Buses off today, all trains off over weekend

By Mathew Dearnaley

Buses will replace trains tomorrow and on Sunday during a closure of Auckland's railway system for work. Photo / Doug Sherring
Buses will replace trains tomorrow and on Sunday during a closure of Auckland's railway system for work. Photo / Doug Sherring

Auckland trains will stop running for the weekend - after carrying extra passengers today to cover for disruption to the region's main bus fleet.

Buses will replace trains tomorrow and on Sunday during a closure of Auckland's railway system for work on the $1 billion electrification project and station improvements.

But passengers on the 70 per cent of scheduled bus services provided by NZ Bus are being advised to make other travel arrangements between 11am and 4.30pm today because of a union stopwork meeting for about 900 drivers.

The company is giving priority to keeping all school bus services running, using management and other non-union staff, but says the timing of the union meeting over stalled pay talks means commuters may be late home from work.

Auckland Transport is encouraging those who live near railway stations to use trains, and says others could consider car-pooling, walking or cycling.

Drivers' negotiations have collapsed over a dispute about payments for extra days worked to cover for sick colleagues.

The company says its drivers are among the highest paid in Auckland, after a 3.3 per cent increase in February to $18.75c an hour, and its offer will lift that to $20 by April 2014.

But the unions say overtime rates for NZ Bus drivers are eclipsed by what it pays in Wellington, to Auckland mechanics and is lagging behind other bus companies.

KiwiRail is preparing for a busy weekend of work on Auckland's railway lines and at several stations, including Henderson, Newmarket and Papakura.

Auckland Transport is warning passengers of possible minor delays to train schedules next week "to allow for the weekend works to settle in".

- NZ Herald

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