Completing Auckland’s 1.6km long twin-tunnels for the City Rail Link has taken a major step forward today with the official launch of the 7.15m diameter Herrenknecht EPBM, Dame Whina Cooper, at the project’s Mt Eden site. Final checks are now underway before the TBM starts full scale boring in mid-May.
The TBM will be operated by the Link Alliance, the group of New Zealand and international design and construct companies responsible for CRL’s main stations, tunnels and rail systems contract. The Link Alliance comprises: City Rail Link Ltd (CRLL); Vinci Construction Grands Projets S.A.S; Downer NZ Ltd; Soletanche Bachy International NZ Limited; WSP New Zealand Limited; AECOM New Zealand Limited; and Tonkin + Taylor Limited
The first 50m of tunnel at Mt Eden have already been mined to provide room for the front sections of the 130m-long TBM. Dame Whina Cooper will excavate the 1.6km under the Central Motorway Junction and Karangahape Road into central Auckland to connect with the CRL tunnels already built from the Britomart Station.
The TBM will complete the first tunnel towards the end of the year. It will then be returned to Mt Eden in sections and prepared for its second tunnel drive next year.
Transport Minister Michael Wood described the launch as an “exciting milestone” for New Zealand’s largest ever transport infrastructure project – “one,” he says, “that is helping our economic recovery and supporting jobs.
“Building infrastructure like the City Rail Link is part of our COVID-19 economic plan – this project is providing real jobs and opportunities for thousands of Aucklanders. It’ll give us a step-change in our public transport and cultivate a diverse and highly-skilled workforce,” Mr Wood says
The Transport Minister was joined by Dame Whina Cooper’s whanau, Auckland Iwi, the city’s Mayor Phil Goff and City Rail Link workers at the launch celebration.
City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive, Dr Sean Sweeney, congratulated workers for reassembling and commissioning the TBM after its arrival in sections from China last year.
“A lot of work hours in some pretty demanding conditions have got us here today. Dame Whina Cooper will have its first encounter with some real dirt very soon, an encounter that shows the project remains on track despite the challenges thrown up by covid in the past year or so,” Dr Sweeney says.
The $4.4bn CRL project, sponsored by the Crown and Auckland Council, will make the city’s rail network more efficient. Trains will be able to run more often , more quickly and carry more people, and it will double the number of people living with 30 minutes train travel of central Auckland – New Zealand’s biggest employment hub.