City Rail Link Limited (CRLL) are presenting to the Council’s Finance and Performance Committee tomorrow. Their presentation contains a number of updates on the project. First of all there are some important project wide comments.

CRLL is owned by both the government and the council who act as sponsors. They say there is a “Project Delivery Agreement (PDA) between CRL and sponsors on what and how we deliver is in line with cost and programme”. As part of this they note it:

  • Includes a Target Delivery Cost* of $3.37bn (P50); and
  • Target Delivery Date* of March 2024 (will be confirmed once contracts are let)

This is the first time I can recall seeing a delivery date of 2024 and if true suggests the project timeline has slipped which is hugely disappointing. I note the CRLL website states completion in 2023 so I hope the Councillors ask some serious questions of CRLL about this.

I also hope they ask some questions about the cost of the project and how it managed to go up so much. Especially so given they kept that news a secret even from the mayor at the time. With the cost, potential time frame blowout as well as the well documented issues about the Karangahape Rd entrance and future proofing for longer trains, I can’t help but wonder if new management is needed in the project.

There is some potentially good news about future proofing though. A bullet point at the end of the presentation, in a section called Look Ahead, simply states “Future proofing for longer trains”. If they’ve changed their mind on this then that’s really positive, now to get them to get that Beresford Square entrance built.

Moving up there are a number of updates about the various works underway (or soon to be).


It appears everything is on track with the presentation listing these bullet points.

  • About halfway through the 15-20 metre deep diaphragm wall construction to form the twin tunnels
  • Early 2018, underpin the CPO with steel beams across the walls and transfer weight of CPO onto structure
  • Walls become part of the permanent structure
  • Eventual streetscape at 50% design stage
  • Contract progressing to programme with no significant inground obstruction encountered

The Britomart works include the tunnel under Lower Queen St and the piling for that section is due to begin in mid-2018.

Commercial Bay

They say the tunnels through the site are making good progress to meet the time frames for the Britomart and Albert St works.

Albert St

In update on Tuesday they said they’d reached 17m deep which means there is only 1m to go before they can start building the tunnels at the bottom of the trench. Presumably they’ll hit that milestone any day now. The presentation notes that they’re removing around 300m³  of spoil daily and also says:

Excavation was challenging during wet weather and in sticky clay layers. Contractor making good progress in firm soils.

Aotea Station

They still haven’t even shortlisted tenderers for the main works yet but say advanced works to remove canopies and relocate services will begin in January. They also say the station box will start construction during 2018 at the southern end of Albert St. Included in the presentation is this new image of the station entrance at Aotea. This is looking west towards Mayoral Dr.

Mt Eden

There is this new image of the station entrance showing a large feature wall. One thing that does concern me from a practicality point of view is that there’s only one escalator, presumably only operating in the peak directions. This seems a poor outcome given this station is basically a blank canvas and not very space constrained.

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  1. It’s the P50 dollar value you need to be concerned about. It means a 50% chance it will cost $3.37b. The P80 value which is a better measure of probabilistic cost is likely to be closer to $4b

    Timing wise 2025 is more likely based on progress to date.

  2. This project has been horribly managed and both Council and Government need to hold CRLL to account.

    A higher standard of project management needs to be set so that future projects do not suffer the same issues learn from mistakes.

  3. Hugely concerned that a lot of thought has gone into the feature wall at Mt Eden and almost bugger all into how usable the station will be for actual transport users. Not only is there one stair escalator, there’s only one set of stairs too. Isn’t Panmure better specced that this?

  4. Surely that’s a joke? Have the designers even used Britomart before? What about if patronage doubles? Just stick in a giant video ad wall if that will help pay for more escalators.

