KiwiRail Defends Kingdon St Demolition - ARC Replies: “You’ll Regret It”


KiwiRail’s charman, Jim Quinn, has defended the demolition of the Newmarket West Kingdon St station saying that continuing with a temporary station, “if that is the only goal, does not make best use of our funds.”

But the reply has not satisfied ARC chairman Mike Lee who has sent a further angry email, saying KiwiRail will come to “regret the decision.”

Just before Christmas, as Kingdon St closed to trains in preparation for the January 18 opening of the new Newmarket station, Mike Lee made a last-minute plea for at least further talks on keeping the station. In the letter, Mr Lee formally requested that KiwiRail instruct its contractors to refrain from demolishing or damaging the Newmarket West (Kingdon St) rail station over the Christmas holiday period.

But that demolition is underway.

The KiwiRail -ARTA decision to demolish Kingdon St, which has never been made public and caught Mike Lee unawares, was first revealed here on this blog on December 21 after I backgrounded the heated debate going on on Nov 30.

On December 21, I revealed exactly when the demolition would take place and informed those who had been kept in the dark.

Mr Quinn has replied by email to Mike Lee saying that the new Newmarket Station was built as a key junction in the network and a permanent alternative is not funded.

“I do not believe public opinion has been ignored.  The decision has been made on balance based on all the information available. ARC have delegated the responsibility for the public transport matters to ARTA.   ARTA have gathered the feedback  and made the decision.

Continues the KiwiRail CEO: ” KiwiRail must act on that decision assuming it is funded, safe and can operate.  KiwiRail have provided advice as requested.  KiwiRail is not citing ARTA’s advice as the reason for demolition  and nor are we buck passing, we are simply following process.”

Mr Quinn rejected the idea he was being disingenuous about the lack of funds.

“If the station is left there with an intent that it is temporary, more money will need to be spent and it will still need to be demolished.  If the station is to be left as permanen,t far more money will be required.  Neither of those scenarios are funded.”

KINGDON: Demolition continues

This has made ARC chairman Mike Lee even more furious and he has fired off another email in reply to Mr Quinn . Mike Lee begins by saying: “It is said that “‘the truth hurts’ and this seems to be the gist of your last response.”

Mr Lee takes issue with the points Mr Quinn raised, saying the ARC  had not “delegated public transport matters to ARTA” – ARTA is a statutory body set up in 2004 but the ARC still retains three important roles in Auckland public transport: as a planner of transport and urban and rural form in the Auckland region, as the sole shareholder of ARTA and as the major funder of ARTA.

“The ARC has not delegated these responsibilities, nor has it abrogated its democratic responsibilities to the community and ratepayers.

“A good example - when your signals fail and there is chaos across the rail network – despite the presence of ARTA, it is ARC members who have to answer the complaints of frustrated commuters.
“In regard to ARTA you can be reassured that the relationship between the Board of ARTA and the ARC is something that will be considered in the New Year in light of this and other matters.

He says that ARTA had not gathered any public feedback about the Kingdon St closure, ” despite repeated requests to do so”.

“You are now suggesting ARTA has made the decision and you must ‘act on that decision’ but everyone knows the final decision is up to KiwiRail.  That is classic buck-passing – you just can not have it both ways.   Claiming ARTA as an alibi (as ARTA claims KiwiRail as an alibi) is a cop out – as is your limp claim that you are merely ‘following process.’ ”

“Just like the ARC,  KiwiRail has a separate and independent role and responsibilities – responsibilities to the travelling public, responsibilities to taxpayers and responsibilities to at least genuinely consult with local government here in Auckland.

“You have chosen to completely over-ride the concerns of the ARC ,despite our involvement in the Auckland rail project that goes back longer than ARTA and the present leadership of KiwiRail.

“The last minute claim that keeping the Newmarket West station exactly as it is now would cost an unbudgeted $1 million is a totally new argument raised when all the other justifications were shredded one by one.

“It is a difficult argument for us to refute on Christmas Eve because we have never been given an explanation for it.  However I have to say I suspect it is just another red herring.  However ,if you had agreed to my request for a formal meeting in the New Year, you would have been given an opportunity to justify this and to clear up the odour of yet another expedient argument designed to ensure the station is destroyed.

“You have chosen not to agree to my request for a stay of execution pending a meeting and reading between the lines of your emails, it seems you are a man with an uneasy conscience over this - and understandably so.

“I don’t recall being treated this way over such an important matter – but again this is your choice but I can say it will have ramifications for our relationship in the future.

“The simple fact is that KiwiRail has chosen to trash a commitment (granted it was verbal) but a commitment none-the-less made by your predecessor to consult before deciding on the future of the station .

“All I can say is this – leaving aside the bad faith - this decision reveals short-sightedness and technical weakness amongst your advisers in opting to destroy a facility which added flexibility and resilience to the Auckland rail network – especially at this stage of the development of the network.

