeks of work. (File photo)
Auckland Transport
The Southern Line will close on Monday, while the Eastern Line re-opens after four weeks of work. (File photo)

Testing on the Auckland rail network has revealed that more than 100km of tracks need to be repaired or replaced.

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KiwiRail chief operating officer Todd Moyle said the company acknowledges this will cause disruption for passengers, but its focus is to get the project completed as quickly as possible to minimise overall disruption.

“Our teams have been working around the clock on the Eastern line since mid-August and by the end of this week will have laid nearly 17km of new rail and more than 19,000 new sleepers.”

KiwiRail and Auckland Transport have come to an agreement that a rolling four-week line closure system across the network is the best way to complete work over the coming months, Moyle said.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said experts will try to figure out what caused the damage, which was worse than expected.
LAWRENCE SMITH/Stuff
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said experts will try to figure out what caused the damage, which was worse than expected.

It will move progressively along the Southern line over the next three months, then move to the Western line, he said.

The work on the Southern line is part of an expected $200 million dollar repair job.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said experts will look into the cause. It might be the specifications of the tracks or the wheels on some trains, he said.

“We have got expert advice being brought to bear to find out exactly how the situation happened, and how we prevent it from happening again.”

A report into the network found commuter rail patronage has grown by 13 per cent a year over the past 12 years, with more frequent services and additional freight traffic, but maintenance has been “reactive” and not kept up.

Stuff