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Avondale Rail Update

It’s now a couple of weeks since the trains started going again on the Western Line, and about three weeks since I posted some photos of the works that went on in the Avondale area during the Christmas and New Year break. So I thought it was about time I headed out again for a quick wander around to see how things have sorted themselves out.

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As shown in the photo above, the new Avondale train station is open and operational at the moment. The platforms certainly have quite a “permanent” look about them, although this is apparently because there are pretty high standards that rail platforms have to be built to. So one can’t really cut too many corners when building a temporary station in this regards. The rest of the station is pretty basic, what you’d expect for something that’s only going to be there for a year at the longest. I suppose that the location of the station is not really worse than where it used to be – although it certainly isn’t better. We’ll have to wait for the permanent station to be built at Crayford Street before Avondale really starts to benefit from actually having a train station that is accessible from the town centre.

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This photo looks west from the station to underneath the Blockhouse Bay Road bridge. The line has been dropped down quite significantly from its previous height, although sadly I don’t have any old photos to compare it to. One of the main reasons for this lowering of the track is so electric wires are able to fit under the bridge. So in some ways this project was a first step towards electrification of Auckland’s network – an exciting project that hopefully we’ll see much more of as the year passes.

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This photo shows the Blockhouse Bay Road bridge. The traffic lights are new, and designed to assist with pedestrian safety for people crossing the bridge and wandering down to the train station. Blockhouse Bay Road is dangerous as hell around here so I’m hoping the lights stick around for a while.

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This photo looks west from the Blockhouse Bay Road bridge, and gives a good indication of the new rail alignment. Some very serious earthworks went on here over a pretty short period of time. It’s interesting that concrete rail sleepers seem to be preferred these days.

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This photo looks in a southwest direction from Rosebank Road. The new station is to be located just around the corner. Hopefully the area in the foreground becomes a park and ride facility once construction is complete. Or a bus/train transport interchange as a decent number of buses drive past this spot. Certainly plenty of potential for a good transport integrated development, no matter what form it takes.

So overall I’m pretty impressed by what’s been achieved at Avondale over the past month. It will be interesting to see how construction of the actual permanent Avondale station goes, and whether we end up with something a little more interesting than the typical basic shelter. I suppose that I take a somewhat particular interest in Avondale, as I have worked around there for the past three years and I also used the area as the focus case study for my thesis back in 2005. It is an area with plenty of potential to become a great rail-based high-density growth node, and although significant redevelopment is unlikely in the near future, longer-term Avondale has huge potential to be a very interesting place. The new train station will be in the heart of that change, and finally be located in a spot that’s connected to the local community and of some use to them.

10 comments to Avondale Rail Update

  • Daniel Fraser

    I spoke to a worker at the new station site today. They have fenced of the pedestrian crossing and are currently drilling the piles for the new station. It seems they are also widening Crawford st. – Perhaps a drop off area. I wonder if the new station design is available to view somewhere.

  • I haven’t seen a design. I really should head out there and take some photos of what’s happening at Avondale. I used to work quite nearby, but now work in the city so I haven’t seen the progress for quite some time.

  • Christopher Thompson

    Well they’re working at a pace that would make snails look like Snell. I recently picked up a flyer Fletchers/Ontrack distributed locally on 07 August stating that work would begin on the platform between St Jude Street and Crayford St East on 24 August (it didn’t). ‘There will be construction activity at the bottom of Crayford St East to build a retaining wall. Some trees will need to be removed to make way for the platform [...] This work will take about two months’. There’s a sketch plan suggesting that the platform will stretch along Layard St the entire distance between Crayford and St Jude Sts. There’s no indication of the station design and the flyer is illustrated with a picture of an ADL at the old, pre Christmas 2008, platform. I guess community relations aren’t a priority for Ontrack/ARTA. Nothing really worth photographing at the moment; it looks pretty much the way it’s looked since January!

  • Jezza

    I used to disembark here when I went to Avondale College… It’s still really weird seeing new ballast around in Auckland…

  • Daniel Fraser

    I see the new Avondale station now has the two shelters under construction. Does anyone know if there is also going to be a pedestrian overbridge? I saw there was one on the original plans/proposals but there doesn’t seem to be one under construction yet. Unlike the new Grafton station which already has stairs to the upper roads in place!

  • ingolfson

    Groan. At least they can add it pretty quickly at a later stage – but why do rail projects always have to cut back on safety and amenity aspects? Motorway projects don’t get cut like that.

  • Christopher Thompson

    The fact that no overbridge has been included in the approved scheme is, I suspect, a disaster waiting to happen. Aside from anything else, Avondale Primary School abuts the site and with the anticipated increase in train frequencies this is surely going to cause problems. Plus the very nature of the site (access from the north is difficult) suggests that people will continue to do what they did at the old station location, ie cross the tracks illegally because that’s the fastest and easiest way of getting to the platform. Oh and something I tried telling ARTA about ages ago: the standard shelter design won’t work because the westerly orientation of the new down line means that it’s open to the prevailing wind and I’ve stood at Avondale station in the past to watch the rain blow in near horizontally which means the shelter’s functionality is compromised. I mean they could have placed the shelters opposite one another so that the up line one acted as a sort of windbreak but they haven’t. Given the near total lack of consultation, I’m hardly surprised we haven’t seen any designs prior to construction. A case of bureaucratic ‘we know best and stuff you the public’ attitude that I suspect forbodes what we can expect from the proposed Auckland Transport CCO.

  • Leslie Bravery

    It is almost unbelievable that the construction of the new station at Crayford Street does not include a bridge for pedestrians. The crossing will be used by more than just rail users and the presence of the station in its new position will quite likely lead to an increase in social and commercial activity in the shopping centre, thereby adding to the volume of pedestrian traffic. The parents of young children, many of them with push-chairs, have the right to expect a basic amenity such as a footbridge to be included in the station plan. There is already far too much physical contact in Auckland between pedestrians and the trains. This was an ideal opportunity to make safe at least this crossing. Aucklanders are going to have to live with greatly increased rail usage and it’s about time the planners woke up to what is required.
    Christopher Thompson is quite right about the inadequate shelter for passengers. The Crayford Street west-bound platform shelter needs to be designed to take account of its exposure to the squalls coming from the Waitakere Ranges.
    The development of the railway is welcome and long overdue. It should not be short-changed by lack of foresight and proper design considerations.

  • Nick R

    Having only a gated crossing is a very very bad idea. There is one station like this in Melbourne and it is a farce. The problem is that the gates close shortly before a train arrives, meaning that you can be standing there, see the train come and all you can do is stand there like an idiot as it pulls up to the platform and leaves without you.

    Consider this, the pedestrian crossing will be open only when there are no trains in the station or nearby. The very moment people need to access the platforms the most (i.e. when a train is approaching) the gate will close and prevent people from getting to the train!

    It is simply ludicrous. At least in Avondale the citybound platform is on the same side as the town centre, so this problem shouldn’t apply to the main traffic flow, but people coming from the other side or heading to the west will be trapped metres from the platform.

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