Good news yesterday with the Otahuhu Interchange officially getting under way. The interchange is the key to enabling the new bus network in South Auckland to be implemented

Otahuhu Interchange aerial overview

Work is beginning today on a major upgrade of Otahuhu Station to make it easy to connect between high frequency buses and trains.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Mayor Len Brown and Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board Deputy Chair Carrol Elliott have marked the start of main construction works by turning the first sods at the station construction site.

Otahuhu Station is an important part of the new, simpler and more connected south Auckland public transport network. It is designed to provide Aucklanders with a new network of buses that better connect to the trains at Ōtāhuhu.

The $28m project is funded by the Government through the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Council. The fully integrated bus and train station is expected to open in the second half of 2016.

In the first five years of a united Auckland, Mayor Len Brown says growth has been dramatic across all public transport modes. “This station and the simpler and more connected new South Auckland public transport network will see patronage on the southside leap even more.”

“Otahuhu is a part of the new Auckland that we as a united council have been heavily investing in to make life better. It’s wonderful to see how Tōia, Otahuhu’s new recreational precinct, has so quickly become the vibrant heart of the community reflecting the character of the area. The transport station will provide another big boost to Otahuhu.”

Local Board Deputy Chair Carrol Elliott says, “Otahuhu has been waiting a long time for a modern, clean and safe public transport facility. This one should serve the people who live in Otahuhu and those who come to Otahuhu to work.”

The NZ Transport Agency’s Director for Auckland, Ernst Zöllner says the development of the Otahuhu Station will help contribute to the development of a rapid transit network to provide the future backbone of Auckland’s transport network and better choices for getting around the city.

“The Government has contributed significantly to the renaissance of rail in Auckland through investment in network, station and rolling stock upgrades. It’s investment in the Otahuhu Station upgrade continues this commitment to growing public transport as one of the solutions to addressing Auckland’s transport challenges.

Auckland Transport Chief Infrastructure Officer Greg Edmonds says the upgraded station will make it easier to connect between trains and frequent bus services being introduced with the new public transport network.

“It will be linked with two new bus platforms and a terminal building via an elevated concourse. It’s pedestrian friendly and will have improved accessibility.”

The new Ōtāhuhu station will offer the following benefits:

  • A high quality accessible modern facility
  • The design and architecture will reflect local and historical stories for mana whenua (portage site for waka)
  • Clear separation of buses, trains and a shared pedestrian and cycle pathway (including cycle storage racks), separated cycle crossing at the adjacent signalised intersection
  • Passenger drop off zone
  • Covered bus platforms for passengers moving between bus and train services
  • More frequent bus services from the second half of 2016
  • Better connections between bus and rail networks
Otahuhu Station Sod Turning - Simon Bridges Len Brown
Simon I know of a place in the central city where we would welcome you getting the digger out
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  1. A great start. Good to see SimonT at a PT sod turning. With enough of them he may be turned himself. Next let’s connect this station to the airport with heavy rail.

    1. Wel there are plans for a second platform there as Otahuhu will be a key interchange point, especially post CRL, as it serves both the eastern and the southern lines and is likely to be a terminating point for western line services as well; both direct (via Grafton) and via the CRL city stations (ie via Parnell). So a key hub requiring more than two platforms. Plus freight bypasses. Stabling could happen meantime I guess.

    2. Artistic licence. The third platform is most likely (by my reckoning) to be on the bus terminal side with the up and down main lines reconfigured to suit. Where those EMUs are pictured is the main thoroughfare for freight to and from the south, which has no chance of changing.

      1. Well except on the bus side [east] is also the ideal route a port [Eastern Line] to PoAL’s Wiri inland depot freight line, so there may be freight lines on both sides of the passenger platforms; to Metroport to the west and PoAL to the east. Or at least this would be ideal if freight traffic were really to grow as big is suggested by some….?

        Bit mad to have a platform dedicated to serving the main line north to the east of the eastern line; creates unnecessary conflicts I’d have thought….?

        1. i think they’ll go for a true third main rather than a freight line next to the existing mains.

          That way freight and passenger trains can use whichever line of the three in whatever direction, allowing full flexibility and full optimisation.

          You’ll probably see fourth mains around junctions too.

          1. Yes this station will surely be four tracked at least, as of course Newmarket should have remained. The third main is to the west of the island platform but it seems like there is space to the east of the island platform for two tracks, suggesting either a bypass track or a side platform additional line. The later seems unlikely to me.

  2. It’s nice to see that they will have short up and over staircases to get from one platform to the other.
    Some stations have long zig-zag staircases which are too long and slow.

    1. Well, the stairs will be exactly as long as elsewhere. The height of the bridge (which is also pretty much the same everywhere) defines that.

      Some stations have ramps though, which are indeed longer than stairs. Is that what you meant?

  3. I’d like to see more priority to creating step free interchange wherever possible. For example, in context of a total cost of $28 million, how much extra would it cost to add a side platform on the east side (slewing the tracks appropriately) to allow step-free interchange from outward trains?

  4. Interesting that for people coming from the bottom of this image there’s no way to get to the bus stops without a big dog leg up and back down – only route is through the gardened area or walking down the road into the station.

    Would have also been nice for the buses to have had their own entrance and exit to the station rather than sharing with cars.

