City Rail Link

CRL Milestones 2018

CRL Milestones 2018

The CRL is the largest single transport infrastructure project in New Zealand's history.

Click below for previous milestones:


Here we list the big milestones in 2018:


Breakthrough in City Rail Link tunnel construction

06 December 2018

City Rail Link (CRL) celebrated a major milestone today with the breakthrough from the Albert Street tunnels to CRL tunnels across the Commercial Bay site, Downtown Auckland.

Mayor Phil Goff says, “With the Albert Street trench excavation complete we are one step closer to delivering Auckland’s first underground rail line.”

“The CRL is the most significant infrastructure project in New Zealand. When complete it will carry more than 50,000 passengers during peak hours and completely transform how we move about our city.”

“The CRL will not only change the way we travel through Auckland’s central city, it will significantly enhance the efficiency of our entire public transport network, freeing-up our streets from bus congestion and delivering more efficient and frequent train services across the city.”

“We are transforming Auckland. Changing the way we live, move and play. It’s good for the city and great for its people,” says Mayor Goff.

CRL’s CEO Dr Sean Sweeney, says, “The City Rail Link is a city-shaping project that will completely transform the way people move around the city.”

“Today’s milestone is an exciting step that brings us closer to delivering the project’s many benefits for Auckland.”

“While there has been some recent media focus on the financial issue with one contract, it’s business as usual with CRL and today’s breakthrough proves we’re on track and making great progress.”

Dr Sweeney added that the nature of this project has made today’s milestone even more significant.

“It’s fair to say that getting to this point has not been without its challenges. This is the largest transport project ever undertaken in New Zealand and building it within the middle of a built-up city is no small task.”

“The nature of the excavation, the tight confines and the location all make building this project extremely complex and I’m delighted with the progress we have made to date.”

The breakthrough itself has been a gradual process over the past month that has required a staged approach to excavation, construction of shotcrete support between piles, and demolition of temporary concrete piles separating the two sites.

The tunnels between the two sites, meet under the Customs Street traffic deck which was built last year to keep traffic moving while the work is carried out underneath.

Dr Sweeney says now the CRLL contractor Connectus the McConnell Dowell and Downer Joint Venture team can complete the construction of the remaining third of the tunnel box and backfilling of the trench will continue until it is completely covered – expected to be mid-2019.

Early next year the tunnels from the former CPO (Britomart) site will also connect to tunnels across the Commercial Bay site – providing a complete tunnel section from Britomart through to Wyndham St.

“This project continues to progress and take shape at pace and we’re thrilled that Aucklanders are starting to see the outputs of all the hard work that is going on right underneath their city,” says Dr Sweeney.

 A snapshot of the Albert Street Trench in numbers:

  • 846,000 hours worked to date

  • 360 piles installed

  • 155 steel struts

  • 250 services relocated

  • 50,000m3 of backfill to complete the trench

  • 10,000m3 of tunnel box concrete

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Ceremony for tunnel boring machine

04 December 2018

A blessing was held today for Jeffie, the tunnel boring machine being used at Mt Eden.

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St Barbara is the patron saint of miners and tunnellers. A statuette of her was carried by MBJV tunnel supervisor Laurent LeCalvez down the shaft at Mt Eden where tunnel boring machine Jeffie will be used to help divert a section of the existing Mt Eden stormwater pipe, which will be in the way of the CRL tunnel.

It’s traditional when a new project starts for a small shrine to Santa Barbara to be set up at the tunnel, followed by a dedication and an invocation to Santa Barbara for protection of the workers.

Video: The amazing uplifting of the historic CPO building

20 November 2018

We’ve created a video about one of the most complex engineering challenges for the City Rail Link (CRL) to date - one which took two years of planning and preparation by NZ and international experts.

In order to construct new railway tunnels under the Britomart train station, the building had to first be moved onto temporary foundations to keep it protected during construction.

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City Rail Link milestone reached in Albert Street construction

09 October 2018

The re-instatement of Albert Street is one step closer as the City Rail Link (CRL) reaches another significant delivery milestone.

Today, the project started the backfilling of the trench which runs directly underneath Auckland’s busy Albert Street.

