A new rail control centre in New Zealand’s largest city will bring rail operators together under one roof to improve passenger services in Auckland. 

The Auckland Rail Operations Centre was officially opened by Transport Minister Simeon Brown, but will begin operations on Saturday, 23 March. 

KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and Auckland One Rail will all manage operations from the central location in the city’s Ellerslie district. Auckland One Rail is the city’s metro rail operator. 

It is part of NZ$7bn ($4.2bn) investment in Auckland’s rail offer with the intention of growing the rail market uptake from 68% to 90%, increasing rail journeys taken from 12.5 million to 29 million passengers annually. 

“Within the next five years, our work on the network will enable 50% more passenger journeys,”  KiwiRail claimed. 

“KiwiRail is two-thirds of the way through a massive upgrade of the Auckland metro network, as we prepare it to safely handle the more frequent trains that will come when the City Rail Link opens. The Auckland Rail Operations Centre is an important part of that work. It is needed to successfully manage the greater operational complexity to come and ensure the smooth running of services,” explained KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy. 

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Reidy said the new rail control centre would link to the city’s other major public transport modes, its bus and ferry networks. 

“It will combine our train control and infrastructure planning teams, AoR’s stations’ control centre, train crewing and customer communications teams and AT’s transport coordinators, who link into Auckland’s bus and ferry services.”

It means all the right people will be able to work closely together and better manage any disruptions for the benefit of commuters,” he said. 

Auckland One Rail’s CEO Martin Kearney said the new centre was the industry’s “gold standard.” 

“It’s world-class and is the gold standard in terms of rail operations. It’s a major step forward in improving the systems and processes used to communicate with the public and with each other. We’re excited to be part of this kind of progress in Auckland as it will make a measurable difference in the long-term for our customers,” he expanded. 

Key to the new offices in one of the world’s seismic hotspots is the earthquake-resistant design and backup of other national services. 

According to KiwiRail, the Auckland Rail Operations Centre has been built to a one in a thousand-year level of earthquake resilience; contains 31km of cabling, around 1,500 power points and has two backup generators. 

The system design also matches the KiwiRail Rail Operations Centre is the nation’s capital Wellington. 

“If the Auckland centre went offline, Wellington could take over running Auckland’s trains. If Wellington went offline, Auckland could run trains across the rest of the country,” it explained.