Parnell Train Station Idea Picks Up Urgent Pace


There will be a flurry of activity in the next few weeks to move forward the idea of a Parnell train stop at Cheshire Street, where Mainline Steam has its present building and workshop.

No clear funding path has yet been identified – nevertheless, things are gaining momentum, fast.

  • The Auckland City Council’s development committee has come out in support the location of the Parnell Rail station with a primary access at Cheshire Street and have referred the matter to the Hobson Community Board and the CBD Board.  It also acknowledged the importance of servicing the Parnell community as well as providing reasonable access connections to Stanley Street and the University .
  • The ARC’s latest transport committee meeting  says a balance may need to be found between serving different catchments such as museum visitors, Parnell and Carlaw Park business node residents and visitors, and university students and it’s important that development of any station in Parnell is based on good urban design principles and leads to a high quality development. “Master planning will be essential to ensure that the benefits go beyond the site and that it works for Parnell and wider communities.  The opportunities for heritage and environmental enhancement need to be fully explored.”

The investigation is urgent. ARC officers have to bring a report back to the next transport committee early in the New Year at which the ARC will be in a position to establish a position one way or the other. With the local body changes coming in during next year, there is no time to waste if the ARC is going to be instrumental in making this happen.

This is where trains would stop -at the foot of Cheshire St where Mainland Steam is

This is where trains would stop -at the foot of Cheshire St where Mainline Steam is

So over the next few weeks:

  • ARC staff are in the process of collecting information and engaging with the relevant stakeholders.
  • Initial meetings have been held with representatives of ARTA, ONTRACK, Debbie Harkness (Manager, Parnell Inc) and Auckland City Council
  • Dialogue is planned with the Auckland Museum and Campaign for Better Transport.
  • The landowner of the Cheshire Street main line steam site Ontrack is investigating development options and will make contact with the Parnell Inc /Community Committee.
  • ARC officers have offered Ontrack support and assistance in this investigation of urban development options.

As I detailed in October, the Parnell community committee and Parnell Inc promoted the idea to develop KiwiRail land at Cheshire Street into a destination in its own right, centred around re-development of the magnificent carriage works building and highlighting the rich heritage of the Waipapa Stream valley.

The plan also incorporates the old Newmarket Station building and signal house.

A main objection to the idea seems to be that the location of the land is steep for older people wanting to use the train  to go to the museum.

Grafton station  - the replacement for the Boston Rd stop - is not far away and , while it’s not next door to the museum, it’s not far to work to the Grafton end of the Domain itself.

I’m personally keen on the idea of this stop. Cheshire St is a much better situation than the old original Auckland railway station in the Strand that had to be used before Britomart was built downtown.

And the Parnell Inc plans are for a building that would be a tourist attraction, fitting for the fact Parnell is NZ’s oldest suburb and the museum is an iconic Auckland building itself.




  1. Matt says:

    I have a few issues with putting a station here.
    1. It is in a gully with the domain full of overgrown plants on one side and Mainline steam on the other. The walk up either side (providing there is a feasible track on the Domain side will be steep.

    2. Mainline steam are still using the site, until it is decided where they are going and when it will happen it isn’t going to be very attractive to get off there and walk over an industrial area.

    3. I thought the gradient on this section of line (as shown in the photo) would make it tough to restart trains heading out of the city. Might not be such an issue once it is electrified. This may be able to be lessened once mainline steam move out as the tracks might be able to be realigned a bit to the east creating a bit more flat land to stop on (perhaps even building the track up on the eastern side of workshop building)

    4. Stopping at another station will make the trip to town or home take even longer.

  2. jarbury says:

    I’m keen on ensuring that the station can act as a university station. That will require the station to be right down by Parnell Rise, with a pedestrian bridge over Stanley Street to link in with Alten Road.

    The proposed station location by the Parnell local community is actually further from the university than Britomart is, and is tonnes further from the Muesum than the relocated Grafton station will be.

    If it’s a “university station” it might get 10,000 passengers a day, if it’s just a Parnell station it might get 1,500 passengers a day. That’s quite a difference!

  3. Ian says:

    It has to be a university station. We have waited so long for one! Down near Parnell rise is a good location and it is not far up the hill to Parnell from there.

  4. Ian says:

    Are they also going to ask University staff and students for their opinions too? Like Jarbury said, Im pretty sure the potential number University travellers will far out number that of the Museum vistors and even those of local businesses.

