Last week I wrote about how there are two crucial changes needed to ensure the huge opportunity of the City Rail Link isn’t wasted. While I consider those the most crucial changes needed, they’re not the only ones that should be considered. In this post I want to look at another important one, the location of the Mt Eden Station.
If you’ve been following the CRL for some time you may remember that the initial plan was for a station further north, under Symonds St. The entrance (only one), would have been roughly opposite the Mt Eden Rd intersection. Back in 2014, Auckland Transport decided to shift the station for a number of reasons, these included
- It allowed for a grade separated junction at Mt Eden, which will improve reliability.
- It would be substantially cheaper than having to build a station deep underground.
- They said there was more development capacity around the station (in the section between Mt Eden and New North Roads) than was possible around Symonds St which had a number of heritage issues. This image was produced highlighting the type of development that could be expected from just the land used as part of the CRL works and you’d expect other nearby properties to be redeveloped over time too.
But the question I want to look at in this post is if we’re making the most of the opportunities we have at Mt Eden. Is it best located to help facilitate easy network connections and does it best serve future development in the area.
As we know, the new government have already supported the plans for Light Rail on Dominion Rd and eventually to the airport. Yet despite crossing each other, there is no easy transfer planned between the two systems, especially for those coming from the west. The most practical option is likely to be to transfer at Karangahape Rd. This is shown below.
By the time you’ve travelled an extra 1km, exited the station, walked along Cross St to the light rail station on Upper Queen St, then travelled back down Dominion Rd, you might have added 10 minutes to a journey. What if we were to shift the station slightly westwards, and change the location of the Light Rail stations to enable an easier transfer. It could go from something like above to this, a much easier and faster connection.
Shifting the station would have a number of impacts, but as I hope to explain, they may not be as serious as people first think, especially when combined with our suggestion to allow for longer trains.
First, while there is an emergency exit at the northern end of the station, the main access to the station for the citybound platforms is at Ruru St.
Shifting station westwards could still see the northern most access still relatively close to this position. But that could leave the other end of the (longer) platform much closer to Dominion Rd. This isn’t to scale but gives an idea of how it could be laid out with two platforms next to each other. It wouldn’t have grade separation for trains heading to Newmarket but given the poor use of resource that west to south services would be, we shouldn’t be running them anyway. Even just bouncing a shuttle back and forth between Newmarket and Mt Eden is likely a better idea and that this would support that outcome just as easily.
An additional advantage of this is that by doing away with grade separation on that leg of the junction, it should make the build quicker and cheaper.
So, what would the impact on development be?
Because the northern end of the station would only about 100-150m away from where it was, all the development potential shown in the first image would still be possible and still within just a few minutes walk of the Mt Eden station. However, as well as better linking to light rail, this would also open up the station to another large development opportunity.
As part of Light Rail, we’ll almost certainly be pulling down the space hungry eyesore that is the Dominion Rd Interchange that was built for a time when there was a motorway down there on the books. That development will open up a substantial chunk of land that could be redeveloped in a similar scale to the CRL land shown earlier.
The image below shows approximately how much land could be developed from the CRL (purple), by freeing up land around the interchange (red) and couple of other sections that might be useful to tie in (yellow).
As you can see, by shifting the station we could not only connect better to light rail but could put the station right in the middle of two large development sites with the capacity for possibly thousands of new dwellings.
The biggest downside I can see to shifting the station is that it pushes it a little further away from the Uptown area of around Symonds St and Khyber Pass.
What do you think about the idea? At the very least it would be useful for the council and government to consider it given it could help in achieving both transport and housing goals.