There are a group of 5 rail stations that are about to have work done on them, these are Onehunga, Otahuhu, Penrose, Greenlane and Remuera. Getting these stations upgraded and means we are a few steps closer to having all of the stations on the rail network up to an acceptable standard. The works being carried out are different for each of them but my understanding of them is as follows:
- Onehunga – The platforms are being lengthened at each end to make them long enough for our new electric trains.
- Otahuhu – An upgrade to the station, most likely to bring it up to the same standard as other suburban stations.
- Penrose – Upgrading the main station and some modification to the station building so the roof doesn’t interfere with the wires.
- Greenlane – An upgrade to the station, most likely to bring it up to the same standard as other suburban stations.
- Remuera – While the station had some work on it to improve things a while ago, my understanding is that there are a few things to finish off.
note: I have deliberately excluded Mt Albert as that is being treated separately and the upgrade to it will cost more than these 5 combined.
With this post thought I just want to look at the issues of one of these, Greenlane. The station has historically had very low patronage and while the the overall network has seen some pretty impressive growth over the last few years, patronage at Greenlane has been pretty flat and to my knowledge has less than 300 boardings per day and by comparison, Ellerslie has more than 3 times that many. This situation is likely to be from a couple of key reasons, the first is that the station is largely hidden away from both the local road and motorway so there is an unsafe element to it and this isn’t helped by the infrastructure at the station itself with poor lighting and no CCTV etc. Of course the station generally looks pretty unloved but this upgrade should solve some of those issues.
What is a bit harder to solve are some of the other fundamental issues with it. The station is located right next to not only SH1 but also one of the busiest motorway interchanges in the country, the design of the road network rules out the station being fed passengers by passing buses so it really has to rely on a walk up catchment. The problem with this though is the only way to access the station is via a footpath next to that very busy interchange and as the neighbouring local roads are also incredibly busy it means that it is almost impossible to cross them as a pedestrian except for at traffic lights however the closest ones in any direction are a few hundred meters away. This has the effect of really limiting the walking catchment of the station and the image below shows this with the blue lines representing just how far from the station you could get by walking 500m while the yellow circle shows a 500m circle around the station.
Those to the North are of the station are particularly cut off from it due to the motorway like Greenlane East however there is also quite a gap in the South East. Due to the interchange and Greenlane East the Northern part is a bit harder to solve but the South East could be fixed much easier. Another access point to the station at the other end of the platform along with a path alongside the tracks would make a huge difference to the number of homes within 500m of the station. In fact a rough count is that that it almost doubles the catchment while also reducing the distance for most of the other residential properties, namely those on Nolan Rd or Derry St. The path along the rail lines could also eventually form part of a Southern Motorway cycleway, something that is proposed on the regional cycle map.
Interestingly this exact connection actually used to exist, as this image from 1959 shows, I also shows what some of the area looked like before the motorway was rammed through.