NZ Local News

Completion date of Auckland’s $4.4b City Rail Link up in the air

Editor Written by Editor · 2 min read >


The twin underground tunnels for the City Rail Link. The giant tunnel boring machine is due to break through the tunnel on the right next week. Photo / Jed Bradley

The opening date of Auckland’s $4.4 billion City Rail Link (CRL) is up in the air, along with a cost blowout on the mega project.

CRL boss Dr Sean Sweeney today distanced himself from reports the date has been pushed out from 2024 to 2025 and declined to say when the project could open.

Asked if the opening date could extend beyond 2025, Sweeney said: “I really don’t want to speculate. That work is still being done.”

Sweeney was speaking at the end of a site visit by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Transport Minister Michael Wood, who travelled through one of the twin tunnels in an electric buggy from Mt Eden to the new Te Waihorotiu (Aotea) station in the central city.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Transport Minister Michael Wood on a site visit to the City Rail Link. Photo / Jed Bradley
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Transport Minister Michael Wood on a site visit to the City Rail Link. Photo / Jed Bradley

It was the first underground visit by Ardern, who was overawed at seeing the scale of the works “come to life” after advocating for it in her days as a backbench Labour MP.

Ardern left the inevitable questions about a cost blowout on the project to Wood, who said the long months of disruption from Covid were going to push out the opening date and increase the cost.

Asked if he had been given a ballpark figure of the new cost for the CRL, Wood said he had been given advice by officials but negotiations were still underway that had to be played out before there is clarity.

Sweeney said he is pushing hard to present the new cost and opening date to the Government and Auckland Council, who are jointly funding the CRL, by the end of the year, but there are “still a lot of balls in the air”.

The project, he said, had been impacted by 300 days of Covid-19, two lockdowns and about 100 days of Auckland border closures.

City Rail Link Ltd chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney at the tour for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Jed Bradley
City Rail Link Ltd chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney at the tour for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Jed Bradley

“We don’t even have the full claim in yet (from the Link Alliance contractors), we have only got the first component of it and that has not been assessed by our independent estimator.

“Then we have to get the second and the third portion of the claim and they have to be assessed by our independent estimator before we can even come up with a ballpark figure,” Sweeney said.

In recent days, Auckland mayoral and council candidates have called for City Rail Link Ltd – the body set up to deliver the CRL – to open the books on the new cost for the mammoth project before next month’s local body elections.

Wood said amazing progress is being made on the CRL under the country’s biggest city with the final breakthrough of the tunnel boring machine due to take place next week.

The twin underground tunnels for the City Rail Link. The giant tunnel boring machine is due to break through the tunnel on the right next week. Photo / Jed Bradley
The twin underground tunnels for the City Rail Link. The giant tunnel boring machine is due to break through the tunnel on the right next week. Photo / Jed Bradley

The first tunnel breakthrough occurred in October last year. Photo / City Rail Link Ltd
The first tunnel breakthrough occurred in October last year. Photo / City Rail Link Ltd

“It was only last year the tunnel boring machine was launched and a few months ago the first breakthrough occurred here(Aotea) and next week the second one occurs,” Wood said.

Sweeney said works have started on fitting out the twin tunnels, which will include 16km of rail and more than 1500km of cable.

Rail tracks are on site and being prepared for laying in the tunnels, as well as sleepers, electronics, safety systems and other essential componentry.

As part of the next project phase, a System Integration Facility (SIF) has been established to integrate CRL sub-systems into a new Auckland rail network operating configuration, with state-of-the-art software and hardware already purchased, he said.

The CRL is a 3.4km twin-tunnel underground rail link connecting the existing Britomart rail station with the Mt Eden station. Two new stations are being built along the route, one in the city called Te Waihorotiu station (Aotea) and the other at Karangahape Rd, called Karanga-a-Hape station.

Construction work on the City Rail Link in the central city. Photo / Michael Craig
Construction work on the City Rail Link in the central city. Photo / Michael Craig

Once completed, the CRL will increase capacity into the central city on the rail network from 15,000 people per hour to 27,000.

Over the coming decades, at least another $7.5b needs to be spent on the wider rail network for the CRL to reach a capacity of carrying 54,000 passengers per hour.

KiwiRail and Auckland Transport are currently developing a business case for this work, including an update of the costs to upgrade the network and when the investments need to be made.

The work involves additional tracks and trains, lengthening platforms for nine-car trains, removing all level crossings on the southern and western lines and a signalling upgrade.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *