A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be shown around the under construction Karanga-a-hape station and wow is it impressive. When it finally opens I think people will be blown away by what the CRL team have built. So here are a few images and thoughts on it.

We started the tour at the Beresford St entrance. There’s not much to see on the surface right now but looking down into the construction shaft you really get a good sense of just how deep the station is – at 33m deep this is the equivalent of about an 8-storey building. This is what the entrance is eventually meant to look like.

Passengers will use the escalators to drop users down a couple of floors where they’ll make a 180° turn to the ticket hall

Just past the gates is where a second, 40m long escalator will descend to the platform level. This will be one of the longest and fastest escalators in New Zealand and it’s there that this first construction photo comes from, though you can’t see the whole way down due to the various bits of construction underway building up a series of internal walls for rooms and additional floors. A couple of those rooms are for massive ventilation fans capable of moving 130,000 litres of air a second.

The diagram below shows a layout of the Beresford station entrance.

It’s worth remembering that this station entrance wasn’t originally going to be built but was confirmed in mid-2018 as part of works to future proof the station to enable up to 9-car trains in the future.

After making our way back to the surface, we then went to visit the Mercury Lane site. There work on the surface is now starting to be seen with the erection of steel framing for the station entrance. Moving into the station, the same process of building up internal walls and floors is underway here too.

On the surface the steel structure for the station building is starting to take shape but currently just looks like a maze beams and columns.

This structure will eventually house the station entrance with its Pupurangi shells (Kauri snail) on the ceiling.

It was then we got to the real stars of the show, the platforms, or at least the caverns where the platforms will be.

This is the northbound tunnel and only a few months ago the tunnel boring machine was passing through here, though the platforms were mined before it arrived. In just the days before the visit the TBM segments that the machine had used to push off had been removed giving a much clearer view down the platform area.

While it will look a bit different once the platforms and architectural features are installed, what really stounds out is just how big this area is, and I don’t think these images really do that size justice.

Trains heading North from Maungawhau will one day arrive through here.

Moving over to the southbound tunnel, workers are busy preparing to line the cavern walls with concrete. Interestingly, this platform was mined first but the other tunnel was lined first as they had time to do it before the TBM arrived. The blue plastic is a waterproofing layer.

Not far behind where I took this photo is where the long escalator from Beresford Square will arrive and provide access to both platforms. Unfortunately I can’t share that photo with you but I will say that there’s some pretty impressive formwork that’s gone the concrete tunnels, none of which will be seen as will be covered up by the architectural detailing that will start to be installed next year. This is what it is eventually meant to look like.

Shortly after my visit CRL released this video of many of the same areas.

As I said at the start of this post, the station is really impressive and think people will be blown away once they see it for themselves. It’s also a station that will be unique, being our only real underground station – as opposed to subsurface stations like at Britomart, Te Waihorotiu and a few others.

However, as impressive as the station is, it also drove home to me just how much work and cost, both in construction and operations, is needed for underground stations. So the thought of doing that up to eight times under the city and isthmus for light rail just doesn’t stack up, even if the stations are only half the size. This is even more so when you consider the tunnelled light rail option doesn’t offer that much more in capacity and reliability that a surface option provides.

Back to the CRL, just a quick reminder that they’re running a competition for five 11-13 year olds to walk the tunnels all the way from Mt Eden to Britomart and they’ve extended the competition to 31-October.

Tamariki in the Tunnels Competition

Calling all future public transport users!

Do you have an adventurous whiz kid at home who’s ready to get creative? Desperate to be the first tamariki (child) ever to enter the City Rail Link (CRL) tunnels?

CRL in collaboration with Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) are inviting 5 intermediate-aged tamariki (11-13 years old) to walk the full length (3.45km) of the CRL’s brand new underground tunnels from Mt Eden through to Britomart.

To enter, send in a quick video of your child answering the following:

Tell us in 15 seconds your first name, age and where you would build Auckland’s next railway line and why?

Submit your videos using the below entry from. All entrants must also like the

City Rail Link and MOTAT Facebook pages.

