Work has begun on the $90m Manukau Rail Link in New Zealand, the first extension of the Auckland city’s 100km rail network since the 1930s.

The 2km line will link Manukau and the North Island trunk line at Puhinui, which runs parallel to the motorway that is under construction between State Highways 1 and 20.

The project is being funded by rail operator Kiwirail ($50m) and Manukau City Council ($33m) with the remaining costs coming from the Auckland Regional Transport Authority.

Work is being carried out by KiwiRail and its principal contractor Leighton and is expected to finish by 2011.

The new rail line is part of Project DART – a $600m extension, electrification and upgrade of Auckland’s rail network which is scheduled for completion by 2013.