TRACKLAYING has been completed in the first of two 3.45km-long tunnels built as part of the City Rail Link (CRL) in Auckland, New Zealand.

The CRL will connect Waitematā station, previously known as Britomart station, and Maungawhau station through two tunnels dug at up to 42m below the city centre. The line will transform the Waitematā station into a through station, more than doubling rail capacity across the city.

The line includes two new stations, Te Waihorotiu and Karanga-a-Hape, which are currently under construction, while Mt Eden station is being rebuilt and renamed as Maungawhau station. When complete, the line will carry up to 54,000 passengers per hour.

In March, CRL Ltd, the company overseeing construction, announced that the cost of the project had risen by $NZ 1.07bn ($US 636.7m) to $NZ 5.49bn as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns and associated impacts.

Installation of the slab-track began in August 2022, with the final clip was locked into place near Te Waihorotiu station by Link Alliance track engineer, Ms Alexandra Favre, and Martinus surveyor, Ms Amy Khune on September 22.

CRL Ltd’s main contractor, Link Alliance, and railway infrastructure company, Martinus New Zealand, installed the track on what is one of the steepest sections of railway in New Zealand. From Waitematā station, which sits below sea level, the track climbs around 70m to Maungawhau station.

To complete the job, Link Alliance became the first construction organisation in New Zealand to gain a Rail Operators and Rail Access provider licence under the country’s Railways Act.

“Getting the licence was an innovation that helped underline the excellent work of first-class teams involved in the track laying and gave us more flexibility to carefully plan our programme of work and get the job done to the highest standard,” says Link Alliance project director, Mr Francois Dudouit.

Work to fit-out the line in the second CRL tunnel, which will carry trains north from Maungawhau Station to Waitematā, will be completed next year.

An update on the CRL project will appear in the November edition of IRJ.