A couple of years ago there was a lot of debate about where the Manukau Rail Link should terminate – with Manukau City Council showing their true colours as a roads-loving council by not stumping up the few extra million to bring the link truly into the heart of Manukau City Centre. While I still think that was a big mistake, proposals for a tertiary institute right next to where the station will be located means that all is not lost, as we heard about in yesterday’s NZ Herald:
Integrating a new central Manukau rail and bus station with a tertiary campus building for 25,000 students, will attract development to the area, says the Manukau City Council…
…In March last year, the council decided that a 1.8km rail spur from the main trunk line would stop short of Davis Ave. It will instead terminate at Hayman Park.
Mr Brown said the campus deal meant a much bigger and better station building.
The council will contribute $19 million to creating a southern regional rail and bus hub.
Track and station building costs will be met by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority and KiwiRail. Partners are being sought to develop the remainder of the council’s 21.5ha of land in the central business district.
There’s a good diagram of what’s going to happen in the area too:
As you can see from the diagram to the left, it would have certainly been smart for the railway link to link right through to the area between the council building and the Westfield Shopping Centre. The success of Sylvia Park railway station (fifth busiest on the Auckland network apparently) shows that putting rail next to shopping malls is a fantastic idea that works. Perhaps eventually it’ll be extended (through to Flat Bush and Botany via the Howick/Botany Line).
If the tertiary campus wasn’t going to be built on this site, then I probably would write the Manukau rail link off as a likely failure. Putting a railway station in the middle of a park, in what could be described as not quite the safest part of Auckland seems like something doomed to fail. But I guess these plans existed for a long time, and I must give some credit that the railway station will be well located for tertiary students.
Which leaves the only real remaining problem with the Manukau Line being that it’s initially only going to have a north-facing link with the main-trunk line. As it is very likely this station will be a “destination station” (like Britomart and Newmarket) I always thought those most likely to use it would be coming from the south – either to get to work in Manukau City or to go shopping at the mall and surrounding stores. Even with the tertiary campus one would assume that as it’s the most southern campus in Auckland a reasonably large number of its students will come from Manurewa, Papakura and so forth. Which makes the inability to run trains directly from Papakura to Manukau seem particularly idiotic.
I guess I shall remain hopeful that problem is sorted out.