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Should we build a station at Dominion Rd?

My fellow bloggers and I were having an interesting – and unresolved – debate over the weekend that I thought probably deserved a post. The debate was about whether we should build a train station on the Western line at Dominion Rd. I’m going to go through some of the pros and cons of the idea.

Build it

After the CRL has been completed, Mt Eden station is almost certainly not going to be needed unless we start running some peak only services from the west to Newmarket – but that is a debate for another post entirely. That would means for someone heading towards the city the first stop after Kingsland would be the new Newton station which would have an entrance roughly opposite the intersection of Mt Eden Rd and New North Rd. This has the impact of shifting the station entrance further north by ~400m meaning some people who are currently within easy walking distance of the train station will no longer be. That in itself probably isn’t such an issue as not many people currently use Mt Eden station and it is near the bottom of the list in terms of boardings due to being less frequent and direct compared the two bus routes of Dominion Rd and Mt Eden Rd.

However I’m sure any Dominion Rd bus user will be quick to point out that with the exception of a few express services, Dominion Rd isn’t as direct as it could be. Most buses take a detour down View Rd and Esplanade Rd before joining Mt Eden Rd to head towards the CBD. By comparison car drivers race (and they do) down Ian McKinnon Dr towards the CBD. However Ian McKinnon Dr didn’t always exist prior to that (and even after the motorway style interchange was built) the only route was up New North Rd and down Symonds St. I have heard the Dominion Rd buses and other traffic were diverted to View Rd to enable construction of the interchange but the buses were left there once it was finished, out of the way of the car drivers.

The question some have raised is whether we should change how Dominion Rd buses work and instead of sending them via the current route, if we should instead send them down Ian McKinnon Dr and Queen St to their destination. This is a similar route to what some of the express buses do. The advantage of this is that Dominion Rd users going to the CBD would get a much faster travel time but the downside it there would be effectively no opportunities for interaction with other routes (link excepted) until the buses reach Wellesley St. For the new network which is based around the idea that by accepting transfers for some journeys, we can vastly improve the reach and quality of the frequent bus network that could be a serious an issue.

As such a station where Dominion Rd crosses the rail line could be extremely useful as a transfer point on the network. It would give people coming particularly from the west an easy way to transfer onto Dominion Rd services. People from the Dominion Rd area travelling to places like Orakei could also benefit through a quick connection to a train on the eastern line. Due to the road and massive interchange I’m guessing any station would need to be to either the east or west of Dominion Rd rather than directly under it – although more on that soon. To give an idea, these boxes show roughly where it could happen.

Dominion Rd Station location

Personally I lean towards it being on the western side as on the eastern side it might be quite tight between the over bridge and the CRL portals. Of course the western side might invoke the memory of the Inner West Interchange that was proposed as part of the CRL however that was proposed as a four track station to be used to turn trains around and has since been removed from the project. This would be a simple station with side platforms so quite different.

One of the other potential benefits is it could potentially provide rail network overage to the areas North-west and South-east of the interchange which are currently just outside easy walking distance to either Kingsland or Newton stations. The lines on the map below radiate represent how far someone can walk up to 900m from a station entrance with each progressively darker colour representing another 150m and showing those areas not covered.

Kingsland and Newton Station access

In terms of the number of people that might benefit by now being really close to a train station, it might shift 2,500-3,000 people into that category which is good however many of  those are already fairly close to Kingland or Newton anyway so not all are an addition to the rail network catchment. Perhaps one of the biggest opportunities to get more people in the area would be to actually take down the interchange and return it to a normal intersection and in the process possibly freeing up as much as 30,000m² that could be used for redevelopment. That would help in significantly humanising the area as well as probably helping to address housing supply issues. If built at the same time, the station may be able to be put partially under the road over bridge.

Overall I would say the primary benefits of such a suggestion are to Dominion Rd bus users (for the quicker trips to town), the wider PT network from having additional connections and the redevelopment opportunities if we were to remove the interchange

Don’t build it

Obviously the other side of the argument is the idea that we shouldn’t build it. This comes about for a few key reasons and the first one is due to time.

