Mike Lee speaks at opening of Baldwin Avenue Train Station – predicts Auckland rail patronage to overtake Wellington within two years – invites Transport Minister Steven Joyce to openings of further rail stations…on the CBD Link

I wish to welcome everyone here this morning to this handsome new Baldwin Avenue Station

Congratulations especially to Auckland Transport and KiwiRail and thanks also to the workers who built it.

In the preparations leading up to  this event the Auckland Transport Communications team led by Wally Thomas made some inquiries about the origins of the name Baldwin Avenue.  We all assumed ‘Baldwin’ was the name of some local dignitary or business notable.  However in their internet search Wally and his team discovered that Baldwin Avenue was named after a very famous British Prime Minister of the 1920s and 1930s – Stanley Baldwin.  Now I was at the movies on Friday evening watching ‘The Kings Speech’ and the first Prime Minister to advise the newly crowned King George Vl was Stanley Baldwin – and Baldwin of course was very much instrumental in the elevation of the King George Vl and the abdication of his brother.  So history is always with us.

Ladies and Gentlemen last 2010 was a year of tremendous achievement in terms of building and opening rail stations in Auckland – as you will recall we opened Newmarket, Grafton, Avondale, Onehunga and New Lynn. 

This year Auckland Transport intends to maintain the momentum.  The next station after this I understand will be Mt Albert which will be much more elaborate – somewhat along the lines of a New Lynn.  And then of course there will be a new station at Manukau – something which I am sure will be near and dear to the heart of Mayor Len Brown who sends his warm greetings and congratulations. 

Near and dear to my own heart will be progress on a new station at Parnell – a heritage/museum station which has long be supported by myself and the local community.  A station which will be built around the former Newmarket heritage station building.  I am pleased to say that the long standing impasse between KiwiRail and Mainline Steam, (the leasees of the big shed on the site which has all the wonderful old steam locomotives in it) is being resolved and hopefully that should clear the way for us to make progress there.

This January Mayor Len Brown announced his objective of doubling public transport patronage within 10 years – we in Auckland Council and Auckland Transport are happy to sign up to the Mayor’s objective.  Public transport patronage in Auckland in recent years has increased dramatically – rail in particular – from 2.5 to 3 million passenger trips per year some 5 years ago to over 9 million passenger trips per year today.  I believe that given that impressive momentum within 2 years Auckland’s rail patronage figures will overtake Wellington’s which are  currently just over 11 million passengers per year – this with electrification now slowly by steadily being installed across the network by KiwiRail and a new fleet of EMUs which will be arriving around that time- will make Auckland the premier rail city in New Zealand. 

So I want to thank everyone in involved in this, the government, KiwiRail and Auckland Transport.  The preceding speaker Chairman of Auckland Transport Mark Ford in reading out the letter from Transport Minister Hon Steven Joyce noted the importance the Minister placed on attending Auckland station openings – and I certainly can attest to that. Steven Joyce since he became Minister has been punctilious about attending just about every Auckland station opening we’ve had over the last two years.  Given that – and on your behalf I would like to invite the Minister to further station openings – on the CBD Link. 

I would like to invite the Minister to open the future Aotea Station, Karangahape Station, Symonds Street Station – and then after that I would ask him to open a Mangere rail station and finally a station at Auckland International Airport.

Once again congratulations and thanks to everyone who built this excellent new Baldwin Avenue station.

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2 Responses

  1. lUKE says:

    Great to here Mt Albert is next, really needs an good upgrade.
    Interesting to hear your thoughts on why the museum is the best place for Parnell station. Sure it sounds good but data analysis suggests the northern site would serve far more people, as well as serving the university. Also am concerned about the very steep streets leading up from the mainline steam site, and the station fronting onto ugly backs of light industrial buildings.
    This post here sums it up well.

    • Mike Lee says:

      Hi Nick,
      Yep can’t argue there are not lots of reasonably steep hills around these parts – including from Stanley Street up to the Uni. I suspect your data assumes students accessing the university and is based on a map-based ‘as the crow flies’ approach rather than a linear approach based on the practicalities of where streets and footpaths actually are. On this basis Britomart East is closer to most of the campus than even the northern Parnell site. Also Britomart East doesn’t require student commuters disembarking at Parnell to negotiate multiple lanes of the extremely busy Stanley Street arterial. There is a hill here as well mind – but hey are young NZers that put off by a fairly small hill? If so there is a free bus at the entrance of Britomart West. The preferred site in the Waipapa Valley should be considered in the context of wider sustainability goals of rail travel. It must be seen in the context of the Mainline Steam rail shed compex which has become an important resource for storing and displaying heritage NZ steam locomotives. Without the new station Mainline Steam would be forced out of Auckland and the rail sheds torn down and likely replaced by more apartments. There is also the question of rail access to and from the historic Parnell Village and the Auckland Museum. The site is also ideal for the relocation of the former Newmarket heritage station building. All in all we believe this project could enable the urban renewal and environmental restoration of an historic but quite neglected part of central Auckland. Cheers,

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