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Rail link 'will change Auckland for ever'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/06/2016
<p>A train in Auckland's Britomart Transport centre</p> © Josef F. Stuefer/Moment Editorial/Getty Images

A train in Auckland's Britomart Transport centre

Construction of Auckland's $2.5 billion City Rail Link is officially under way.

The ground was broken at a ceremony on Thursday, with Auckland's Mayor Len Brown saying it would change the city for ever.

Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Simon Bridges were there with Mr Brown, who has championed the project since 2010.

Two 3.4 kilometre rail tunnels will run under central Auckland from Britomart station, linking up with the existing western line at Mt Eden when the project is completed in 2013.

"The CRL provides the single best solution to meet demand for access to the city centre," Mr Brown said. "Today changes Auckland for ever. The CRL is at the heart of dealing with the city's growth."

Mr Bridges said the CRL was one of New Zealand's largest-ever infrastructure projects.

"It will double the capacity of Auckland's rail network, provide two new stations in the central city and see travel times for commuters reduce significantly," he said.

"With Auckland's population predicted to grow by more than 700,000 over the next 30 years, the CRL will play an important role in getting people in and out of the city with ease."

Auckland Transport is forecasting an 88 per cent increase in rail passengers into the city during the CRL's first year of operation.

The government hasn't always been enthusiastic about the project. It initially doubted its viability and only in 2013 offered to fund half of the work, with a caveat that it wouldn't provide the money to start the project until 2020.

Earlier this year it moved that up by two years so construction could begin sooner.

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