From what I’ve seen the western line acts quite differently to the rest of the rail network in that has many more people who use stations all along the network for trips i.e. Glen Eden to Mt Albert. This is in contrast to the rest of the rail network on which patronage is almost exclusively CBD focused. Even so the vast majority of people using the western line are heading to the CBD, Newmarket or Grafton and as such the peak loading point – the place on the line where trains are carrying the most people – tends to be east of Kingsland. With the CRL the CBD focused trips are likely to increase substantially due to the much faster journey times the CRL provides.

Even with our new much faster electric trains, every time one needs to stop at a station it will add about 1 minute to the journey time after the time spent decelerating, dwelling at the station and then accelerating back up to speed. This is important as it means if we were to build a Dominion Rd station the majority of western line passengers are going to be held up and over lots of people, that will quickly add up. In reality this time could add up even higher as one of the most annoying features of the Western line is its very close station spacing meaning trains act almost like a slightly beefed up local bus service. This close spacing means trains often aren’t able to reach their full speed and speed is one of the biggest advantages the Rapid Transit Network is meant to have. A station at Dominion Rd would be roughly 900m from both Kingsland and Newton.

Inner West Station spacing

The next major thing against a Dominion Rd station is that not all stations are created equal. As with the walking distance map earlier in the post, there are a number of people who would be technically closer to a Dominion Rd station but who would choose to walk further to use the Newton one instead. The reason for this is that Newton would offer a greater choice of services as it would be served by all lines and even if just being used to head down the hill to the CBD, Newton would have higher frequencies. In effect Newton will have a much greater pull than Dominion Rd does.

In addition on the surface Newton would also serve as an interchange with buses heading down Sandringham, Mt Eden Rd and New North Rd so could very much turn into a bit of a transport hub. This would further increase the pull of Newton. Arguably while using Ian McKinnon Dr is faster, there is much greater benefit to be had by continuing to send Dominion Rd buses via the route they currently use (or via New North Rd) and therefore being able to link all of these various services together. It would also help if when building the CRL we also built a decent surface level bus interchange in the area.

Lastly there isn’t any reason why the removal of the interchange and redevelopment of the land around it couldn’t happen with this scenario too. The catchment of both Kingsland and Newton stations could also both be helped by a few pedestrian connections which would extend the reach slightly and with the plethora of buses through the area there is a lot of frequency and connectivity on offer.

I favour not building it but what do you think?

43 comments to Should we build a station at Dominion Rd?

  • Fred

    Agreed. Don’t slow down the trips of the vast majority to serve an area already saturated with bus access. Dominion to Western Line transfers can occur at Newton Station right?

  • Bbc

    Remove the interchange and improve cycling in the are,l cheaper and would enable better access to existing stations.

  • Yes, as a Morningside based city commuter I think I’d rather not see another station slowing things down – trains would barely have time to reach speed after Kingsland and the same again after Dominion Road to Mount Eden Station.

  • Anthony McBride

    Taking into account that how much extra time it would take, I am not in favour of building the station now, however if the Electrification and CRL really speeds up the whole service then I think Dominion Road could be considered an option.

  • Lindsey

    I live in Mostyn St – equidistant from Mt Eden and Kingsland stations. I was very pleased when I saw the proposal to build the interchange at Dominion Rd and I was sad to see it go. There is increasing intensification along the New North Rd/Dominion Road area to support increased PT. There is also a very dodgy and unsafe pedestrian pathway under the overbridge and next to the rail line which could be extended to provide a station area.
    It is often faster to walk from my place to KRd than to catch the bus.

  • JimboJones

    I think running dom road busses up new north road and on to symonds is a good compromise. Not too bad a detour compared to the current route and the connectivity is there. Or even down Ian McKinnon and straight on to symonds where you can change to other bus services to Newmarket.

  • JimboJones

    What route would the eventual light rail take? Can’t see why buses shouldn’t take that route?

    • That is the question in my book, where would we ru the route if it were a light rail line? Probably not along view rd and winding on to mt Eden rd, nor round onto new north to crawl in traffic up to Newton.

      We’d run it straight ahead onto Ian McKinnon and Queen St. So why not do the same with the bus to start with? An interchange between the western line, dominion-Queen line and the sanding ham and new north buses would be ideal, especially if we can pull down the misused motorway junction and turn the area into the crossroads of some proper city streets.