Concludes Mike Lee: “I am certain that before too long – that you will regret this decision – but it will be cold comfort to me to be able to say ‘I told you so.’ ”

DEMOLITION; The workers win, leaving the ARC chief unhappy


Dec 29 - Kingdon St demolition makes slow progress - Photos

Dec 28 - Kingdon St signs get toppled - Today’s photos

Dec 28 - Kingdon St getting demolished today - Early morning photos

Dec 27 - Demolition squad arrives - Photos

Dec 26 - Demolition of Kingdon St to start Monday -Photos

Dec 25 - ARC’s email to KiwiRail CEO over Kingdon St -in full

Dec 21 - Forbidden Kingdon” Station to be demolished

Nov 30- Arm wrestle developing over Kingdon St




  1. jarbury says:

    Certainly some interesting discussions being had regarding this!

    I know on the bettertransport forums it was suggested that the platforms were starting to decay a bit, because they had only been built to “temporary standards”. Anyone know if this is true or not? Could the station simply be “mothballed” for potential future use?

  2. Matt says:

    Mike lee is just a bully who thinks he can throw around his weight to get what he wants. The sooner he is gone from public office the better. I would question if this is the actual view of the ARC or just the personal view of Mike Lee and which he is just using his position to get his own personal beliefs adopted.

    Further to this he is hypocritical, he accuses Kiwirail and ARTA of not doing any research yet he fails to point to any research that he or the ARC have conducted to say that this station will be beneficial to keep or remove.

  3. Matt says:

    @Jarbury, I would say it was decaying, particularly along the edge of the platform next to the track where the concrete was starting to warp a bit (you can kind of see it in the pic above)

    Also looking at there the bases for the electrification were to go it would also have got in the way of this

  4. JAP says:

    I see Mike Lee as the hero of the year,
    Without him, we would not have the train upgrade we are seeing through Jon’s photos.
    He is a battler who has driven hard for public transport and has my absolute highest respect.
    Thanks Jon by the way for giving up your holidays to bring us such extensive coverage of what’s happening.
    There hasnt been a sausage about it in the media which shows how useless they have become.

  5. Cam says:

    @Jap i agree with you re Mike Lee, he’s not always diplomatic but he fights hard for what he believes in and personally i think he’s done more to advance the cause of public transport in Auckland than any other local politiician in living memory.

    He will be loss because moving forward we need people like him who will not lie down and take the current governments unbalanced approach to public transport in the region.People who will speak up and acdvocate for better PT in the region.

    I didn’t nessasarily agree with him on this issue but i think the city still owes him a lot of thanks for the great work him and the ARC have done on public transport in Auckland over the last few years.

  6. Henderson kid says:

    I have to chip in here to say I am shit scared of what will happen when Mike Lee goes and the new government transport body whatever it is called takes over. We’ll feel it. I’m with Jap. Mike Lee has got us rail like we never had and never would have had if certain officials had had their way.

  7. jarbury says:

    I think I’m generally in agreement with Cam. While I don’t necessarily support Mike Lee in this particular circumstance I think he’s certainly public transport’s best advocate in Auckland and pretty priceless in terms of what he’s helped achieve.

    Hopefully he’ll end up on the Auckland Council next year in some form or another. Alternatively, he could end up being the head of the Auckland Transport Agency. Now that’d be interesting!

  8. rtc says:

    @jarbury - do you really think that would be possible? With Hide and Joyce making the appointments to Transport Auckland it will be a buffet of talking heads with no thoughts of their own. In my opinion what National is planning with the various new Crown Controlled Organisations, like TA, in Auckland, is basically just giving jobs to mates and benefactors - what we’d call corruption if it happened elsewhere.

  9. bob says:

    Wow! Jim Quinn and ARTA have more than just a few questions to answer satisfactorily!

    @ Matt - a 1 year old station is decaying?!@#! Made of the same materials and methodsas the many ‘permanent’ stations recently built? No wonder Mike Lee called bulls**t on that daft claim. And Kingdon St platforms are above ground level, so have no pressure on them other than their own weight - hardly likely to shift. Are you seriously claiming the concrete edge sections are warping?

    And where is your evidence Mike Lee is a ‘bully’? Or Cam - that Mike Lee is not ‘diplomatic’? Sounds like weasel words.

    I agree with JAP and Henderson Kid - Mike Lee has done a phenomenal job for PT in Auckland, saddled with a daft CCO structure that has just been exposed as inept and undemocratic.

    Kiwirail and ARTA claiming they are following the commands of each other, to dodge the truth - they are destroying Kingdon St before people ask why they had to spend tens of millions building new Newmarket platforms when it serves no purpose… Kingdon St and old Newmarket’s centre platform (suitably upgraded) would have been fine - linked by a subway walkway.

    Irrespective of Kingdon St, if ARTA - a 100% owned subsidiary of ARC - are told by their owners to keep something, they must obey. To not do so makes government a farce. What would John Key do if a government dept refused to implement a government request?

  10. Matt says:

    Bob I’m assuming that you haven’t actually visited the station to see it for yourself. In the first half of the year I used it on a daily basis and even then it wasn’t looking very good, in the second half when I passed through on my way to town it definitely wasn’t getting any better.

  11. bob says:

    Actually Matt, frequent visitor to Kingdon St platforms, and they look fine. Again, perhaps you could be specific in your claim that they ‘aren’t looking very good’? (except now the ARTA crews are pulling them apart, of course) ;(


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