There has been quite a lot of talk over the last few days about the future of the Newmarket West Train Station once the new Newmarket station opens in January next year. Brian Rudman wrote a fairly lengthy article on the matter in today’s herald, while another article on transport issues also mentioned the ‘up in the air’ future of this station. Effectively, the debate is about whether or not the station should remain operational once the flash new multi-million dollar Newmarket station is opened.
This is what the Newmarket West station looks like at the moment:
One compromise would be to retain Kingdon St as an additional stop while taking the trains into Newmarket as well. Is an extra stop in a busy shopping precinct such a bad thing?
ARC Chairman Mike Lee is also keen on retaining the station:
…a new $35 million central station opening behind Broadway in January and another beneath Park Rd.
Newmarket rail users fighting for the retention of a temporary station off Kingdon St, near the junction of the western and southern lines, were surprised last week when the transport authority said it was considering building a permanent facility there for $9 million to $13 million.
Supporters of the temporary station, such as Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee and Newmarket business owner Guy Herbert, are questioning the authority proposing such an expensive alternative while it is considering budget cuts to cover a $60 million shortfall in Government subsidies over three years.
It’s an interesting conundrum actually. I don’t think it’s really a goer to not build the Grafton Station – as the biggest users of the current Boston Road station (which Grafton station is effectively replacing) are St Peter’s College students. Forcing them to walk all the way to Newmarket would be pretty mean and stupid. Furthermore, Grafton Station will be pretty well located to provide access to the hospital, the domain and the Museum. So I think it’s necessary to keep that station – plus a decent amount of the work building it is already underway.
It might be useful to provide a bit of context with an aerial photograph showing different station locations:
Looking at distances, it’s about 450m the Grafton Station to the current Newmarket West station, and then another 300m from the Newmarket West station to the station currently under construction. Those are pretty short distances really. Especially if a northern access to the Newmarket station ends up being provided (anyone know if it is or isn’t?) the gap between the northern access to Newmarket station, and that to Newmarket West station might be shorter than the platforms of the stations themselves.
In terms of whether the Newmarket West station should be kept, I guess there are a few different options for us to look at:
- Keep the station and run all Western Line trains via Newmarket West rather than the new station. This would be a really stupid option in my opinion as it would negate half the reason for spending tens of millions on the flash new Newmarket station. It would also make life very difficult for people trying to transfer between Western and Southern Line trains (hopefully in the future they will be timetabled to allow for pretty easy transfers).
- Keep the station for express Western Line services only. This could be quite a good idea, in that it would enable Western Line trains to avoid the “reversal” they will have to put up with at the new station. On the down-side, once again it compromises the ability to provide for trasnfers between services – plus it seems a bit strange to keep a whole station for a mere two services a day.
- Keep the station and stop trains at both stations. This seems to be Brian Rudman’s suggestion, and would involve trains heading (from Britomart) to the new station first, reversing out of that station, then stopping at Newmarket West station before continuing onwards. In my opinion the extra stop is a pretty unnecessary delay and I don’t think the benefits from it are really worth the hassle.
- Close down the station. This would have a disadvantage in terms of forcing all Western Line trains to reverse at the new station and would also result in some loss of accessibility for areas immediately adjacent to the current Newmarket West station. Its advantages would be faster travel times (compared to option 3) and fully utilising the new station and the possibilities for transfers with the Southern Line. It would also reduce confusion for people as to which station they should go to to catch their train.
I think overall I’m leaning towards option 4 here. I just don’t think there are particularly great benefits from keeping the station open that offset the costs – slower travel times, loss of transfer options, greater confusion for users and under-utilisation of the new station. However, I think that there might be some merit in option 2 if it was shown that this was of great benefit to people catching express trains. Rudman’s article includes a comment that perhaps it is some version of option 2 we end up with:
This week ARTA will contemplate a compromise solution to keep Kingdon St open until – you guessed it – the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
As I noted with regards to the Onehunga Line, sometimes I do wish ARTA would harden up a bit and make decisions that will create the best transport system possible, which isn’t necessarily the option that will please the most people. There may be some excellent argument for retaining the Newmarket West station, just as there may be for locating the Onehunga bus terminal on the opposite side of town to the train station – but I haven’t heard either argument yet.