Below Rail Infrastructure, Engineering, light rail, Major Projects & Infrastructure, Operations & Maintenance, Track & Civil Construction

Physical works kick off for Auckland Light Rail

Auckland Light Rail


Physical works for New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project – Auckland Light Rail (ALR) – are underway with the start of below ground investigations to test soil and water conditions.

Minister of Transport and for Auckland, Michael Wood, was present for the start of work on a bore hole being drilled 40 metres into a section of Gribblehirst Park, Sandringham.  Core samples will be analysed to help decide the most technically viable route for light rail which will connect people to the city’s biggest job centres – the CBD and the airport – and its two universities.

ALR chief executive Tommy Parker said the first pieces of a very complex infrastructure jigsaw were being put in place.

“It’s the physical start to a challenging and exciting project that is going to bring so many positive changes to Aucklanders and our city,” he said.

During the next six months, ALR will sink 30 holes between 10 to 80 metres deep along sections of light rail’s indicative 24-kilometre-long route spanning Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s narrow central isthmus, half of which will be tunnelled.

ALR will also tap into underground information already gathered by two other big infrastructure projects – the City Rail Link and the Central Interceptor, Auckland Council’s underground wastewater pipeline.

Information from the samples will help ALR’s computer team “draw” a 3D picture of below ground conditions along the project’s proposed corridor.

“It’s important and exciting progress in the development of New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project, reinforcing the efficient and hard work by our design and planning team to get things moving quickly to deliver a project that is credible, affordable and consentable,” Parker said.

Funding of $16m was approved last year to allow Arup and Aurecon – the two companies in ALR’s planning and design alliance – to jump start their work.  The ground investigation costs are included in a further $48.45m approved for the alliance to undertake  work necessary to further progress the project for construction.

Parker said the approval also includes further design development of the light rail system, work towards gaining consents, preparation of the Corridor Business Case to secure additional Crown funding, planning for the maintenance and operations as well as investigations and planning to give Aucklanders more clarity by mid-year around light rail’s preferred route and station locations.

The work will allow ALR to develop its next significant step – lodgement of a Notice of Requirement (NOR) with Auckland Council mid-year to apply for the legal designation and resource consents required to construct the light rail system, and to operate and maintain it into the future.

“But even with our mid-year NOR target, much still needs to be done to complete all the planning and design work a project as big and as complex as Auckland Light Rail needs – 2023 will be very busy,” Parker said.

Light rail will connect the communities of Sandringham, Mt Roskill, Onehunga and Māngere with the airport to the south and the CBD and universities to the north.

ALR’s ground investigations will be confined mainly to parks and reserves to minimise disruption to walkers and road users.  It will take around five days to drill each hole.  All the core samples will be kept in safe storage and returned to their original sites when analysis work is completed.


An ALR drilling rig in action.