On Saturday the new $69 million Puhinui Station was opened by Transport Minister Michael Wood and Mayor Phil Goff. The official opening was followed by a public open day which saw a large number of people turning up to take a look at the station. Though with no trains running past it on the weekend, with the exception of the freight train that rolled through right in the middle of the minster’s speech, it’s only today that the station will see some actual use.
Every Aucklander with access to the rail network will now have a quick and convenient trip to the airport, Transport Minister Michael Wood and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said during the official opening of the new Puhinui Interchange today.
The new interchange links the rail platform with a new bus area via a new elevated forecourt, making it easy to transfer. It also includes new lighting, public toilets, drop off zones, better shelter, along with improved facilities and access for cyclists and pedestrians.
“The Puhinui Interchange has supported South Auckland’s economic recovery by creating over 150 jobs during construction,” Michael Wood said.
“It’ll continue to support the recovery by making it easier for thousands of Aucklanders to get to work – Auckland Airport is one the largest employment hubs in the country with more than 900 businesses around it.
“Thanks to the SH20B upgrades completed earlier this year, the travel time between Puhinui Station and the airport on the AirportLink electric bus will only be around 10 minutes. This will also help travellers avoid pre-flight congestion as air travel picks up.
“The interchange has been future proofed for future rail upgrades, including space for additional platforms, and for the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit project, which will add a bus rapid transit bridge to better connect East Auckland with good public transport,” Michael Wood said.
“The new Puhinui Station provides regular and congestion-free access to the airport and its employment precinct by public transport,” Mayor Goff said.
I love how the term ‘congestion-free’ has caught on since our Congestion-Free Network.
Puhinui is the second upgraded station to open this year following the reopening of the CPO entrance to Britomart in April as part of the City Rail Link. The station follows Britomart in another way too as it is arguably now the second most impressive station we have, at least until the new CRL stations are opened in 2024. It is perhaps a rare case of the building coming out looking almost exactly like the pre-construction renders.
The forecourt area from which you can access the train platforms is spacious, or as Phil Goff described it, the station is like a cathedral.
Well done to the designers and builders, they’ve really done a fantastic job.
With the Southern and Eastern lines combined, there is a train to and from the city every five minutes at peak times and every 10 minutes off-peak. There are stairs, escalators and lifts to access the platform and also down to the bus stops where the electric AirportLink buses are running every 10 minutes from 4:30am to around 1am, and will make use of the new transit lanes added to SH20B and Puhinui Rd to get quickly to the airport.
As well as the design, another thing that is impressive about the station is it’s one of the few times we’ve actively future-proofed a station for expansion in two ways. First there is clear space set aside for the new 3rd and even a 4th track, as well as platforms for these. Hopefully we can get added in soon to allow Te Huia to be extended to the station. The second is the station was designed with a future busway bridge in mind, which is expected to be delivered as part of the Airport to Botany project and would remove the Bridge St diversion and put bus access right onto the forecourt for even easier transfers. I understand why it wasn’t but it would have been great if that piece could have been delivered at the same time.
The above image comes from this video Auckland Transport put out for the event:
With the station now reopened, hopefully it will see a similar outcome to what Otahuhu experienced following its 2016 upgrade that was tied to the new bus network. Prior to that upgrade, Otahuhu and Puhinui were some of the least used stations in Auckland but Otahuhu’s upgrade and bus connections changed that:
As mentioned, Puhinui is arguably now the second most impressive station we have after Britomart – but what’s even more positive is that we’re now building up a collection of great stations.
Out of the 40 train stations on the network, seven are now really high quality, and perhaps my order of the best are:
- Britomart – With the upgraded CPO and exit out to Te Komititanga it’s hard to go past Britomart for the top spot.
- Puhinui – As mentioned above, the station building is fantastic and will only get better as the future upgrades to it are delivered.
- New Lynn – Probably has the best bus, train and town centre integration
- Newmarket – The station itself is good, but it’s disappointing that AT/council still haven’t been able to improve access to the station from Broadway, not to mention any form of a northern entrance.
- Manukau – The station itself is good, but the way it opens up to the MIT building is stunning.
- Otahuhu – The station building is great but the station itself is isolated.
- Panmure – Compared to the stations above, Panmure feels undersized and that’s before the Eastern Busway starts pumping thousands more people through it.
In a few years those stations will be joined by Aotea, Karangahape Rd and an upgraded Mt Eden station.
We’ve also got some decent ‘mid-tier’ stations too, such as Henderson, Mt Albert, Grafton, Ellerslie, Papakura and Pukekohe.
What are your top 10 stations?
Updated: some nice reports and photos coming in from people using the airport transfer on the first day. Satisfied customers, too, by the looks of it!
— Oliver Lewis (@OliverLewis) July 25, 2021
— LiNZ (@LinzLinz44) July 25, 2021
Should have tweet reported the whole trip but great experience so far on my Newmarket to Airport trip trying the new train/bus connection via Puhinui pic.twitter.com/nE9rJ2fNhY
— Oscar Ellison (@OscarEllison) July 25, 2021
— Grady Connell (@TheGradyConnell) July 26, 2021
Bonus: this was a nice touch at the Open Day:
This was a cool initiative from @AklTransport at the Puhinui Station Open Day yesterday. Handing out Hop Cards with a Day Pass loaded, meaning potential new users can try unlimited public transport for a day for free pic.twitter.com/sqorpJhdUF
— Malcolm McCracken (@urbanistfromwhk) July 25, 2021