Saturday, January 23, 2010

Visit to new Newmarket Train Station

The two-storey palace of glass and metal, which the Auckland Regional Transport Authority has built for $35 million, has been designed to cope with electric trains and up to 17,000 passengers a day by 2016.

It finally reopened on 14 January this year.

The Government marked two milestones in its $1.6 billion Auckland rail programme today with the opening of the revamped Newmarket Station and the signing of an electrification project. Transport Minister Steven Joyce said that after Britomart, Newmarket was Auckland's busiest station.
"Completing this project provides a new station offering all the amenities and services expected of a modern public transport facility, potential for more trains at peak times, and means fewer delays for trains coming into Newmarket," he said.
But, it's had teething troubles.

There is disappointment about the delays and disruption on the very first day Auckland's new $35 million Newmarket Railway Station began operating.
The station was five years in the planning and has taken two years to construct.

And more troubles ...

A resumption of full services after a three-week shutdown of much of the rail network for a summer construction drive finally put Newmarket's new $35 million station at centre-stage yesterday.
KiwiRail contractors who ran out of time on Sunday night to install a complex electronic signalling system to Newmarket's railway junction, which has been reconfigured for $65 million, completed the task early yesterday with just under two hours to spare before the first trains of the day started running.
But although the new station is drawing many admirers for its clean architectural lines and ample shelter, the Campaign for Better Transport is disappointed it has not been matched by updated timetables to ease connections for passengers transferring between western and southern trains.
Some early morning western line trains still arrive at Newmarket a minute after southern services leave the station for Papakura and Pukekohe, forcing commuters to wait 29 minutes for the second leg of their journey to work or school.
And even the train drivers' walk slows everyone down.

Extra train drivers may have to be used to reduce turnaround times at Newmarket's new $35 million station, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority has acknowledged.
The authority disclosed last night that it was considering asking its rail operator, Veolia, to post drivers at each end of western line trains at peak times to reduce delays which have become apparent since the station was added to its network on Monday.
Drivers now have to walk or even run from the front to the rear of their trains at Newmarket, before reversing direction through the adjacent junction of the western and southern lines.
That meant four trains observed by the Herald yesterday spent anything from one minute and 45 seconds to three and a half minutes at Newmarket, depending on how many carriages they were pulling.
The longest wait at the station was for passengers on a locomotive-hauled SA train, as they watched the driver walk 96 metres from one end to the other before pulling out of the station.
A personal commentary here -- it is silly that we've gone back a step in tyerms of rail configuration at Newmarket. When the first station was built there in the early 1870s, it serviced stops further on and south to Onehunga (hence, Newmarket is on the Southern line in our urban system). The Western line to Waitakere and beyond only came about later that decade, opened in 1880, and is at right angles to Newmarket. But, Newmarket is south of the Western line, not North, so trains from west (like Avondale) have to reverse into Newmarket before proceeding to Britomart and the central city. The temporary station at Kingdon Street sorted that out -- while Newmarket was being reconstructed, our trains would go as trains should go -- straight through, no reversing. But now they've opened up Newmarket again, we're stuck with the same damned configuration.

Oh, there were folk who protested and wanted Kingdon left alone. But, to no avail.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee is at war with his council's transport subsidiary over a decision to demolish Newmarket's temporary Kingdon St station.
The Auckland Regional Transport Authority has defied his wishes by confirming that the facility will be closed tonight to make way for the opening next month of Newmarket's $35 million replacement station. Because the two stations are on different tracks, separated by a 400m walk, Mr Lee and neighbouring business owners say the authority's decision will rob the public of a direct connection between Britomart and the western railway line.
 Mike Lee, I raise my coffee cup to you, mate. You did your best.

Okay. So, Friday I toddled along, boarded the train at Avondale, and went to take a look at the "world class" station.

I think the staff were wondering what the heck I was doing, getting off the train but then loitering around on the platform instead of doing what everyone else did and head straight for the escalators.  Don't mind me, folks, I'm just a mad blogger.


Lots of seats. So far, they look nice and clean. So far.


I did finally go up the escalators, to take a view from above the platforms. I think I prefer Henderson station. At least that has cool billboards to look at, and not a wall of apartments. 

This is the single bit of heritage I found in the place -- a blow-up of a 1920s map of Newmarket Borough. It's nice, any rate. The place could have done with some heritage images of steam trains, the Newmarket rail workshops, something ...

Newmarket railway workshops, 1909. From Wiki Commons.
Ah, well. Close up of part of the map.

Outside, the east -- a fairly nice square, with metal trees and more walls.

And now, we leave Balham, Gateway to the South -- er, sorry, Newmarket Train Station.
So, I have two main grumbles: that reversing lark, and the fact that Newmarket Station proper is further away from the Domain and the Auckland Museum than the now-lost Kingdon Street station. Hopefully, they'll see sense and re-use the old wooden Newmarket station building they have in secret storage somewhere to good use as a Parnell/Museum station in the future? My fingers are crossed and I live in hope.


  1. Very interesting. For some reason train passengers in Melbourne get very few seats to sit on at stations.

  2. I think they've changed their thinking here, Andrew, as they've been upgrading the stations. Kingsland and Henderson are well catered-for in terms of seating, but our temporary station at Avondale is a bit of a struggle. I'll see what our new station here brings.

  3. I love the Peter Sellers Balham line! There is a new station going in Park Rd called Grafton that is just along from the Domain. Opens April.
    Love your site

  4. Ahhh, of course! I should have remembered the Grafton station. That will be one of my grumbles solved, thanks, Jon. Cheers!

  5. The high overhead covering (in your 5th photo) makes me think the rain will easily get onto the platform floor tiles. Wonder if anyone thought to lay NON-SLIP ones???