Well at long last construction of the Manukau Rail Link has begun. This will be the first new stretch of railway to be built in Auckland in around 70 years (no wonder we’re so auto-dependent), and is a fairly short link between the existing Southern Line and Manukau City Centre. It will fix a bit of an annoying situation where the centre of South Auckland is completely cut off from the railway line that services much of the area – largely due to fairly silly thinking in the 1970s when Manukau City Council decided to build their council headquarters in the middle of a farm, miles from anywhere.
But anyway, today sees the start of work on this important rail link, that will hopefully result in the new Manukau City station becoming on the busier on Auckland’s railway network. This project has had a bit of a chequered history, and certainly what we’re getting (see image above) could be better. For a start, the train station should ideally be a few hundred metres further to the east – so it could be within easier walking distance of Rainbow’s End and the Westfield Shopping Centre. Secondly, it should have a link to the south – so that people can catch trains from Manurewa, Papakura and so forth to Manukau City. Hopefully the southern link will eventually happen. Furthermore, there are plans for a tertiary campus to be developed on part of Hayman Park – so that should be a pretty big patronage generator for the station and should also mean that it’s not quite so “in the middle of nowhere” as it current is.
But for now I guess I can’t be too grumpy, we are at least seeing some investment in the rail network (although the current government certainly cannot take any credit for this, as it’s been planned and funded for many years). It should be a pretty popular link and will hopefully lead to more people using the rail system (and therefore more pressure on government and local councils to further improve it).
Once again, the big question is “when will it be done?” Seems like by the end of next year:
Ontrack project manager Paul Crawford says the rail link is a real milestone for the network.”"This is the first new rail route to be built in Auckland in nearly 80 years. It’s also exciting because we’re extending the reach of the network into a community that hasn’t yet experienced the benefits of rail transport.”Mr Crawford says the main construction is scheduled to start in August and trains are expected start rolling by the end of 2010.
2010 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for Auckland’s railway system – with Newmarket station opening, the Onehunga Line opening, the New Lynn station project being finished off and now this. It should also be the year we see a lot of the electrification works take place.