New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project is celebrating a significant milestone – Auckland’s City Rail Link (CRL) has formally accepted ownership of its US$8.7M Herrenknecht 7.15m diameter EPBM after extensive factory tests in China.
“The successful factory assessment tests and the handover of the TBM to the Link Alliance is a very clear and strong indication that the CRL project can meet critical milestones in a Covid-19 world,” says Dr Sean Sweeney, Chief Executive of City Rail Link Ltd.
The tests were conducted on the fully constructed TBM by the German manufacturer at its factory at Guangzhou in southern China.
“The TBM successfully underwent more than 500 tests to make sure everything works as it should. There is now great excitement that we are ready for the next step – to bring the TBM to Auckland,” says Francois Dudouit, Project Director for CRL’s Link Alliance.
The TBM will be used by the Link Alliance – the group of New Zealand and international companies building the tunnels and stations contract for City Rail Link Ltd – to excavate twin tunnels between Mt Eden and central Auckland to connect with cut-and-cover tunnels already constructed from Britomart Station.
The TBM is now being dismantled and will be shipped in pieces to New Zealand. It is due to arrive in October 2020. The arrival has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the closure for several weeks earlier this year of the factory in China.
The TBM will be reassembled at CRL’s Mt Eden site, where it will undergo further testing and be officially blessed for safe journeys before it starts the first of its two excavation drives next April 2021. Both tunnels are 1.6km long and each TBM drive will take about nine months at roughly 32m per day, with the second tube’s boring scheduled to start in March 2022.
Mining tradition will be observed before the start of tunnelling when the TBM is formally named after an inspirational woman. Earlier this year New Zealanders voted for the TBM to be named in honour of the Māori rights champion, Dame Whina Cooper.