Auckland City Rail Link a step closer as dig gets back underway

The tunnel boring machine broke through into the Karangahape Station construction site last month.
The tunnel boring machine broke through into the Karangahape Station construction site last month. Photo credit: Supplied

Residents of Tāmaki Makaurau are getting closer to the City Rail Link (CRL) being completed as tunneling got back underway on Wednesday.

Tunnel boring machine (TBM) Dame Whina Cooper today resumed her journey from within Karangahape Station to Aotea Station, 785m downhill.

Francois Dudouit, the Project Director for the Link Alliance, said they were very happy to be on the move again for Auckland.

The 130m-long TBM dug its way around 860m from the existing Mount Eden Station, under the city streets and the busy Central Motorway Junction, to the already carved out Karangahape Station cavern last month.

After the TBM burst through into the station, it pulled itself into the empty station cavern and CRL staff performed a few weeks of maintenance before setting off for the next stop of Aotea Station, located in Tāmaki Makaurau's midtown. 

The TBM's resumption of work coincides with the retirement of the CRL's two other hard working roadheader machines - one named Dame Valerie Adams and the other Jean Batten - who have been working 35m underground connecting up various sections of works in the Karangahape and Beresford stations.

Dame Whina Cooper arrived at Karangahape Station well ahead of CRL's scheduled arrival times, which were delayed by changes to the alert level system and having to run the TBM with a skeleton staff. 

When the TBM arrives at Aotea Station, it will be dismantled underground and trucked back to the Mount Eden construction site to begin digging the second tunnel to Aotea Station.

Once works are complete, Aucklanders will be able to take a train from the currently dead-end Britomart Station up through the city and out towards Mount Eden Station or vice versa.

This will fulfil former Auckland Mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson's vision of an underground rail loop connecting up the city.

Those interested can follow Dame Whina Cooper’s progress online. The website is updated weekly.