Engineering, Passenger Rail

Auckland City Rail Link contract awarded, $1bn added to price tag

The major construction contract for Auckland’s City Rail Link has been awarded, and the overall cost of the project has been revised upwards by more than NZ$1 billion.

After what was described as an “exhaustive” tender process, the Link Alliance was this week announced as the preferred bidder for the major package of work to build the CRL, a rail link which will create a central loop in Auckland, facilitating major growth in passenger rail capacity through the country’s largest city.

The Link Alliance is comprised of Vinci Construction Grands Projet, Downer NZ, Soletanche Bachy International NZ, WSP Opus (NZ), AECOM New Zealand, and Tonkin + Taylor.

CRL Ltd, the joint Auckland Council-NZ Government team directing the project, said the Link Alliance was selected “on the basis of a strong proposal that offered an experienced construction management team, significant commitment to the Alliance from executives of the construction firms involved, an efficient construction methodology and innovative engineering ideas”.

CRL Ltd on April 17 also outlined its revised cost envelope for the overall project, which is now NZ$4.419 billion, up from the previous estimate of NZ$3.4 billion.

Breaking the higher cost estimate down, CRL Ltd said $250 million of extra cost is to accommodate revised plans for longer trains, and $327 million is in additional construction costs. Beyond this, $152 million of the higher price is listed as “non-direct” costs, and $310 million of extra cost is being put down to contingency and escalation.

CRL Ltd chief executive Sean Sweeney said the revised cost reflected “significant changes impacting the project in the past five years”.

“No-one could have foreseen the competitive pressures that have occurred in the construction industry over the past few years and the impact that has on costs, particularly for a project the scale and complexity of the City Rail Link,” Sweeney said.

“Eighteen months ago, the value of work in the infrastructure pipeline on both sides of the Tasman was $80 billion – the value of that work is now estimated at $230 billion.”

In addition, he noted a number of changes to the scope of the project itself.

“Last year, a decision was made to increase the scope of the project to accommodate longer, nine-car trains at stations,” he said. “Planning today for a city that will be much bigger in the future reinforces the benefits the City Rail Link will deliver to the way people travel, work and live in Auckland.”

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