  5. National was and is very much against PT. They put obstacles in the way of many PT plans even though 64% of people want more PT and rail. They can for example say that they built a $20 million station at Parnell and will say people are not using it but won’t admit they put it in the wrong place.
    So now the NZTA has spent all the money on road projects for years ahead and that will restrict money for PT and rail.
    I think the best the government can do in this difficult situation is to go with many smaller good return projects such as opening tunnels under Albert Park, more path connections and escalators and easy access to stations, build the Sky Path attached to the Harbour bridge, build the new busway to Albany, build the 3rd main line at Wiri, continue with closing roads in the CBD and extending cycle ways.
    They can squeeze in the rail to the Airport, the CBL and AMETI.

    1. I think we’d be better building the 4th main rather than just the 3rd, a little vision and foresight might actually put the city on the front foot for a change.

    2. I was in Auckland last Wednesday and got the midday southern line service and there where like 20 people that got on at Parnell so it must be being used

      1. Parnel for lunch perhaps?

        I don’t doubt you, it’s just that the station is in a really bad location that poorly serves the area.

  6. I well remember the condemnation heaped on those who said the cost for the CRL would likely end up at
    $4b – far more than the original $2.5b.
    A lot of that condemnation came from people who frequent this forum.
    Looks like the chickens are coming home to roost.

    1. Apples with Oranges. Fake news.

      That $2.4B figure you quote is a figure for which total costs were calculated and expressed in $ value as of the base year of the project. [like 2011 or 13 or something like that as I recall].

      Actual spending $ figures [like the $3.6B] will always be a higher amount – as the money is spent later in the project, and so is subject to cost inflation.

      Come back when CRL is complete and see how far different the total cost was expressed in base year $ terms. I doubt it will be significantly different, unlike most RoNS which always exceeded their base year costs.

    2. {Edited after seeing Greg N’s comment}

      It is right to suggest that the cost should be a concern. Investigating who’s on the project team is a good start. I’ve no problem with them being paid more, if they can hire more competent people. I don’t even care if they live in NZ or elsewhere, as long as they can do the job and have the power to drive through any changes necessary.

  7. Aotea Station – I wonder why these renders never show the external gates? I’d have thought that there would be some kind of gate structure that could lock the station off from the street, why isn’t that in the render? I know, because being realistic wouldn’t get people excited.

    That was just me getting my daily whine out of the way.

    What isn’t whining is the comment on _one_ escalator for Mt Eden. One. They can’t be serious, surely!

    Also, whilst this is going to be seen as whining – I’d like to see how they’re going to light the place. I can only see one light source, which would do very little, so there has to be a lot of artificial light.

    Lumieres should be design features, not add-ons. This is something that can enhance or detract from a place, so needs to be given a decent priority.

    Do we want low CRI LED @ 6500K or high CRI LED @ 27-3400K? Technical? A little, but has a big impact on how people feel about a space.

    I know that colour psychology may sound a bit wishy-washy to some, but in my experience as an artist that and the related field of colour theory have been shown to be very important to how a space/work is received.

    In short: You need lights, make them design features and throw some proper colour into the renders.

    1. And if it’s not, can you fill us in on whether the fault lies with management, difficult politics, changing scope or something else?

      1. 1. Value engineering that makes no sense you basically have to all but build B Square entrance anyway.

        2. Siloed thinking where hardly any consideration of how this projects links in with a network simply about delivering said project.

        3. Disgraceful attitude to the concerns of people with mobility issues as shown in the Spin Off interview with Meale.

        4. The fact the CRL cost blew out and Mayor Len Brown had to hear about it in the Herald.

        5. The lack of regard for place keen to restore traffic lanes but upgrade of Albert Street is AC’s problem etc.

        6. The splitting of the project up in heaps of different parts and how the parts have been organised.

        7. Lack of design for users as demonstrated most aptly in above picture.

        8. Weird Marketing/Comms strategy well behind Melbourne/Sydney. I think this has to be exemplified by the fact they spent years trying to get past people calling it loop to then make the logo a fucking loop.

        9. No where near best practice working and mitigating construction effects for residents/businesses getting this right is imperative for Light Rail.