City Rail Link CEO, Sean Sweeney, says the milestone marks the start of the last stage of the Albert Street works needed before the road can be re-instated and returned to road users and pedestrians – expected late 2020.

“Anyone who has walked, cycled or driven past the Albert Street site over the last three years will have seen just how much work is underway to get this complete.”

“The team has been working very hard to get to this point relocating services, piling, supporting and diverting utilities, bulk excavation and constructing the tunnel box itself,” he says.

Backfilling of the trench will take until mid-2019 to complete and a total of 50,000m3 of materials will be used to fill it. That’s the equivalent of 20 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The material will be a mixture of crushed concrete, crushed rock, sand and flowable fill.

People using Albert Street will see an excavator sitting on the construction deck moving materials down onto the roof. The project team will then use small diggers to spread the backfill within the trench.

Mr Sweeney said that the project was grateful for the support of those who work on, live on and travel along Albert Street.

“Building New Zealand’s largest transport project in the middle of a built-up city is no small task and it is not without its impacts.”

“We’re grateful for the patience and understanding of our neighbours as we work to complete the project as quickly as possible,” he says.

The Albert Street works are being completed by Connectus - the McConnell Dowell and Downer Joint Venture delivering the C2 contract.

Last week, the project marked another major milestone on the C1 contract in Queen St with tunnel excavation at Britomart (the former Chief Post Office building) now proceeding at full steam.

The contractors working on that contract, Downer NZ and Soletanche Bachy JV, completed the weight transfer of the 106-year-old Category 1-listed heritage building onto a series of underpinning frames, which will protect it from damage while City Rail Link infrastructure is built underneath.

What’s next for Albert Street

  • Mid-November 2018, excavation completed

  • Christmas 2018, start of the construction of the tunnel box under Customs St intersection

  • Early 2019, Albert St trench connection to Commercial Bay

  • Mid 2019, trench backfilling completed

  • Late 2020, road re-instatement and streetscape works complete

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Load transfer completed

04 October 2018

The load transfer of the former Chief Post Office (Britomart) building is now complete.

DBSJV has been completing the weight transfer of the 106-year-old Category 1-listed heritage building onto a series of underpinning frames, which will protect it from damage while CRL infrastructure is built underneath.

The remaining area of the building has now been load transferred onto the temporary foundations – this is a photo of frame 9, the steel underpinning frame that is now taking the weight of the eastern façade.

Tunnel excavation can now proceed at full steam.

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C3 Contract Milestone

06 September 2018

Another significant milestone on the CRL project bringing us one step closer to delivery.

The Request For Proposal (RFP) has been issued to the two shortlisted tenderers for the major contract for the stations and tunnels (we refer to this as contract 3).

The RFP process will be completed by next February and the contract should be awarded by the end of March 2019.

The two shortlisted tenders represent world-class firms that have a wealth of experience delivering major infrastructure projects both here and overseas. They are:

  • Downer New Zealand Limited, Vinci Construction Grands Projets S.A.S., Soletanche Bachy International NZ Limited, AECOM, Tonkin & Taylor and WSP Opus

  • CPB Contractors Pty Limited, UGL (NZ) Limited, Beca, McMillen Jacobs Limited and Jacobs New Zealand Limited.

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Visit to City Rail Link Construction

28 August 2018

Today (left to right below) Mayor of Auckland  Phil Goff, Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore were taken on a tour of the CRL construction to view progress.

Here they are visiting the Chief Post Office building where tunnel construction is starting.

Then they went underground in Albert Street to see the trench that will carry the trains through from Britomart to connect to the Auckland rail network.

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City Rail Link starts Britomart tunnel excavation

24 July 2018

CRL has started excavating the 14-metre-deep trench that will contain the project’s twin rail tunnels under Britomart Station and Lower Queen Street in downtown Auckland.

The excavation follows two years of careful preparation work to protect Britomart Station’s historic Chief Post Office (CPO) building and support the ground before the trenching and tunnel construction begin.

CRL contractor Downer-Soletanche Bachy Joint Venture (DSBJV) will start by removing a five-metre layer of ground from Lower Queen Street. This will lower the ground level sufficiently to allow excavators to start digging under the CPO building.

