As our rail system has improved, people are increasingly starting to see value in being nearby it. This is leading to more and more people who live along the rail line to want new stations in their communities. We have seen calls for a new station in the valley below Selwyn College, a new station on the site of the old Tamaki station and a new station at Parnell. Stopping at stations takes time so adding them invariably comes down to a trade-off between time and patronage. Put too many stations in and while you have a bigger catchment, it might make the trip so slow that no one wants to use the service. Of the station proposals mentioned only the Parnell one seems to make much sense and construction of it should be started later this year. Another location where people often call for a new station is down south between Takanini and Papakura – it is something we have looked at before.

Addison

There is currently a lot of both residential and commercial greenfield development going on in the area to the east of the railway line and the developers are obviously keen to take advantage of the it with a new station to service their development, even offering to pay for it but they have hit a snag.

The future looks grim for the proposed Glenora Train Station now the developers who offered to build it for free have been hit with a huge price rise by transport officials.

The long-awaited station would have sat around 1km from Takanini Station and 2.6km from Papakura Station and service Addison, Bruce Pulman Park, Southgate and a future Takanini High School.

The idea built up steam last year after a group of retail and housing developers from both sides of the railway line offered to cover the cost of building the station and provide land for a park-and-ride.

Talks with the developers and the Papakura Local Board led planners to draw up a discussion paper outlining the pros and cons and preconditions for the station to be built.

The paper, released to the Papakura Courier under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, is cautiously optimistic.

The proposal is “a welcome one that in principle could support the pattern of growth and intensification envisaged in the Auckland Plan”, it says.

Auckland Council and Auckland Transport (AT) support an additional station at Glenora in principle provided rail, intensification and funding requirements are all met.

Preconditions include the closure of Te Mahia Station and adequate population growth in Takanini.

Local board deputy chairman Brent Catchpole says AT thought the station was a good idea on the proviso the developers paid and gave the board a rough forecast of $6.5 million to build it.

The precondition of closing Te Mahia is interesting. The station one of a handful remaining that hasn’t really seen any patronage growth over the last decade with less than 200 people a day using the station. The other two stations with poor patronage are Waitakere and Westfield and we found out last week that the former will be closed. Te Mahia seems to suffer from many problems including that it is physically hidden away from the road and only accessible from an alleyway between industrial buildings (or between houses on the northern side). It is also very close to Manurewa which happens to be a fare stage boundary which also has a park n ride so I suspect that most people who live nearby and who want to catch a train simply go there.

As mentioned stopping at stations takes up time so closing Te Mahia and replacing it with this Glenora station would mean that there should be little impact on timetables while likely adding a larger potential catchment. Add in that the developers are prepared to pay for it and the deal doesn’t sound too bad at all but…

Council and transport officials arrived “en masse” to a meeting in March and hit the local board “out of the blue” with a new quote of $35 million, he says.

The extra $28 million was for “grade separation” – removing the level crossing at nearby Walters Rd and replacing it with either a bridge or an underpass.

Officials did not explain why a new station would hasten the need for that, he says.

New electric trains and the building of the inner city rail link will increase train frequency which will mean more holdups for cars at Walters Rd but that’s “a totally separate issue”, Mr Catchpole says. Pressure is already on AT to grade-separate all level crossings throughout the city in partnership with KiwiRail.

But Mr Catchpole says those agencies are “abdicating their responsibility” by shifting the cost of the job on to someone else.

“I don’t see why it should fall on developers or the Papakura Local Board to cover the cost,” Mr Catchpole says.

“We feel as though those sorts of figures are being included to discourage us from trying to do it.”

I can see both sides of this argument. The removal of level crossings is primarily a decision by Auckland Transport and Walters Rd will be somewhere on the list for it to eventually happen. However a station right next to a level crossing causes all sorts of operational headaches that AT are probably trying to avoid. Further as the pressure is being created primarily by the new greenfield development they probably feel that they should have to suddenly change their plans and find the money to pay for this.

