On the weekend I was out near Otahuhu so I took a quick diversion to take a look at progress on the new Otahuhu Interchange which is on track to open on October 29 before bus services start using it a day later when the New Network in South Auckland goes live.

One thing that surprised me and that I didn’t really get from the artist impressions was just how big this station will be. The concourse building is around 80m in length

In the image below you can see the rail side of the station with the existing platform complete with new, longer shelter. You can also see the platform edge and backfilling underway for the third platform which is needed for train operations after the CRL but is being built now while all of the other works are happening, perhaps a rare bit of future proofing for Auckland. Not to be missed in the Background is the new station building/concourse. To the left of the image you can see the old signal box and the back of the bus shelters.

Otahuhu Interchange Sep-16 1

This is the bus side of the station. As you can see the stops appear to be well advanced and aspects like planting are starting to happen. You can also see the carpark/kiss & ride area full of cars with people hard at work on a Saturday, presumably to ensure it is finished on time.

Otahuhu Interchange Sep-16 2

Out on Walmsley Rd the new footpath/shared path includes some concrete detailing as was suggested in the artist impressions. Just behind me the pedestrian crossing to Station Rd also includes a bike crossing and hopefully in time cycle infrastructure can be improved in the area to allow locals to make use of it.

Otahuhu Interchange Sep-16 3

As a reminder, this is what the station is expected to look like when finished.

Otahuhu Interchange aerial overview

The main entrance to the station can’t be seen in the photos as it is covered in shrink wrap. Here is what it is expected to look like.

Otahuhu interchange plaza area in front of entrance

All up it will be an impressive station and seems like things are well on track to be completed in time to open at the end of October.

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  1. It seems like a great project – even harkening back a little to when train stations where grand civic buildings.

    Now we need enough walk / cycle / PT funding to surround these great centrepiece projects with better feeder infra.

    1. That ship has nearly sailed, if the Environment Court doesn’t block the East-West link then you can forget about joining up to the existing pedestrian/cycle access to Onehunga.

      East, West, No’s best

      1. The east west link (it doesn’t matter if you support it or not) does not effect the cycle path from being linked with any new paths around Otahuhu as the path is moved to the water side of any road built keeping it as a coastal walkway.

      2. It such as shame that there is no plan to a link walking/cycling from Otahuhu rail station Onehunga via the Waikaraka cycleway. Would be easy to do. It would be such a benefit for commutters and recreational users.

        1. As easy as linking the end of the walkway at Hugo Johnson dr to Great south rd something that would be very easy to follow the proposed east west link. There is no way Kiwirail will allow a walking/cycling path to follow the direct route from the Onehunga pathway to Otahuhu station.

          1. it’s not necessarily up to KR. A boardwalk ( a bit like the Meadowbank-Orakei one) through the mangroves from the seaward side of the existing path at the Southdown end could easily get through to Railway Lane without touching on KR land. Railway Lane bridge has to be on the list for replacement with all the changes in that area in the next 10 years, so it could easily be rebuilt as the crossing for more than just trucks. Especially once Westfield platform disappears.

  2. Out of interest, what is to stop developers building lots of affordable houses near the station? It is currently a pretty grotty place (very industrial) but with a train meaning you are only ~20mins from the city, surely a great place to own a first home. Surely the land is dirt cheap? Some of it even with ‘harbour views’.

    1. I would disagree to build ‘affordable’ home that are compromised in quality.

      Otahuhu currently has low social-econmic status, it would benefit if they build some high quality mixed-used apartment/office/retail that attract middle and higher income people.

      That would reverse the perception of Otahuhu as a low-socialecon suburb.

      By having a diverse mix of people in different income level, it would benefit the suburb as a whole and create a balance eco-system.

      1. I was talking about low cost 2-3 bedroom town houses, for young professionals. i.e. relatively high income compared to many of the locals, but who can’t afford to buy a $600k house as there first house.

        1. Otahuhu is nowhere near “dirt cheap” any more. Minimum $600k. Yeah look after the professional couples that can’t afford to buy in the isthmus. Gentrification… pushing the rest of us further south or in cars. That’s the market for yah. That’s why current “affordable housing” definitions are a joke. The AC removing any definitions is just hilarious!

