Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Train Stations, Industry Infrastructure, Tunnelling, Passenger Rail

City Rail Link tracks make right connection

City Rail Link

The first of the two 3.45-kilometre-long tracks for Auckland’s newest railway line – the City Rail Link (CRL) – has now been laid, connecting Waitematā (Britomart) and Maungawhau Stations underground.

CRL chief executive Sean Sweeney said it was challenging underground work where the terrain was steep and tunnel curves tight, but it helped mark a big physical crossover from a heavy construction project to the development of what would become a world class railway with a huge impact on Aucklanders’ lives.

Installation of the first track began in August 2022. Work started just as CRL’s tunnel boring machine, Dame Whina Cooper, was nearing the end of its tunnel excavating drive.

CRL’s main contractor, Link Alliance, and railway infrastructure company, Martinus New Zealand, installed the track on what is one of the steepest sections of railway in New Zealand. From Waitematā, which sits below sea level, the track climbs around 70 metres to Maungawhau.  At its deepest point, the track runs 42 metres underneath Auckland’s busy Karanga-a-Hape.

In the tunnel near Te Waihorotiu Station in central Auckland, two of the track laying team – Alexandra Favre, a Link Alliance track engineer, and Amy Khune, a Martinus surveyor – locked into place the last of more than 21,000 rail clips that secure steel track weighing 340 tonnes in total to their foundations.

Laying the track also included pouring 4400t of concrete and completing more than 280 rail welds, which smooth out the “clickety-clack” joins where track sections meet, to give people a smoother ride.

To complete the job, Link Alliance became the first construction organisation in New Zealand to gain a Rail Operators and Rail Access provider licence under the country’s Railways Act.

Martinus New Zealand general manager, Graham Bradley, said the project assembled teams who had outstanding expertise and commitment to getting the mahi done, often 24/7.

“A restricted rail corridor brings all sorts of challenges that you can never expect and brings out the best in people. Working together to bring CRL to life as a transformational project is something we’re all really proud to be a part of,” h said.

The newly laid track will carry trains south from Waitematā to Maungawhau.

Laying the track successfully is one part of a complex tunnel fit out underway that includes the installation of electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, safety and communications systems.

Work to fit-out the line in the second CRL tunnel, which will carry trains north from Maungawhau Station to Waitematā, will be completed next year.