Tunneling toward the Aotea Station in central Auckland today, a giant TBM indicated the end of its seven-month underground journey for the City Rail Link project.
The adventure of Dame Whina Cooper TBM commenced from Mt Eden in May and cut through a concrete protective wall into Aotea.
Transport Minister Michael Wood, Auckland mayor Phil Goff, Cooper’s whānau, and City Rail Link (CRL) workers were on site for the moment.
According to CRL chief executive, Dr. Sean Sweeney: “Our aim was always to get into central Auckland before Christmas and here we are – pleased and proud at what a committed Link Alliance team of contractors has achieved in some pretty testing times. It’s been a hard year but a better rail network for an international city like Auckland is getting closer.”
The Crown and Auckland Council are CRL’s sponsors, and Wood and Goff were impressed with the progress made by the project despite the pandemic.
Wood stated: “It’s great to see Dame Whina Cooper finish its journey – a positive milestone that is an exciting Christmas delivery for Auckland. CRL will form the heart of linked-up high-capacity rapid transit network for the city.”
In accordance with Goff’s description the Aotea breakthrough is remarkable.
He said: “While we continue to face challenges due to the pandemic, we are making good progress on delivering this essential infrastructure.”
“Once complete, the CRL will be a game-changer for the region, doubling train capacity, reducing journey times, and carrying the equivalent of up to 16 extra traffic lanes into the city at peak times,” Goff added.
Sweeney described the breakthrough as the icing on CRL’s Christmas cake after a year of significant advances- reopening the city’s restored Chief Post Office, connecting Aotea to the Albert St section of tunnels, mining New Zealand’s deepest station at Karangahape, relocating the huge Huia 2 water main at Mt Eden and navigating a Covid-19 pandemic.
He continued: “This breakthrough is a great morale booster for a dedicated team working at times under stressful conditions. It gives us great confidence going into the second half of the project next year. Covid is responsible for a lot of disruption. CRL Ltd and the Link Alliance are now assessing the impact of that disruption on construction timetables and costs. We’ll have a clearer picture next year. What is important today is that the Link Alliance has progressed a vital piece of Auckland’s transport infrastructure.”
The operation of this TBM over its seven-month journey were cutting into the earth, removing spoil to the surface, and installing the concrete panels that line the tunnels.