New Zealand state-owned enterprise KiwiRail has started track maintenance works amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

The work on the Eastern Line was undertaken due to reduced passenger traffic on the Auckland network.

Due to the lockdown, the passenger numbers have decreased significantly as passengers have been advised to avoid non-essential travel and follow social distancing.

KiwiRail has laid new rail spanning more than 4km on the heavily used line.

KiwiRail CEO Todd Moyle said: “We are able to use this time to carry out a great deal of work in a short timeframe. Normally, this work would need to be completed during weekends across several months.

“We’ve worked closely with Auckland Transport to arrange for this work to be done now so there will be a more reliable network for commuters once Covid-19 levels fall and businesses reopen.”

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The work on the Eastern Line will be carried out from 18 to 27 April. The team will work to bring the worn track to optimum levels and will also replace some sections of rail from Glen Innes to Sylvia Park.

Moyle added: “We’ve been able to master safe working practices for the team on the ground, who are specialised at this kind of work which corrects ongoing wear and tear to the track.

“Our track workers will be geared up with personal protective gear and construction activities will take place under strict physical distancing measures.

“We’re doing this work now, while we have the opportunity, to avoid future disruptions to commuters and to ensure they get a great service once they return to work.”

The cargo services for Ports of Auckland will operate via Newmarket in the mornings while the work is underway.

Cargo services in the night will run along the Eastern line and the passenger services are replaced by buses.

Most of the work is carried out during weekends or at night to reduce the disturbance to passengers who use the rail service.