          1. The spinoff wasn’t very successful at finding houses below $500k [1].

            We’re often talking about a “median multiple”, i.e. the ratio between the median income and the median house price. We can generalize that multiple to any percentile, not just the median (which is by definition the 50th percentile). For first-home buyers it’s maybe more instructive to look at the lower percentiles. What’s the ratio when using, say, the 10th or 20th percentile?

            [1] http://thespinoff.co.nz/politics-media/02-06-2016/john-key-suggested-we-google-trademe-for-homes-under-500000-so-we-did-and-here-they-are/

      2. You need to visit Otahuhu in the current decade. House prices throughout Otahuhu and nearby Favona have gone flying into the stratosphere. This very fact has driven lower income people out of the place. Those grotty houses still look grotty but they are now worth over $600-$700k. First home buyers don’t have a chance in Otahuhu and pretty soon even in Otara, where prices are going flying up as well. Investors are having a field day in Otara.

    1. We need to rezone the land to allow multi story housing. Hopefully industrial land means no NIMBYs. Any changes here with the unitary plan?

      1. I’m sure there are industrial and manufacturing associations that would oppose this. In the context of Auckland’s growth they are constantly being asked to move further and further away from their traditional bases. Issues around needing to reinvest in plant/ transport etc every time they are forced to move wont be particularly attractive to those businesses currently housed there.
        Plus there is the issue of contaminated land which would require remediation before any housing can go in and this isn’t cheap. This would likely affect the viability to convert this land from industrial to residential.

        1. Industry moving further out is common practice around the world so I can’t see why it would be an issue here. As they grow they generally want more space anyway and their land gets more valuable so the obvious solution is to sell up and get a bigger facility further out – exhibit A: Lion Breweries.

          As for contamination, that is not insurmountable, but it does mean it would likely need to be a Panuku project, rather than something that happens organically.

          1. Lion Breweries moved after 100 years due to the value of the land they were sitting on in Khyber Pass Road, the new site is not that much bigger than the old one just everything there is more modern. The bulk of the ‘industrial’ land near the station is small commercial that are not likely to be doing a Lion style move anytime soon and the other side is Kiwirail again not going anywhere anytime soon.

          2. I agree they are not going anywhere in a hurry, as I imagine the land around Panmure station would likely begin to turn residential first before that sort of thing started to happen at Otahuhu, given it is closer to the CBD and also zoned for it already.

            My point was more around this sort of thing happens in cities all around the world. There will come a point where small industries (or their landlords) see the value of the land being worthwhile for development and industry moves further out to where land is cheaper.

          3. Currently that whole area is a fairly unpleasant place to spend time with various noisy and smell industries taking up a lot of atmosphere. Until the last of the meatworks and fish processing plants moves, the residential charms will remain stunted. After that, who knows!

  3. Is the new station going to be gated like Britomart, Newmarket, Mankau and New Lynn? The concourse looks like the perfect place for barrier gates (I asume the concourse is the only way to get to the trains)

    1. Several of the artist’s impressions show a gateline in the concourse as it crosses the railway line – you can just make it out in the overhead image above. Latest words circulating suggest, though, that there won’t be gates installed until after several other stations get them. Speculation is that this is a matter of staffing, rather than hardware.

    1. Same story at Smales Farm. Local buses have to make a loop onto the busway around the station before they can stop at platform 3.

      And this is totally avoidable: these buses could enter via Shakespeare Road and exit via “The Boulevard”. I wonder by what messed up process we arrived at that situation.

    2. At Otahuhu the idea is that the bus interchange occupies the previously unused quarter of the signalised intersection. Adding another exit or entrance would require a second intersection (and a route to it that also doesn’t exist). The time taken for buses to go around the loop and back onto a fully integrated intersection is much preferable to the cumulative costs (in time, space and money) of creating a new intersection, the sole purpose of which is to avoid a simple turnaround. I think it’s a fairly elegant application of the available space and resources.

      1. I tend to agree. Also note otahuhu train station is an end-point for frequent routes in the new network so its debatable how many buses need to travel through.