  5. Matt L says:

    @ Jarbury what side of the strand are you thinking about, closer to Ronayne St or around where the satellite dish is located. If the latter it provide an easy access to Heather St which leads directly into Parnell. The entire area would then open up for much more development opportunities rather that the light commercial stuff it is currently used for i.e. I could see the Parnell Rd type of stuff like cafes’s and art galleries, designer shops etc to be extended down Heather St in place of the ugly warehouses that are currently there. Also a path up the side of the tracks could be built for whatever goes onto the mainline steam site as it will only be a couple of hundred meters away.

    Slightly off topic but is there anything that can be done to reduce some of the curves around the area as it seems to be one of the slowest sections of track. (I’m assuming this is due to old bridges, sharp curves and the Britomart tunnel entrance all being so close together). My thought was to essentially build a new bridge from basically the old train station, up the Strand and to connect it back to the existing track just after Parnell rise. A proper Parnell / Uni station could then be built as part of that.

  6. Jeremy Harris says:

    Hooray, yet another down decision..! Lets put it where one ENTIRE side is bush…

  7. Jon C says:

    Thoughtful comments everyone.
    I don’t think any location is going to please everyone pushing for a Parnell station.
    Originally there was talk of Carlaw Park but that’s gone. Parnell businesses are obviously keen to have a station so that people will stop and shop at Parnell so they favour the Mainland site and the museum would love it there as well - so such groups advocate it as a tourist stop, not a uni stop.
    Of course “next year” we also get a CBD rail loop, so students will be able to get on a train right outside their main Prince St campus. LOL Remind me I must stop indulging in ridiculous fantasy.

  8. Nick R says:

    The site where the old satellite dish is the superior one, both for servicing existing development and the university as well as having a much greater potential for new development around it.

    If you look at the mainline site over half of the catchment is bush and scrub of the Domain (not even parkland), and always will be. The other half does take in the Parnell main street (180m via a steep hill) but the majority of it is single dwelling residential.

    On the other hand the lower site has only a small part of the catchment in the Domain. Itdoes take in most of the Parnell main street (via a longer but less steep hill, approx 250m), but also the university, the high density housing and jobs around the lower part of Parnell and the new Carlaw Park development. Plus there is a lot of potential for further development in the Strand/Stanley area.

    It is also very well located for bus connections on Parnell Rise (i.e. the link) and Stanley St. At the mainline steam site the station could only ever be walk up (via a gully I might add), as there is simply no space for a bus access road, park and ride or drop off zones.

    This idea that the Parnell station should service the museum and domain is ludicrous, it is a 600m hike along a dirt track up a steep hill in the bush. A great spot for jogging, terrible spot for station access even if they paved and improved it. People can simply take the flat and level walk along footpaths from Grafton (600m) or Newmarket (1,000m).

    And anyway, if they want to re-develop the mainline steam site they still can: it is only 300m away from the Carlaw Park Ave station site (about the distance between Britomart and Princess Wharf) so well within the catchment.

  9. Matt says:

    To be honest I don’t think the locals have really thought about the consequences. The hill up to Parnell from mainline steam is fairly steep, it isn’t straight (you have to wind through a few narrow side streets) not to mention dark and shaded due to the buildings around it. There is nothing appealing about, not exactly shopper friendly getting off a train and having to walk past the ass end of some buildings. Plus by the time you get to Parnell Rd you would be sweaty and probably not in a mood for shopping.
    It could end up having a negative effect on the area as first impressions are so important. I would recommend using Google street view to have a look at what I mean as looking at maps doesn’t really do the area justice for how bad it is.

    Then look at Heather St, it is open and wide, it is still uphill but not as steep. If the train station was to join in here I think some of those warehouses could become some of the best value real estate in the city. Convert them and turn the ground floor in to an art gallery, cafe or something similar and rent out the top floor. It means you could catch a train and be shopping within a minute of hopping off. Not to mention that this site is much more open and as such lighter and safer.
    The Mainline steam would be only about 200m away from the platform along a flat bit of land. Sounds like a real winner to me.

  10. jarbury says:

    I’ve always thought the satellite dish spot was the most ideal.

  11. Ian says:

    That would be perfect. Would be a good excuse to smarten up that corner of Parnell too.

  12. curtissd says:

    Satellite dish spot for sure. Much better.


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