As I mentioned, I can see both sides so ultimately I’m undecided as to just who should pay in this instance but it does show the kind of pressure that greenfield developments place on our existing infrastructure. If we are about to open up huge tracts of land as part of the Unitary Plan then I think we need a much better way of actually addressing the question of who pays.

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30 comments

  1. I believe that Te Mahia will have a new lease of life once the residential development at the adjacent golf course goes ahead. The onramp to the motorway is already heavily congested there in the morning, with waits of 20min not uncommon. This will only get worse when there are an extra couple of hundred vehicles. No doubt this issue alone should motivate commuters to use the Te Mahia station. However, I strongly feel that access to the station needs to be improved along with much greater lighting etc to make it safer.

    1. I disagree. The majority of the golf course site is outside the limit most people would be prepared to walk so most would need a car/bike/bus to get to the station anyway in which case might as well just go a little bit further up the road to Manurewa

    2. The (ex-) golf course is massive and (at the closest point) <200m walk from the station. Fletchers will certainly be building intensively there, and I suspect they'll be lobbying to keep Te Mahia open.

      1. They don’t want that much intensity. They only want to build 500-800 houses which means average lot sizes of 450-650m2. Unitary plan only lists the site as being the single house zone so minimum lot sizes of 500m2

    3. With a bit of nous you close both Te Mahia AND Takanini and run with the Manurewa, Spartan Road and Glenora Road Stations – all with park and rides and both (Manurewa and Glenora) with bus interchanges (Manurewa already has this).

      You would have all three stations serving large residential catchments with Spartan Road serving an intensifying light industrial hub (under the UP and existing District Plans).

      I have covered this all before and might go dig the link up later

      1. Why would you move Takanini station away from a good walk-up catchment to maroon it in light industrial and closer to the motorway severance?

        A new station connected to Walters Rd makes sense assuming it is also well connected at all four corners, and that the greenfields residential goes ahead. That retail might even turn a little accommodate it…

        1. The Greenfields is no where near Walters Road proper, it is actually away from it towards the Glenora Road end some 432m north of the current crossing.

          It would be accessible by roads allowing cars, buses and active transport while keeping pressure off Walters Road itself which is bad enough. The retail has a second Stage in the pipeline which faces the Glenora Road Station and also includes a brand new library. The station is also going to be within easy distance of the new retirement village we are meant to have coming in North Addison

          As for Spartan Road and Takanini – ask Matt in his opinion about it

          My opinion is employment centres and safety matters

        2. At that distance the level crossing shouldn’t be a problem. By the time an EMU has travelled that distance, it would be able to do line speed.

          But, in addition to that, I feel the platforms are better located immediately to the north of Walters Road. There is already a great many people shopping that area, and parking is hard to come by.

  2. The Walters rd crossing shouldn’t need a grade separation, you simply design the station around the crossing to minimise congestion, have one platform either side of the crossing. This has been used at the Redwood station in Wellington.

  3. In general grade separation is a roading issue, in that road users are the beneficiaries from no longer having to wait fro trains to go by. But really this problem is a result of the silly mode biased rules forced on NZTA by government that make it hard for it to partner AT in helping to pay for non-road infrastructure. There is so much need for upgrades such as this across the network and the is cupboard bare… just 39million over three years from the NLTF for all Public Transport infrastructure in the whole country [compared to 13 billion for roads] . You can see why AT are searching for some other source of funding…..

    1. Also, the train has absolute right of way for obvious reasons.

      This strikes me as opportunist at the very least. The development isn’t going to increase the number of trains, and hence the need for grade separation, as long as trains stopped at the station don’t trigger the barriers until they are about to leave the station.

      And surely Patrick grade separation doesn’t count as PT infrastructure, so shouldn’t come from that tiny fund.

    2. AT can find the finding. All they need to do is divert funding from roads. We can’t have it all. The transport system has always been funded as a series if components with one preferred mode. The only way to strengthen the. System is to develop the components that are undeveloped by diverting finding from the strong component.

  4. but it does show the kind of pressure that greenfield developments place on our existing infrastructure.

