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.”

Newmarket's Platform 4 is a problem

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.”

Platform 4- photographed this afternoon

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.”

The platform at the new Newmarket station

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.




  1. James Pole says:

    I don’t see this as a major problem in the short-term. They could just use Platform 4 for all City-bound services from Onehunga/Pukekohe. Platform 2/3 can be used for services to/from Waitakere (alongside with Platform 1 for services to Waitakere). It’s not the most efficent way of doing things I admit…

    However I have to ask if Ontrack has plans to try and provide a longer-term fix? If they do then there’s no point in Mike Lee’s tantrum.

  2. Frustrated says:

    Good on you Mike.
    I can’t believe this is happening.
    At last we get a decent rail station and they cant get it right.
    Do they want it to fail?
    This is a one and once only chance to get a decent Newmarket station.
    Keep fighting Mike.

  3. Henderson Kid says:

    Outrageous indeed.
    First they demolish the station close to where I work not they have stuffed up the new one they force us to use.
    I worry about what will happen when the idiots completely take over after the ARC is wiped off the map.
    I hope Mike Lee finds a place somewhere.
    heading the new transport agency would be good.

  4. rtc says:

    This is sounds like a storm in a tea cup - Newmarket can always be upgraded in the future so I don’t agree that it’s one off chance. But I do like Mike Lee for always getting in there and picking up on such issues.

  5. Jon Reeves says:

    However Mike is right. If this station has been fully funded, why aren’t all the crossovers installed?

    Would you buy accept a brand new car with a door missing?

  6. Jeremy Harris says:

    The foundations for this link are laid I think so if it is a simple matter of laying the tracks, points and signals in the future I’m guessing it will happen about a decade after the first delays start happening because it’s not there…

  7. Joshua says:

    The missing link is quite a critical one though:

    I’m of the opinion that some pressure needs to be put on Ontrack to actually finish the job they started and build the damn thing!

  8. Jason Parker says:

    Jon, I’m very disappointed in this development.
    Thanks for always being so on top of things and bringing us the good and bad news.
    If we didn’t have you around with such good reporting, most of us would never know about this stuff.
    Appreciate your good work and thanks for your site.

  9. Sarah says:

    Yes thanks Jon, great site.
    But no thanks to the people who have cheated us out of the full monty.
    Why can’t Auckland ever get anything right? It’s like Britomart with that ridiculous one line in and out carryon.

  10. PukekoheLad says:

    The western line doesnt affect me but I was so hoping they would get the Newmarket station right.
    I’m concerned about that observation that wheelchairs will have problems.
    My auntie is in a wheelchair and uses the train for her weekly appointment with the specialist at Remuera. She gets a disability friendly taxivan from the station but couldnt afford to get a taxi from Pukekohe.
    I would have thought in this age, everything built now would be suitable for disabled access.

  11. Hybrid car owner says:

    I have to add my 2c worth.
    With the way the government is building motorways, there will be no second chance with this one.
    If it’s not done right, don’t expect this government to be at all sympathetic to fixing it up.
    The days of money for trains and public transport is all over.
    There are too many motorways to build - in their eyes.

  12. Timothy says:

    The whole thing is very bizarre, as it only can be in Auckland.
    And it’s against the backdrop of the Kingdon St demolition just down the road.
    It makes me want to go and live in Wellington.

  13. RichardB says:

    I have been so looking forward to enjoying this new station.
    What a shame this cloud now hangs over it.
    It was the same with the Queens Wharf project.
    We never seen to be able to achieve anything in Auckland without a bad odour emerging.

  14. Penrose Commuter says:

    Honestly, how much more revenue is needed to get the remaining track so it can be properly done and we don’t have any more holdups?

  15. rtc says:

    @penrose commuter - it doesn’t require anymore funding as it was already paid for by ARTA and ARC - it’s just not installed for whatever reason.

  16. Joshua says:

    PukekoheLad - I actually noticed that it is one thing Auckland definitely do better than Melbourne is disabled access, I guess this kinda lets us down a bit, however not hard to fix - do you know if the tracks are deliberately high to allow for sum settlement?

  17. Ian says:

    With so many responses I was taken to a part of this blog I never go to. The blogroll on the right side of the page. A mixed lot, but predominantly a roll call of the nastiest right wingers blogging today. I must say this list of do or die types sits rather incongruously on a blog supporting public transport.

  18. Penrose Commuter says:

    @rtc Ohh..well that makes it even more crazy.

  19. Jacob says:

    I have lived here all my 25 years and still don’t understand local politics. Didnt the ARC built this station? What is Ontrack and how come they make the decisions?
    There always seems to be 2 many different bodies involved.
    I cant wait for Rodney hyde’s changes. I think he is on to it here.

  20. James Pole says:

    @Jacob: ARTA (not ARC) does the stations and Ontrack does the tracks. Don’t think there are any other bodies involved apart from contractors to ARTA and/or Ontrack. If two is too many…

    Again I think this is a storm in a tea-cup. Has Ontrack said they will not install it in the near future? This sounds more like a “oops we can’t install it right now” rather than a “oh we’ll forget about this for another decade” as many commenters here seem to assume.

  21. Alex says:

    I have just had a house built and there were a number of shortcuts and things that I wanted but didn’t happen but that’s the way these projects work.
    You can always get all your dreams realised in time.
    I’m thrilled to see a wonderful new station in Newmarket, Auckland’s classy retail hub and I think we should concentrate on the good news, not some little track issue.

  22. Skate says:

    Maybe they should change the name of Ontrack to Onetrack Missing

  23. gman says:

    as a wheelchair user and rail rider i did notice they over filled the base for the platform heights, noted that kingdom st had the lowest height of any station have they transferred that to the new station? also i think the line connex from platform 4 is more because of where they built the control box. Hopefully with the new rolling they can have a consistent platform height, as still using ramps to get on/off is so 1970′s rediculousness of poor integrated design.

  24. ACDC fan says:

    The new station looks cool. Lets celebrate it. Cant wait to see inside.

  25. jarbury says:

    Surely it wouldn’t cost much to finish the job?

  26. Ian says:

    A redesign of the wheelchair ramps on trains would be a good place to start.

    Many places have a small composite reinforced plastic ramp that folds down 4 ways for getting up 2-4 stairs and into school halls and the like. I have also seen the same type of ramp used on trains in Australia.

    The massive chunk of Aluminum that Auckland’s trains are equipped with that cant be put back in its proper place after a wheelchair is on board because the wheelchair is in the way is ridiculous. They are too big and heavy for many of the on board staff and difficult to maneuver through passengers on the train.

    Hopefully with the EMUs the wheelchair area will be behind each cab (similar to the DMUs) wheelchair users know to wait at the cab end of the platform. Then it is simply a matter of the Driver or one of the guards getting the ramp from the cab and taking it to the first door on the train.


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