First tracks laid for Auckland’s City Rail Link

City Rail Link New Zealand

City Rail Link, CRL, Link Alliance, Martinus, new zealand,


“On a project bristling with huge achievements and milestones this stands out as one of the most significant,” says City Rail Link Ltd Chief Executive Dr Sean Sweeney.

“It was challenging underground work where the terrain was steep and tunnel curves tight, but it helps mark a big physical crossover from a heavy construction project to the development of what will become a world class railway with a huge impact on Aucklanders lives,” says City Rail Link Ltd Chief Executive Dr Dean Sweeney.

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 Ltd’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 4,400 tonnes 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.

“Getting the licence was an innovation that helped underline the excellent work of first-class teams involved in the track laying and gave us more flexibility to carefully plan our programme of work and get the job done to the highest standard,” says Link Alliance Project Director Francois Dudouit.

Martinus New Zealand General Manager, Graham Bradley, also acknowledges a huge undertaking that began during the Covid pandemic.

“We assembled teams who have 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,” says Martinus New Zealand General Manager Graham Bradley.

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.

Source: City Rail Link 2023

Image Source: City Rail Link 2023

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