This is a guest post by Harriet.

Image 1 - SP Station

We often talk about the big projects, networks, as well as game changing best practice regulations. For a while I have wanted to create a small campaign about the small things, low hanging fruit where for cheaply i.e. not for hundred of millions of dollars, we can achieve with a “Small Step” a “Great Leap” for the people the project and area it effects. I have often spoken to people of the weakness at Sylvia Park, that because it only has access to the shopping centre side, this greatly limits the stations potential. I thought it fitting then that the first project then should be this. Now onto the facts.

The catchment of Sylvia Park train station is currently severely limited. This is because there is no viable access to the east of the NIMT (Eastern Line), this limits catchment to the shopping centre, and as a result the station fails to serve important industrial/commercial areas east of the station on Carbine Road, and the surrounding streets. In this area are many homes, as well as businesses such as Bunnings, and educational campuses, and the NZMA Sylvia Park Campus.

Image 2 - Sat Image

By providing a link to east of the station to the Carbine Road area, the reach of the station will increase significantly, connecting people to an important educational area, to current/future homes, as well as commercial/industrial jobs all right next to, but currently not accessible to an RTN. The Unitary Plan has the area as a mix of mainly Light Industrial, Mixed Use and THAB.

Image 3 - UP Zoning
Unitary Plan Zoning, Orange = THAB, Light Purple = Light Industrial, Dark Purple = Heavy Industrial, Pink = Mixed Use

As it stands for people to use public transport, this realistically requires a transfer onto a bus at Panmure, this is not as frequent (every 30 mins), as the train (every 10 mins) and is an unnecessary transfer. While the introduction of Integrated Fares has removed the transfer penalty, the time penalties, as well as the inconvenience of transferring means that many who would catch the train, instead may potentially drive or not access the area reducing opportunities. The New Central Bus Network has zero bus routes moving through the upper half of the area. The 323 in the New Network from Sylvia Park brings you over the Eastern Line, but will only have a maximum frequency of  30 minutes, so no real time advantage is gained.

Image 4 - Current Bus Route Map
Current routes
Image 5 - Current Bus Timetable
Current Timetable
Image 6 - New Network Bus Map
New Network Routes

Map prepared for AT by MRCagney shows the realistic walking catchment of the station (Highlighted Area, 1km, 10-15min) which shows the catchment east of the NIMT is very low. The current overpass shows the difficult accessibility of the route.

Image 7 - Overbridge (1)

sylvia park
Sylvia Park Station Catchment
GI Station Catchment
Panmure Station Catchment

As a result this puts Sylvia Park station in an interesting situation, where for relatively low one off CAPEX cost, the reach of Eastern Line RTN can be extended. A Low Hanging Fruit Opportunity presents itself to maximise our RTN’s.

Possible Solutions

1. Access to the Station is provided from the South-Eastern Highway Flyover. The Highway sits relatively close to the station and has footpaths in place. A signalised intersection is at Carbine road which allows relatively safe crossing.

Image 11 - View from Flyover

Image 12 - View of Flyover from SP

2. Access to Carbine Rd via the use of the carpark currently east of the NIMT. The footpath would use a very small amount of land, however private property would be affected which would require the loss of some car parks.

Image 13 - Sat of Carbine Road Access
Land East of NIMT towards Carbine

3. Elevated walkway access to Carbine Rd. This would use a similar route to #2. However, it would not affect the car parks to the same degree. This option may have higher costs.

Image 14 - Mt E Example
Mt Eden Station Elevated Walkway

4. Underpass access to Carbine Road. This option would use a similar route to #2/3 but would be an underpass. Above ground property would therefore be unaffected. This however, may be extremely expensive and pedestrians don’t tend to rate underpasses highly due to safety concerns.

Image 15 Ellerslie Map
Red Arrows indicate on Map Location
Image 16 - Ellerslie Underpass
Ellerslie Train Station Underpass

In conclusion providing better access east of the NIMT will drastically increase the reach of the Eastern Line RTN, connecting people better to jobs in the Carbine Rd area, enabling the higher density residential development of the area in the Mixed Use and THAB zones, as well as significantly improving access to people studying at NZMA. Lastly it will allow better access to people in the area who wish to cross the Eastern Line, reducing severance.

