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:

800px-Kingdon_Street_West,_Car_Park_BuildingsRudman presents a good analysis of the pros and cons of the options, and comes to the following conclusion:

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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  1. They need to go with option 4. Now, not for 3 years. Otherwise we’ll have a half-broken solution, once again. Let’s get it right for once, for goodness sake!

    What actually needs to happen is for there to be proper entrances. A large one at the bottom of Khyber Pass would be great.

  2. Jeremy, yes that’s unfortunately true. The station really should have been built around where Sarawia Street and Railway Street are on the above map.

  3. Would have been good if they’d kept the railway yards too… We shall be paying for the “eagerness” of the 80’s and 90’s for a while methinks…

  4. Yes, there is supposed to be a northern councourse and exit to Newmarket built eventually along with the 80 Broadway development.

    This could be years away, and I think a better solution than keeping (or rebuilding) Newmarket West would be to build a temporary northern exit linking the platforms with the Broadway rail overbridge ASAP. I’d imagine the cost of both options would be the same, or maybe less for a temporary northern exit.

  5. Whatever the decision is, I hope they don’t rip the platforms out. You never know what will be required in the future.

  6. Apparently the platforms were only built to a temporary standard and woul need a lot of work to bring them up to scratch for fulltime use. Plus there are issues with putting up the electrification wires while keeping the platforms.

    And finally the platforms are relatively short, making them not really that useful for Eden Park events trains.

  7. Keeping the West station is a stupid idea. The arguments that say it provides greater access to the pools, movies and such are ridiculous, seeing as in we’re talking about a distance of a paltry 500m of straight, flat footpath from Remuera Road to that area. It’s even less from the closer station access point.

  8. Stations on the triangle and on the city side were investigated and both were deemed basically impossible to build.

    The triange site is just not big enough for the platforms. To allow for 8-car sets in the future platforms should be just under 200m long, and as straight and level as possible. The triange site would have given 80m platforms on a nasty curve.

    The city side site was too short, too steep, quite constrained in width and fairly remote from the main part of Newmarket.

    I think what they have is the best solution (without mega expenditure or rebuilding half the centre) and I honestly can’t see why people get so worked up about a 250m detour and a direction change to get into a nice big station development in central Newmarket.

    It will all become moot if the CBD tunnel is built, because that will remove the need for basically any trains to make the reversal movement.

  9. The thing is, once the Station is fully complete, including the Northern Concourse, you can see this is definitely the best solution. It will make the northern entrance even closer to those complexes. To leave the temporary platforms would mean they have to be rebuilt at the cost of around $10m – $14m, I think that money would be better spent in completing the Station’s Northern Access.

  10. The more stops, the slower the end to end service. The slower the end to end service, the less attractive it becomes.

  11. Siiigh. You have summarised the options well Jarbury, but picked the worst (no4). The correct answer is of course – no 1 – keep Kingdon St as Newmarket West station (and extend it westwards for longer trains).

    ARTA were urged 2-3 years ago not to rebuild Newmarket platforms (which is a separate project from building the full triangle) for exactly this reason. They couldn’t see sense then or now.

    Running some or all West trains into the rebuilt Newmarket platforms adds minutes to journey times, adds signal complexity which cuts reliability (jammed points anyone?) and requires buffer times between crossing services (South and West trains).

    ARTA and some people just can’t accept the obvious solution – that the $75m rebuild of Newmarket platforms was a total waste of cash!!! And that needs to be accepted so we can tackle the services that are actually needed.

    Use rebuilt Newmarket for South trains only, use Kingdon St for West trains (there is nothing substandard about the platforms). Build a subway or footbridge linking the north end of rebuilt Newmarket platforms to Broadway and Kingdon St platforms – that will cost a lot less than $10-14m!!!

    The walk along a linking subway/footbridge is not much longer than crossing between two platforms on the same station. Measure how long it is to walk up the new ramps (longer, due to lower gradient for wheelchair access), across the top, then back down to the other platform….

    This gives transfer ease, faster & simpler train running, and cheapest and fastest implementation. There are no tricky problems with overhead electric wires – just excuses.

    Sorry if this is blunt, but I warned them of these problems a couple of years ago, and it grates that the ‘expert planners’ are now ready to cock things up again to cover up their earlier cock up.

    P.S. Boston Rd station should not have been shifted to Park Rd – your image shows how little gain this makes for the primary users (St Peters students). Hospital users? Yeh right. Patients aren’t usually up for the climb up Park Rd, and visitors could already easily walk from Boston Rd. Better walk route signage would help though.

  12. bob, for there to be proper transfers between the southern and Western lines would mean passangers would have to go into britomart to transfer, seems a waste of time for them to make that journey, or they would have to walk across Newmarket, again a waste of time for them. If it’s time savings you are looking for, 4 is best. If its quality 4 is best. Catchment 4 is best. If you live work around kingdom platform only then is 1 best.

  13. The reversal at Newmarket will impose a restrictive upper limit on the number of peak-hour trains that the new station will be able to accommodate. The time taken for drivers to change ends on an 8-car set with a crowded platform is appreciable, which means so is the platform occupation-time by each Western train which has to perform this manoeuver. With only 3 tracks in the station, this also affects City-bound Southern-Line trains as well. To handle this pattern of service properly would have required a 4-track station which there was not room to build. In addition, the present arrangement means that eastbound and westbound Western-Line trains effectively have to cross eachother’s paths, adding a further potential conflict. We may get away with it at today’s frequency of service but for anything more, reversing every Western train will make Newmarket a major choke-point.

  14. Hi Dave, the issue of drivers changing ends is easily overcome by using pilot drivers to take the trains to and from Britomart while the main driver stays in the cab at the other end. There is some indication that this procedure will be in use shortly.

    In terms of increased frequencies this is not a problem. The Britomart throat tunnel will throttle frequencies well before Newmarket is an issue, and the solution to them both is the same. A CBD tunnel from the Western Line to Britomart would not only increase the capacity through Britomart, it would also remove the need for most or all Western line trains to traverse the junction at Britomart at all.

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