12 May 2020

City Rail Link on double-time to get up to speed

5:11 pm on 12 May 2020

Work on Auckland's City Rail Link will move to 16 hours a day from Monday in a bid to make up for lost time and accelerate the long-delayed project.

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Work on the CRL underway in 2019. Photo: Kethaki Masilamani

Constructions of the $4.4 billion dollar project - excluding cost increases due to the lockdown - was halted completely during alert level 4.

City Rail Link ehief executive Sean Sweeney said: "I think we have come out of the lockdown pretty well - apparently faster than most projects - but one thing is certain, Covid-19's legacy means CRL is now going to be a very different project than it was two months ago".

From next week work will run from 7am to 10pm from Monday to Friday, and 7am to 7pm on Saturday at the Mt Eden and Karangahape Road sites. Workers will be on two different shifts.

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"The new health and safety measures are there to protect workers and the wider community, but they also affect productivity," Dr Sweeney said.

"Moving to double shifting will enable us to regain the construction momentum we need to achieve a higher level of productivity in the Covid-19 context and to play a bigger part in the country's economic re-build," Dr Sweeney said.

Traffic and noise management plans would be revised, and the company said noisy work would finish before 7pm "wherever possible".

"We're very mindful of our obligations under legally binding consent conditions and of the great support we get from our neighbours and the wider community. That hasn't changed," he said.

"Even if face-to-face catchups remain difficult, our priority is to keep neighbours and community organisations well informed through a whole raft of different communication channels so they know what we are up to."

The company has also asked the government to declare the project an essential service, so overseas workers could arrive and be on site after a two-week quarantine period.

Dr Sweeney said an investigation on cost and timing overruns due to the shutdown would take a few months.

"That work will take several months, and the outcome will depend on the health of the economy, how our suppliers here at home and overseas are faring, and on international efforts to curb Covid-19. CRL is important for Auckland's future and the measures announced today are an important first step to keep to our timetable and to our budget."

The City Rail Link has ballooned in cost from $2.5b in the business case to $4.4b now - with the total cost likely to increase further. At this stage it is due for completion in late 2024.

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