  4. I used this station a few weeks ago. Is there going to be a cafe/coffee shop in the station or nearby,
    the lack of anything like this near the station is going to be rather noticeable?

    1. The only stations AFAIK that have direct access to coffee/cafe are Swanson and Glen Eden, both on Western line, GE actually has a cafe at each platform.
      Decent coffee too plus drinks, snacks/meals etc.
      I often wished the coffee vendor that was inside New Lynn station a year or so ago, was back again

      1. IMO they should partition off any random bits of land (you see them all the time at stations) that face the platforms/concourses/etc and rent them out for retail/restaurant/etc. Would add a lot to safety and comfort at your typical rail station.

    2. I had an idea to tender out station coffee services/dairy/takeaway depending on size available, starting with Rems and Penrose as they have the old station buildings which are currently unused. The business would then upkeep those buildings and they would be opened to the public.

    1. Yes, and it seemed like they suddenly stopped work on it a few months ago. Probably about the time someone thought about doing the 3rd platform now instead of in 8 years.

  5. Hopefully they put the Down trains onto the new platform, and Up trains onto the current Down platform, asap. That’ll give cross-platform train-bus connections for half the punters from the get go. Don’t wait for the CRL.

    1. That would make a lot of sense, but since they can’t even sort out cross-platform train-train connection at Newmarket, I wouldn’t expect too much here

    2. Geoff looking at what will be the new track layout at Otahuhu will be, the Eastern down trains could easily be put on the new platform, it is possible for the down Papakura trains but easier to leave them on the current down platform, likewise the up from Papakura can only use the current up platform but the up from Manukau trains could easily use any of the three. It would be up to TC to decide with input from AT and Transdev as to what is the easiest standard option for Otahuhu.

    3. They seem to be walling off the back of the bus shelters such that there’s only one way onto the platforms down near the stairs, so won’t be an entirely seamless transfer.

    4. Yes, they really should do whatever is needed to make access easy to platforms. Is this platform going to be the future 3rd main line or just an extra platform for terminating trains?

      1. Does the 3rd main section between Southdown and just slightly north of Middlemore not already exist? I often see freight trains on it passing Otahuhu station, the line immediatlely west of the up main.

        1. That’s the Up Arrival Road, which is part of the ongoing 3rd main project, but will be subject to quite a bit of mixing and matching with the existing up and down mains just south of Otahuhu to get to the next stage of the grander 3rd main project, and then again some decade(s) in the future. To answer perhaps more directly – yes it exists, but only in an interim form.

          1. So with all freight using the up arrival road this at least keeps it away from running near the Otahuhu platforms on the up and down mains.
            At Papatoetoe station today it was interesting seeing a crowded up platform as a freight pair of DLs with 30+ containers, petrol tanker and other odd stuff passed through causing many waiting passengers to jump back as it shot through at what seemed about 70k/hr

      2. Well if you want gating at this station then all access will need to be via the Bridge won’t it?
        Probably a fair enough trade off against level bus-train interchange.
        Does seem daft to have a platform solely for services to and from Penrose to the east of eastern line platforms. Aren’t they planning 6tph there? All to the western line 3 via CRL, 3 via Grafton?
        And although the freight main is to the west for metroport and the NAL, wouldn’t an eastern bypass of this station for AKL port freight be ideal too? -> where this third platform is.
        Anyone got a sense of long term plans for track layout here?

        1. From what I’ve seen titled ‘CRL operations update’, 18 pages mostly about the CRL. There is tacked on the back there are four pages including Newmarket showing some new links allowing access to platform 4 from the western down, platform 2/3 to the western up main plus a couple of extras. There are also pages titled up Henderson 3rd platform, Westfield lite and Otahuhu 3rd platform. The Westfield lite looks to be a future expansion of Otahuhu 3rd platform showing a third main toward Panmure. The Otahuhu 3rd platform shows a loop onto the new platform (behind the bus shelters), the same loop extends north to become an extra main towards Panmure on the Westfield lite plan.

          1. So Ted if I understand that right there plans to:
            1. extend the bridge to a platform 4 west of the current ones? [+5?], as they are currently building 1, 2, + 3, right?
            2. and extend the eastern most track north as a third [lite] towards Panmure and loop it in the main south of the station?

