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Tāmaki Makaurau on track to a better future

Auckland Council celebrating 10 years together

Published: 6 November 2020

Within five years, Aucklanders will have a modern rail service and world-class stations that will benefit the entire transport network for decades to come, Mayor Phil Goff says.

“The City Rail Link is a game-changer for Auckland,” Goff said.

"It will double the city’s rail capacity and at peak times will move the equivalent capacity of three Auckland Harbour Bridges or 16 extra traffic lanes.”  

The $4.4 billion City Rail Link (CRL) project, due for completion in late 2024, is one of New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure projects and jointly funded by council and the New Zealand Government.

Twin rail tunnels 3.45km long are being built up to 42 metres below central Auckland between Britomart and Mt Eden Station on the western line, connecting the western rail line with the CRL and the Britomart station at the bottom of Queen Street.

The scale of the project is massive, with the building of two underground stations – Aotea in central Auckland and Karangahape near Karangahape Road – and a total rebuild of the existing Mt Eden station as well as a redeveloped Britomart.

City Rail Link Ltd Chief Executive Dr Sean Sweeney says the CRL will significantly change the way Aucklanders travel, live in, work in, and enjoy their city.

“While CRL delivers a world class rail system for an international city like Auckland,  it’s legacy will also include outstanding and unique designs that reflect Tamaki Makaurau’s heritage and a more skilled workforce that will continue to play a significant role in the growth of Auckland and New Zealand long after CRL is completed,” Dr Sweeney said.

City Rail Link milestones

2009

  • The Auckland Regional Transport Authority and KiwiRail commenced an investigation to designate a route for the City Rail Link (CRL) for inclusion in Auckland’s District Plan.

2010

  • Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail released the findings of an Initial Business Case and forwarded these findings to the Government for its consideration. Auckland Mayor Len Brown said it highlighted major economic and transport benefits for the region.
  • Transport Minister Stephen Joyce asked officials from the Ministry of Transport, the Treasury and the NZ Transport Agency to work with Auckland Transport, Auckland Council and other agencies to review the business case for a CRL.

2011

  • The Governing Body of Auckland Council resolved;
  1. a) That the council directs Auckland Transport to seek a designation for the CRL
  2. b) That the council confirms Auckland Transport’s financial responsibility for the project, subject to council funding being approved and available for any local share of the project;
  3. c) That the council and Auckland Transport will prepare draft agreed terms for a Heads of Agreement between Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, which sets out the basis upon which Auckland Transport will have financial responsibility for the project.

2012

  • Auckland Council's Strategy and Finance committee brought forward money from the 2012-2013 CRL budget to the current financial year in order to continue progress protecting the eventual route.
  • Auckland Transport identified a route through the city centre for the CRL and initiated a formal planning process with a notice of requirement being lodged with Auckland Council.
  • Prior to public notification, Auckland Transport held three information sessions for affected landowners.
  • A study into the future transport needs of Auckland was released revealing a looming crisis as the city's population growth exceeds the ability of the transport network to cope. The City Centre Future Access Study (CCFAS) was commissioned by Auckland Transport and warned of significant delays and congestion on all routes into the city within the next 10 years.

2013

  • An application to designate land to build and operate the CRL opened for public comment. Auckland Transport served Notices of Requirement on Auckland Council to hand the land, required to build and operate the CRL, identified in the District Plan.
  • An application to designate land to build and operate the CRL opened for public submission.
  • Open days were held to inform the public about the CRL project.
  • Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee wrote to Auckland Mayor Len Brown and confirmed “government has committed to a joint business case for the CRL with Auckland Council in 2017, and to providing its share of funding for a construction start in 2020.”
  • Auckland Council agreed to negotiate with Precinct Properties to coordinate timing of future development plans for its Downtown shopping centre with the construction of the part of the CRL that needed to pass below the complex.

2014

  • Independent planning commissioners recommended the land required to build, operate and maintain the CRL be set aside for the project.
  • Auckland Transport announced a significant design change to the CRL which would improve the reliability and journey time of train services, minimise construction disruption in Symonds Street and reduce property purchase requirements. It was also decided to redevelop the existing Mount Eden station and connect it to the CRL rather than build a new underground station at Newton.

