Alf has often wondered whatever happened to the blokes who built this…
He is wondering no longer. He reckons the buggers probably came to Auckland to build railway platforms.
Alf’s hunch is based on news that Auckland rail officials have been accused of “incompetence on a grand scale” for building a railway platform too short for the trains it will serve.
Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee is furious with the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (Arta), after discovering a 55-metre platform being built for the long-awaited Onehunga station will be at least 15m too short for three-car electric units due in service from mid-2013.
“They’ve gone ahead and built this without future-proofing for electrification. The people of Onehunga have been short-changed.
“They haven’t even present-proofed it – it’s just sheer incompetence.
“Why should Onehunga of all the stations of Auckland be made into a Lilliput station?”
According to the NZ Herald, Arta – an ARC subsidiary – has confirmed Onehunga’s platform will fall short of the 70 metres required to load three-car electric trains.
But don’t worry, folks. Great minds have been at work on coming up with solutions, and we are told that special arrangements may have to be made for trains running between Onehunga and Britomart to be shorter than for the rest of the Auckland network.
Authority communications manager Sharon Hunter said last night that an alternative after electrification could be to run standard-length trains into Onehunga, but to load only two of the three cars.
Patronage modelling indicated that two-car diesel trains would be enough to launch an Onehunga passenger service in September, but an extension of the platform would be considered if future demand called for it, she said.
It seems the regional council spent about $8 million buying an 0.8 hectare site off the southern end of Onehunga Mall for the station, and associated “transit-oriented development” projects.
But Ms Hunter says Auckland City consent conditions and other constraints meant a 55m platform was the longest structure able to be built there “in the timeframe”.
The conditions required new railway lines to be at least 14m away from apartment blocks off Princes St, to meet noise and vibration limits.
Allowances also had to be made for a potential rail extension for freight trains to Onehunga’s port, and to maintain vehicle access to a large electricity pylon.
But this Lee feller has his dander up.
He says the existing railway line has been upgraded by KiwiRail to passenger standard for $10 million and the transport authority has a $4.1 million budget for three stations.
And he is accusing officials of undermining a project they had long opposed.
“It seems this is a case of bureaucratic foot-dragging and almost could I say sabotage really, because if we are restricting Onehunga to two-carriage trains, yet demanding six-carriage stations everywhere else, it just doesn’t stack up.”
Alf suggest he stop grouching and considers putting the railway mob to work on building a replica of the structure below.
It leaves the Leaning Tower of Pisa for dead as an architectural attraction.
Alf accordingly is confident it would pull in more tourists in the long term than Aucklanders can ever hope to get from the Rugby World Cup.