Archive | Rail

Valerie the tunnel borer lines up for a new stretch

Valerie – the 2m-wide tunnel boring machine named in honour of the strength of Olympic shotput champion Valerie Adams – is about to begin the next stage of an underground journey through downtown Auckland for the city rail link.

The machine will simultaneously excavate & install a new stormwater pipe under Albert St.

It’s completed the first 290m of tunnelling & pipe-jacking work between Victoria & Swanson Sts and is being refurbished in the shed at Victoria & Albert Sts in preparation for the next stage of its journey. It will be lowered down the shaft to begin the final 200m stretch towards Wellesley St, and is expected to arrive there in April.

Project director Chris Meale said the stormwater diversion was needed before the cut-&-cover tunnel construction of twin tunnels can be delivered by Connectus, a McConnell Dowell & Hawkins joint venture.

A smaller tunnel boring machine is working under Victoria St, diverting the Orakei sewer main and enabling the existing sewer to be strengthened under the future midtown Aotea Station.

The city rail link will join Britomart & the city centre to the western line near Mt Eden. Construction began in December 2015.

The project, now a joint venture between Auckland Council & the Government, has tender documents out for major components. Expressions of interest were sought at the start of February for the design, procurement, installation & commissioning of all tunnel track work & rail systems between Britomart Station & the western line at Mt Eden.

City rail link

Attribution: Company release.

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Tender documents go out for rail link tunnels & stations

The first tender documents for the largest component of Auckland’s city rail link project – the construction of the tunnels & new stations – were released to the industry yesterday, a fortnight after expressions of interest were sought for the design, procurement, installation & commissioning of all tunnel track work & rail systems between Britomart Station & the Western Line at Mt Eden.

2 new stations will be built as part of the underground rail line linking Britomart with the existing western line near Mt Eden. The new stations will be near Aotea Square (artist’s impression at top), with entrances at Wellesley & Victoria Sts, and a station in Mercury Lane, just off Karangahape Rd. The Mt Eden train station will be extended & redeveloped. Associated works are already underway around downtown Auckland.

An artist’s impression of the new Karangahape station, which will be the deepest at 30m below ground.

Project director Chris Meale said yesterday the 2m-wide tunnel-boring machine simultaneously excavating & installing a new stormwater pipe under Albert St had finished the first leg of its journey. The 9-storey-high piling rig working in Albert St has dug over 140 of the 376 piles required.

An artist’s impression of the planned redeveloped station at Mt Eden.

The tunnels & stations contract will be procured using a design & construct model with a lump sum price based on a bespoke contract.

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Auckland Council’s rail link scores top marks from Government’s project monitors

On a scale of well to badly managed major projects – green through amber to red – a Treasury report issued yesterday said Auckland’s city rail link again scored a green, but Housing NZ’s programme to accelerate redevelopment of its land in Auckland to deliver affordable housing only scored an amber.

The new interim Major Projects Performance Report for the period to November 2016, released yesterday, covers 53 complex major projects across government – and beyond, because the city rail link only became a partly Government project last September. All up, the projects have a whole-of-life cost of $37 billion.

The Treasury report lists Treasury & the Ministry of Transport as the Government agencies involved in the rail link project. Until late last year they were on the outside, with work already underway at multiple points around the central business district. The Government, which had rejected former mayor Len Brown’s insistence on an earlier schedule to complete the project, joined as a 50:50 partner last September.

On Housing NZ’s redevelopment programme, the report says: “The focus continues to be on finalising the programme business case, clearly defining costs & benefits for the programme, and finalising governance & delivery arrangements in advance of Cabinet decisions. A draft business case has been to the Housing NZ Corp board for consideration & comment.”

That’s back to front: Work has started, negotiations have been completed for some developments – and the business case is still on its way?

The Government issued its first major projects performance report on 30 November 2015 and scored an immediate hit in Christchurch: Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee was quoted in the Press dismissing the report and calling it “utter tripe”, and saying the findings showed the “arrogant bureaucratic attitude” Wellington-based departments had toward Christchurch, the report had been produced by book-keepers and “They should spend more time book-keeping rather than trying to second-guess the Government’s strategy”. He found the report, which at that point he hadn’t read, “entirely disrespectful” and said funding for the projects was already in place.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce made out yesterday the Government was doing far more than normal; building consent figures out yesterday indicate a slowdown in government works (but not all these major projects are building-related).

Mr Joyce said: “The Government is in the middle of our biggest ever infrastructure spend. We are investing billions of dollars to construct hospitals, schools, roads & courts, provide equipment for our armed forces and develop ICT capabilities to transform public services.

“These investments are instrumental for the provision of quality public services for our growing country, and it is important that they are delivered well. Transparent reporting is a key part of ensuring agencies lift their performance in investment management.”

In the projects report, 90% have been assessed as amber or better, 4 as amber/red and one as red. “Overall, there is an increase in the proportion of projects moving towards green,” Mr Joyce said.