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  1. Very good proposals. Even better if they could be made substantial enough to accommodate cycling.. unlike at Ellerslie, where the railway line (and motorway) also present a barrier to east-west cycling, but the underpass is simply too small to feasibly ride through (at Ellerslie you have to go up and over on Main Highway – an option reserved for the confident 1%).

    Just a comment on that UP map: it doesn’t show the existing link into Sylvia Park (which you describe later) and is therefore a little bit misleading. Google Maps show a 13 min walk to the NZMA building for example. Not ideal, but not nothing.

    1. The issue is 13mins is really pushing catchment and will that overpass makes it a difficult walk.

      I think the Overpass was further south but I was trying to get the area involved so it wasent in the map

    2. It is not compulsory to ride a bicycle everywhere. In fact it is not legal to ride on footpaths. What is wrong with walking beside your bike when on a pedestrian access?

  2. Just my thoughts seeing as I live across the road from Sylvia Park.
    In future I believe Sylvia Park’s growth could be better further developed if all the commercial land and factories immediately to the east of the rail line were bought up and developed into further retail stores/commercial office blocks/residential development eg. Coca Cola.
    At the same time the existing access from Sylvia Park side to the station is severely limited by the narrow it’s narrow station platform, zebra crossing which holds up vehicles when commuters come down the stairs, and it’s tiny cramped elevator.

    There is a small group of angled carparks right outside the little police station hut and the rockshop – These could be dug out and an underground pass could be put in place to allow commuters to walk across to shops/platforms without impeding the vehicles – Similar to how the old railway station in downtown used to be before rail was diverted to Britomart.
    Or else it could make sense for the existing pedestrian platform bridge that goes over the road to be extended further all the way out to the second level of where Hoyts is upstairs, and have larger scale lifts/stairs to open into the central open space.

    I have a lot of ideas of how I think Sylvia Park could be further developed in a positive way, extending all the way out to residential area by Panama Road and eventually connecting up to Highbrook.

  3. Can you check for me, but I recall that the Sylvia Park station was designed and paid for by the developers of the Sylvia Park shopping centre.
    Therefore you have got a Sylvia Park shopping centre focussed station, not one developed for all citizens in the catchment area.

    1. Yes correct mall paid $5 million to have the station built in 2007.

      Don’t blame them for only paying for that side and ARTA for taking a free station but I think it’s time to make the station a Centre focused rather than a mall centred

  4. Excellent post Harriet and so true.

    I was just talking with someone who is starting at Bunnings HQ this coming Monday, and the rail option for her to travel to work instead of driving. The walk, specially during winter/Spring could be off putting to many potential rail users.

  5. Fully in support. I once used PT to attend a transport conference at Waipuna Conference Centre which is not far as the crow flies from Sylvia Park Station but could not work out how to get from A to B so instead got off at the more distant Panmure Station and hiked around the lagoon. There is a connection across the tracks at the south eastern corner of Sylvia Park if you use the road access (Sylvia Park Accessway) to their extensive car parking area (as illustrated on the Sylvia Park Catchment diagram), but for many this will take them too far south down Carbinve Road. The original design for Sylvia Park Station included a loop road off Carbine Road [I defiinitely remember it from the SEART plans] to bring buses up close to the new station but this was deleted from the plans (though hopefully not cancelled forever). All stations should have some form of interchange so that local feeder bus services can connect reasonably painlessly with rail. While on the general topic of SP Station – the existing access to the rear of the mall is not especially user friendly – remember that this station and its access were only built to satisfy a resource consent condition.

    1. Yes, agree that it is pretty odd that Sylvia Park Mall (Kiwi Property Group I believe) would go to the effort to spend $5million on the station and not integrate in a more seamless fashion with the mall. It could be a lot more user friendly and a more welcoming direct transition. The only explanation I can fathom is that rail usage was pretty poor when the mall was first designed and the owners probably never expected such a massive increase in patronage and customers.

