It wasn’t picked up much by the media last week, but the one truly new piece of information that was revealed in Auckland Transport’s announcements on the City Rail Link was the inclusion of something they’re calling the “Inner West Interchange”. It’s highlighted in red in the picture below:
In many respects, the inclusion of the Inner West interchange answers a few questions that we’ve been asking on this site for a while now, particularly in relation to the scenario where the eastern link is not constructed. A big question that we were all thinking about on this site related to how some of the trains would be turned around, if they’re unable to travel directly between Newton and Grafton directly.
Without the eastern link, the rail system effectively becomes like a single line, from the west, through the CRL before branching off into a number of lines at the other end of the CRL (eastern line, southern line, Onehunga line, Manukau branch). As you obviously don’t need to run anywhere near as many trains in total on the western line as you do on all those other lines combined, you need somewhere to turn some of the trains around. After much discussion and debate, I think (and pipe up if you disagree fellow bloggers) everyone writing on this site is of the opinion that the eastern link is necessary.
With Kingsland Station and Newton Station being relatively nearby (not to mention Mt Eden station, although its future seems far from certain given the bizarre location it’s shown at in the image above), it would seem as though there are two choices:
- Build the eastern link and therefore don’t build the Inner West Interchange Station
- Don’t build the eastern link and therefore build the Inner West Interchange Station
The yellow line is 200 metres in length, which I presume would be about the requirement for an interchange station – if trains were going to be held there for any length of time before turning around to head back through the CRL. I also imagine the space requirements here in terms of width are going to be fairly extensive. Remember that we’re going to have two tracks coming out of the CRL tunnel plus the existing two tracks heading towards Grafton and Newmarket. As some trains will be turning around here you’re going to need at least four tracks and platforms: two for through trains and two for trains that will be turning around to head back through the tunnel. Presumably that means four tracks all the way between this station and the southern tunnel portal – not the prettiest thing to plop in the middle of the inner suburbs one would think.
One possible positive out of this station, however, becomes apparent when looking at the image above – it’s right next to that horrible interchange between New North and Dominion roads. With an incredibly busy station on its doorstep, we could demolish the defacto motorway interchange, narrow down the roads to something a bit more normal and create a really fantastic little transit-oriented development node. The whole section of New North Road between Mt Eden Road and Kingsland is ripe for large-scale redevelopment – and the station here could be the catalyst which enables that to happen.
Overall though, given the choice I think I’d take the eastern link. We can find other ways of removing the defacto motorway monstrosity without compromising efficient operation of the whole rail network.