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Study To Determine Cbd Loop Tunnel Route Underway

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Investigations are underway to identify a preferred route for Auckland's proposed CBD loop underground rail link from Britomart to Mt Eden rail stations.

The study, jointly funded by KiwiRail and ARTA, will also consider the likely costs and economic justification for the proposed tunnel and possible stations along the way, and begin the process of protecting the route for future construction.

KiwiRail Network Commercial Manager Neil Buchanan says considerable work has already been done to determine the first section of the link from Britomart to a proposed underground station beneath Albert St.

"However that same level of detail now needs to be worked through for the remainder of the route."

The proposed tunnel is regarded as a key element in future transport infrastructure for Auckland by increasing capacity across the entire rail network, bringing the rail network into the heart of the city and stimulating economic development in the busy CBD area by reducing traffic congestion.

It would remove the capacity constraints already being felt at Britomart station, by developing it into a through station as was allowed for in its original design, Mr Buchanan said.

ARTA's Chief Executive Fergus Gammie says "The CBD Loop Tunnel will unlock the potential of Auckland's rapid rail transit network making the tunnel as important to the rail system as the Central motorway junction is to the motorways.

"A CBD Loop Tunnel complements the investment in the State Highway network by attracting long distance car trips off congested arterials and motorways freeing them up for freight, commercial and other trips that cannot be made by public transport. Currently almost 58,000, people travel into Auckland's CBD for work and education every week day morning at peak, with almost 33,000 of them using public transport.

"The Tunnel benefits all regional growth centres on the rail network by allowing more train movements through unlocking the capacity constraint of Britomart maximising the benefits of the huge investments in rail made by Government and regional bodies.

"The tunnel will have the single biggest impact on the future development of the city since the harbour bridge, transforming the future growth of the CBD as the economic engine of the region", said Mr Gammie.

KiwiRail and ARTA have commissioned the APB&B group of consultants, comprising AECOM, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Beca and Hassell, to undertake the study, which is expected to be completed in December 2010.

They will investigate the route options, engineering feasibility and potential costs for the rest of the tunnel including possible stations and its connection with the North Auckland railway line (Western Line) at Mt Eden, Mr Buchanan says. It will also complete the documentation to enable KiwiRail to lodge a Notice of Requirement with Auckland City to protect the route. Neil Buchanan says the project has required a high level of co-operation between regional and central government agencies.

The proposed 3.5 kilometre twin tracked tunnel could cost in excess of $1billion to construct, and would be around 30 metres below ground at its deepest point below Karangahape Rd.

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