Work to change part of Auckland's railway system finished last week, as KiwiRail prepares the city's network for the $3.4 billion City Rail Link due for completion in 2024.

Construction work was done around the Strand railway yard in Parnell in a project which started part-way through last year but was finished in the off-peak late December/early January period.

A new track cross-over point was developed to allow trains to more easily get to the Strand station and track realignment and modifications to overhead line and signalling equipment was carried out, giving the Auckland-Wellington Northern Explorer train and empty electric multiple units better access to the station.

"KiwiRail is involved in the first CRL project to be completed. We are improving access to The Strand stabling yard in Parnell. This is the area where morning peak service trains which terminate in the city are 'stabled' before they come back into service for the evening peak," KiwiRail said.

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Due to two tight curves on the Newmarket branch line, access to that stabling yard was only possible from the south by northbound trains using track that southbound trains would usually travel on.

Improving access to the yard has eliminated the need for time-wasting manoeuvres and will free up the network for more services once the CRL is finished, KiwiRail said.

The holiday period works were completed last Monday to enable more trains to run more frequently on the city's rail network.

Read more: Aotea Station, City Rail Link

The former Strand train station was re-opened in 2011 to be a stabling yard for Auckland Transport's electric multiple uni trains, as a platform for KiwiRail's Northern Explorer and to act as an emergency back-up station to Britomart if needed.

Read more: City Rail Link bill still up in the air, Auckland mayor Phil Goff says construction sector facing 'cost pressures'

The work, which took five months, had to be carried out in off-peak periods so train timetables were not interrupted.

CRL break-through last month. Photo/Supplied
CRL break-through last month. Photo/Supplied

Meanwhile, the CRL project celebrated a milestone on December 6, with the breakthrough from the Albert St tunnels to CRL tunnels across the Commercial Bay site beneath the former Downtown shopping centre on the waterfront.

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The tunnel breakthrough was a gradual process between November and December with a staged approach to excavation, construction of shotcrete support between piles and demolition of temporary concrete piles separating the two sites, according to Auckland Council information.

"The tunnels between the two sites meet under the Customs St traffic deck, which was built in 2017 to keep traffic moving while the work is carried out underneath," it said.

Early this year, the tunnels from the former Chief Post Office or Britomart site will also connect to tunnels across the Commercial Bay site, providing one complete tunnel section running all the way from Britomart, up Albert St through to the Wyndham St intersection.