New focus with completion of Albert St Rail Tunnel


Construction of the City Rail Link (CRL)  tunnel under the northern end of Albert Street has finished, marking a shift in focus towards enhancement work along the busy central Auckland thoroughfare.

A concrete pour of the final section of tunnel box roof was completed successfully today (Thursday, 4 July) below the Albert Street/Customs Street intersection.

“There is now a finish line in sight for our work at the north end of Albert Street,” says City Rail Link Ltd’s Chief Executive, Dr Sean Sweeney.  “There is still work to do underground, but we can now start to turn our attention to people-friendly improvements along Albert Street itself.”

The project re-opened the Albert Street/Wyndham Street intersection last month, and work is planned to start mid-July on the first phase of enhancement work. Improvements include  wider footpaths, more open places for people to share, and tree plantings.   Work will start from Wyndham Street and head block by block north towards Customs Street.

“If work goes to plan we are hoping to return the first section of enhancements back to the community around Christmas,” Dr Sweeney says.

The northern section of Albert Street tunnel between Wyndham and Customs Streets is 348 metres long.  The final concrete pour now connects it to the one under the Commercial Bay property development, linking Albert Street to the CRL lower Queen Street/Britomart station construction site.

Construction in Albert Street began in December 2015, with the diversion of a major stormwater line to create room for the tunnel.   Over the past three-and-a-half years, over a million hours were worked on site, 2,500 tonnes of steel bar reinforcement tied together, and over 10,000 cubic metres of concrete poured.  In that time, many kilometers of stormwater, electrical, gas, sewerage and internet lines were relocated or strengthened.  Back filling the trench around the tunnel will be completed in late winter.

Dr Sweeney acknowledges the work of the contractors, and the support from the local community.

“Construction like this in the middle of a city is never easy for anyone – the risks for workers that come from working in confined spaces, and the disruption for people living and working nearby – but we have taken a big step towards building a project that will change the way people can travel around our city,” he says.

The next programme of tunnel construction work on Albert Street is south of the Wyndham Street intersection. Planning by CRL Ltd and companies in the Link Alliance include strategies to manage the impact of those works when they start later this year.


City Rail Link – Cut & Cover Construction

Big step for City Rail Link

Britomartstationdrawing_620x310Auckland Council recently announced a big step forward in its City Rail Link project, revealing details of the deal struck with listed landlord Precinct Properties to have underground tunnels built near the waterfront, under a new $550 million glass skyscraper.

Mayor Len Brown described the deal as a milestone and an historic moment for Auckland.

Britomartstationdesign_620x310“This is the first step towards the construction of the CRL. It will lead to an exciting transformation of the public spaces around the Britomart train station area. And it’s an example of how a partnership with the private sector can deliver economic transformation and more jobs in Auckland,” he has just announced.

He also released new images of the Britomart station and a map showing where the tunnels would run.

New rail tunnels must be constructed through the site now occupied by the Downtown Shopping Centre, which Precinct owns, the statement said.

Precinct also owns two adjacent commercial office towers – HSBC Tower at 1 Queen Street and Zurich House at 21 Queen Street, it said.

The deal between the two parties enables the rail tunnels to be built as part of the Downtown Development Project. Elements involved include the sale to Precinct of part of Queen Elizabeth Square for $27.2 million; Payment to Precinct of $9 million for provision of an East-West pedestrian laneway between Queen Street and Albert Street and compensation for tunnels volume; Payment of $10.7 million for additional costs of office tower construction due to CRL tunnels; and the creation of a new downtown civic space between the project and Britomart, the statement said.

Mr Brown said the deal meant a coordinated approach could now be taken to the construction work, with Auckland Transport building the CRL tunnels either side of the Precinct downtown shopping centre site from Britomart to Wyndham Street and Precinct Properties building the tunnels below its site.


  • NZ Herald

$550m tower for Auckland CBD

PRECINCT_Downtown_FerrNZX giant listed landlord Precinct Properties has announced details of its $550 million Downtown skyscraper for Auckland’s CBD and a deal to pay Auckland Council $27.2 million for part of Queen Elizabeth Square.

Scott Pritchard, Precinct chief executive, released the first images of the huge new 36-level glass tower to be built on what is now the Downtown Westfield site between the square, Lower Albert St, Customs St East and Quay St.

The decision means one of the final hurdles to the planned City Rail Link has now been cleared.

Precinct’s 1900 sqm square purchase is conditional on successful rezoning of the land which includes the road stopping process and a plan change so commercial development on what is now public land can go ahead, Precinct said in an investor presentation released to the NZX this morning.

“Auckland Council will use funds to provide alternate public space,” Precinct said, also citing “an agreement with Auckland Council to provide an east-west pedestrian laneway through the Downtown development, linking key transport infrastructure.”

