The $2.5 billion project to build a rail tunnel through downtown Auckland officially got underway today.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown, Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Simon Bridges launched the City Rail Link, which is due to open in six years time.
The ceremony was a political triumph for Len Brown who championed the project through his 2010 election campaign, despite a cool response from the Government.
Mr Key signalled government support nearly three years later, and in January committed to co-funding the project.
This morning, Mr Brown said Auckland had been asking and waiting for the rail link for a long time, and it marked the beginning of the city's future.
The project would double the number of train passengers to 30,000 people at peak times - as much as a 12-lane motorway could carry, he said.
Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy said there would be no shortcuts in protecting the safety of those who would be working underground in hazardous conditions.
Work has begun on the 3.4km tunnel and the Downtown shopping centre is being demolished to enable construction before a new office tower is built.
The tunnel creates a rail loop allowing trains to run more frequently, and major property developments are already planned along its route.