The Auckland City Rail Link's tunnel boring machine has today broken through into the Karangahape Station construction site, after digging through 860 metres of ground from Mt Eden.
The machine, named Dame Whina Cooper, breached a 100mm-thick protective wall of concrete into the station cavern today, 32m below ground, as part of the $4.4 billion rail project.
City Rail Link chief executive Dr Sean Sweeney said New Zealand's Covid-19 lockdown delayed the planned September breakthrough, but tunnelling accelerated when lockdown restrictions eased.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"Aucklanders can't see it, but far below their streets a railway that is going to change their lives for the good is rapidly starting to take shape.
"Despite all the curveballs, complications and challenges Covid keeps throwing our way, we've arrived - it's a positive, exciting and significant arrival."
The machine began mining from the Mt Eden Station construction site in May.
The 130m-long machine will now be pushed 223m to the northern end of the cavern, before the next stage, digging to Aotea Station in central Auckland. It is planned to arrive early in the new year where it will connect with the tunnels already built from Britomart and under the lower end of Albert St.
The second CRL tunnel from Mt Eden to Aotea will be bored in 2022.
The City Rail Link is expected to carry up to 54,000 people an hour and would move the equivalent capacity of three Auckland Harbour Bridges or 16 extra traffic lanes into and through the city at peak times.