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Breakthrough achieved on New Zealand metro tunnel

Construction on the City Rail Link (CRL) project in Auckland, New Zealand achieved a major milestone late last week with breakthrough between two sections of tunnels.

The work saw the Albert Street tunnels linked to the new CRL tunnels for the first time on the 3.5km tunnel scheme which will connect two key stations in Auckland by 2024.

“With the Albert Street trench excavation complete we are one step closer to delivering Auckland’s first underground rail line,” said Auckland mayor Phil Goff.

The CRL is the most significant infrastructure project in New Zealand. When complete it will carry more than 50,000 passengers during peak hours and completely transform how we move about our city.

“The CRL will not only change the way we travel through Auckland’s central city, it will significantly enhance the efficiency of our entire public transport network, freeing-up our streets from bus congestion and delivering more efficient and frequent train services across the city.”

CRL CEO Sean Sweeney said: It’s fair to say that getting to this point has not been without its challenges. This is the largest transport project ever undertaken in New Zealand and building it within the middle of a built-up city is no small task.

“The nature of the excavation, the tight confines and the location all make building this project extremely complex and I’m delighted with the progress we have made to date.”

The breakthrough itself has been a gradual process over the past month that has required a staged approach to excavation, construction of shotcrete support between piles, and demolition of temporary concrete piles separating the two sites.

The tunnels between the two sites, meet under the Customs Street traffic deck which was built last year to keep traffic moving while the work is carried out underneath.

According to Sweeney, joint venture contractor Connectus – formed by McConnell Dowell and Downer – is now starting work on completing the construction of the remaining third of the tunnel box and backfilling of the trench. This phase is expected to be completed by the middle of next year.

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