Precinct is only buying part of the square – the area where the volcano fire/fountain now stands outside Whitcoulls, between the HSBC Tower and the Zurich block.

Longer-term council plans are to abolish the busy road which now runs through the centre of that square on public land and shift buses further into Britomart and a block west to Lower Albert St.

Precinct aims to begin building its giant glass skyscraper next year and has also struck a deal with Auckland Transport, so tunnels for the City Rail Link are built, ready for that big public project to proceed.

Pritchard said the skyscraper’s costs have risen 10 per cent from $400 million-$500 million to $550 million due to plans for a larger building as well as construction cost escalations.

Auckland Transport will pay Precinct $9 million compensation for the tunnels’ volume and a further $10.7 million for the additional costs of the developer straddling the land with its piles for the enormous tower.

Precinct described that last aspect of the deal as “payment of additional costs of office tower construction due to CRL tunnels $10.7 million.”

All that provides Precinct with the ability to proceed with its Downtown tower development and it said it also reduced the CRL costs to Auckland Transport.


  • NZ Herald

Auckland – $10 Billion do-up

CBDprojectsAuckland is being rebuilt before our eyes, as projects worth at least $10 billion-plus rise across the city.

In one of its biggest transformations, a series of infrastructure, education, roading, commercial, retail, housing and prison projects are rising or planned; much of which is simply catch-up after the global financial crisis.

But economic growth, Auckland’s fast expansion, a critical shortage of residential accommodation, desperate need for big new housing estates, the development of entire new town centres to meet demands, expansion of the workforce, rising population, requirements for better university and school buildings, consumer demand for bigger and better supermarkets, and extending our roading network are just some of the drivers.

The biggest project now on is the $1.5 billion -$2.5 billion Long Bay housing estate and town centre.

Yet Todd Property has only just begun and it will be many years before this vast, controversial new suburb on rolling grassland above the regional park is finished.

The $1.4 billion Waterview twin tunnels motorway job is the second biggest now on but the $2.4 billion City Rail Link (CRL) and a $2.4 billion job at Auckland International Airport will top the other jobs.

Property purchases have been made to secure the CRL route but construction is yet to start, while at the airport planning is well advanced for its big transformation.

A string of projects are in the $1 billion league: the new $1 billion Westgate town centre is now well under way by the privately owned NZ Retail Property Group; the University of Auckland’s $1 billion spend planned over a decade is also well advanced; the $1 billion Wynyard Quarter CBD waterfront urban renewal, which will see hundreds of new apartments, a six-star hotel, new transport links, offices, shops and cafes; and the $1 billion Britomart transformation, which is yet to see a big new group of office blocks or a new hotel, all on the drawing board.

After a lull of some years, apartment building is again popular, and private developer Robert Holden, a former Bayleys real estate agent, is one of the busiest with four big jobs including the new Urba now rising by the motorway in Freemans Bay.

Construction work ground almost to a halt last decade when a number of developers folded, taking many finance companies with them.

Now, demand has risen, money is easier to get and tower cranes dot the skyline. The work is not being funded by mum and dad investors, buying bonds in mezzanine finance companies. Much of this work is backed by our major trading banks, extremely keen to lend to businesses with strong balance sheets, like giant $1.7 billion-plus Precinct Properties, which is required to be transparent about its accounting because it is NZX-listed.

Banks are also solidly backing Ryman Healthcare which has a $710 million Auckland spend-up planned after buying many hectares of land across the city.

But the taxpayer is also footing the bill: the Government is a huge player, pouring money into the transport network and other infrastructure and educational work.

To see a city change before your eyes, don’t blink. Watch this space.


  • Anne Gibson
  • The Herald

Early start for rail link?

railchurrThe Government is looking at an early start on the $2.4 billion City Rail Link – but only for a short section of the route to go with the redevelopment of the Downtown Shopping Centre. The underground rail link starts at Britomart and goes under Lower Queen St and the shopping centre before turning up Albert St bound for Mt Eden.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee told the Herald he had met Precinct Properties about plans for a $400 million to $500 million redevelopment of the downtown site.

Once those plans were firmed up, he said, the Government would want to see how the rail link and redevelopment might gel to ensure everyone got the best results out of the time the site was under construction.

But Mr Brownlee stressed there was no commitment from Precinct at this point and no commitment from the Government, which wanted construction on the full link to start in 2020. The section of the route under the downtown site “would be lucky to be 100m”, he said.

This is the first public indication from the Government of an early start on the rail link, which Auckland Mayor Len Brown wants to start building in 2016.

He is citing the downtown redevelopment as one reason to kickstart a $250 million cut-and-cover section of the link from Britomart and up much of Albert St.

Precinct chief executive Scott Pritchard yesterday said the company notified the stock exchange through its annual results reporting last week of a downtown start date in the first quarter of 2016. The annual results show the company is in the design phase and hopes to have resource consent and be committed to the project by the middle of next year.

