It’s been a while since we looked at the latest with the City Rail Link and there’s been some fantastic milestones recently.

To start with, and most recently, CRL have released an awesome video showing a full fly-through of one of the tunnels.

Come fly with us!

You asked for it. We have made it happen. So enjoy!

We sent a drone through the City Rail Link tunnel so you can get the feel of your future train journey underground from the redeveloped Maungawhau Stations to the familiar downtown Waitematā (Britomart).

It’s a 3.4km journey.

The first of those two 3.45-kilometre-long tracks for Auckland’s newest railway line – the City Rail Link – has now been laid connecting, underground, Waitematā (Britomart) and Maungawhau Stations. That newly laid track will carry trains south from Waitematā Station (Britomart).

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.
The newly laid track will carry trains south from the downtown station.

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.

We have our head down with construction stuff to get it all finished but we hope one day to let you see it for yourself.

In the meantime, here’s what you asked for. An imaginary train trip of sorts down the tunnel!

As noted above and can be seen in the video, they’ve fully laid the track in one of the tunnels which is a great milestone. There’s clearly still a lot of work to be done though and the track in the other tunnel will be completed next year. Further, assuming everything sticks to schedule, it won’t be till July of next year when the first test train is able to roll cautiously through the tunnels.

They’ve also recently released a few neat timelapse videos of work around the Maungawhau station.

This one shows two years of work looking east towards the station from around Porters Ave.

And this one, over roughly the same period looking west towards Mt Eden Rd

This is from about the same location but looking east towards Normanby Rd

And finally, one showing the installation of a scissor crossovers at the entrance to the CRL platforms of Maungawhau station.

Last week saw CRL give an update to the council’s Transport and Infrastructure committee. The full thing, including councilor questions is below but the main focus of the presentation was on the scale of work to be done around integration, testing, commissioning and documentation.

One of the things that stood out were the scale of driver training required, which all needs to be done while still maintaining existing schedules.

And another was the level of documentation that needs to be produced, and each doc could be thousands of pages in length.

The construction work is meant to be finished next year and commissioning work is currently scheduled for completion in November 2025 but it is then handed over to Auckland Transport and Kiwirail and they will have their own work to do before trains start running so we still don’t have a date for when passengers will be using it.

Also from that meeting is what I find somewhat disappointing news, funding has been confirmed for an upgrade of Henderson Station. Henderson definitely needs an upgrade, most notably a second entrance and more shelter but I have argued that an upgrade of Swanson is a cheaper and better outcome. This is because by upgrading Henderson, there will be little improvement to services west of Henderson even though the stations west of Henderson serve a population larger than Pukekohe, yet will get much better service. A lot of this seems to be driven by what is increasingly looking like a significant bias against the western line from AT and Kiwirail.

It’s not clear yet if a full upgrade has been confirmed or if it is a scaled back version of this plan
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    1. The majority of the project requirements presumably can be verified by other methods rather than testing- for example design calculations, materials certification etc.

  1. Silly question, but could the tunnels be used for services before the new stations open, if that might save us an extra year of waiting for testing etc?

    1. Short answer is yes. At least this is what is being done in Paris with the new RER E extension to the west of the city. Train operation testing and station completion are done at the same time.

      1. They could use a 3 car unit running from Mt Eden to Britomart with some of the crew that are at Britomart waiting around , what seems like most of the day .

  2. Given how Kiwirail and AT appear to be rather unfriendly toward each other, it is rather worrying that they will have responsibility when the CRL is handed over.

    Perhaps we could have a singular agency for the city, that actually intends to make public transport better, and public transport infrastructure a priority?

    Tamaki Metropolitan Transport?

    Keep dreaming I suppose…

  3. Construction (civil works) is now almost complete – the next year is largely about the fit out of a host of services (track work, cabling, safety systems, etc ). The first of over 3,000 test runs is scheduled for July 1 next year. They need to test out all the equipment under 17 different scenarios and train up over 200 new drivers in all aspects of driving through the tunnel before approval to run passenger services. Cross Rail in London had years of this. Hopefully they can be ready by late 2025 but nobody is making promises.

    1. If it comes to it they should focus on getting half the drivers trained on it and get it open (if that’s what ends up holding things up), the rest of the drivers can then be trained up off-peak etc.

