Last year we launched the Regional Rapid Rail concept, a staged approach to an inter-regional rail network in the upper North Island. The idea has proven popular and now forms part of the government’s transport plans.
As you can see in the map below, Hamilton forms the heart of the Regional Rapid Rail network, and it will be important to the success of the whole concept that we get Hamilton right.
Critical to making Hamilton work will be moving Hamilton’s station from Frankton, which is run down and out of the way, to a better more central location with better connections to:
- The bus network including the Hamilton Transport Centre the hub of nearly every major bus route except the Rototuna Circular, the Orbiter as well as a few minor ones (The Orbiter will be best served at a Te Rapa – The Base Station);
- Hamilton city centre;
- The cycle network;
Moving to an upgraded, more amenable and central station will be highly beneficial for the same reasons that moving from the Strand to Britomart was a great success for Auckland’s rail network.
Regional Rapid Rail proposed two options for a Hamilton Central Station
- A new station just before the old Hamilton Central underground station;
- An upgraded underground Hamilton Central Station;
We believe that any trains terminating at Hamilton will need to do so without impacting on the important, and only single track, East Coast Main Trunk (ECMT). Intercity trains also generally require longer dwell times for servicing and recovery, and as such, both options would require multiple new ‘offline’ platforms.
Option 1 – Upgraded Underground Station “Hamilton’s Britomart?”
Many don’t realise that Hamilton once had an underground station. The former station still exists but is derelict and has only a single track and platform which must also accommodate all freight to and from Tauranga. Standing on an underground platform while a large and noisy freight train rumbles past wouldn’t make for a very pleasant experience. Furthermore, the station entrances have since been built over by the K-Mart building on the block fronting Bryce Street between Tristram Street and Anglesea Street and it would be infeasible to expand the former station to the required configuration without demolishing the buildings above.
This option would provide a well located central station within the city centre proper, linked directly to the bus interchange. Therefore, this represents the option for a comprehensive urban redevelopment, which would include demolishing the K-Mart building, constructing the new station and tracks in a trench below the site, then redeveloping the land above. Therefore, this option represents a high cost, but high return urban redevelopment plan, analogous to a “mini-Britomart” with benefits not just on top but for Hamilton’s City Centre as a whole. The new development could even be great for K-Mart with the potential for a flagship store on top.
Option 2 – New Station
This option would be to construct a new Hamilton Central station in an open cutting in the parkland alongside Bryce Street, between the Seddon Road overbridge and the ECMT tunnel portal under Tristram Street. This would locate the new central station one block west of the existing bus interchange, and two blocks away from the core of downtown Hamilton. It would also be within walking distance of the cricket and rugby stadiums, and the Founders Theatre.
This would require rebuilding Seddon Road overbridge with a broader span to clear multiple tracks, however, the rest of the station could be relatively cheap and simple to construct at this location, provided a strip of parkland could be acquired. The location in a cutting would allow easy concourse access from street level, with the main entrance at the corner of Bryce Street and Tristram Street. This would also require approximately 600m of double tracking from Frankton to the new station site, and the construction of the currently missing third leg of Frankton Junction for when services extend south of Hamilton. This simple option has been included in the capital development budget for Stage 2.
With a new Government interested in Urban Renewal and Transit Orientated Development the potential exists to work with the owners of the land, which I believe may be Tainui, to deliver a fantastic urban precinct for Hamilton connected to both regional and interregional transit. (Tainui are also behind the Ruakura development)