The top five selected entries will be awarded a spot on our once-in-a-life-time ‘Tamariki in the Tunnels’ tour – along with one parent/guardian each.
The tour will be on Thursday 10 November from 5pm. Please allow for up to 3 hours for the event.

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        1. The Grafton station already exists, granted it could be improved, but it services both the domain and the hospital. Kinda fun to imagine a second link through grafton gully but I can’t see it being the best use of resources rn at least.

    1. The usual attempt to make the CRL out to be a destination instead of connecting two pieces of rail network generating a huge throughput in capacity in the process.

      If these people don’t get it by now then they’re determined not to and should be ignored thusly.

    2. There aren’t many places in Auckland where more people go are there? Aotea and Britomart yes, not many others I can think of.

    3. Yes, I imagine it will follow Britomart and the Northern Busway into the long list of white elephant projects in Auckland…

  1. I really really hope that all three underground stations look different when sitting on a train looking out the windows.

    People who can’t hear, or can’t read, need environmental cues about which station they are at. Least on the surface, there’s lots of cues. Down underground, nothing, unless each station has distinct ‘themes’.

    Last I heard each station was going to be more or less the same, which impacts passengers who can’t read the on-board screen, or hear the announcement.

    1. Some of those renders look exactly like a MRT station I used to use in KL. Very international look and feel, though at least the entrances have a bit of street appeal. I personally would like to see a little more wood/greenery, to distinguish the individual stations with a design language theme, but shiny international metro is a theme I guess.

      The renders won’t show the final dressing – i.e. when all the signage is up, but couple of things I would like to see from experience overseas.

      One is plenty of seating & benches. I know they restrict seating (or use horribly uncomfortable pipes and other ‘solutions’) in order to deter people from lingering, but when you are tired after a day’s shopping and waiting several minutes for the next train a lack of seats, handrails and benches where you can pack shopping etc is a pain. For elderly, pregnant and disabled people, this must be worse.

      I assume these stations will have plenty of security to move on people trying to set up camp in stations anyway

      Also ability to get water, buy umbrellas etc help bring clean nice renders into more usable stations.

      1. White elephant Owen? Oh you’re bringing back memories of that phrase regularly being spouted by members of the public and anti local politicians like John Banks when Britomart was being built.

        And you know what? 20 years have proven you and your ilk were utterly wrong about that. I am pretty confident having lived in the CBD for almost 10 years including part of it in and near K Rd, that you are going to be proven wrong again.

        1. Sorry, above reply was supposed to be further up the thread in response to Owen’s frankly ignorant post.

          I’ll tell you what those renders remind me of, especially be of large area and very white. They remind me of the new Elizabeth Line Stations in London. One would almost suspect that the architects had taken their cue for this station from the station designs for that line.

    2. You need to watch the Video renderings of each of the Crl Stations as they are all different in shape , Krd is a tube . Aotea is a long rectangular box shape that you can see the train going in the opposite direction , Britomart is a series of platforms looking across the Station and Mt Eden is almost open air before heading into the tunnels .
      Aotea ;-

      Krd ;-

      And Mt eden ;-

  2. The day we will be able to train, not bus, not bike, not walk up to K Road. That will be a beautiful day. Budapest has some seriously deep metro stations but we just need surface light rail to complement the CRL. Cost is irrelevant, the benefit to the environment, our tamariki and mokopuna is incalculable!

    1. Cost is NEVER irrelevant, even if you support a project. If it costs twice as much to get the same result, you just reduced your future OTHER public transport projects by half.

      And if most of the extra cost is just to avoid the ire of car-focussed people like Bernard Orsman or Wayne Browne (yet while also giving them more ammunition to hit you about the head with it) then you are definitely on the wrong track.

      1. Yeah, cost is never irrelevant, I firmly support public transit but being morally committed to a specific type is a trap that makes it harder to get the benefits we believe it will give us and also increases the cost of it in the end. Every investment we make is a step in the right direction but no matter how big a pot is there are always limits, and we should be trying to get the most value for money.

      2. Cost isn’t irrelevant but given how long in the future this piece of infrastructure will be of huge benefit to this city for locals, and visitors alike, I doubt in 20, and especially 50-100 years time anyone will think about the cost.

