Thursday, December 3, 2009

Newmarket Train Station

It's coming along well. It's nearing completion. Checking it out today, there are dozens of empty shops waiting for tenants/owners. Given the recession, it's hardly a good time for property owners to be trying to get tenants or new owners in retail premises. Especially there where the number of passengers will remain small to trivial for a decade or three.

It would have been better to spend the money on trains rather than another monstrosity train station which is really only a place for people to get on the train and off it. The platform which was there was more than sufficient. It's not as though Newmarket is going to be Waterloo Station at 8.30am on a Monday.

It's just a glorified bus stop. A bus stop needs a place for the wheels to stop rotating, which is easy on train tracks. Apply brakes. Then a place for people to stand while the doors open, which is called a platform. It's also nice to have a roof or even an enclosed building to keep rain off while waiting for the train to arrive.

The thing they have built seems to be a bit of a wind tunnel. Hopefully they have thought through the prevailing westerlies which will drive rain and wind around the buildings into the tunnels as happens in lower Queen Street due to the big buildings there squashing the wind into the canyons between them.

The reasons people don't travel by train are; inconvenience, lack of reliability, slow travel, discomfort, cost, strikes. Train services in Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, Europe make NZ's trains look like ramshackle Zimbabwe services. The problem is the trains and tracks, not the stations which people get in and out of as fast as they can. Bigger bus stops don't improve bus services.

Hopefully, the train people have figured out that the should have Zenbu wifi available to provide low cost mobile cyberspace to people waiting for trains. The chance of that is near zero. They aren't noted for being innovative and thinking of customers.

Britomart is another folly. The trains should go in at street level, with traffic lights for the couple of roads which would be crossed, just like cars get traffic lights - with the trains automatically getting a green light as they arrive.

Passengers would then be treated to a pleasant street level experience instead of having to waste time going underground. A couple of train tracks into the same location, or preferably along Quay Street, would have cost almost nothing and been much more convenient. Get the trains in, and straight out again, just like a bus stop. Perhaps the trains could be redirected to Quay Street and Britomart converted to a mall, monastery, gaol or something.

At least they canned the ridiculous idea of putting buses underground too, spiraling down into the depths to collect passengers. They finally figured out that bus stops at street level are much more pleasant, cheaper, quicker. Bigger and better signs and maps would help in bus location and timings.

But it's better to spend money on Newmarket Station being grandiose than Hone Harawira and other bludgers going on taxpayer funded jaunts to Paris or Copenhagen's CO2 jamboree.

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