2015

  • Resource consents for the first section of the rail tunnel were publicly notified.
  • An agreement between Auckland Council and Precinct Properties enabled the construction of CRL to get underway through the company’s Downtown Development project at the bottom of Queen Street.
  • All appeals to the CRL land designation were resolved by agreement or dismissed.
  • Kaumatua blessed the worksite between Swanson and Wellesley streets where the first part of the $2.5billion project began.

2016

  • The Government announced it would work with Auckland Council to bring forward the start date of the City Rail Link. The Government would also work to formalise its funding commitment from 2020, which the council has indicated would allow construction of the main works to start in 2018, at least two years sooner than currently envisaged.
  • Prime Minister John Key, Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Auckland Mayor Len Brown formally marked the historic start of the construction of the CRL at a ceremony at the Britomart Train Station.
  • The Government agreed to fund half the cost of the CRL. The total cost of the project was estimated to be between $2.8 billion and $3.4 billion.
  • Transport Minister Simon Bridges and new Auckland Mayor Phil Goff announced the appointment of Brian Roche as Chair Designate of City Rail Link Limited (an independent company created to deliver the CRL).

2017

  • The first contract documents for the entire CRL project from the city to Mt Eden went out to the industry.
  • Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore and Ministers Steven Joyce and Simon Bridges, formalised the partnership between Government and Auckland Council to deliver the 3.45km CRL – making it New Zealand’s largest infrastructure project.
  • Sir Brian Roche was appointed as Chair of CRL Ltd.
  • CRL Ltd announced the appointment of a new chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney – replacing Chris Meale (who retired).

2018

  • Excavation of the 14-metre-deep trench that would contain the project’s twin rail tunnels under Britomart Station and Lower Queen Street in downtown Auckland began.
  • CRL was recognised for changing the way infrastructure projects were designed and delivered. The project won both the Efficiency Champion category and the Supreme Award - the NZI Transforming New Zealand Award - at the 2018 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.
  • The breakthrough from the Albert Street tunnels to CRL tunnels across the Commercial Bay site, Downtown Auckland, took place.

2019

  • CRL Ltd announced a revised cost envelope for completing the entire CRL project totalling $4.419 billion.
  • The Auckland Council Governing Body’s approved an additional $500 million in funding for the transformational CRL.
  • CRL Ltd welcomed a Budget announcement that the Government approved its $500 million share of additional funding to complete the project.
  • CRL Ltd signed a contract with the Link Alliance to build the main stations-and-tunnels programme of work for the CRL.
  • First details of the biggest phase of work in central Auckland for the project, including construction of the new Aotea underground station were released by the Link Alliance. The programme would extend the twin rail tunnel (already built under Albert Street) further south to Mayoral Drive, the site of the new Aotea Station.
  • Work on the Aotea underground station in central Auckland began.
  • After three years on temporary support, Auckland’s historic Chief Post Office (CPO) was returned to permanent foundations without any damage to the building.
  • In September the CRL tunnel from Britomart to Wyndham Street was completed.
  • The demolition of the first of 30 empty buildings at the City Rail Link project’s Mt Eden site near the Mt Eden railway station started.
  • The Government and Auckland Council brought forward work on establishing a hardship fund for businesses in Auckland’s Albert Street to recognise the difficulty some had faced because of the delay in City Rail Link construction.
  • Building demolition to clear the way for construction of Auckland’s City Rail Link underground station at Karangahape started.
  • Thousands of people walked the 600 metres through the first section of the twin rail tunnels adjoining the Britomart station in lower Queen Street during CRL’s Walk the Tunnels open day.
  • A deal was struck to supply the big Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to excavate the tunnels and New Zealanders were invited to choose that TBM’s name.
  • CRL station designs wow international judges after being shortlisted in the Future Infrastructure category of the 2019 World Architecture Festival held in the Netherlands.

2020

  • CRL Ltd confirms construction at all CRL project sites would stop for a minimum of four weeks due to the country moving into COVID-19 Alert Level 4.
  • CRL’s Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) would share the name of one of New Zealand’s most inspirational leaders, Dame Whina Cooper, a woman who spent most of an illustrious life leading the fight for social justice and land rights for Māori.
  • Construction started on the Karangahape underground station in Auckland.
  • The tunnel boring machine Dame Whina Cooper arrived in Auckland after a voyage of more than nine thousand kilometres from its factory in southern China.

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