There was some great news to come out of yesterday’s Auckland Transport board meeting (though it’s a pity they haven’t bothered to include any detail of what was discussed at the meeting on their website yet ). That news is that the board has agreed in principle to complete an upgrade of all existing train stations in the Auckland region by the time electrification is up and running – which now seems like it might be early 2014.
Here’s part of a media release from Auckland Transport:
Auckland Transport has supported in principle the fast tracking of rail stations upgrade to ensure they are all complete when electric trains are introduced.
The Auckland Transport board will be discussing funding implications at a future meeting before confirming the upgrade programme.
One of the first major upgrades would be Mt Albert Station, which would be complete by April 2012. Fifteen stations across the rail network would be upgraded in a $38.9 million project over three years.
The first full station upgrades to be completed would be at Remuera and Penrose stations both due for completion by the last quarter of 2011 closely followed by Green Lane in the first quarter of 2012…
… Auckland Transport Chief Executive David Warburton says as each upgraded station opens the demand for higher quality stations at other sites increases.
“The original rail station upgrade programme outlined four station redevelopments to be complete by 2014. But it is clear that we need to upgrade all the remaining stations within the future electrified network area prior to completion of the electrification programme.
“It is also important to have high quality stations across the network in preparation for arrival of new electric trains, which will be delivered in 2013.
“Full station upgrades will include refurbished platforms, new shelters, CCTV, lighting and PA systems, help points, and new signage. Some stations which have already been upgraded will also have some work carried out for electrification or to provide CCTV and lighting.
“Providing high quality stations with good security is key to encouraging more people onto public transport,” Mr Warburton says.
This is certainly fantastic news – and I would suggest that there’s plenty of money available for such an upgrade to occur, with Auckland Council spending around $300 million on new roads a year it wouldn’t take much change in that funding package to complete this station upgrade work.
Another thing that’s mentioned in the media release is that a new Parnell station is to be included at some stage. Arguments around the best location for the Parnell station have been well-made previously, but one thing that worries me about the station in general (no matter where it’s put) is what impact it might have on rail operations.
What I mean by this is that prior to completing the CBD Rail Tunnel there will be an enormous burden on the Newmarket to Britomart section of railway track: carrying up to 14 trains per hour in each direction and sitting between two fairly complex track junctions (Newmarket and Quay Park). While I’m hopeful the details could be worked out to ensure placing a station along this sensitive bit of track won’t impact reliability and service provision levels, I think this is something that probably needs to be looked into in quite some detail. While Parnell Station would certainly provide significant benefits – particularly if it can also serve as a university station – if it comes at the cost of a reliable rail system or at the cost of rail capacity into Britomart, then it might be smarter to wait until the CBD Tunnel is completed.
That’s a bit of an aside in any respect. The overall announcement is very good and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing upgrades to critical stations like Mt Albert and Otahuhu that have been horrifically neglected in recent years.