Fuseworks Media

Safety the priority as rail crossing removal progresses – Auckland Transport

AT is removing seven rail crossings around the rail network, as part of making the network safer ahead of City Rail Link (CRL).

Seven rail crossings are being closed in this first stage of the programme. The removals are needed to reduce the risk of death and serious injuries on the network, and are required to support approval by the rail safety regulator, New Zealand Transport Agency, to increase rail frequency after the City Rail Link opens.

AT’s GM Public Transport Infrastructure Development, Christian Messelyn, says with more trains intended to operate at high frequencies when CRL opens, safety is the organisation’s priority.

“The majority of level crossings in Auckland already have the highest possible safety mitigations available in New Zealand. These include automatic pedestrian gates, however an increasing number of pedestrian near-miss incidents have been recordedwith people mis-using these safety gates,” he says.

“We appreciate that removing these crossings will mean that our communities who use them frequently will need to use alternative routes, and we’ve been closely engaging with these communities since June 2023 to understand how alternative routes can be improved.

“In some areas that means installing better lighting, widening and improving footpaths, and installing new signage along these alternative walking routes. Inclusive access via the alternative routes following the closure of the level crossings will reduce the impact on users and provide broader active mode benefits,” he says.

Auckland Transport, supported by KiwiRail and NZTA Waka Kotahi, have introduced a level crossing removal programme across Auckland – to prepare the rail network for the future, and to ensure that we receive regulatory approval to increase our train services, we need to start this programme now.

“Work on the level crossings is necessary to support the testing and commissioning of CRL which will begin later this year, and the future timetables that we intend to operate. As the testing and commisioning programme progresses, our customers will see an increasing number of trains as we get closer to Day One,” says Mr Messelyn.

In addition to the removal of the level crossings, Auckland Transport will be completing improvements at other level crossings across Auckland ahead of CRL Day One.

“When CRL opens, in some places the train frequencies will increase significantly, which means crossing barrier arms and gates will be closed more regularly, and this can result in people getting frustrated and taking risks.

“Our focus is to keep people safe with alternative routes, understand how these will work for the communities that will use them, and ensure we maximise all the benefits of CRL when it opens by enabling more frequent services to operate.”

Two crossings, Corban Estate in Henderson and Tironui Station Rd East, Takaanini, closed in February 2024.

The current status of each crossing (further details below) is:

  • Two crossings, Corban Estate in Henderson and Tironui Station Rd East, Takaanini, closed in February 2024.
  • We are preparing to start work on improving the alternative route for Lloyd Avenue in Mount Albert, prior to removing the level crossing.
  • We are engaging further with the business association and local businesses on the final plans to improve the alternative route and the timing of a closure of the crossing at Kingdon Street in Newmarket.
  • We are continuing to assess the community feedback we have recieved for O’Neills Road in Swanson and Homai Station.

While these crossings have been identified for removal ahead of City Rail Link, it is envisaged that all rail crossings on the network will need to be removed progressively in the next 10-20 years or as funding allows.

AT is currently working through a business case and which will be available later this year. The need for funding has been discussed with Auckland Council and the government for a number of years, including through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project.

 

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