How to get Better Resilience out of the Rail Network
A Rail Efficiency Program Series
THE ALL-ENCOMPASSING RAIL EFFICIENCY PROGRAM – PART FIVE (A)
Relocation or Adding of new Stations on the (Auckland) Rail Network
With added resilience now added into the Auckland rail network through crossovers at “major” stations and the Westfield Junction Fly-Over, attention now focuses in getting rail stations into the best strategic places as possible with the best “facilities” possible to attract and sustain high patronage numbers. Again some of the ideas about to be mentioned in these posts have been mentioned before, I am so-called “reposting” them here as I personally like the ideas and the fact they just need reposting to emphasis the point!
Currently on the Auckland Passenger Rail Network the station locations and patronage levels are somewhat scatty with some stations well placed and attracting patronage, while others do more of a disservice to network and can actually put people off using the network. Meaning some of our stations are not in the best locations and need to be moved to better suit the Auckland populace. There are currently three such locations – all on the Southern and Eastern Lines where the; removal, moving or adding of stations be considered doing in better enhancing the “catchment” and attractiveness of those currently or wanting to use our rail network. So lets take a look at the Southern and Eastern Lines starting from the south and moving towards Britomart.
No need to mention the adding of the Paerata and Drury Stations (complete with Park and Rides) as that is being currently covered in an extensive report by Auckland Transport which can be seen over at my PUKEKOHE ELECTRIFICATION CASE post. So moving along to the next section of the network that needs attention – which would be between Papakura and Manurewa Rail stations on the Southern/Eastern Line.
Currently between Papakura and Manurewa Stations you have Takanini and Te Mahia Stations:
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The next graphic is of impending urban development per the Auckland Plan – along with distances between stations currently:
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Okay some background facts on the current situation
Time to travel between stations currently:
- Manurewa <-> Te Mahia: two minutes
- Te Mahia <-> Takanini: three minutes
- Takanini <-> Papakura: four Minutes
Current Facilities and nearby Amenities at the stations currently:
- Manurewa: Relatively new station right beside the South Mall shopping centre. The station is linked by a park and ride as well as the main bus interchange for the Manurewa area. Station has easy access by foot, bicycle, car, taxi or bus with at least two entrances to each platform. Public toilets are near by and the station is currently challenging Papakura as the third busiest station in the network after Britomart and Newmarket. Station is well-lit at night and contains the electronic Passenger Information Display system.
- Te Mahia: An old station situated between residential on one side and basically car yards and light industry on the other. Station is linked by two narrow alley-ways at the north end with no park and ride facilities and the nearest bus stops around 300 metres away on the Great South Road. Station is poorly lit, has no electronic Passenger Information Display system, has a mix of both gravel and asphalt base for the platform, and an old concrete shelter from most likely the 1960’s. The station currently has I believe the second lowest patronage (after Westfield) and does give the feeling of being “unsafe” to both rail staff and travelling public. Catchment area due to position, lack of bus and park and ride facilities is very limited for Te Mahia Station
- Takanini Station: Station recently had its platform extended and some new lighting to handle to new Electrics when they come on stream from next year. However it is similar to Te Mahia in respect of facilities and links despite patronage growing on that station. The station does give the impression of being “unsafe” while cars park either side along the side streets for those who drive to the station. Nearest bus stops are around 500 metres away on the Great South Road and the station has been attributed to a few accidents with train verses passenger over the last few years.
- Papakura: Currently undergoing a large-scale revamp with the platforms being upgraded, ticket office being moved, new track infrastructure to allow train movements more easily (including a new freight train passing loop), new electronic Passenger Information Display Systems, upgraded lighting, refurbished and restored station building, and the Park and Ride facilities due for upgrades as well. Papakura Station is right next to the Papakura Town Centre and is served by easy access for walkers, cyclists, cars (two park and rides), taxis and buses (major terminus bus stop is next to the station). The station is a terminus station for most Southern and Eastern Line services and is currently the third busiest in patronage level on the Auckland Rail Network. Papakura is also a key station for train staff with a staff building and train stabling/fuelling facility located between the eastern Park and Ride and Platforms One and Two. However Papakura Station is currently constrained by lack of proper feeder buses which do have an impact on the Park and Ride being full most days of the week – limiting further passenger patronage growth. Papakura is also currently my “home station” where I catch the trains (or leave them) if I am travelling by train to some destinations
Google Maps and the Council GIS viewer currently do not show the current stations in their current form, so until I make a trip down – no pictures as of yet.
So we have the situation with Te Mahia and Takanini Stations of what and where they are, and what state they are in. Now as I have alluded to earlier South Auckland is due to undergo significant urban growth per the Auckland Plan over the next thirty-odd years. The second graphic above had a red line drawn in it that show the extent urban growth can take during the life of the Auckland Plan – which means we could be looking at well over 35,000 new residences and businesses in the area over the next twenty years at least. Now putting two and two together (and disregarding Auckland Transport is apparently going to upgrade Takanini within the next five years – which I think is for the platform only (so no Park and Ride)) you have a situation of large urban growth near the rail corridor and two dilapidated stations that have bugger all facilities, bugger all catchment area, and bugger all future with little scope of being able to fully upgrade the stations with facilities like Papakura and Manurewa. So what do I propose?