        It’s rare that you get really transformational projects. This will be one. Maybe Wayne Brown might nick pick now, just as John Banks did to win the mayoralty when Britomart was about to be constructed, but he shut up once it was in operation and he actually saw it was attracting people to use rail transport and not a white elephant.

        Ask anyone in London if they think the tube networks, and newest underground line (not a tube line) the Elizabeth Line is not worth the cost, and I doubt you will get many at all thinking that.

  3. Interesting comment about a ‘White Elephant’. I seem to remember a lot of people said that about building a below-ground station at Britomart. Well, they got that VERY wrong. Also, ‘where no one goes’.. really ??.

    1. They said it about the Northern Busway too.

      Hopefully the naysayers will be converted just as quickly as they were with those previous white elephants

  4. It looks amazing. It would be good if they can extend the heavy rail network so more people get to use this investment. The Roskill spur comes to mind (I live in Roskill so of course it would!), but there are probably others, double tracking to Onehunga for example.

    1. I mean I used to oppose this argument because the real answer is ‘We should be building other networks like surface LRT to give us broader and cross-town services we don’t get with rail’.

      But that isn’t going to happen now, so what’s our back-up? Can we create some sort of Great Southern Loop between Manukau and Panmure, servicing Howick, Dannemore and Pakuranga along the way? A Beachlands spur? Huapai is really the bare minimum, it’s time to think about expanding the HR network if we can’t or won’t build Light Rail.

      1. In almost all cases heavy rail would be significantly more expensive than LR. But in those two cases I mentioned the route already exists, it shouldn’t cost billions. If National win the election and scrap LR they really should consider those two projects and maybe others I am not aware of.

        1. The Roskill Spur would go into the billions as it would require upgrades to the CRL that are not planned for years to be brought forward to allow for the extra capacity.

        2. Wouldn’t the roskill spur actually balance everything out? At the moment we have 3 lines going into one side of the CRL and one line the other. Also I have a hard time believing we will reach capacity any time soon, are you saying our rail network will move as many people as say a London Underground line?

        3. There will be two lines entering the southern portal with 9tph on the Western line and 6tph on the southern line. The northern portal will have 9tph from the Eastern line and 6tph somewhere on the inner Southern line, the old plan had them split between Newmarket and Onehunga but I expect they will end up at Otahuhu.

        4. Thanks Jezza. So effectively it’s two lines, the western-eastern (9tph) and the southern loop (6ph). Do we need 9tph past Avondale? Maybe 3 could go to roskill.

        5. Have they got new names for the lines yet? Surely it isn’t going to change from eastern to western at Aotea is it?

        6. Also why is our capacity 15 per hour when some London Underground lines can do double that? Are we building something inferior to their centuries old tunnels?

        7. Can we do a signalling upgrade when we, oh I don’t know, shut down the entire rail network over a period of years?

        8. Jimbo – there is currently 6tph on the Western line, if the CRL doesn’t drive enough patronage to need 9tph then it has probably failed.

          The 15tph is a network limitation with our current signalling system, it’s not specific to CRL design. At some stage a significant amount will be spent on this to grow capacity to 24tph, although how Quay Park is tackled will be interesting.

          I’m not quite sure why it is only 15tph though, would have thought 18tph would be manageable.

        9. Thanks Jezza. Note though that a lot of the western line would still have 9tph with the Roskill spur, it would only be the parts west of Avondale that wouldn’t. Assuming that less then 66% of western line journeys involve a station after Avondale, then their would be no capacity issues in sending 33% of trains to Mount Roskill. This happens a lot in places like London where many of the lines break off into two outside the highest demand areas.

        10. I thought on day one opening of CRL the operating plan is 16 trains per hour per direction. It has capacity of 18 tphpd with passive provision of 24 (not sure what the passive means, other network constraints perhaps?).

    2. I think we should be operating under the assumption that CRL will fill up, and relatively quickly. ie sub 20 years. Under those conditions extending the heavy rail network to add more spurs and branches looks quite short sighted. Getting more people to use the investment should (read will) primarily be accomplished by building more housing / businesses near stations.