The red & amber/red rated projects are:

  • Anzac frigate systems upgrade – Defence (red)
  • Lincoln University/AgResearch Stage 1 building project
  • Maori land service – Te Puni Kokiri
  • Transforming the system of service delivery programme – Department of Internal Affairs, and
  • National bowel screening programme – Ministry of Health.

The police human resource management information system project was rated red in the previous period and has improved to amber.

2 projects are close to completion and no longer require monitoring: the Christchurch schools rebuild programme and the Burwood Hospital redevelopment.

The Canterbury Public Sector Quarterly Rebuild Report content is now included in this report to provide the public with a single source of information about the Canterbury rebuild recovery.

The interim report covers the period July–November 2016 and was finalised before the Kaikoura earthquakes on 14 November.

Interim major projects performance report to November 2016

Earlier stories:
19 January 2017: Building consent highs still don’t match migrant demand
27 July 2016: First ratings out on government agencies’ management
1 December 2015: Major project transparency brings Christchurch consternation

Attribution: Treasury documents & release.

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Expressions of interest sought for next rail link package

Auckland Transport sought expressions of interest yesterday for the entire city rail link project beyond works already underway at Britomart, Downtown & Albert St.

The contracts cover design, procurement, installation & commissioning of all tunnel track work & rail systems between Britomart Station and the Western Line at Mt Eden. The work involves the provisioning of track slab, track, overhead line, signalling, control systems, tunnel ventilation, fire strategy & communications system.

City rail link project director Chris Meale said the successful contractor would be responsible for the integration of the systems with the existing operations at Britomart & Mt Eden and the new tunnels & stations being built for the rail link.

The documents are the first to be released to build the project past its current Britomart & Albert St sites, and have been prepared as a result of the agreement between the Government & Auckland Council in September to jointly fund the project.

Mr Meale said the C7 systems package would be procured using an early contractor involvement model, followed by a design & construct contract.

Other packages to be released this year include one for the construction of the tunnels and new city, Karangahape & Mt Eden stations, and a package for a stormwater diversion in Mt Eden.

“The new Britomart entrance is in place so we can start building the tunnels, the new stormwater pipe in Albert St is reaching the halfway stage and a third of the piles for the tunnels in Albert St have been completed. Now we are looking further afield to Mt Eden.”

Auckland Transport, city rail link
Contract procurement

Attribution: Auckland Transport release & website.

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Barnett argues closing Westfield station shortsighted

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett argued yesterday against closing Westfield rail station, saying it was shortsighted: “The closure decision appears to have been undertaken in isolation from Auckland Council’s urban intensification plans for this area of Auckland.

“There is a large workforce at nearby industries. This decision won’t help them change from using their motor vehicles to using public transport.

“While patronage is currently low, as the rail system is modernised & improved and the intensification of more businesses to the area takes place, a much wider uptake during the working day could be expected over time.”

Mr Barnett said Auckland Transport claimed to be creating a network that would be both useful & convenient for more people in South Auckland. But he said closing Westfield would do nothing to improve travel for South Auckland workers & residents, and nothing significant for the rest of Auckland either: “The decision should be about the network and integrating the station’s improvement as part of Auckland Council’s long-term urban intensification plans.”

Earlier story:
18 January 2017: Westfield station to close, Parnell to open

Attribution: Chamber of Commerce release.

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Westfield station to close, Parnell to open

The Westfield railway station – down the back of the old city abattoir, land now converted to light industrial use – will be closed on 12 March. On the same day, services will begin at the new Parnell Station.

Auckland Transport said yesterday Westfield was one of the quietest stations on the Auckland rail network. At last count, in November, fewer than 330 passengers/day got on or off the trains that stopped there.

Its days had been numbered when Auckland Transport rolled out its new network for bus services last October and opened the new bus & train station 2km down the line at Otahuhu. Bus stops nearby on Great South Rd provide links to Otahuhu, Onehunga, Avondale & Britomart. Consultation on the Westfield station’s fate had already been held in 2013.

AT Metro’s chief officer, Mark Lambert, said other planned improvements in the south included the construction of a new bus station in the Mangere town centre, creation of a new transport hub in Manukau and upgrades of Pukekohe, Manurewa & Papakura stations.

Mr Lambert said the Parnell station, at the foot of Cheshire St in the gully behind Parnell Village’s shops, would serve Parnell businesses & residents, the universities, Auckland Museum and events at the Domain.

Westfield Station
Parnell Station

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Britomart Station access shifts to Commerce St

Britomart Station’s Queen St entrances closed yesterday and will remain closed for the next 3 years while the city rail link tunnels are constructed.

The new entrance (pictured) is at the back of the station building, on Commerce St. The ticket & top-up machines, the ticket office, toilets & customer service centre have all been moved there.

The station can also be accessed from Tyler & Galway Sts and the Takutai Square (eastern) entrance.

Auckland Transport said the station would remain operational throughout the construction work, and all trains & timetables would run as usual.