          2. Unfortunately not, I was given a paper copy in black and white but there is some interesting information included in it.
            2017 skip stop counter peak on the southern line.
            NAL connections, 6 stages showing the area around the western end of the CRL (Mt Eden) being returned to a single line for over a year.
            Post CRL services, S&I diagrams of the CRL including the conversion from 5 to 4 platforms at Britomart etc.

            I could send you a copy if you let me know where to send it.

          3. I always suspected the Western line would have to go to single track around Mt Eden for a period during CRL construction. Will be interesting to see what they will do with services as it wont be possible to retain 10-minute frequency.

          4. Patrick go back up to the top of this post, look at the first picture and that is the third platform on the left behind the bus shelters. That line begins as a loop but appears to become and extra main out the north of it towards Panmure under the Westfield lite plan.

          5. It would be Sailor Boy, I don’t know where the person that I got them from got them and I have googles the title to see if it is publicly available without success. Patrick will have a copy of it in a few hours and he may be able to put some up (totally up to him), some of the maps don’t translate down to A4 well but are still worth the look.

        2. Why would all gated access have to be via the bridge? Couldn’t there be gates at ground level between the eastern train platform and the bus stops?

          1. Sorry, but what trade off? From a passenger perspective I can’t see anything positive about the time and inconvenience of having to go up and over, instead of being able to walk just a few metres on the level.

          2. I’m with you on this one Mike. I’m all for gating in general to reduce fare evasion, however in this instance it means we loose the opportunity to have people walk straight off a train and onto a bus, instead they have to walk along, up, across, down and along again. There are few platforms like this, we might as well take advantage of them when they exist.

          3. Looking at the artists impression and where the third platform will be located they will both share a set of stairs up to the bridge so I would expect you would be able to go from Platform 3 to the buses while staying on the same level, a walk toward the bridge and stairs maybe but it doesn’t look like you will need to go up and over like at Newmarket.

          4. Mike a cost trade-off. A trade-off for us all, between convince and cost. And if gated at grade that will mean it won’t be straight off the train/bus and across at any point say like at side platforms at Middlemore currently, but everyone being funnelled through one gate point and everywhere else fenced.

            I dunno Jezza, plenty of commentators here get very wound up about fare evasion so not sure that how everyone feels… mind you with integrated fares it may not be such an issue if we assume they’ve tagged on/off the bus and/or at the their final destination?

            Parnell has side platforms too but will be gated I’m told so all sides fenced and one way in/out.

          5. If there’s no passenger access direct between the western bus stops and the eastern platform, going from the artist’s impression it appears that passengers transferring betweeen buses using those stops and all trains will have to cross both directions of bus traffic twice, once on the level and again via the bridge. Thinking like a passenger and in terms of risk management, that forced double crossing (if you see what I mean) makes little sense.

          6. Was just at Otahuhu station this afternoon. The concrete stairs up to concourse look wide enough at bottom that they are across the bus platform and the rail platform 3. There is a roofed area which could be where gates are located for platform 3. Cant see lifts or escalarors.
            The glass backs of the bus shelters form a continuous wall seperating the bus and rail platforms
            does anyone know if hop gating will.be installed for opening?
            Although platform 3 is being constructed the OLE and supports will need relocating for platform 2, maybe this and rail laying will be during one of the weekend or holiday shutdowns.

  6. The station itself is going to significantly improve the area around it – at least pedestrians will now be able to walk on the left hand side of Station Rd.

    Hopefully the station will spur on some significant improvements in cycling infrastructure in the area – if you look at a cycle map the lack of cycle lanes in the area is noticeable, particularly when they stop in Papatoetoe and don’t start again until Penrose. In the three years I have lived in the area I have noticed a definite pickup in the numbers of people cycling in the area – though I haven’t seen that picked up in the surveys yet.

    With the new recreation centre, pool, the library and now the transport centre now on the western side of Otahuhu it will be interesting to see the effects. I suspect the centre of gravity in Otahuhu will move to the west with more retail and residential developments magnifying this effect.

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