      Any of these spurs will need flying junctions so as to not throttle the network outside of them. This is a big cost as just a getting-off-ground cost. The likelihood of filling 9 car trains on the Mt roskill branch seems quite low unless we’re running half hourlyish. Which is just a bad PT experience. If you can’t fill 9 car trains to the same level as the outer western line (imo you can’t) then that’s wasting capacity out of CRL.

      In the case of the Mt Roskill, what services would you do? With some minor bus lane improvements I can’t see such a wayward route being faster for most of the area. Would likely involve a transfer. Going further out on the western line by the time you get there would also involve a transfer.

      I think the likes of John Reeves (which is what your comment reads a bit like) assume that housing growth will be / should be low, and that regardless, it doesn’t help people that are not going to move, who already own a house (like most of his demographic). Therefore the only way to get more value out of CRL is to add lots of HR extensions that will serve existing homeowners who don’t have currently have a station nearby. Personally find this quite grating and short sighted. Building a ton of homes and businesses near the existing HR stations will result in a better end state than the other example.

  5. Tautoko the comments re tunneled LR and the underground stations. Surface LR will be the only truly transformative option.
    Great article on the CRL progress. Thanks.

  6. Looks brilliant! Definitely a lot of work gone into those and a lot still to come.

    I wonder if another added cost to underground stations is the need for artwork to make them pleasant places to be, as opposed to above ground stations that are enjoyable given natural light and open air with minimal art, thinking Puhinui and Panmure, which I frequent, that are very pleasant. But maybe the cost of this design is insignificant.

    1. Puhinui and Panmure are absolutely wasted and dead compared to stations with the same footprint overseas in Europe, Japan etc. Puhinui doesn’t even have a Coffee kiosk.

      Granted the platform area at Panmure (my local) is nice and on the platforms both have plenty of seating, which I hope that when the platforms are redeveloped at Britomart/Waitemata, they add far more of. It also concerned me in the render for this article that there was almost no seating showing on the platform.

  7. I hope they leave the space above the escalator open,
    It really adds to the experience seeing the the depth or space of an area especially stations and airports etc.

  8. Looks very impressive and I’m glad it’s being built and with 9-car capacity. I do however think it’s been overbuilt to an extent/gold plated. Could easily save millions with no reduction in utility/useability.

    1. I bet all the consultants and Council staff are slapping themselves on the forehead reading this comment. “Dammit! Saving money! We forgot to ask anyone about that bit of the project!”

      Lucky thing that you were here to provide zero details about your genius hand-wavy objection.

      1. You think they’re interested in saving money? Hilarious! Your snarkiness isn’t needed here either Logan.
        Like I said I’m not talking about reducing it’s useability and capacity. What I’m taking about it all the additional costs to make it look nice/grand etc. it’s a train station not an art gallery – the shell ceiling pieces for example.
        I’m not saying it needs to be some bland Soviet monstrosity, but does it really need some of these gold plating touches?

        1. These venues have a life of 100 years or more, so please get some perspective about what counts as ‘gold-plating’. Those ceiling fins will majorly help acoustics, for a start.

          Have you not seen how ornate Soviet subway stations are? Beauty has value.

    2. It is a public asset designed to last a century. By all means, do tell us what is not needed that would save money without reducing its usefulness. 4-lane harbour bridge, anyone?

    3. It probably could have been built cheaper but, as others have pointed out, this is a once in a century-kind of project where having some nicer design elements and not just building the bare minimum will pay off in the future.
      The most money could have been saved by building it 20 years earlier, I reckon. That is why there should be people and machines laying light-rail tracks all over the city right now.

      1. “The most money could have been saved by building it 20 years earlier, I reckon.”

        Yep, because then we could have saved a few motorway projects too. We must have sunk the equivalent of several CRLs of money into Auckland motorways in the last couple decades alone. And we’re still very much doing so right now.

      1. Put up big gates wired to the networks power to stop them going in there at night , and during the day give all the drivers an automatic door opener to get their trains through .

      2. You might have noticed that malls that have been raided while they are open also have security in them. Security in this country is a joke.
        It’s nice that you’re thinking positive though.

