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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.