  • TheBigWheel

    Surely the choice isn’t between building a station at Dominion Rd or not.. but between building a station at Dominion Rd or doing something else? In which case there is a very long list of cycling and pedestrian projects that would deliver more valuable outcomes and therefore ought to be higher priorities.

    Like.. improving the cycling facilities in the area so we don’t actually need the new station, because we made it attractive and safe to cycle to the adjacent stations? Or all the way to the Grafton / Newmarket / the CBD?

    A few of $ m goes a very l o n g way in cycling infrastructure terms.

  • Matt how feasible do you think it is to send all buses from Dom, New North, Sandringham, and MtEden roads all through stops above Newton Station? That’s a shed load of buses.

    • And have them stop there, and have people transfer, cross the street to the station etc. lots of buses stopping, heaps of people crossing the road, plus still some major traffic flows. I can see that intersection becoming a crisis point.

      • Yes on a gut leave that feels unworkable, although you would of course have station entrances on both sides of the road.

        Dom Rd buses through Ian MacKinnion and down Queen would both speed up the journey to the biggest destination and relieve that junction. But make transferring for Dom Rd riders to say Newmarket and Grafton Campus and direct city Campus destinations more complex…..?

        Queen St and CRL are pretty much the same destination however so it’s not so much Dom Rd buses that need connection with the rail line, but the other destinations like Symonds St and Khyber Pass, which Newton does offer.

        What Dom Rd buses need, if routed down IM Dr is connection with New North Buses at that crossover. So a redesigned and much simpler intersection facilitating bus to bus transfers and say NN rd buses to either Symonds St or Khyber Pass (Grafton and NM) and Mt Eden and/or Sandringham Rd buses in the same mix. Unless Sandringham buses were to flip across Bond St to connect with GNR?

        Then there’s 4 four bus destinations for these important routes: Queen, Symonds, Khyber, GNR. Plus interaction with fast and frequent trains at Kingsland and Newton especially.
        Devising the best balance between connectivity and speed I guess is the challenge….?

        • Dominion Rd to Grafton and Newmarket would be easily accomodated by transferring to the Inner Link at K Rd. Straighten out the route and you’d be at the bus stop on K Rd before you’d otherwise have reached Newton station.

          There might be a case for another crosstown frequent bus through there too, perhaps like you suggest the New North Rd bus going via Newton and down Khyber to Grafton and Newmarket instead of duplicating the train into town.

          That would be great, at the Dominon intersection you would have:

          -Dominion Rd bus/light rail straight through to the eastern end of K Rd and right down Queen St to the Waterfront.
          -Train heading west to Swanson and through the west end of K Rd, the CRL and Britomart and out the other side somewhere.
          -Sandringham Rd bus going direct to the universities, then across to Wynyard (and back to Sandringham, obviously).
          -New North Rd bus heading directly across town to Grafton and Newmarket.

          Sounds perfect to me!

    • Frank E

      @Patrick While that is quite a few buses, it will be quite a bit lower than what Symonds St gets currently due to the increased reliance of transfers for passengers in the south and the east so less buses in the CBD. Also isn’t New North Rd getting deemphasised as a bus route in favor of the train which largely parallels it.

      I use this route quite often and I think the best compromise is at peak to have about half the buses take the express route and the other half on the flyover bus route for those bound for the University, Newmarket etc. The frequencies are already high enough that the splitting of the routes won’t be too harmful. Off peak all the buses can take the flyover.

      One other option would be to run the buses up Ian Mckinnon Drive and Alex Evans st to Symonds St. For some reason (does anybody know) you can’t actually travel straight from IM Dr to Alex Evans so that would have to be changed.

      Lastly, does anybody know if the New bus network will change things on Dom Rd? I do hope that the View rd dogleg is eliminated.

      • That’s not so Frank, the upper parts of Symonds St don’t carry any southern buses at the moment, just the same isthmus arterial routes as we will still have.

        Oh and you can travel straight from Ian McKinnon to Alex Evans, as well as turn right and left into Upper Queen. That could be a good route for Dominion Rd buses.

        • Frank E

          On streetview it looks you can’t. Have they changed that?

