Aucklanders get first look at City Rail Link tunnels on open day

Those in charge of Auckland's City Rail Link (CRL) project say they're now planning more public open days.

The declaration comes after thousands were given the chance to go underground on Sunday and explore its tunnels.

The open day gave those planning to use the City Rail Link a chance to see how it's shaping up, four years after construction started on the service.

"It's pretty cool eh! Bigger than I thought it would be for a train," one person told Newshub.

Gates opened at 8am from the Britomart entrance and despite the early start, no one wanted to miss out. Joshua Paterson was up at the crack of dawn, ensuring he was first in line.

"It's changing the future of Auckland," he enthused.

More than 10,000 people were expected to pass through the tunnel on Sunday. So many people wanted the opportunity that when the tickets went online, they were snapped up in just 15 minutes.

"We were hoping the people in Auckland would be interested but we didn't think it would be quite at that level," said City Rail Link chief executive Sean Sweeney.

While plenty of mums and dads were among the crowds, the younger generation appeared the most excited.

"I think it's amazing," one child told Newshub.

The twin-tunnel underground link will double Auckland's rail capacity. At peak times, the CRL will deal with 54,000 passengers.

Yet it hasn't been a smooth ride so far, with cost blowouts, delays and business disruption.

"With a project of this size there's always going to be disruption... we want to get much better at managing that disruption," Minister of Transport Phil Twyford said.

Demolition has now started for both the Mt Eden and Karangahape Road stations.

The project is due for completion in 2024. Officials say between now and then, the public will get more opportunities to explore the CRL.

Something many Aucklanders can't wait to experience again.