In order to build the link from City Rail Link’s (CRL) Mt Eden site to central Auckland, the TBM which has excavated New Zealand’s first underground railway has started its second journey.
Named in honor of Maori Champion Dame Whina Cooper, this TBM’s first destination will be the underground station beneath Karangahape Road before a planned arrival next spring at the project’s Aotea site.
The completion date of the first of the two CRL tunnels was on Christmas eve of the previous year.
According to Dr. Sean Sweeney, CRL chief executive: “Fantastic teamwork by the TBM crew to get cracking today despite all that Omicron could throw at us is a great achievement and something Aucklanders should rightly celebrate as we take a huge step towards completing CRL.”
Comprising OF Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Downer NZ Ltd, Soletanche Bachy International NZ Ltd, WSP Opus (NZ), AECOM New Zealand Ltd, and Tonkin + Taylor Ltd delivering CRL’s main tunnels, stations and rail systems contract, the main contractor Link Alliance operates Dame Whina Cooper.
The Herrenknecht EPB TBM is 130m long and has a 7.15m diameter.
Link Alliance project director Francois Dudouit said: “The TBM’s second drive would be just as challenging as the first. We learnt a lot from last year but constructing a bored tunnel is a unique and complex task bound to bring challenges, particularly when you’re working below a city. Importantly, our TBM crews are experts at successfully confronting obstacles – restricted working conditions because of Covid or Auckland’s ground conditions – and getting the job done safely.”
As the largest transport infrastructure project ever to be implemented in New Zealand, CRL includes a 3.45km twin-tunnel underground rail link up to 42m below Auckland city center and it is due to transform the existing downtown Britomart Station into a two-way through-station that better connects the city’s rail network.
The determined date for completion of this project is late 2024, but CRL is currently assessing the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the construction timetable and costs.