UNDERWAY: CRL Chief Executive Sean Sweeney (right) oversees the start of excavation with DSBJV Project Director Dale Burtenshaw

UNDERWAY: CRL Chief Executive Sean Sweeney (right) oversees the start of excavation with DSBJV Project Director Dale Burtenshaw


A single 25-metre-wide trench will be excavated in Lower Queen Street and two 10-metre-wide trenches under the CPO (the two future CRL platforms will be located on the far sides of the station).

CRL tunnel box construction is expected to start at this location at the end of this year.

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Customs St intersection tunnel excavation starting

02 July 2018

Tunnel excavation under the Customs Street intersection is expected to start this week.

This work will pave the way for construction of the City Rail Link (CRL) tunnel box section that will link the Albert Street trench with the tunnels being built under the Commercial Bay development.

Thanks to the concrete bridge deck constructed over the intersection about a year ago, traffic flow will be unaffected by the excavation occurring underneath. The spoil will be removed from the site using excavators and conveyors.

CRL contractor Connectus (the Downer-McConnell Dowell Joint Venture) will also be removing an old brick stormwater tunnel located under the intersection and replacing it with a temporary stormwater line that diverts water away from the location of the future CRL tunnels. The temporary line will be permanently diverted at a later date to connect with the Swanson Street line, created during the Albert Street stormwater realignment works last year.

Construction of the tunnel structure is expected to start in this area later this year and a full connection made between the two construction sites by autumn 2019.

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Secant piling completed

23 May 2018

Another milestone bringing us closer to construction of the City Rail Link tunnels that will make Britomart a through station.
It’s the completion of secant piling which has been happening in Lower Queen Street outside the former Chief Post Office (Britomart).

COMPLETED: The piling team after the 70th secant pile had been installed.

The secant pile walls will connect the excavation under Britomart to the excavation at Precinct Properties’ Commercial Bay development on the other side of Lower Queen St, where CRL tunnel boxes are being constructed.

70 secant piles had to be installed.

Secant piling is construction of intersecting reinforced concrete piles. These piles lock together for strength and control any groundwater ingress into the tunnel excavation.

A 70 tonne piling rig was brought in for the drilling.

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Start of middle wall of tunnel box

03 May 2018

The middle wall of the first 12 metres tunnel box in Albert Street is presently being poured by the Connectus team (McConnell Dowell and Downer). The outer walls were done on Tuesday. 

The middle wall is not as wide as the outer walls with a width of 460mm (600mm for the outer wall). It is slightly taller with a height of 5 metres (4.6m for the outer wall). It requires less concrete with 28m3 of concrete or 6 concrete trucks instead of the 60m3 used for the outer walls.

The steel formworks’ weight is doubled for the middle wall with a weight of 20 tonnes. The roof is scheduled for the end of this month.

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Albert St tunnel box milestone

01 May 2018

The CRL Connectus team (McConnell Dowell and Downer) is pouring the first 12 metres outer walls of the tunnel box in Albert Street. 
The team is pouring two walls, the east and west wall – the middle one will be poured later in the week and the roof is scheduled for end of May. 60m3 of concrete is needed for the two walls - that comes in 15 concrete trucks.

The eastern and western wall are 600mm wide and 4.66 metres high each. The steel formworks weigh 10 tonnes for each outer wall.

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CPO building load transfer

01 May 2018

We’re a step closer to be able to start tunnel excavations in the former Chief Post Office (CPO) building.

Those excavations will turn Britomart into a through tunnel.

Contract one of the CRL works involves Downer NZ and Soletanche Bachy (DSBJV) progressing  the CRL work through and under Britomart Station and Queen Street to the former Downtown Shopping Centre site which is now Precinct Properties Commercial Bay development. 

They've achieved a new milestone.

This was that the first area of the CPO building that has been load transferred onto one of the structural steel underpinning frames.

There are 12 frames.

Why this is significant is because once all the load transfers are completed, we can then start tunnel excavations safely. 

The weight of the building is carried by its columns down into the building foundations.

Before excavation of the rail tunnels can commence, a number of these foundations need to be removed – so the associated weight of the building firstly has to be transferred onto the underpinning frames.

