National | Auckland

Breakthrough for City Rail Link tunnel

After a mammoth seven-month journey from Mt Eden, City Rail Link Ltd’s tunnel boring machine, Dame Whina Cooper, has broken through to Aotea Station in Auckland's CDB.

Transport Minister Michael Wood, along with Mayor Phil Goff, were on hand to witness this historic moment.

"It's great to see Dame Whina Cooper finish her journey – a positive milestone that is an exciting Christmas delivery for Auckland," Wood said.

"CRL will form the heart of linked-up high-capacity rapid transit network for the city."

Goff described the Aotea breakthrough as amazing.

"While we continue to face challenges due to the pandemic, we are making good progress on delivering this essential infrastructure," he said.

Traffic gamechanger

The platforms will run under Albert Street from Wellesley to Victoria Streets, with other entrances located on the eastern and western sides of Albert Street where it intersects with Victoria Street.

"Once complete, the CRL will be a gamechanger for the region, doubling train capacity, reducing journey times and carrying the equivalent of up to 16 extra traffic lanes into the city at peak times," Goff said.

The new 15m-deep 300m long underground mid-town station near Wellesley and Victoria Streets is expected to be New Zealand's busiest train station. It’s also future-proofed for any future decision to create a North Shore rail line.

CRL chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney says it's a great time for all involved in the project.

"This breakthrough is a great morale booster for a dedicated team working at times under stressful conditions," he said. "It gives us great confidence going into the second half of the project next year."

Aotea Station - its interim name - will have entrances on Victoria Street and Wellesley Street. It’s close to the Aotea Centre, the Auckland Town Hall, the Q Theatre, Civic Theatre, SkyCity, the Auckland Art Gallery and the Central Library.