    1. I’d be surprised if there’s much graffiti. It’s usually something that happens in places where there are few people around at night but a big audience during the day. It’s going to be very hard to access these stations when they are not open, and the escape options aren’t great if someone sees you.

      1. When you get a spare 5 minutes go for a walk around K Rd and you will see grafitti everywhere. If you think the CRL is going to be exempt from that damage you live in a fairytale.

        1. K Rd is above ground, the station is below ground and can easily be locked up out of hours, it’s a completely irrelevant comparison you make.

          A more relevant reference would be numerous overseas networks which are often heavily graffiti bombed above ground but have little graffiti below ground.

      2. Have you been on the Southern line lately because if you have have a look at the Newmarket Station on the Southbound side where there are no cameras as it’s full of Graffiti all by the same twat .

        1. See my answer above, Newmarket isn’t an underground station. If the taggers were going to hitting underground stations Britomart would already be covered.

  9. Looks impressive and interesting video on it. I see in London the newly opened Elizabeth Line Bond St Station has opened and is 28m below ground with the escalators at Hanover Square being the longest on the Elizabeth line, measuring 60 metres long, and are 1 metre shorter than the longest escalators on the entire Transport for London network, at Angel station.

      1. Yeah I saw this video when Geoff put it out and I noticed how similar the K Rd Station render looks with all the white and the large area to this and the other core Elizabeth Line Stations. Coincidence? I think not.

  10. >So the thought of doing that up to eight times under the city and isthmus for light rail just doesn’t stack up, even if the stations are only half the size.

    Don’t worry, the cost will all be worth it if we can save the six carparks outside the local dairy the fish & chips shop.

    /s in case it’s required.

  11. Yes one of the great things about at surface light rail is the opportunity to hop off as something of interest has caught your eye – like shops.

  12. It will be interesting if they open the CRL with a bang by having all new/redeveloped stations opening at once or will it be a staggered opening? I think Pukekohe electrification will be just before this, so imagine for those that work, say, in the city centre, what difference this will make for them. Also western users, save about 20mins.
    A new timetable could be bought in without so much fat in it too as the CRL will give more reliability and redundancy.

  13. Hi mods, this is someone spoofing my name again. looks like a weird joke about a gay sauna too. Can we get it deleted?

  14. Can anyone tell me what the lift situation is like? Most Auckland stations are not accessible for people who need mobility support, and when the stations do have lifts they’re either too small or out of order 🙁

  15. Does anyone know if these underground stations are going to have platform doors aka safety screen doors. Like in Singapore? Surely we realise that it’s gonna be needed. Also super excited for CRL to be open. I would envisage those three stations massively unlocking access and being a major drawcard for people.

    1. I thought the render showed the glass front to the tracks; which is very much like modern MRT systems

      But looking at the pictures again, I see the glass walls might not be at track level

      But in 2022, why wouldn’t you build a bit of safety in?

      1. Would require yet undeveloped signalling to be added so the trains stop (near) perfectly in line with the platform doors.

        The real big holdup with the Elizabeth line was the signalling system. Its a massive complexity, and we simply don’t need the capacity that ATO would bring yet. IMO its a smart move to not include every little thing in CRL. Its already complex enough.

        In addition, the platforms are modern and wide, they wont operate near capacity until those signalling upgrades + the 9 car train upgrades are made anyway. Its not so imperative that platform doors are added when you don’t have crowded platforms.

        1. Surely we can take lessons from Northern Busway about the scale of induced demand from such major PT improvements? Capacity might not be a right now issue, but the trade-off is being able to address this not when it’s too close to too late. At the same time, the cost to disrupting the network if someone were to be pushed or fall onto the tracks has been known to be horrifically bad. It’s also been done for the better part of a decade in many countries, laser alignment should be worth the upfront investment.

    2. Need to have automatic train stopping in normal service. Which is a big signalling upgrade, and not needed yet. Operating at maximum frequencies and trying manually to align the doors with the platform doors with a 40cm margin of error, isn’t really practical.

      I would assume they would be an easy retrofit once we have automatic train control in the central core of the network. The platforms are plenty wide enough.

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