  4. After watching the Fly through they missed going up to Mercury Lane Station entrance which would have been interesting .

    But passing through Mt Eden the works are happening at an amazing rate . And thanks to the gangs working there .

  5. Don’t forget the over-site developments that will be able to start at the stations, Maungawhau precinct, Mercury Lane and Mayoral/Wellesley. Albert/Victoria corner could start any time someone thinks they’ve got enough money. Maybe they should just put the bungy back in there?

  6. I recently did a walking tour of every worksite except I somehow forgot to check out the Beresford Lane.entrance. Lots going on, also could see Queen St works, Myers Park underpass and recently done Federal St upgrade

  7. I’m impressed by the quality of comms for the project. The video updates, the website, news media engagement, and that fly through in particular is fantastic.

    1. I feel very sorry for whoever manages the Facebook page, as every time they mention the mana whenua-gifted new station names, the Hobson’s Pledge weirdos and old mate Jon Reeves pile in with witty comments such as “WHERE?” “SPEAK ENGLISH”, “WINSTON WILL STOP THIS WOKERY” etc.

      1. Considering Maori didn’t even know about vehicles let alone trains pre-European, and the majority of the population is non-Maori, and an even bigger percentage of tax and ratepayers are non-Maori then perhaps it’s just a bit silly to not use names that everyone knows and uses rather than a minority.

        1. Umm the English didn’t know about trains when they turned up and started speaking English either.
          Given that trains were invented well after Māori speakers or English speakers came to our islands.

          One thing is for certain, those places where the stations are located had names well before the English speakers went about renaming them.

        2. Oh NO! I have to learn a new name! What will I do?? Oh the humanity!

          Seriously? It really is plain racism to complain about the use of Maori names. They are the recognised people of the land and we have a contract to protect their language and culture. The Maori lost probably $1 trillion in land and income from what was stolen or taken by underhanded means. We won’t give them their land back, so the least we can do is name some train stations in one of the official languages of the country.

          Having said that, the people will still be racist and refuse to learn the names and all the names will likely end up being abbreviated anyway, just like K Rd.

        3. “And the majority of the population is non-Maori”

          Ah, okay. From my memory, a lot of the City Centre residents have Asian ethnicities, so we can then count on your support for City Centre stations being named that way?

          Eh, what you say? Didn’t think so.

        4. Trains have been around since ancient Babylon and in use in the UK in mines etc since the 1500’s. What you’re thinking of is steam locomotives which still predate the Treaty of Waitangi.

          As for place names, did Maori spend a lot of time underground in Auckland in the past, or even above ground in those specific locations? No.

        5. “As for place names, did Maori spend a lot of time underground in Auckland in the past, or even above ground in those specific locations? No.”

          If you are basing rights to an area based on how long people have been there, or spent time in, you may be in for a rude awakening. As will be many white Australians, Americans etc.

          But basically, in a city with its places predominantly named after European (British) people and concepts, you are complaining that new structures often get indigenous names. As if that removed anything from you. Well, maybe it does: The implicit assurance that a certain type of white Europeans will always get their wish.

        6. We have had stations named in Maori since the existing lines inception. Maori place names for even longer.

          Where have you been?

  8. ‘A lot of this seems to be driven by what is increasingly looking like a significant bias against the western line from AT and Kiwirail.’
    Could this be due to the idea that west of Henderson, it will presumably be quicker for PT users to transfer to the NW Busway at Westgate rather than take the Western line to the City?

    1. Or could this be due to the fact that the issue of Level Crossing closures / replacement with alternatives on the Western Line are still to be addressed in a meaningful way? Addressing (and yes its a difficult challenge due to current land use and geography) the perceived Level Crossing risks (i.e. close some or all and replace with alternatives) on the Western Line prior to any service uplift was identified as a requirement by Waka Kotahi in 2016.

  9. 9 months of training for 5km of track? What’s going on with AT or Kiwi Rail? Am I missing something here? Some simulator time and a few intensive days of training on the loop, surely 9 months of training is counterproductive for staff and public who need this asap. Ridiculous given the amount of time it takes to train an engineer to drive the maintrunk with 1,000 tonnes of freight up and down the Raurimu Spiral etc

    1. I agree, this is hardly the Elizabeth line that employs thousands of drivers (TfL) and is underground for 42km intersecting with numerous underground stations

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