Construction on the City Rail Link (CRL) in Auckland has resumed.
On-site activity was temporarily halted for five weeks during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in New Zealand, however all six CRL sites are now operating. These sites are located in the middle of the Auckland CBD at Britomart, Albert Street, Karangahape, and Mt Eden, as well as at Ōtāhuhu.
Although construction may have been halted, off-site work could continue, enabling what CRL Ltd chief executive Sean Sweeney called a “strong and safe” return to construction.
“The prep work completed at our sites during the past week together with planning and design work done from home by our backroom teams during the lockdown will all contribute to a successful return to work.”
Other rail projects across New Zealand have also resumed, with KiwiRail workers returning to sites including the Kaikōura rebuild and the Wellington metro upgrades. Transport Minister Phil Twyford acknowledged the efforts of the rail and construction sectors.
“I’d like to thank the industry, Waka Kotahi, City Rail Link Ltd and KiwiRail for their efforts which will see well over 1,000 construction workers back on the job this week. For example, the Kaikōura rebuild will see around 450 road and rail workers back to work, City Rail Link expects 400 workers back this week, and Transmission Gully and Pūhoi to Warkworth will ramp back up to hundreds of workers at each.”
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said works would soften the economic impact of COVID-19.
“We’re putting our money where our mouth is and getting people back to work day one of Alert Level 3 so we can get money into the pockets of businesses and workers sooner.”
At CRL sites 200 workers are on site on the first day, Tuesday, April 28, and numbers will go up to 400 by the end of the week.
“Our priority is the safety of our construction teams and the wider community. At morning start-up and toolbox meetings workers will be briefed about stringent new health and safety protocols before they make a successful start to their shifts. Those rules cover things like access to sites, safety and protection for themselves and their workmates, and sanitation and cleaning regimes. We’ll be applying the protocols diligently,” said Sweeney.
Rail has been targeted as a way for the New Zealand economy to recover after the lockdown, with multiple projects put forward by local governments and the NZ Greens pushing for further work on the country’s regional rail system. According to Sweeney, CRL has a role to play in this.
“Given the project’s size and the contribution it can make, getting back to work quickly will be a significant and important contribution to the revival of the New Zealand economy.”
Similar to other projects in Australia, CRL is looking to take advantage of lower traffic levels to get ahead of schedule.
“It is our priority to keep the community, and relevant organisation and stakeholders informed if there are any changes,” said Sweeney.