Construction work on the northern side of the Mt Eden train station – part of the City Rail Link project – can now resume following the end of the Alert Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown
CRL ‘champing at the bit’ for construction restart
New Zealand’s biggest infrastructure project, Auckland’s $4.45 billion City Rail Link (CRL), has welcomed the Government’s decision to resume construction after the Covid-19 lockdown and chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney says his team is “champing at the bit” for a rapid restart.
“Ever since the lockdown began four weeks ago, there has been a lot of desktop planning for a quick restart, and we’re well prepared to come out of the starting blocks fast – we’re champing at the bit and ready to get cracking asap,” Dr Sweeney says. “We’re already inspecting all CRL sites and making them ready for a safe return to work.
“Because of our size we’re aware of the big role we have in quickly getting the economy moving again, supporting the contracting and infrastructure industries, and seeing our workers safely back on the job.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has also welcomed the Government’s announcement and CRL’s restart news. “As one of Auckland’s – and New Zealand’s – biggest and most important infrastructure projects, the City Rail Link will play an important role in the post-Covid-19 economic stimulus,” Mr Goff says.
“It’s critical that CRL construction resumes quickly to help kickstart the economy, get construction and infrastructure industry employees back into work, and limit as much as is possible the lockdown’s impact on construction timeframes.”
Work will resume on Tuesday 28 April at all CRL sites – the C1 contract at Britomart and Lower Queen Street, C2 in Albert Street, C3 at Aotea in central Auckland, Karangahape Road and at Mt Eden, and C8 on the southern rail line at Otahuhu.
Dr Sweeney says the paramount priority will be keeping workers, and the wider community, safe. CRL will strictly adhere to Government protocols for working under Alert Level 3.
“We had some pretty strict safety measures in place before the lockdown, but our return to work will be different There will be additional constraints – restricted access to our sites, physical distancing, protective clothing, and sanitising and cleaning regimes. They will all contribute to a successful restart in the new Covid-19 work environment, and, just as importantly, they will help ensure our workers get home to family and friends virus-free when they finish their shifts.”
Dr Sweeney says it is too early to measure if Covid-19 has impacted on project costs or construction timetables. “It may be months before we know that – once the economy has settled down a bit and we have a clearer picture on the availability of workers, and what sort of shape some of our suppliers both here and overseas are in. I know we have a small team of workers waiting in France because there are no flights here at the moment – that’s not a lockdown issue, that’s a wider international Covid-19 issue,” he notes.
“A big plus for the project has been the ability of City Rail Link Ltd and our Link Alliance contractors to be able to keep working on construction and design programmes during the lockdown – time wasn’t wasted and that’s been a big boost for our restart,” he says.
Opportunities to accelerate work
Dr Sweeney says the project is investigating opportunities to accelerate some work, including more shifts of work and the use of extra plant and machinery. “These ‘shovel-ready’ ideas are still in the planning stages, but our contractors will be working hard – and safely – to get CRL delivered as quickly as possible for Auckland,” he adds.
Dr Sweeney assures people that they will be kept well informed of any project changes that may be made to programmes of work. “Even though we will still be unable to meet face-to-face at Level 3, there will be other ways of talking and communicating so people are kept in the loop – by phone, email and using our traditional and social media channels. Keeping people in the loop is an important part of a successful restart and getting the job done.”
Drone footage, shot in March prior to the Alert Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown, showing the Link Alliance construction worksite around the new City Rail Link Aotea Station can be viewed here.