ARC’s Shock Concerns About Newmarket’s New Station: “How Did This Happen?”
Outrage is growing at the discovery that Ontrack has decided not to install one of the track links between the western line and platform 4 at the new Newmarket station.
AEC chairman Mike Lee, in his letter to the KiwiRail CEO just before Christmas, complaining about the pending demolition of the Newmarket West station at Kingdon St, raised the issue:: “We have already been advised by management at Newmarket that the new $35m Newmarket rail station has limitations as its built on only three tracks. ”
Now a train driver, writing on the Bettertransport forum, said drivers had done their induction at the new station this week.
“We looked at the signals, track layout, etc, and I did ask the question why there is no link from the west to platform 4.
The reply I received was that the crossover would be too tight.
Yes, it was planned for, and yes the track was ordered from China, but when it actually came to the installation, the track layout would have made the curve on that particular junction so tight, that a decision was made to leave it out.
Having two diamonds on top of one another, both on different radius curves, plus a turnout on a tight curve would have caused some problems. …
t was also pointed out that at some time in the future we may have services running direct from South to West, so in that respect we will have double tracking. And with the introduction of full bi-directional signalling across the network between Papakura and Swanson, we could see trains running “wrong line” more frequently.
And AFAIK there are plans (although not confirmed) for additional crossovers to be installed at various locations around the network to make bi-directional running more flexible. The direct link from Britomart to the West will not be disused. It will be used by special trains (not just for the RWC), empty services, and freight as well.”
This afternoon, ARC chair Mike Lee, on hearing the news, said: “This is a real concern and will be a shocking lack of foresight if it is allowed to be left out. The whole idea of Newmarket station being rebuilt was to allow greater flexibility of movements through it, particularly during service disruption.
“By not putting this track link in, the maximum efficiency and capacity of the station is going to be compromised and in the years ahead we will end up with a situation like Britomart is now, where trains are sitting outside the station waiting to get in and out, particularly with increases in service frequencies and the possible introduction of direct south to west services.
“The irony is the concrete footings have been laid for this missing track link to be installed, but the track and points haven’t been installed.
“As far as I am aware, when the deal was signed for Newmarket and the funding agreed to, a track link between the western line and platform 4 was part of the deal and has therefore been paid for but not delivered.”
Other rail workers spoke of a number of “cockups” at the new station.
One cited problems with the platform height as an example.
“There is quite a big step down off the train onto the platform due to either the platforms being built too low or the tracks being too high. There are going to be difficulties with getting wheelchairs off the trains due to the platforms being narrow and the seating being on an angle, meaning the ramp will foul with the seats.”
This was suppose to be a week of celebration with the transport minister officially opening the new station on Thursday and the station itself opening to trains and commuters on the following Monday.
Now it’s become an explosive issue in which the ARC heads are expected to be asking officials serious questions as they launch an investigation into how it all happened.