Ontrack speeds up to get spectators to Big Day Out

By Phoebe Falconer

It's not often that entertainment dictates the pace of Government activity.

But rail agency Ontrack has orchestrated its rail maintenance programme so that the southern line will reopen in time to ferry spectators to the Big Day Out concert at Mt Smart Stadium tomorrow - three days before the original date set for completion.

Up to three special trains an hour will run to Penrose Station from Britomart on Friday, and limited services will be in place from Papakura.

From Monday, tracks will reopen to scheduled services from Britomart to Otahuhu on the southern line and to Waitakere at the end of the western line.

In all, about 5km of track has been lifted and replaced.

Ontrack closed its entire Auckland urban rail network north of Panmure on Boxing Day, to allow 600 workers to forge ahead on seven projects - including new stations at Newmarket, Park Rd near Auckland City Hospital, Avondale and New Lynn.

The work at Avondale has been a major part of the western line rehabilitation. Almost 25,000cu m of earth has been removed to reduce the gradient around a difficult bend in the rail corridor, and to improve clearance under the Blockhouse Bay Rd bridge.

Plans for the new Avondale rail station have not yet been finalised.

Until it is built, rail passengers will use temporary platforms on each side of the duplicate tracks between Trent and Tait Sts, on the opposite side of Blockhouse Bay Rd from the old station.

The works are part of Project DART, a $600 million refurbishment of the city's network. The project includes redevelopment of Newmarket station and junction, Western Line duplication and associated station improvements, improved linking of Manukau City to the rail network, Eden Park upgrade, Quay Park Junction improvements, and improved signalling to allow for increased rail traffic.

* 5km track lifted, 7km new track laid
* 600 people working in shifts around the clock
* 50 excavators, 100 trucks
* 8000 sleepers laid
* 9 cranes at New Lynn

- NZ Herald

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