Each affected column is clamped by a steel collar which sits upon a steel beam located either side of the column. A hydraulic jack is located beneath each corner of the collar (four jacks in total per collar) and these jacks are used to exert a force on the underside of the collar equivalent to the building weight carried by the column.

Each underpinning frame consists of two collars and the two beams. The beams span between two rows of diaphragm walls which were installed earlier during the project and are fixed to the capping beams which sit upon the diaphragm walls. Each frame supports two CPO building columns and the weight carried by both columns are transferred concurrently onto the frame during the load transfer for that frame.

During load transfer, the force exerted by each jack is slowly increased by increasing the hydraulic pressure within the jack and it is closely monitored along with any ‘lift off’ (displacement) experienced by the column. When the jacks exert a maximum specified force (predetermined by calculating the weight of the building carried by each of the two columns) or the column experiences ‘lift off’, the load transfer is complete.

Following construction of the rail tunnels and the subsequent re-build of the CPO building foundations, the weight carried by each column will be transferred back into the building foundations and the underpinning structures will be removed.

All heritage values of the former CPO building have to be maintained - the project is working closely with the Heritage New Zealand. 

In January 2017, the Queen Street entrances to the Britomart Transport Centre closed for three years so that the CRL tunnelling work underneath could be done.

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Albert Street Tunnel Box Pour

01 March 2018

The construction of the Albert St tunnel box is going well. The first 12 metres of waterproofing has been completed for the first slab so reinforcing works have just started.

The first slab will be completed on Saturday and the first pour will begin on Monday. Two tonnes bundles have been individually lifted between the struts to the trench floor by contractor CRS Ltd. It takes 8 steel fixers 5 days to tie together one floor slab (12 metres). 20 Tonnes of steel are used for the first slab.

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Sandrine finishes her work

31 January 2018

Sandrine, the bright red 90-tonne piling rig has finished working around the historic CPO (Britomart) building for contractor Downer Soletanche-Bachy JV and was returned to France. 

With Sandrine's help, 64 diaphragm walls (or D-walls) were built by the construction workers. The wall panels form the structural support for the tunnels to be built in the building and also prevent water ingress.

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Albert Street Trench Construction Starts

14 February 2018

In Albert Street, construction of the first tunnel box is starting.

It takes three days to install the first 12 metres of the waterproofing.

The first step of the works is to place a first layer on the wall and floor.

This material is called filter cloth. It will protect the waterproofing membrane from perforation by the concrete.

Once installed, the waterproofing membrane can be placed on top.

Meanwhile, bulk excavation of the cut-and-cover trench on Albert Street is continuing towards the Customs Street intersection.

Behind the excavation stage, the construction of the tunnel box is getting underway.

This means installing steel mesh and pin into the wall of the trench for temporary rock support.

This is followed by ‘shotcreting’: this means spray-concreting a smooth surface for the waterproofing membrane of the tunnel box. The shotcreting team is currently completing the first 44 metres section of wall.

The last preparation step is the ‘blinding layer’: pouring concrete on the floor of the trench to form a flat, smooth layer for the concrete slab that holds the tunnel rails. The first 44 metres of blinding is already complete.

The team will then start the construction of 29 sections of tunnel box, each 12 metres long.

The waterproofing membrane is installed on the floor and walls, steel reinforcement is fixed for the base slab, and formwork installed before finally pouring tunnel concrete.

Once about 60 metres of the tunnel box is constructed, the team can start backfilling.

These steps will be followed, stage after stage, for approximately 350 metres of tunnel.

In the second half of the year, the Albert Street trench excavation will be completed and connected to the Precinct Properties site on the corner of Customs and Lower Albert Streets.

The tunnel box construction will continue all year, following behind the excavation.

By mid-year, the Albert Street trench will start to be backfilled between Wyndham and Swanson Streets and the first portion of road reinstatement is expected to start at that location before the end of the year.

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Last concrete pour for CPO D-walls

31 January 2018

Downer Soletanche JV workers have begun the final concrete pour for the 64th and final diaphragm wall (D-wall) in the CPO. The walls were required to support the CRL tunnel excavation under Britomart Station.

Sandrine (003).jpg

The D-walls not only provide soil retention and control groundwater ingress but support the weight of the historic building during tunnel construction. It will also mean the end of the work there for the big piling rig Sandrine.

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