      Thanks Harriet, great post and agree such a low-hanging fruit it should be implemented ASAP.

  6. An excellent idea. On a related note, in the new bus network, the new crosstown 7 route is shown as terminating at Sylvia Park. In theory, that would provide a very useful connection between that route and the Eastern rail line (i.e. providing a high-frequency route all the way from Pt Chev to the eastern suburbs). Does any know if such a connection will be provided for, in terms of the relative locations of the bus stop and the Sylvia Park train station?

      1. Here’s the more specific link: for the description (ie no close up designs which would be great to see, there is a high level one on your link). It suggests the bus will be around the back right by the rail station. I’m guessing under the SE highway overpass especially if you consider the 4 level multi deck carpark that Kiwi Property is putting in a bit more south. There is room for the dedicated busway by removing that interesting gated parking right alongside the curved rail line:
        “A new bus station adjacent to the existing Sylvia Park rail station, replacing the current 4-berth bus station.
        The new station will provide convenient, direct transfers and have glass-covered seating areas.
        A new dedicated busway link from the intersection at Sylvia Park Road and Mt Wellington Highway to create a bus route that avoids the more congested parts of Mt Wellington Highway.
        A new shared cycle path for cyclists and pedestrians along Mt Wellington Highway. This will pass under the Southern Motorway and provide new connectivity between Sylvia Park and Pacific Rise” [… etc etc]

  7. There must be hundreds of these “low-hanging fruit” all over Auckland that only locals will know about. I know the Local Boards get some funding but maybe more (central and local) should be given to address these great PT initiatives. It’s often these small changes that have the greatest impact on our daily lives.

    1. Agree and in a lot a places these would be picked up, however as it mainly industry atm not really the resident push factor on the boards AT etc.

      One of the reasons I thought this was a good one to campaign on

  8. Great post Harriet. It’s not just about the train station either – this would also be an important pedestrian connection for people to get from one side of the railway tracks to the other.

    Sylvia Park is NZ’s biggest shopping mall and a huge destination in its own right (and getting bigger, see On the eastern side, you’ve got a busy industrial area, and housing – all of which is likely to redevelop and intensify under the Unitary Plan.

    The demand for this connection will just keep growing, and something like your solution #1 would be cheap as chips – so why not get it in place now, and aim for a more comprehensive solution later on as properties get redeveloped? I agree, this is low hanging fruit.

    1. Oh, and there’s something like 6,000 people working in that area within a 1 km radius of the station, east of the railway line and north of the motorway. And 600 people living there. So that’s already pretty a substantial number of people who would benefit from a better connection.

  9. Yup great work Harriet. Here is the link for the MRC station catchment work. We need to see a resourced work programme to address the issues illustrated here:

    A quick glance shows that three of the most inaccessible stations are on the now booming Eastern Line. Happily the cycleway funding led work [with additional Council and Local Board funds] is going to significantly improve Meadowbank Station access, it would indeed be truly great to add Sylvia Park Station’s one-sidedness next.

  10. That’s spot on. I’ve often lamented the poor connectivity from this station to the, east and Sylvia Park is possibly the least-accessible Metropolitan Centre for active mode trips.

    Unfortunately I’m not sure if option 1 is a goer, as the Southeast Arterial is (I think) closed to pedestrians and cyclists. That deceptively footpath-looking space is actually some sort of kerbed shoulder, cleverly disguised as footpath.

    1. Yeah even fenced I think it would be unpleasant, and that space is probably desired by the agencies as breakdown hard shoulder.

      A well designed, safe, and elegant pedestrian bridge is probably the best outcome. Do it once, do it properly.

    2. I’ll let the engineers decide the best options each one has pros and cons and I am open to all 4.

      1. Could be fenced and if the walkway is not in use could be made so, however I agree it’s the options weakness

  11. I was actually looking at a map of Sylvia Park station and wondered whether in the mid-long term that the standard could move south of the SE highway overpass and connect directly into the link from Carbine Road and the proposed mall extension within the adjacent car park area.

