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.
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.