Aotea Station work a feather in infrastructure focus

An official spade in the ground celebration last month marked the move underground to build City Rail Link’s Aotea Station. The project also heralds the re-opening of one major road in central Auckland and the temporary closure of another as construction shifts focus.

Auckland’s Mayor, Phil Goff, turned the first spade of soil to symbolically start underground construction, and, at the same time, provided an update on the re-opening of the Wellesley/Albert Street intersection and the temporary closure of the Victoria/Albert Street intersection.

“The start of work underground on Aotea Station is a significant milestone for the City Rail Link and for Auckland,” Mayor Goff says.

“Aotea Station is expected to become New Zealand’s busiest train station after it opens and the CRL itself will be a game-changer for the city, doubling rail capacity and ultimately moving 54,000 people at peak hours, the equivalent capacity of three Auckland Harbour Bridges or 16 extra traffic lanes.”

Exact dates are still to be finalised, but Wellesley Street is expected to re-open first in June or July, followed a few days later by the closure of the Victoria Street / Albert Street intersection.

“It is time to start preparing for these changes by planning a better way into the city centre,” says Dr Sean Sweeney, Chief Executive for City Rail Link Ltd.

“As New Zealand’s largest-ever transport infrastructure project, disruption is unavoidable, but it is important to remember that the city centre around the Aotea site remains open for business and for leisure – it will always be a great place to work, to visit, and to support local.”

Dr Sweeney says the project is also working with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and other organisations to minimise disruption, and to reschedule and redirect bus services.

“The easiest way to reach this part of town will still be by public transport, by foot, bike, e-scooter or another sustainable travel method,” he says.

During construction, CRL’s contractor, Link Alliance, is delivering a programme to support local businesses, as well as a range of community events, activations, and public art in the area.

Wellesley Street re-opens after it was closed to traffic in March 2020 to move underground utilities and to begin station construction.

Victoria Street will remain open to people on foot but will close to traffic for approximately two years until 2023.

“Construction around and under the Victoria Street end of the station is massive in scale. The closure allows us to safely and quickly move existing utilities before building the station walls, roof, platforms, and eventually two public entrances,” Dr Sweeney says.

The Link Alliance, which is delivering CRL Ltd’s main stations, tunnels and railway system contract, is using a top-down method to build the Station. The station roof is built first and then the station excavated under it.

“Opting for this construction method will help reduce disruption at street level,” Dr Sweeney says.

The station will be 15 metres deep, with 300 metres long platforms and entrances on Wellesley and Victoria Streets.

When completed, Aotea Station will become the busiest railway station in New Zealand serving central Auckland which is regarded as the country’s largest employment hub.

“Mayor Goff adds: “It’s fantastic to kick off this phase of work today, which will help deliver the 21st century public transit network our city needs to be world class.”

Construction of the City Rail Link – including the Aotea and Karangahape underground stations and 3.45 kilometres of tunnels connecting the existing Britomart and Mt Eden stations – will revolutionise Auckland’s rail network and supporting bus and ferry services.

Longer electric trains will carry more passengers more frequently and more often – the biggest rail makeover in years for New Zealand’s largest city. CRL construction is planned to finish in late 2024.