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They closed the wrong station – and kept the wasteland of Ngauranga

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by Neil Douglas
How strange that the regional council has renovated the wasteland station at Ngauranga, but has closed the Kaiwharawhara station which was used by five times as many travellers.

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The Scoop Dogs and I visited Ngauranga station this morning.

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Ngauranga is worse than a wasteland – the station is alongside a waste disposal depot for caravan and stock truck effluent. A very unwelcoming place for train users, with no signposting and no obvious place to get across the motorway to the industrial zone.

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You have to walk through an unlit underground tunnel and then use a pedestrian subway to get to the station. (The tiny figure at the top of the ramp is a guard looking for passengers – there were none when I was there.)

Yet somehow 26 staunch individuals use it every weekday.

The only explanation for keeping this station and closing the busier Kaiwharawhara station is the issue of the overbridge – a structure neglected over recent years by Tranz Metro and the regional council. By comparison, a more enlightened Auckland rail policy is to close subways and promote overbridges because of the perceived personal safety advantages. Go Auckland!

Meanwhile back at Kaiwharawhara, the locals at Animates and Le Cloche are so disappointed with the regional council that they’ve started a petition to save their station.

Neil Douglas is a Wellington transport economist. He also owns the two Scoop Dogs.

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In denial about rail and rivers
Questionable numbers used for closure of Kaiwharawhara station

14 comments:

  1. B Smyth, 25. November 2013, 13:29

    I would definitely not walk through one of those Ngauranga tunnels at night or even in the day as they look so dismal and dangerous. Why doesn’t the Regional Council link Kaiwharawhara with the area where there is some life nearby? It is a pity that we have the crazy economics of a flyover (because it is a free gift to Wellington) on the one hand and the closure of local railway stations on the other.

     
  2. Neil, 25. November 2013, 13:36

    The message that Kaiwharawhara has been closed has not made it through to the automatic station announcements on the Matangi trains. They are still telling people that Kaiwharawhara is the next station the train will stop at!

     
  3. David B, 25. November 2013, 13:44

    0.023% of the Govt’s planned $2.4bn Wellington RoNS motorway spend would be $550,000. This would fix the bridge at Kaiwharawhara.

    0.1% of the Govt’s planned $2.4bn Wellington RoNS m’way splurge would be $2.4m. This would buy a gold-plated, wheelchair-accessible new footbridge at Kaiwharawhara!

     
  4. Fred, 25. November 2013, 17:13

    As we now learn from our ‘new’ insurance policies, it costs maybe a third to remove your existing structure, therefore wouldn’t the cost of removing Kaiwharawhara far exceed the cost of fixing the overbridge. As someone who was on the train which derailed (they were VERY lucky no-one was injured), sitting about 2 metres away, maintenance isn’t a TranzRail word, so where will the following trains now stop when the next incident happens? I’ve walked from Kaiwharawhara on at least previous 2 occasions, but I wouldn’t want to walk from Ngauranga.

     
  5. Carolyn, 25. November 2013, 18:06

    It seems like a classic case of all care and no responsibility. The Council: we care about ‘our’ passengers so much, we’ll close the station down. Customer service? What is that?

    The RONs are not RC responsibility, so talk of diverting funds from them is rather wasted. …

     
  6. Garth E. Nagrom, 25. November 2013, 18:49

    Fred you’re on the ball mate – you should be on the GWRC. May be a bit too prescient for a Council job. You could catch a bus from Ngauranga though, once you’ve made it out of the subway and down the dunny tunnel.

     
  7. Dave B, 25. November 2013, 20:01

    Fred, I believe the plan is to retain the platforms for emergency use only and shepherd evacuated passengers across the tracks and out through a gate, in the absence of the footbridge. All to avoid paying to fix the bridge. In the not-so-far future we may look back on this as a time of particular silliness!

     
  8. Jeremy Bentham, 25. November 2013, 20:18

    more dumb bureaucracy. Good to know Wellington has vigilant and astute observers such as Neil Douglas pointing out this madness.

     
  9. NigelTwo, 26. November 2013, 16:09

    A subway is a practical solution to the Kaiwharawhara station access. Let’s face it, if a subway had been built there originally we wouldn’t be having this discussion!

    Subways are protected from the weather, people can’t jump off them, and they usually have ramps in-built so they are suitable for wheeled pedestrians too. The most dangerous thing you are ever likely to meet is a lost fur seal at this station! Crossing the Old Hutt Road is far more perilous.

     
  10. Daryl Cockburn, 26. November 2013, 20:29

    The Kaiwharawhara station overbridge should be given, plus its demolition cost, to whoever will refurbish it, WCC or NZTA?

     
  11. InnerCitySuburbanite, 28. November 2013, 7:17

    How could you visit that station and not take a photo of the magnificent view from the platform? A gorgeous uninterrupted panorama of Wellington harbour. On a good day, one of the best places to wait for a train anywhere in the world.

    From JVille to Lower Hutt, the bus/train combo (switching at Ngauranga) is what I found to be the best option when doing this commute a few years ago.

    Is the goal of this article to encourage more closures?

     
  12. Neil Douglas, 28. November 2013, 10:47

    Good to know you are using Ngauranga station InnerCitySuburbanite – you must be one of the 26 people we counted. Keep it up. But I guess from your ‘name’ that you could have
    moved into an apartment block in Te Aro. As I think you knew, the purpose of the article was not to discourage Ngauranga station but was about the basis of closing Kaiwharawhara which has five times the users. It also would provide great views from the top of the overbridge – which has been closed because of lack of maintenance.

    People would have been able to use this station as well to commute from Tawa, Porirua and elsewhere as it provided a transfer from the Kapiti line to/from the Hutt line.

    There is also a bus stop so you could have come down from Khandallah and also Jville and got off and walked to Kaiwharawhara station. And whilst waiting enjoyed panoramic views from the overbridge.

    I hope you continue to get out and about on the train service. I suggest you have a wander to Ngauranga and enjoy the views once you have walked through the ‘dunny tunnel’ What Ngauranga needs is people!

     
  13. Ross Hayward, 1. December 2013, 13:00

    As the ex GM of Rail Passenger, I commissioned Douglas Consulting for passenger surveys of Tranz Metro. Those surveys were the most comprehensive carried out for Metro and provided the basis for rail service planning. I would hope the GWRC surveys were of a similar quality.

    With regard to the Kaiwharawhara closure :
    – Are the passenger numbers correct?
    – Is it now actually the lowest used station?
    – Has the market size for the location been established?
    – What is the rail share – passengers/passenger km?
    – Is it higher or lower than other stations?
    – What is the market growth potential – 5, 10, 20 years?
    – Potential rail share of this market 5, 10, 20 years?
    – Cost of $2.4m + seems a red herring as it probably allows for access ramps, etc which are not appropriate for location; a simple footbridge (as originally at Paraparaumu) would be more appropriate.
    – Station parking unlikely to be an issue given destination.
    – If there is a growth market at Kaiwharawhara, then trains will have to stop there on a consistent basis. This is currently not the case.

    In summary a simple, rigorous, consistent CB appraisal is needed for Kaiwharawhara (and all stations). This does seem to be lacking.

     
  14. Local Democrat, 1. December 2013, 18:07

    Why have the Wairarapa stations had a make-over? Well to make the GWRC popular amongst the countryfolk so they vote ‘yes’ for a super city! If amalgamation was not on the agenda then Matarawa and Renall St would be stations you visit only in the history books.