For those of us that currently work or live within Auckland City Centre there can be no doubt that the city is under construction with many developments now well underway. Most noticeably is the City Rail Link which commenced construction late in 2015 with a programme of utility diversions in Victoria, Wellesley, Swanson and Albert Streets preparing the way for major civil construction works along Albert Street constructing cut and cover tunnels. Piling is currently underway along Albert Street between Customs and Wyndham Streets; and the construction of a temporary station entrance to Britomart Station at the rear of the Central Post Office (CPO) building is progressing to schedule. From early New Year 2017 the current entrance via the CPO will close and access will be through a new Commerce Street entrance.
Like many of you, Emerging Auckland has a great interest in the CRL which is the largest infrastructure project ever to be undertaken. What makes the project more of a challenge than simply the shear scale is that construction will take place within the confines of our largest and busiest city.
We are excited, very excited! As far as we are concerned the construction of CRL is an experience not to be missed, so we will be recording the project as it develops - with CRL photo galleries, up to date project information, a detailed A-Z of all that is 'City Rail Link' and a timeline of the project from inception in 2008 through to completion, all going well, around 2022.
The City Rail Link (CRL) is a 3.45km underground railway line linking the city centre with the existing Western Line at Eden Terrace (Mt Eden) via the Britomart Transport Centre (BTC). Currently, the Auckland Metro commuter rail network begins and ends at the BTC. Two new tunnels will be constructed under and through the BTC enabling the current rail network to double its capacity.
The CRL is the top transport priority for Auckland and is key to delivering the Auckland Plan, City Centre Master Plan, Long Term Plan and the Integrated Transport Programme.
Auckland is experience significant population growth, in 2013 Auckland’s population was 1,415,550, an increase of 110,592 people since the 2006 census. In the past three years alone the Auckland population has grown by 93,000 people and it is estimated that Auckland will grow by an additional 700,000 people over the next 30 years to over 2,000,000 people. Current public transport capacity will be unable to cater for this projected population growth, ultimately hindering economic development within the city.
Many of us have already experienced that simply building more and more roads does nothing to relieve traffic congestion and our motorways remain gridlocked at peak times by private cars, bumper to bumper, more often that not with single occupants. That is unsustainable, wastes time and causes stress!
An improved public transport system, led by the CRL is the only way to keep Auckland moving; not the magic solution to all our traffic woes, but together with ongoing bus improvements, more cycleways, and eventually light rail, public transport in Auckland will improve beyond our imagination.
In addition to providing an efficient world class transport solution for Auckland the CRL will create opportunities for the development of areas around the new railway stations and redevelopment of parts of the city centre as well as create many jobs through construction. Once the CRL is completed, reinstatement works will give back upgraded streetscapes, renewed public spaces and a more attractive people centered city centre.
The CRL is an Auckland Council Project to be delivered by Auckland Transport. KiwiRail (KRG), a state owned enterprise owns the rail network infrastructure throughout New Zealand including the Auckland commuter network. Auckland Transport run the commuter rail network and own the Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) fleet and stations within Auckland.
Council, as the Governing Body sets out the overall strategic direction for Auckland and develops a Long Term Plan (LTP), or budget in which CRL is the number one transport priority. Auckland Transport as a Council Controlled Organisation (CCO) implements the transport objectives set out in the LTP. In July 2015 Auckland Council adopted the 2015-2025 LTP which included funding for two CRL construction works packages, now under construction.
- 3.45km of new underground railway line from Britomart to Eden Terrace (Mt Eden Station) linking together the current network and removing the dead end at Britomart
- Two new underground stations to be constructed, Aotea Station (11m depth) and Mercury Lane (Karangahape Station) (33m)
- A significantly redeveloped Mount Eden Station
- Cut and cover construction along Albert Street and at Eden Terrace
- Majority of tunnel construction will be by 7.5mtr diameter tunnel boring machine (TBM) from approximately Aotea Square to Eden Terrace
- Around 1million cubic meters of spoil will be removed - more than 320 Olympic size swimming pools
- The CRL will be the largest infrastructure project ever to be undertaken in New Zealand, an investment of around $2.5 billion
The CRL is a visionary project, essentially taking 100 years to realise. Many attempts during that time to build an underground rail network never progressed beyond the drawing board. For this generation, the timing is right following the amalgamation of the former Auckland Councils into one Supercity administration, and Central Government support aligning the political appetite, enabling CRL to become a reality.
