Link maker

Auckland City Rail Link drill drills final tunnel

Tunneling for Auckland’s City Rail Link is now complete, after tunnel boring machine ‘Dame Whina Cooper’ broke through at Te Waihorotiu/Aotea station on Wednesday evening.

It is the second and final tunnel to be completed, with construction starting in April 2022.

“The final tunnel breakthrough is the culmination of 13 months of hard work by the tunneling teams,” said Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

“When completed, City Rail Link will provide faster and easier access to central Auckland and surrounding areas, immediately doubling heavy rail capacity and ultimately carrying up to 54,000 passengers per hour at peak times.”

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“I think it’s fitting that the tunnel boring machine bears the name Dame Whina Cooper. No matter what stands in the way, it just keeps on going,” said Associate Transport Minister Kieran McAnulty .

The Auckland City Rail Link tunnel boring team watches the boring machine bore through the final tunnel.

Alex Cairns / Stuff

The Auckland City Rail Link tunnel boring team watches the boring machine bore through the final tunnel.

City Rail Link chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney said construction was completed under difficult conditions.

“Having achieved what this team of 2,000 has faced in the face of a global pandemic, multiple lockdowns, restricted Covid working conditions and multiple other challenges is nothing short of extraordinary,” he said.

“These tunnels are the cornerstone of the nation’s first rapid transit rail network and will enable transformational change in our largest city.

Dame Whina Cooper’s Whānau was present at the breakthrough.

“What a journey it has been. I think back to when we started in Mt Eden and I am so grateful that we are here, together at the end,” said his daughter Hinerangi Cooper-Puru.

City Rail Link chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney said construction was completed under difficult conditions.

Alex Cairns / Stuff

City Rail Link chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney said construction was completed under difficult conditions.

The machine will now be disassembled and lifted off the ground. It will then be transported to the port of Auckland to be returned to its manufacturer.

Both tunnels are 1 mile long and connect Mt Eden to Britomart station.

Hinerangi Cooper-Puru, daughter of Dame Whina Cooper, alongside Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

Alex Cairns / Stuff

Hinerangi Cooper-Puru, daughter of Dame Whina Cooper, alongside Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

The City Rail Link is expected to be completed in 2024.