      1. Completely disagree, no station in Germany or Switzerland is gated or is designed with that in mind. It’s been chosen as a path that Auckland is following but I don’t actually think it’s necessarily ideal. The speed at which buses and trams can be boarded and deboarded via all doors at stops in somewhere like Zürich will never be achieved with the HOP system in Auckland, and the lack of gates in German subways makes for a much more pleasant station c.f. US or British systems.

        Regardles, there will be walk up use of this station and unless they plan to require people to tag on prior to getting on the bus I don’t see why people should be made to do a big dog leg and then go up and level and back down to catch their bus?

    1. Rail to the Airport is dead as long as National is in power, if anything they’re actively attempting to make it nigh on impossible to build and at the very minimum specifically ignoring it as a future possibility in all their motorway building in the area.

  5. Any reason for the different parking/ stopping design between this and Manukau? The latter being sawtooth?

    On another note, if this was the link to airport rail, what a place to buy.

    1. The main difference that I am aware of is that Manukau has most of it’s buses terminating there, only 2 don’t I believe.
      Whereas at this station most buses continual on.
      Not 100% sure about this through.

      1. Rote 33 Frequent
        Route 323 Connector
        Route 326 Local
        Route 322 Peak-only

        Are the routes that will terminate at Otahuhu Interchange, all others will be through routes. So yeah, I guess the lay-by is justified, at least 3 or 4 spots anyway.

  6. “Clear separation of buses, trains…”

    As with the proposed Pukekohe design, there seems to be a concious effort to avoid having cross-platform, at-grade train to bus or bus to train transfer. They seem to want to make certain that all users have to go up and over a bridge to undertake a transfer.


    1. Hmmm … but isn’t the current Otahuhu station an island platform? So achieving same platform bus/train connections would require that the train station was reconstructed with side platforms. And then all the tracks through here would need to be realigned. How much would that cost? My hunch is quite a lot, i.e. say $5-10 million.

      And even then you’d only achieve same platform connections in one direction of travel, i.e. southbound trains could stop on the same platform as the buses. So there’d still be a need for a bridge for passengers to connect between buses and the northbound platform. I.e. same platform design only makes a difference for one direction of travel.

      Seems to me that same platform bus-rail connections would incur a lot of additional expense for a relatively marginal gain, but I’m open to being persuaded otherwise.

    2. A good part of the answer is gating. Side platforms (eg Middlemore) much more expensive to gate. Pukekohe does have a free riding problem apparently.

      Interestingly the reason Middlemore is so configured was to facilitate detraining wounded to the hospital during the war. Same approach used at cemetery stops at Waikaumete and Purewa. Practical, but not so useful now.

      Parnell is a new side platform station due to space and budget constraints, I understand it will be extensively fenced as it will be an attractive place to access rail network while avoiding the Britomart and Newmarket gates. As Grafton is currently.

      1. Except at Purewa, it was always an island platform, never a side platform arrangement.

        And Purewa is long gone now anyway. The track was realigned northwards (away from the cemetary) decades ago and the land the platform stood on subsumed into the cemetary itself.

      2. I’d be very interested in the source of that info re Middlemore: both the station and the hospital opened in 1947, when the prospect of war would not have been high on Railways’ agenda.

        I suspect that the reason for Middlemore having side platforms, unlike most other stations, is because it was built after the line had been doubled. An island patform would have required slewing the existing track, whereas side platforms could be built with minimum disruption, as at Panmure, Parnell and Sylvia Park. I think that all island-platform stations were built either with the line (eg other NIMT stations, New Lynn), or when a single line was doubled (eg Grafton, Henderson).

        1. I stand corrected! Or at least it can’t have been for that war then, but still could have been with the experience of the war in mind. But source I’m afraid is anecdotal.

          I agree it is just as likely to be a decision like Parnell where it is cheaper and less disruptive to fit a new station with side platforms to an operating railway by not altering the track. And when it comes to rail capex we have a long and impressive history of cutting corners.

          1. “And when it comes to rail capex we have a long and impressive history of cutting corners.”

            Agreed – except that is, when it comes to spending rail CAPEX on actually cutting the corners out of the rail network.

            So maybe they rationalise it as:

            “So we’ll save money by not cutting the corners we should, and even more cutting the ones we shouldn’t.”

      3. Disagree with blocking obvious pedestrian desire lines that could easily be accommodated purely in order to herd people through one gating point. Especially if it involves otherwise unnecessary stairs.
        Side platforms should be as open to the surrounding area as possible. Like Nyon, Switzerland: the adjacent street flows into the platform along its entire length with no obstruction whatever, not even a kerb. Presumably they manage their revenue protection somehow.
        In context of the cost of building a side platform, will it really make much difference whether your gates are grouped at one point or spread out over say three points (more than three is likely to have steeply diminishing returns)?

  7. I quite like this interchange design. It seems to strike a nice balance between pedestrian access, PT connections, bus passenger drop-off/pick-up, and kiss and ride, while also providing space for buses to layover. Job well don AT.

  8. My understanding is that the PT upgrade (bus from Mangere to Sylvia Park) being used to put a gloss the vile East West link includes upgrading Walmsley/Saleyards Rd to make them more compatible with walking and cycling to the Otahuhu railway station. Of course, since the public consultation on the E-W link was wildly misleading, there’s no real reason to believe this will happen. Fingers crossed, though – current access to the railway station by foot or bike is pretty third world.
    In the meantime, it’s been two years since the South was consulted on the new network, and they’ve only just got round to starting the Otahuhu interchange, which is pivotal to the whole upgrade. Looks like we’ll be putting up with the current abysmal bus service for while yet…

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