Morningside Deviation 1923-1929
The first serious attempt to construct an underground rail link through Auckland city was proposed by the Minister of Railways Gordon Coates in 1923. The route proposed an underground link from Beach Road, underneath the central business district, to Morningside to connect to the Northern Auckland Line. The proposal was known as the ‘Morningside Deviation’ and was eventually rejected by the government due to engineering difficulties, the high cost of electrification and the "unpromising future of suburban railway transport".
Proposed route for Morningside deviation, 1956 - Auckland Regional Planning Authority
Archives NZ BABJ A680/13
View of new works at Campbell's Point. showing approx. position of portal of tunnel for the new underground route to Morningside (X). Site for new station building (1). Rear of present Beach Road station building (2). Some of the new yard tracks (3). New locomotive depot (4). New passenger yard (5). New overbridge to eliminate the level crossing in the foreground (6)
The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2 (June 1, 1927). Courtesy Victoria University.
Auckland Morningside deviation - plan detail of section of proposed route - Railway plan dated 5.2.1929
Archives NZ BABJ A681/F403/11832
Robbie's Rapid Rail 1968-1974
In the late 1960s, Auckland Mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson pushed for an underground rail loop which became known as "Robbie's Rapid Rail", but Sir Robert Muldoon's newly elected National government scrapped the plan.
In 1968 his regional career was also resurrected with his appointment to the ARA transit committee. He advocated rapid rail for Auckland, but ARA chairman Tom Pearce and many members opposed the expensive scheme.
In August 1973 the Labour Government agreed to fund a double track city loop in two phases, first from Central Rail Station to Civic Centre, second civic centre to Newmarket with four stations Beach Road, Downtown at Customs Street, Civic at Wellesley Street and Karangahape Road.
The government eventually reneged on their election pledge, which Robinson had secured, to pay for the scheme. His predilection for lone campaigning was ultimately a costly political weakness. Isolated on the issue, he lost the opportunity to implement a long-term solution to Auckland’s transportation needs. Source Te Ara
Proposed Rapid Transit Network 1974 - Underground Station
Proposed Rapid Transit Network 1969 - Underground Station
Proposed Rapid Transit Network 1969
Britomart Station - temporary station entrance to the rear of the former Central Post Office Building
The CRL will:
- Provide much more frequent train services and more direct services to the city centre
- Enable 30,000 rail passengers per hour to commute during peak travel times
- Enable a train service at most Auckland stations every 10 minutes during peak travel time
Costs and funding
- Auckland Council have budgeted for half the estimated cost of the CRL within the Long Term Plan
- In January 2016 Prime Minister John Key outlined a plan to make an early start on the main works in 2018, instead of 2020.
- In 2016, Prime Minister John Key announced the government will contribute 50% of the total funding required to complete CRL.
- Auckland Council and the Crown are to establish a special purpose vehicle (SPV), City Rail Link Limited and as co-sponsors, deliver the project via the 'project team'.
The Project Team
The CRL project team is part of the wider Auckland Transport family based within an integrated project office made up of Auckland Transport project staff, the Principal Technical Advisor team of architects and civil, structural, mechanical and electrical and engineers. The CRL team also includes its own designers, planners, property specialists, lawyers and legal experts, quantity surveyors, communications and stakeholder and strategic relationship advisors, transport modellors, rail track, systems and signals engineers, rail operations specialists, sustainability advisors, asset managers, urban designers, heritage specialists, occupation and construction Health & Safety coordinators, rail systems and safety assurance advisors, financial and business case advisors, economists, commercial specialists, accountants, project controls and procurement specialists, risk managers, coordinators, administrators and document controllers. A number of the project team have been recruited internationally, bought in as champions for specific skills unique to rail projects.
Emerging Auckland is a Development Tracker - documenting, tracking progress and 'showcasing' current and planned private construction and civic infrastructure developments within 'inner Auckland', New Zealand.
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