          Sorry about the Symonds St thing. I was thinking of the central connector bit. Regardless, my proposal would still have half the Dominion Rd buses off Symonds St so that would decongest it a bit. Bus Lanes could also be built along the sections of Symonds St which don’t have them yet and New North Rd between the flyover and the Symonds St interchange if the congestion gets out of hand. On NNR it won’t be diffucult to implement as there’s parking on both sides of the road.

          • Steve D

            If you’re talking about the lane markings here: http://goo.gl/maps/L8Vz5 then no, they haven’t changed it, but you could always go straight. There’s a “slight right” arrow and a “sharp right” arrow, referring to turns into Alex Evans and Upper Queen streets.

  • Tim A

    Living almost directly where you propose the station, at first I am pretty keen on the idea. But a bit of thought gives more support to Bbc’s idea – improve cycle access in the area. It’s very flat around here, and you could cycle over to Kingsland station in 5 minutes.
    Of course, this could be a concept in favour of a Dominion Road station, too – with proper cycleways, Dominion Road could be a virtual cycle highway running in and out of the CBD. A Dominion Road station could serve a very large area via cycleways.

    Aside from the new rail station, bus routes should be changed. Meandering through View Road is a complete waste of time. Aim for Hub and Spoke – straight lines out from the centre where possible with circular linking buses traversing the suburbs. You’d be able to get almost anywhere with 2 transfers.

    Also, buses along Dominion currently stop midway along Queen Street, not at Britomart. So there is a connectivity issue there if you wanted to move to train or ferry to get to some other part of Auckland.

    Ideally, let us dream of light rail from Queen Street through to the end of Dominion Road, coupled with great cycling infrastructure in the city fringe suburbs. That would be the best solution.

  • Hamish

    Definite no vote from me. The western line brings a lot of people a considerable distance, and as pointed out in the post, there is a lot of off/on at intermediate town centre stops. A Dom Rd stop would be useless to most western commuters, and the area is already very well served by buses.

    Improve cycling and pedestrian access instead – it’s an easy work / bike to town from there, and would be consderably more attractive if the routes were not horrible car canyons.

    • It wouldn’t be for city commuters, it would be for people going between the western line and Dominion Rd, and vice versa. Say someone lives in Glen Eden and works at the ASB centre near Valley Rd, or they live down in Balmoral and work in Henderson. Or they live near Sturges Rd and are headed to a blog movie night at the Capitol.

      • Steve D

        There are lots of other opportunities to connect to buses from the Western Line. The New Network has a frequent bus from Mt Albert down St Lukes/Balmoral Roads, which could serve Balmoral town centre, and in the 2022 post-CRL plan, there’s a frequent service down Bond St/Sandringham/Walters/Valley Road which should offer a good connection via changing at Kingsland.

      • Exaucklanderinsydney

        The Mt Roskill spur could help with that.

  • JohnP

    It would probably be cheaper to find the person who lives out this way that wants to travel to Orakei and buy them a car!

    • Exaucklanderinsydney

      What does Orakei have to do with anything? Idiot

      • JohnP

        Well if you actually read the blog you would see that one of the positives is it would serve places like Orakei. But perhaps you are too stupid to read.

        • If you buy a car for everyone that makes a ‘funny’ trip that isn’t directly into the City Centre, then you end up with what we already have: reasonable PT for a small group of commuters going to the city centre and a million car drivers driving all over the rest of the region.

          • JohnP

            To get what we already have requires a bit more neglect. First take out your tram system, build a national motorway system that runs right through the centre of your biggest city and don’t charge anyone the actual cost of using it, privatise the bus system and make commuter pay a profit to the company at the fare box, build inner city carparking in public ownership encourage people to drive in the busiest hour of the day by giving a significant discount.

    • Calm down both of you. Orakei is going to have a lot of development in the coming years so who knows if it will be a popular destination. It could also be anywhere along the eastern line, like say Glen Innes or Sylvia Park. Point is it allows the rail line would add that connection.

  • Exaucklanderinsydney

    Definitely a no vote from me. As mentioned previously, the area is saturated with bus routes and is still relatively close to both Kingsland and Newton stations as well as the area being almost walking distance for residents to the CBD anyway. The only way I would be in favour is if Morningside or Baldwin ave was to go. Too many closely spaced stations in the area as it is.

