Below Rail Infrastructure, Major Projects & Infrastructure, Track & Civil Construction

Karangahape welcomes Dame Whina Cooper


Auckland’s City Rail Link (CRL) tunnel boring machine (TBM), Dame Whina Cooper, has broken through into the Karangahape Station construction site at the end of its 860 metre-long journey from Mt Eden. 

CRL workers 32 metres below ground at Karangahape welcomed Dame Whina as the TBM breached a 100 millimetre-thick protective wall of concrete into the station cavern. 

CRL Chief Executive Sean Sweeney said the succes was tempered by the continuing consequences of COVID for New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project. 

“The pandemic has had serious impacts on our project costs and construction timings,” he said.  

New Zealand’s recent five-week-long lockdown delayed the TBM’s planned September breakthrough. CRL’s main contractor, the Link Alliance, continued to operate the TBM during the lockdown, well below full capacity, to stop earth settling around it. Tunnelling accelerated when lockdown restrictions eased. 

The TBM began mining from the Mt Eden Station construction site five months ago, in May, and multi-tasked – cutting into the earth, removing spoil to the surface, and installing the concrete panels that line the tunnels. 

At Karangahape the 130 metre-long TBM will now be pushed 223 metres to the northern end of the station cavern and readied for the next stage of its journey, to Aotea Station in Auckland’s midtown. Its planned arrival is early in the new year where it will connect with the tunnels already built from Britomart and under the lower end of Albert Street. 

The second CRL tunnel from Mt Eden to Aotea will be bored in 2022. 

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