2 Jun 2016

All aboard: City Rail Link construction begins

12:47 pm on 2 June 2016

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.

A platform view of the proposed Karangahape Road station (artist's impression)

Artist's impression of the platform of the proposed Karangahape Road station. Photo: Supplied

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.

An artist's impression of the proposed mid-town Aotea Station

Artist's impression of the proposed mid-town Aotea Station. Photo: Supplied

Work underway on Victoria Street on the 3.4km tunnel.

Work is underway on Victoria Street on the 3.4km tunnel project. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

A sign on Victoria Street, Auckland, where work on the City Rail Link project is already under way.

Work has begun on the City Rail Link project, which is being officially launched at a ceremony today. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

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.

An artist's impression of the Victoria Street entrance to the proposed Aotea Station.

The Victoria Street entrance to the proposed Aotea Station. Photo: Supplied

A platform view of the proposed Karangahape Road station (artist's impression)

The platform of the proposed Karangahape Road station. Photo: Supplied