Construction is by a Downer Soletanche Bachy joint venture.

Auckland Transport, city rail link

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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Roche to head rail link company

Auckland Council & the Government have appointed Brian Roche as the establishment chair of City Rail Link Ltd.

Brian Roche.

Mr Roche had already announced in August he intended to leave his job as group chief executive of NZ Post Group next April. He retired in June as a non-executive director of Kiwibank Ltd, but also chairs Antarctica NZ, Hurricanes GP Ltd, the Government’s Major Events Investment Panel, Tait NZ Ltd and Wellington Gateway Partnership, and was briefly a director of the general partner of Gareth Morgan Investments LP in 2014.

Before taking up his NZ Post job in January 2010, Mr Roche was a senior partner at accountancy firm PWC. He has a Bachelor of Commerce & Administration (Victoria University) and is a fellow of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said today Mr Roche’s extensive background in the public & private sectors, including his current role with Transmission Gully, would be a welcome addition to the city rail link project.

The city rail link, now under construction, will extend Auckland’s passenger rail system through Britomart to connect to the existing regional rail network at Mt Eden.

Britomart will become a through station and new stations are being built near Aotea Square & Karangahape Rd, whil the Mt Eden station will be redeveloped.

The rail link will have twin 3.4km-long tunnels up to 42, below the city centre streets. Estimated opening date is 2023.

Auckland Council & the Government signed the CRL heads of agreement in September that confirmed:

  • a funding arrangement where the council & the Crown will each pay half of the total capitalised costs of the project
  • the establishment of a company (City Rail Link Ltd) which will be responsible for the delivery of the project on behalf of both parties
  • a joint share in development opportunities arising from the project
  • Auckland Transport has a critical role as Auckland’s key transport entity, and will assist the CRL company to deliver its objectives
  • KiwiRail has a formal role in ensuring the city rail link’s seamless interface with the wider rail network, including freight.

City Rail Link Ltd will have 5 directors, including the chair, who are appointed jointly by the council & the Government. Mr Roche will assist with the appointment of the other 4 directors.

Attribution: Joint release.

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City rail link funding agreement signed

The Government & Auckland Council signed their 50:50 agreement yesterday for funding of the city rail link, now costed at $2.8-3.4 billion.

The council has been running the project through council-owned Auckland Transport. Under the new agreement, it will be managed by a new jointly owned company, City Rail Link Ltd. Auckland Transport will continue to deliver technical & operational aspects.

The agreement allows the tendering process to begin for main works, distinct from the preparatory works being undertaken so far. Its main competition for contractors will be the bigger Sydney & Melbourne Metro projects.

As well as sharing the cost, the council & government (described as sponsors) will share development opportunities arising from the project.

The heads of agreement contains broader funding, governance & risk management arrangements and will be followed by a more detailed sponsors’ agreement. Under that agreement, Government money is expected to flow as early as 2017. The project is scheduled for completion by 2023-24.

The 3.4km double-track underground train line will run from Britomart station in downtown Auckland, around to Aotea Station on Albert St, up to another new station at Karangahape Rd and through to an upgraded Mt Eden Station.

By providing a through service, it will double the capacity of the metropolitan rail network.

In business cases in 2010-11, the construction cost was put at $2.4 billion. Auckland Transport, in its 2015 business case, estimated the cost in a range of $2-3 billion. After more detailed design work, Auckland Transport raised its estimate to $2.8-3.4 billion – still subject to changes.

Attribution: Council & ministerial releases.

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Rail link & transport alignment decisions this week

Auckland Council has called a meeting of its governing body for Wednesday to receive 2 reports on the city rail link and the council’s Auckland transport alignment project with the Government.

Both topics have been listed for debate behind closed doors, to follow reports to Monday’s Cabinet meeting.

The first, on the city rail link, will contain information “relating to a negotiation with the Government that has yet to be concluded with the relevant ministers”.

The second, on the alignment project, is about the project’s final report, “which is subject to negotiations with the Government”.

The big issue on both topics is funding. For the rail link, on which work has started, the question is the Government’s share of funding & its timing. For the transport project, the question is the methods the Government will allow the council to use to pay for other transport infrastructure.

Auckland transport alignment project
Interim report

Earlier stories:
22 June 2016: Government & council start lining up on tolls but transport report still has big failings
25 July 2016: First rail link works at Britomart start this week
31 May 2016: Thursday groundbreaking for city rail link
23 February 2016: Transport alignment starts off-track
19 February 2016: Auckland & government working together – but still some basic “facts” to align
29 January 2016: Key turns positive on rail link and promotes faster East-West project
17 April 2015: Rail link now just 2 years from hitting government funding threshold
10 December 2014: Council majority rejects softer approach to Government on rail link
1 June 2011: Government says “not yet” for cbd rail loop, mayor says “all go”
25 November 2010: CBD rail loop business case unveiled

Attribution: Council agenda.

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