    Although to be fair this pressure could come from any intensifications

    A good example of an urban intensification that could not have happened without a grade seperation is at New Lynn, without the trenching it is very unlikely that the current site redevelopment would be possible,

    Another possible example is Orakei point.

    Grade separations become more important when density increases, whether that is Greenfield ( almost no density to some density) or an Urban centre development ( existing density to higher density)

  5. Surely there could be some sort of split, with AT/Kiwirail paying some, and the developers paying the rest?

    As for Te Mahia, if the industrial buildings could be acquired, surely the area could be remade into a small transit interchange, with a bus stop, some shops and such? Then it could serve the golf course development well.

  6. On the issue of extra stations adding to journey times…I don’t think this would be a particularly bad problem in the case of Glenora. The only passengers whose journey times would be lengthened would be those from Papakura and Pukekohe. Of course, if it affects the scheduling so much that more drivers/trains are required to operate the service, then that is a different issue….

    1. has there been any thoughts/plans on express train services like they have in wellington? they make the journey far more attractive (ie. faster) for those living out in the furthest suburbs.

      1. I know people that used to catch express trains from Papakura to town (limited stop trains stopped at the main stations)
        however I think most (if not all of them) got removed – my sister in law was using them at the time – a lot of people weren’t too happy
        about it esp since the trains from Papakura were often standing room only at peak hours.
        Could be they kept a couple of them still on – I am not sure about that. I suppose there would have been reasons they were removed though.

      2. A faster service is more attractive, but there’s a limit to what Auckland (or Wellington) can do to speed the trains up. In Wellington, the Kapiti line express cuts out six stations – but only gets from Porirua to Wellington about 4 minutes quicker. Similar story on the Hutt line – http://www.tranzmetro.co.nz/Timetable.aspx

        If you’re running trains every 10 minutes in both directions, like we will be in a couple of years, the maximum gain you can get from running express is under ten minutes. The problem is that once you catch up with the train in front there’s no way to overtake.

        You can run expresses easily with a third or fourth track, but there’s no plans to build such a thing. The third line being built on the NIMT won’t be electrified, and will be used only for freight.

  7. we do a lot of our grocery shopping out that way (unfortunately I consider our closest shops
    are no longer really ideal for big shops for me) ……we cross that level crossing all the time. I was really surprised that
    an overbridge was not going to go in there as a matter of course – to be quite frank. Given the amount of
    traffic that already goes over it even with Addison uncomplete and the warehouse not yet finished either
    (the warehouse is being built on one side of the tracks with southgate on the other) I have often thought
    it is a accident waiting to happen. I know there have been a number of pedestrian issues at the level crossing
    up from that at Takanini and I would say this crossing will when all the development is done be busier……..
    One can imagine a number of cars driving from Southgate to the warehouse and vice versa – since the warehouse
    in Papakura is set to close that will be people from the suburb down as well. Not to mention those who might like to dare
    walking acrossing the crossing from one side to another not the current retirement village near there – I already see
    a lot of those residents struggling across the busy 4 lanes of the great south rd to get to southgate – not so pedestrian friendly. .

  8. Got to wonder about planning. Up until the last Christmas shutdown I think the old Tironui station site was still in place between Walters Rd and Tironui Station Rd. You can still see where it was on Google Earth.

  9. Why do level crossings create operational issues next to stations? I genuinely dont understand that. Rail has complete right of way so I dont get it?

    In terms of paying for grade separation in the future- how about a toll? If it gets to a point where people would be willing to pay a dollar a crossing then they can pay for it themselves. This should go for any grade separation – in fact any project that improves the road network!

    1. While they have the right of way, for safety reasons trains are apparently required to travel slower when approaching a level crossing just in case someone doesn’t respect that right of way. That potential safety issue is likely to be exacerbated with a station as more people are about are around and therefore more chance that someone will dart across the tracks, perhaps to try and catch a train. I have certainly seen that happen at my local station

      1. Matt the report said that currently trains take the Walters Rd LC at ‘line speed’ meaning no slowing down, but that the addition of a station here would mean a slower crossing so therefore a longer wait for drivers and others waiting for each train to cross.

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