    1. Seems like a good idea, but would then be entering through or under the to be built ugly car parking building. Also seems that the bus interchange AT are planning would probably then be further away. A ped covered bridge directly into the mall would be good too, right into Hoyts/Whitcoulls? Can you do that so close to the SE highway, or do you need to go through the theatre number x or something?! See my other comment and

  12. There is already pedestrian and cycle access to Carbine rd via the vehicle access road to Carbine rd, as Sylvia park station was fully paid for by the shopping centre there was no forethought given to pedestrian access from the station to anywhere but the shopping centre. Had the station platform been located on the other side of the SE Hway it could have had access to the shopping centre in roughly the same place and also had access to the pedestrian path on the Carbine rd access bridge.

    Harriet I think that moving the platform south would end up being cheaper than any of the options, I like the Mt Eden style pedestrian access you have shown but still think moving the station platform would be a better and cheaper option.

    1. Er just building a new footbridge would be much cheaper that building a new platform, elevator tower, overbridge, stairs, realigning track, relocating all the platform equipment, relocating signals and track circuits, demolishing all of the old station… and building a new footbridge!

      1. That it would Nick and the foot path is already there and only 250 metres long from the bottom of the steps from the station to the bottom of the ramp up to the Carbine rd access bridge.

        1. ..yes but then the walk is getting far along before you really get anyway useful, particularly the housing to the East of Carbine Rd.

    2. Not sure on your point though, I had the access you mentioned on the article, and MRC would have taken that into account with Catchies. The walk is long & difficult taking you away from some of the most important areas you want to capture on Carbine.

  13. Thanks for the post, Harriet. I love that this lowish cost upgrade to exploit the positive impacts of prior PT investments runs straight after a post on the extensive further work that is being proposed to mitigate the downsides of a hugely expensive roading project that hasn’t even opened yet. Gotta laugh at the timing, though I doubt the roading advocates lurking on this site will see the irony.

  14. A full and proper consideration of this matter would have to include details of what Kiwirail plan for the Port-Westfield 3rd main. An integrated redevelopment plan involving AT, KR, Oasis and Sylvia Park could come up with a really good combination of tweaks to optimise this area. As it stands the 3rd main is probably going to mean major work on or replacement of the Waipuna Road overbridge and a pretty thorough rebuild of the landscape around the Oasis siding and loading bay, as the 3rd main will blow right through that part of the corridor with a new siding possibly being required on a different alignment. It’s a big job and maybe the perfect opportunity to do this properly for a change. My favourite idea has been to run an elevated walkway from the upper floor of the mall in between the iMax and the parking building in a straight line to the North end of the platform and onwards between the warehouses to the intersection of Matangi and Carbine. Gating, elevators and stairs or escalators in the image of the new Otahuhu interchange would be ideal in a wishful thinking world. If not, just the basic Papatoetoe arrangement. Cutting a deal with the landowners of those Carbine Road warehouses could be a tough job – as would finding ways to pay for it all.

    Not really low hanging fruit, but it would be a fabulous outcome.

    1. I have lived on Matangi Road for thirty-one years and remember that this walkway proposal was on the plans while resource consent was being sought for the SP develpoment. Alas, it was not to be and instead of a five minute walk to the station it takes fifteen minutes via the access road south of the South-Eastern and seventeen minutes via Musket Place.

      I’m behind any push to get better access from the east side of the NIMT. I notice that the footbridge over the rail line to the station has a spur cast as part of the concrete slab; perhaps this was some forward planning for a walkway over the line to the disused land under the flyover.

  15. Excellent article.

    One observation though – what numbers are we looking at and can the Eastern Line cope with that sort of increase?

  16. Well presented paper Harriet. What you haven’t factored in is the fact that the shopping centre will shortly have to increase in size quite considerably as the present centre is quite small as these types of shopping centre go and is the obvious location for overseas based majors to locate. For example if David Jones were to locate here they would need a floor area about the size of one wing of the present mall. Maybe the train line could be lowered as at New Lynn station and any further development could be on the other side of the track.

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