        I could go on but it just makes me angry

        1. I really feel as though the decisions on access in particular are being made by people who don’t regularly use public transport. Are these decisions not being challenged on the way through?

        2. It’s a common theme, people responsible for most cycleways are not all weather commuter cyclists

        3. Whats the best course of action to actually get through to these people. Greater Auckland does a great job. But other than writing to MPs and Councillors is there more the readers (me) could be doing to push a management overhaul.

        4. Reminds me of a discussion we had recently. Near enough seems to be viewed as good enough in New Zealand. This is why we are a second-world nation. (Leaky buildings).

  8. 2024? Was there not some comment just a few weeks ago that the new govt or AC wanted to look at completing the CRL earlier? In time for Americas cup in Auckland.
    Why is there not work started at other parts of CRL? And can the tunnel boring not get underway? Surely there is sufficient technology available so that tunnel commencement does not require completed station boxes.

    1. Oh, it will be ready for the America’s Cup defense, but it will be the 2024 one.

      They can’t start boring the tunnels until Albert street has been excavated (still 1m to go) and cut & cover section completed where they drop the TBM into.

    2. There is no chance, and no-one has ever suggested it would be ready for the next Americas Cup.

      Light Rail to dominion road could be completed by then, but they even need to start moving on that otherwise will miss this opportunity

  9. As I understand it tunnel boring will not start work until the contract for boring the tunnels is let.
    No word to date who has the contract. Anyone a rumour to share?
    Factor in the time to get a boring machine to Auckland, it is most unlikely the tunnels will start being built until late 2018.

  10. Having worked on numerous Underground rail stations in London (including Canary Wharf – which had 19 escalators), i’d Like to say that no station should ever have less than 3 escalators at any one level change. It’s the absolute minimum. Escalators break down – fact. They take a long time to repair – fact. If you work on a minimum of one down, and one up, that leaves you with one extra for peak times, or allows it to be taken out of service for repair. Having only one escalator at Mount Eden is just foolish.

  11. There are five entrances to Mt Eden station, and the plan shows double escalators on each platform, so how important is the one in the artist impression? If it’s just a way to move between the two station levels, independent of platform access from street level, is it really an issue?

  12. Ok, just seen the detailed station plan. The CRL platform has three escalators to street level, one down and two up (or two up and one down, depending on time of day?), so looks good to me. The escalator in the image is just an additional link between the concourse and lower level.

    1. Yeah, some people are freaking out here. From other images I’ve seen, there would be another couple of escalators behind where the above image is looking. Just a poor choice of image to release on its own for this station.

  13. 2024….so in the same time, there will be roughly 400kms of high speed rail completed between KL and Singapore.

    Seems an awful long time for a 3.5km tunnel and a few stations…..

  14. I was at a talk by one of the lead architects said they were investigating a smaller and cheaper Beresford Square entrance than was originally proposed. We can only hope..

  15. I did hear from usually impeccable sources that the project had been delayed a year due to financing issues.

    Mind you that was in the absence of new guidance from Jacinda.

    1. Or what about opening the section of the CRL between Britomart and Aotea sometime in 2020. 2 to 3 years to get Aotea station built and with the tunnels near completion between Aotea and Commercial bay then why wait near 7 years to use this section?

      1. I have a feeling that Aotea station probably cannot be fitted out untill the tunnels have been bored. Also even if you could get Aotea open early, you would be quite limited with how many trains you could run there, as it would be a dead end.

  16. This project will be competing just as much for labour and resources as the rest of the construction industry at the moment. When demand goes up so does price. Not surprised with the increase, but important to note this is very common at the moment in construction. It doesn’t help time frames that contractors are paid more in commercial (private) construction as they are in Civil works.

    In the end it is most likely market conditions that have pushed up the price, and lengthened the time-frames, not much managers can do about that.

    The best way to bring these time-frames forward would allow easier immigration laws for getting in workers, but with this government tightening rather than loosening restrictions I’m not confident on this.

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