Parnell Train Tunnel Gets New Drainage System


Rail workers are working 24 hour shifts until Jan 17 as they continue to prepare the Parnell tunnel for electrification.

They are lowering the tracks inside the tunnel and approaching it.

The last few days, they have been excavating inside the tunnel and waterblasting the concrete surfaces.

They have also been digging trenches and channels inside the tunnel for a new drainage system and forming a channel for water to run alongside the walls of the tunnel.

Over the next few days, the drainage will be installed followed by the base for the trains to run on.

Parnell Tunnel work | Thanks to KiwiRail




  1. Chris says:

    There seems to be two tunnel mouths in the picture - is one unused?

  2. Matt L says:

    The one on the right is the original tunnel that is no longer used. It was bricked up at each end until around November when they were getting ready for this work to be done. It is also a single tunnel compared the tunnel on the left which is big enough for two tracks (although the angle of pic makes it look a like it can only fit 1)

    I have always wondered if the old one could be reused again for something

  3. Brent C says:

    I’m sure if John Key found out, it would be a cycleway!

  4. Linz says:

    Some interesting history with these tunnels. The smaller one was the first in the North Island and opened in 1873 with the Auckland-Onehunga line (6 years after the Lyttleton tunnel).

    The line south was duplicated in 1915 and the old tunnel has been redundant ever since (but was used in 1998-2000 to house the temporary high-voltage power lines which were hastily built after the great CBD blackout).

    It has been suggested at one point that it could form part of a walking track connecting Newmarket Park with the Domain (and Brent I think it would link in nicely to a cycleway running alongside the rail corridor).

    From 1873 until 1930 (when the eastern line was built) this was the main entry/exit to Auckland. Long before the motorway was built or even the roads sealed, most people arrived via this stretch of railway. Until 1909 when the main trunk line was completed passengers for Wellington started their journey along here, through the tunnel (and past my house!) to Onehunga, then by sea to New Plymouth followed by train to Wellington. In my moments of nostalgic whimsy I reflect on the many famous people who must have gazed from their carriage windows along here - every prime minister from 1873 to 1930; royal visitors such as the future Edward VIII off to Rotorua in 1920; soldiers heading off to WWI (50% of whom became casualties).

    Great to see the upgrade happening so that it will once again be a main entry point into Auckland.

  5. Jon C says:

    @Linz, great history. Thanks for digging that out and sharing it.

  6. Ian says:

    Many old photos show trains in action on the new double main line and along side it the old line still in place. I think the old line was used as a sort of shunt line to Auckland from Newmarket for some time after the new tunnel opened. I’m pretty sure there is a reference to that in a book written by an old driver. The old tunnel was open until the 1980′s (sans line of course) when it was closed up because of some sort of criminal activity being carried on there. It was spooky to walk through unlike the larger tunnel. I was caught once in the “new” tunnel by train 73(?) a heavy Whangarei bound goods. With a DA at the head and two DB’s pushing in the rear, the din was terrific as they heaved the train up the grade to Newmarket. Plenty of room to keep out of its way though.

  7. Chris says:

    Thanks for the answer to my question. FWIW the original tunnel has an additional feature of being built to handle standard gauge (4ft8.5in) as the Auckland railway started out being built to this specification until Vogels Public Works Act settled on 3ft6 for the whole country

  8. Jon C says:

    @Ian , Great stories. What sort of criminal activity was going on?!

  9. Andrew says:

    … and are those lights now in the current tunnel? Do you think they’ll be permanent, similar to the Britomart tunnel?

  10. Ian says:

    Would it be possible to make use of the tunnel so that we could have a 3rd line from Newmarket to Britomart? Or it is too small?

  11. Matt L says:

    Probably to small but it could always be enlarged in the future if it is needed. There are a lot of other things that would be more useful first I would think.

  12. Ian says:

    I think stolen property was being stored in the old tunnel. I should point out that I was pretty young when I along with friends used the tunnel as part of the trek to Auckland and trains were less frequent than they are now.

  13. rtc says:

    Definitely worth keeping it available for future use if a 3rd line is ever needed though.


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