Well I propose the following
Proposal for Southern Auckland Rail Efficiency Upgrades
In short I propose the following”
- Close Te Mahia Station (which I believe Auckland Transport are going to do)
- Close Takanini Station
- Build Spartan Road Station complete with full Park and Ride and Bus Interchange
- Build Walters Road Station complete with full Park and Ride and also Bus Interchange
- Spartan Road and Walters Road Stations have better and large catchments for current residents and future urban growth than Te Mahia or Takanini ever could
- Land available for the stations, park and rides, bus interchange and future upgrades
- More uniform distance between stations from Manurewa to Papakura, thus allowing better travelling efficiency (heavy rail is most suited when stations are a reasonable distance (usually beyond 2km) between stations due to the dynamics of the rolling stock, and services it is often required to run (relatively long distance compared to light rail and buses). Basically heavy rail passenger services perform efficiently with fewer large stations with larger distances between stations compared to light rail which can handle more stations with shorter distances between them.
- Able to start afresh in building the new stations reputations that are safe, clean and have well-built facilities catering for large numbers of travelling passengers
These next round of graphics and annotations explain Spartan Road and Walters Road Stations
You can see where I have placed the new stations – close to current residents and business as well as future residents and business. Remember Te Mahia and Takanini Stations will be closed.
Close Up of Spartan Road Station Proposal
The size of land for the Station, Park and Ride, and Bus Interchange is just over 2 hectares in size. The brown lines show possible eastern shuttle bus connections for the station. A new proposed road linking Randwick and Spartan Road Station (via crossing the stream) is also placed. This new link would allow ease of access for residents to get to Spartan Road Station and possibly the industry in the surrounding area. Those living in the northern part of Conifer Grove (wedged between the Motorway, Walter Stevens Drive and Great South Road) have the choice of either Spartan Road or Walters Road Station.
Close up of Walters Road Station Proposal
Again click for full resolution
Walters Road is bit more unique in the fact it has technically two Park and Rides, as well as two bus interchanges – one on each side of the rail line (the sizes are 1.16ha and 0.44ha respectively). This would be owing to no road level crossing being built at the station site (we are trying to reduce level crossings) nor a road bridge being built that could be justified in the cost department. If the bus interchange and/or park and ride was only built on one side, it would me a 1.5km “detour” to get to the relevant side with the park and ride and/or interchange – a rather self-defeating exercise. Furthermore you would cause bottlenecks down Walters Road by buses and cars trying access the park and ride and/or interchange if it was built on one side only. To add further weight behind building a Western and Eastern Park and Rides + Bus interchanges is the fact that Walters Road would be a station serving a fast growing area being right next to a new commercial development and within easy reach of new residential development. The Western Park and Ride + Bus Interchange would service all residents and businesses on the Great South Road side of the rail line, while the Eastern Park and Ride + Bus Interchange would service residences and businesses between the rail line Mill Road (Red Line on first graphic). Also Papakura currently has two Park and Rides (one on the western side, one on the eastern side) which are both heavily utilised – so there is a very close by success story of building two Park and Ride facilities that would be utilised well. The Eastern Park and Ride + Bus Interchange would also be my new “home-station” where I would catch my trains from to head north.
One final note having Walters Road Station with its dual Park and Rides + Bus Interchanges; the area between Manurewa and Papakura East (Red Hill) is due to undergo significant urban growth over the next three decades. You are looking at tens of thousands of new residents as well as many new businesses and civic institutions for which Papakura Station (and Takanini for that matter as well) could no simply cope if we are looking at making mass transit accessible to our new residents. Takanini is a dunga and does not have the room for a large supporting facility (Park and Ride and Bus Interchange) to make any station upgrades viable. Walters Road Station (including Park and Ride and Bus Interchange) is bang smack in the middle of a catchment area that has existing residents and businesses as well as future urban growth. Walters Road Station would be on land that can support the required large-scale support facilities (Park and Ride and Bus Interchange) as well as being connected to two access roads that run both major arterial roads that can be or already are traffic light controlled for safety reasons. So in that sense getting Walters Road Station right is absolutely critical if it is to be a key lynch-pin station that would attract existing and new people to Auckland’s fully integrated mass transit network.
Cost of these works for South Auckland?
Varies significantly and I would need to consult both an engineer and a planner to find out the true construction costs as well as the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) factors and the works and operational effects on these four stations are significant.
The entire post is a justification on this project. The new running times would also most likely be the following (for diesels, running times for the electrics are unknown as of yet):
- Manurewa <-> Spartan Road: three minutes
- Spartan Road <-> Walters Road: two Minutes
- Walters Road <-> Papakura: four minutes
As what would happen to those who use Te Mahia and Takanini? For Takanini Station users two choices are available: car, walk, cycle, shuttle bus to either Spartan Road or Walters Road Crossing. For Te Mahia Station users they would use Manurewa or Spartan Road Stations and get there by car, shuttle bus, walk or cycle. So the alternatives are readily available and would present little disruption to existing users.
To build both Spartan Road and Walters Road Stations with their supporting facilities, the new road link bridge between Randwick and Westbrook Road (connecting to Spartan Road) and demolish both Te Mahia and Takanini would be an estimate of two years as Block of Lines (closing the network in that particular section) would be required.
And so while that is the Papakura – Manurewa section of station additions and removals there is one more on the Eastern Line before reaching Britomart that could be up for a move down the line. That be moving the current Meadowbank Station closer towards the Meadowbank Tunnel and renaming it Selwyn Station. But that I shall cover in the upcoming THE RAIL EFFICIENCY PROGRAM #5B post.
But in the meantime what do you think on basically moving two stations to better locations and adding support facilities such as Park and Rides, and Bus Interchanges. Comment below
*Note: To make it clear; when I refer to Park and Rides I also mean including Kiss and Ride as well as Cycle Lockers as part of the Park and Ride Facilities.