Guess who gets to take home the money for building Len Brown’s rail loop?

Australian-listed Downer EDI has won one of the first construction contracts for Auckland’s $2.5 billion City Rail Link.

Downer has joined forces with French specialist geotechnical and civil engineering company Soletanche Bachy to build part of the CRL.

The city rail link will have twin 3.4km tunnels up to 42 metres below the inner-city’s streets to create an underground line linking Britomart with the existing western line near Mt Eden.

Boring machines will be used to create the tunnels and new train stations will be built at Aotea Sq and Karangahape Rd.

It is estimated it will take five-and-a-half years to build the CRL, which has been divided into four work packages – a decision AT made after consulting with international rail constructors and experts.

I understand that we don’t necessarily have the experts lying around locally, but New Zealand companies can hire them. Why are we pushing all that money into overseas balance sheets? 

CRL project director Chris Meale told Auckland Council’s governing body in April the work packages were the fitout of the rail tunnels with complex and interactive systems, connecting the east and west facing lines at Mt Eden in a live corridor, civil underground tunnelling and station building and, once the trains are running, work at Britomart on a new entrance to the east and widening of platforms to cope with expected passenger number increases.

He says the CRL team has spent a lot of time and money on geotechnical work around the tunnelling – the riskiest part of the project – with 140 test bores sunk around the new rail station sites. The team is also working on similar structuring for the rail systems within the tunnels.

“We have tried to structure the project in the best way possible to avoid the known hazards. The real test of the overall cost will be when the constructors put their cards on the line as they tender for the work packages.”

Downer chief executive Grant Fenn says the company will use its extensive experience with complex engineering projects to help build the CRL and the contract win is one of the highlights of a recent series of awarded New Zealand contracts totalling about $460 million.

The company has secured more than $1 billion in revenue in New Zealand for the 2017 financial year.

With billions of dollars of public money up for grabs over the next few years, it will be sad to see a huge chunk head overseas.



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