Church Street East Level Crossing Church Street East Level Crossing
We are making safety improvements to the Church Street East Level Crossing.
Project Location: Central Auckland
Project Status: Project design
Closure date: late 2024
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Auckland's rail network has seen sustained, significant growth over the past few years. This is a result of successful improvements to passenger services and supporting infrastructure, which has encouraged commuters to shift travel onto public transport. As Auckland's population continues to grow, we'll see further increases in people travelling by rail and a need for more train services.
We are working with our partners to upgrade the rail network and there are several projects underway:
- The City Rail Link (CRL), which is due to go live in 2024
- the Third Main Line on parts of the Southern Line (Wiri to Quay Park)
- electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe (P2P)
- KiwiRail's Rail Network Rebuild.
These improvements will significantly increase rail capacity and provide greater network resilience.
We're also developing an updated timetable for the opening of CRL. The updated timetable will improve the inbound frequency and capacity of services without increasing overall train movements at some level crossings. We can achieve this on the Western Line, but not on the Southern and Eastern Lines due to the limitations of new service patterns.
These service patterns mean train frequencies will increase by 100%, resulting in barrier arms at Church Street East being lowered for at least 45 minutes of each peak hour. There will be fewer opportunities for people to cross the railway, and therefore, a greater likelihood of unsafe crossing attempts and rail-related deaths.
Due to these safety risks, and to meet legal requirements set by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (the primary rail safety regulator), closure of the Church Street East level crossing is required.
Closing the level crossing
Closure of the Church Street East level crossing is planned for 2024, which is aligned with the current completion date of CRL and planned increase in rail frequencies. The closure time is subject to when CRL opens and therefore may change.
We have carefully considered all community feedback and the impact of the closure on local businesses. Using this feedback, we have identified a preferred option for mitigating the closure and are now working with our stakeholders to refine this option. This includes working with local businesses to determine the best time to implement our preferred option.
We will share updates regarding the preferred option soon.
Interim safety measures
During Stage 2 of KiwiRail's Rail Network Rebuild, AT will continue to run Eastern Line services via Newmarket during peak times to minimise disruption to our rail customers. This means there will be increased train frequencies past Church Street East from March 2023 to December 2023. As a result, we are implementing interim safety measures to the rail crossing to ensure safe operations during this period.
These measures include:
- improved signage on the approach to the level crossing
- trimming of trees to improve visibility of the rail crossing
- increased parking enforcement to reduce risks of unsafe vehicle movement near the level crossing caused by illegal parking.
These changes are intended to be short-term only, before full closure of the Church Street East level crossing in late 2024. We will make these improvements during March 2023 before Stage 2 of the Rail Network Rebuild begins.
We commissioned a Single Stage Business Case (SSBC) to:
- understand how the level crossing would perform following the current upgrades to the rail network
- determine the need for closure
- determine what improvements could be made to mitigate the closure and improve safety for everyone.
In the investigation phase of the SSBC, 3 options were considered. These included:
- make no changes to the level crossing
- close the crossing with no investment
- close the crossing with investment.
Investigations concluded that making no changes to the level crossing was not viable, as it would impede future rail operations once CRL opens.
Closing the crossing without investment would negatively impact the ability of local businesses to continue operations. It would also impact local walking and cycling routes linking Church Street East to Hugo Johnston Drive, which enables people to avoid the adjacent South Eastern Highway.
Therefore, the project team has opted to close the crossing with added investment that minimises negative impacts on local businesses and walking and cycling routes.
- September 2021 - Single Stage Business Case begins
- December 2021 - Engagement with stakeholders begins
- December 2022 - Preferred option identified
- March 2023 - Interim safety improvements
- Late 2024 - Full closure
Strategic need for the project
The Church Street East level crossing investigation aligns strongly with a number of AT and Government policies, such as:
- the Government Policy on Land Transport (GPS) 2021
- the draft Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP)
- AT's Statement of Intent.
These documents provide the strategy direction for this project and support it through:
- Supporting Auckland's Vision Zero programme, ensuring the transport system is safer by eliminating harm.
- Enabling interventions that improve safety by improving passenger safety and security.
- Ensuring our transport system contributes to liveable cities and towns by providing people with good travel options. This requires all parts of the transport system, including roads, rail, public transport, and walking and cycling routes to work together.
- Identifying investments in the rail system that will lead to delivering infrastructure and services, at the right time, to the right level, and at the best cost.
- Supporting the implementation of the City Rail Link opening.
If you have any questions or need further information related to this project, please contact us on (09) 355 3553 or email Projects@AT.govt.nz