“It would make sense to have works around that location done at the same time,” Mr Pritchard said. “Any Aucklander and visitor doesn’t want to see the bottom of the city under [construction for years].”

Last night, Mr Brown said it was great news the Government shared the view he heard every day that the rail link should be built as soon as possible.

Mr Brown – who has yet to fund the rail link – told a New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development symposium yesterday that work was coming to the “pointy end” of finding $300 million to $400 million of new funding sources a year to plug an $8 billion to $12 billion transport funding gap.

The Government rejected tolls, a regional fuel tax and congestion charges to meet the gap, and ratepayers baulked at high debt and rates.


NZ Herald

Design changes for City Rail Link- with video

railimpression_620x310Auckland Transport (AT) has decided to redevelop the existing Mt Eden Station and connect it to the CRL rather than build a new underground station at Newton.

Since the CRL’s concept design was developed two years ago, there has been concerted effort to optimise the design and drive value for money.  The on-going design improvement process included a comprehensive review of all project elements by an international “challenge team” of experts.

The improved design will connect passengers at Mt Eden Station to the CRL which previously bypassed them and improve operational reliability through the provision of a separated east-west junction so train lines won’t need to cross over each other.


Customer experience
  • Improves reliability with grade separated junction
  • Allows Mt Eden passengers to connect to CRL
  • Saves time for 3000 passengers a day – 95 a day have longer journeys
  • Deep lifts replaced by open to air platforms
  • Provides better modal transfer
  • Leverages development of construction site
  • Better fit with wider development potential
Construction impacts
  • Reduces construction disruption on Symonds St by 12-18 months
  • Reduces construction effects on some properties
  • Six fewer surface properties required
  • About a dozen fewer sub-surface properties required
  • Reduces capital cost by $124 million
  • Reduces operational expenditure

A video of the new design;





City Rail Link designation confirmed

clr-alignment-diagramThe City Rail Link has reached a major milestone with Auckland Transport accepting a recommendation by planning commissioners to confirm the land requirements for the CRL.

Auckland Transport’s chief executive David Warburton says the commissioners noted that the project benefits were essentially uncontested and recognised it was critical for Auckland’s growth and economic future.

“It’s a big step forward for Auckland. A proposal to extend rail through the city centre has been on the books in some form or other for almost a hundred years but never got beyond an idea. At last we have a designated route,” says Dr Warburton.


City planning for rail link

Construction of a new shopping centre on a site to be demolished for the Central Rail Link is scheduled to begin four years before Government funding of the transport project.

Site owner Precinct Properties yesterday announced a deal with Auckland Council to co-ordinate the timing of work at Downtown Shopping Centre on Queen St with the building of a tunnel there for the City Rail Link.

“We welcome the chance to work … with the council as obviously it would make a lot of sense to co-ordinate timing so they can advance works for the CRL tunnel at this site at the same time as we develop the downtown centre,” Precinct chief executive Scott Pritchard said.

rail link

Precinct plans to build a new shopping centre with an extra level of outlets as well as a tower office block on the site, giving a preliminary start date of 2016. This is in line with the council’s preferred schedule for the City Rail Link construction to begin.

Prime Minister John Key indicated a delayed start date of 2020 when he announced government financial backing of the $2.86 billion project.

But he has said the start could be brought forward if Auckland Transport could lift annual train patronage to 20 million passenger trips “well before 2020” and show a 25 per cent leap in CBD jobs.

The target is almost double current train patronage.

Mayor Len Brown said it was possible construction could start early.

“The Prime Minister has left open the possibility of an earlier start for the CRL and we will continue to discuss timing with the Government. My view is an earlier start would be significantly more cost effective and allow Auckland to reap the economic benefits sooner, but those are discussions we are yet to have.”

Mr Pritchard said the sooner work could start, “the better”.

“We are supporters of the City Rail Link, and the ability for public transport to bring more people into the city would be good for our business,” he said. “From a business perspective the sooner the better, and if this acts as a catalyst to bring forward the date that would be good.”

The shopping centre sits on land required to build and operate the rail link. Two rail lines will emerge from Britomart travelling below QEII Square and Downtown, before curving under Albert St as they head south to connect with the line at Mt Eden.

Mr Brown said the agreement to try to co-ordinate construction was “another great step” in the progress of the CBD rail link. “Today we celebrate 10 years since the first train service at Britomart and here we are a decade later agreeing to negotiate a kick-start for the next exciting phase of our city’s rail future,” he said.

The link will be able to carry 30,000 people an hour at peak times, with trains running every 5 to 10 minutes.

Train timetable

Govt date to fund half the cost of $2.86 billion City Rail Link, unless Auckland Transport can lift train patronage and CBD jobs.

Auckland Council’s preferred start-date and scheduled start for construction of new shopping centre above the link.


  • NZ Herald
  • Picture:
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