North Island Third Line Update


KiwiRail says there are some difficult issues to resolve in improving the capacity of the North Island main line around Auckland with a third line.

In a letter to the Auckland Council Transport Committee following a recent committee discussion on the NIMT, KiwiRail’s Rick van Barneveld, general manager of the network, says KiwiRail has commenced investigations into the provision of a third line out of Westfield heading south.

The work is looking initially at stage 1- the section from Otahuhu to Middlemore which will be completed as part of the DART project for which funding has been approved by the government.

The work is considered essential to achieving the Auckland Metro rail timetable and KiwiRail will contribute directly to the project to recognise compatible benefits to freight.

KiwiRail has initiated discussions with Auckland Transport to explore opportunities for working together to develop options in the corridor.

Trains at Westfield

But he says as far as the eastern section of the line from Westfield to the Auckland Port are concerned, there are “many difficult issues to resolve.”

These relate particularly to the causeway sections across Orakei Basin and Whakatakataka Bay and the Purewa tunnel.

“None of this infrastructure is currently sized to allow the construction of a third main line and this will be extremely expensive to resolve.

“Meanwhile our current work is being future proofed to allow for additional capacity.”




  1. George D says:

    Glad to hear the Otahuhu section is being finished. A lot of cross traffic, including during peak hours. Separating the two is absolutely necessary.

    As is providing a third line. But that will wait til everyone sorts things out and there’s money.

    They’ll have to third line Newmarket - Westfield eventually, and they would have been able to without difficulty had those awful apartments not been constructed.

  2. Max says:

    George D - not sure what you mean - the apartments at the Newmarket train station didn’t prevent three tracks there - we have them right now. Do you mean others further south towards Westfield?

    Also, I am not so sure that we need to look at tripling Southern Line anyway. The case for Otahuhu seems clear, as the Eastern Line rejoins there, and on the Eastern itself, we have Eastern Line plus the need for Ports traffic with quite different characteristics and lots of growth potential. So not sure why you think Westfield-Newmarket? For the airport rail?

  3. Feijoa says:

    What is the significance of Middlemore, ie. why does it end there? Is the new line to ‘merge’ trains in from Otahuhu, is it a pinch point because of timetable, or is it just the easiest part to build?

    Is there a date for completion of this part?

  4. Alphatron says:

    Feijoa- The issue with Middlemore is working out how to fit a third track through the station and hospital area.

  5. Paul in Sydney says:

    “Meanwhile our current work is being future proofed to allow for additional capacity.”

    I hope all those new bridges going in on the southern line are 3 track if not 4 compatible

    Where are they planning to put the track? I’m guessing the western side of the current lines. And also quessing it will be unelectrfied, diesel Halled passenger will be able to make use of it, Hamiton and overlander services

    Good to see they have plans in place, Sydney is going to great lengths and costs to separate it’s passenger and freight. The southern Sydney freight line is well under way and the northern is planned. Current freight movement is shut out during morning and afternoon peek

  6. Martin says:

    @ Paul In Sydney

    Hopefully this added capacity is electrified so that the most powerful locos in NZ, the Electrics currently based in Hamilton, will be able to run to Auckland in the not too distant future (Hopefully).

  7. Owen Thompson says:

    This article is obviously referring to Hobson Bay.


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