  • JohnP

    Well at least there is something we agree on. The catchment for this station isn’t great so it would have to serve primarily as an interchange. As for knocking down the flyover it has been a white elephant since the central motorway was abandoned in the 70′s. There is a lot of land that could be released for far better uses with it gone.

  • Max

    “as such the peak loading point – the place on the line where trains are carrying the most people – tends to be east of Grafton”

    Is that confirmed? From using the line, the peak load seems to be around Kingsland/Mt Eden. At Grafton, the train significantly empties out in the morning. Well, “empties out” may not be too true, but certainly there are a lot less people east of Grafton in the morning, from my personal perception.

    • duncan McKenzie

      I agree Max, in the mornings Grafton is a popular destination for travellers from the west – Auckland Grammar, St Peters, Hospital. Likely to become more so with the AU Newmarket Campus develiopment. I have always had a concern that the CRL operation would potentially miss out this staion for many services – although on another level I would quite like not having to share the train with schoolboys who seldom relinquish their seats for their elders and betters!

    • Typo, peak load point east of Kingsland

  • Steve N

    Agree we should not add another station here, as they are too close together as it is. Better to put focus on converting Dominion Road to light rail and making its route more direct via Ian McKinnon Drive with train connections via the CRL at K Road or Aotea.

    Currently there is some interchange between the Dom Road and Mt Eden Road buses on Mt Eden Road where the routes converge: 26x users can transfer to 27x for the university and Britomart, 27x users can transfer to 26x for midtown. In future 27x users can transfer onto the CRL at Newton for midtown, and 26x users can travel to Britomart on their native route if it extends the full length of Queen Street. That leaves 26x users having a bit of a hike to the university.

    On a slightly separate topic, given the future model of buses routes terminating at the nearest train station, it could be argued that 27x should terminate at Newton on completion of the CRL.

  • Nicholas O'Kane

    I say build it, but merge Kingsland and Mornigside into a new station aproxmittly halfway between these two station (asuming there is money of course)

    • Ah, that would result in a station in neither town centre, with no bus connections, next to a large cliff with no access from one side….

      Why not have them all, they would all be well located and well used.

  • mb

    I would vote no. As mentioned it would be too close to newton/kingsland station.
    However personally i would have preferred a station there to be the first station of the crl and not have the newton station that is being planned. I would have the trains turn off the western line and head straight down ian mackinnon dr . (Just take two lanes off cars for the tracks). A humanised intersection on dominion rd and new north road would be just as good a spot for a station as the proposed newton station. Imo. But quite a bit cheaper as its not underground until after the dominion rd station.

  • mb

    As for the buses from dominion rd i would suggest another connection in the cmj from ian mackinnon dr to the disused nelson st off ramp. Might be hard but im sure they can find a way. Its not really that far in the scheme of things. Make it bus /tram only and give nelson st a bus lane as well. It would enable dominion rd/new north rd buses to connect directly to a different part of the city.

  • James B

    I’ve been thinking of ways to solve the Eden Park problem. The problem being you have the largest stadium in the country serviced by a two platform station. I’ve considered building a new station on Eden Park no 2 but the problem with this is that it will be a dead end and as we know with Britomart this creates problems of its own. I’ve come to the conclusion that the ideal solution would be to close Kingsland and Morningside and build a new station between them (about where the Mobil station is now alongside Rossmay Tce). There is a lot more room there for more platforms and if connected by an overbridge across Sandringham Road could provide a solution for the problem. The big disadvantage to this is obviously disconnecting Kingsland from the station but I think you could build a set of escalators to the western edge of the village. A Dominion Road station would then be a lot more practical.

  • Robert M

    This issue is of some interest, when Kingsland was redeveloped as an entertainment zone with the world cup and sophisticated bar and cafe strip was created which has excellerated upameketing of the zone. Mid week the stip along Kingsland rocks fairly late and is very poorly served by public transport. Heavy rail doesn’t particularly well serve late night commutting on that route with all the staff and security issues on stations and train it is difficult to offer a heavy rail service with any frequency and safety.
    Another central issue of travelling out of that area at night is the appalling arrangement of bus stops for various parts of Auckland with stops for various routes spread singly and inconviniently over much of Upper Symonds and Upper Kyber Pass- a newcomer would find it near impossible to find the right bus stop for a later connection. Its actually a shambles.

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