Archive | Rail

Tunnel dig starts on Albert St

Work began on Monday on bulk excavation for the city rail link cut-&-cover rail tunnels under Albert St in downtown Auckland.

City Rail Link Ltd project director Chris Meale said it was a milestone for the project: “This work marks a significant point in the construction process as we will start to see the tunnels taking shape. It will be exciting & challenging work from an engineering perspective, as we build rail tunnels below groundwater level, while maintaining surface-level access to Albert St for foot & vehicle traffic.

“The bulk excavation is also providing employment opportunities with about 50 people working on site. This is likely to increase to 80 by the end of the year, once tunnel box construction & waterproofing works are underway, with many being workers employed by local sub-contractors.”

The excavation represents about 10% of the 3.45km length of the twin-tunnel underground rail link, and involves digging 18m (about 5 storeys) at the deepest (southern) point, using long-reach excavators above ground and smaller machinery inside the reinforced trench. The tunnels will then be constructed with a cast concrete floor, walls & roof before the trench is backfilled.

The work will be undertaken progressively from Wyndham St at the southern end to Customs St at the northern end. Excavation at the southern end is expected to be complete by October this year and the northern by the middle of next year.

Construction of the tunnel box is expected to start late this year and be completed by late 2018.

By spring 2019, this section of Albert St will be reinstated with a new road surface, bus lanes, widened footpaths & street furniture.

For those interested in watching the big dig, CRL & contractors the Connectus joint venture (McConnell Dowell & Downer) have provided viewing windows at the Wyndham St pedestrian crossings.

Cut-&-cover construction is being used at each end of the CRL tunnels – between Britomart Station and the future Aotea Station and, later, where it connects to the western line at Mt Eden. Between Aotea & Mt Eden stations, the tunnels will be between 13-42m below ground and bored using a 7m-diameter tunnel boring machine.

The city rail link is jointly funded by the Government & Auckland Council and is expected to be completed in 2023-24. Their joint venture company, City Rail Link Ltd, took over the project on 1 July.

Image above: Looking north along the CRL tunnel route on Albert St.

Link: CRL cut-&-cover tunnel excavation

Attribution: Company release.

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Hamilton-Auckland commuter rail service wins support “in principle”, Panuku gets more tools

Auckland Council’s planning committee voted more strongly yesterday in favour of investigating a regular commuter rail link between Auckland & Hamilton than the tone of the debate indicated.

The committee had before it a position paper prepared last year after multiple-agency collaboration and received brief input from a lobby group chair, Rob Weir, who’d come up from Hamilton for the meeting and was invited by committee chair Chris Darby to speak.

Auckland Council staff sought committee support for a high level review to identify opportunities & constraints, but there was more debate on the value of such a study if it was unlikely to lead anywhere.

The way forward was determined by an addition by Cllr Cathy Casey to the recommendations for the committee to support the provision of a passenger rail service in principle.

While some thought it ought to be a low priority against a stack of other multi-billion-dollar infrastructure confronting the council, the “in principle” tag worked, the additional clause was supported by 18-1 and the amended recommended was approved unanimously.

That means the proposal will be studied, not necessarily resulting in a regular service.

Extra acquisition tools for Panuku endorsed

The committee also endorsed a proposal that its regeneration arm, Panuku Development Auckland, be able to use – “prudently” – statutory tools such as designation & compulsory acquisition in the areas around the region marked as “unlock” or “transform”.

  • Both the commuter rail proposition and the extension of Panuku’s ability to advance regeneration are worth a lot more attention than the few words above. I’ll write more about both in the next few days.

Attribution: Council committee meeting.

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Last preparations start for rail tunnel excavation

Auckland’s city rail link project entered the final stage of preparation works on Albert St last week before tunnel construction works begin.

The top 1.5m of road surface is being removed on the eastern side of Albert St between Wyndham & Swanson Sts before installation of the second half of the temporary steel work required to support the walls of the trench in which the future rail tunnels will be constructed.

Auckland Transport said: “Any utility services that remain in this top portion of the road will be temporarily supported on the steel work to ensure there is no disruption to local residents & businesses.”

In a few weeks, a temporary deck will be constructed over the top of these steel struts, which will provide working room over the top of the trench for excavators & haulage trucks.

“A lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction throughout these works.

“On the remainder of Albert St between Swanson & Customs Sts, work continues to tie together & brace the 20m-deep piles installed to support the trench walls.

“Excavation also began last week on the third portion of the traffic deck being constructed at the Customs/Albert St intersection. When all 4 sections of the deck are completed in September, they will form a bridge structure that spans the entire intersection, allowing all 4 traffic lanes to be re-established while the rail link tunnels are constructed underneath.”

Auckland Transport, city rail link web page

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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3 shortlisted for city rail link lines tender

3 companies have been shortlisted to tender for linewide systems integration, testing & commissioning for Auckland’s city rail link (contract 7).

Project director Chris Meale said on Monday there were 8 expressions of interest from international parties for the work and 3 had been selected to move to the phase of request for tender.

They are:

  • John Holland NZ Ltd
  • Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd, and
  • RCR Infrastructure (NZ) Ltd

They’ll have 3 months to tender. Mr Meale said that, following evaluation, the successful company was likely to be appointed in the last quarter of this year.

The contract will be for the systems that include tracks, power systems, communications, controls, ventilation & signalling from Britomart, through the city rail link and connecting to the western line at Mt Eden Station.

Attribution: Auckland Transport release.

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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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