Friday, January 15, 2010

Revamped Newmarket (Auckland) Station opened

Yesterday, Transport Minister Steven Joyce formally opened Newmarket's grand new $35 million railway station, and just before that KiwiRail signed an $80 million contract with a joint venture of Hawkins Infrastructure and Australian company Laing O'Rourke for about 3500 catenary masts and 80 km of overhead wires for Auckland's railway electrification.

The station, which will be available to passengers and trains from Monday, was built by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority in conjunction with KiwiRail's $65 million reconfiguration of Newmarket's junction of the southern and western lines.

KiwiRail chairman (and former Prime Minister) Jim Bolger said the junction had been important to Auckland since a railway line was built to Helensville in the early 1880s. Its reconfiguration, with new signals compatible with electric trains, had been the most challenging of all the region's rail upgrade projects.

Mr Joyce said the Government made a commitment to proceeding with electrification before being elected in 2008, and he was proud to have honoured that without help from a regional fuel tax which would have been "just too big an imposition on Auckland motorists".

Yesterday's electrification deal follows a $90 million signalling contract signed in April, and the Government's announcement in November that it will lend KiwiRail $500 million to buy about 114 electric railcars.

An assurance from the minister to about 120 guests at the Newmarket Station opening that the first electric trains would be "on the ground and operational from 2013" drew applause led by Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee, who spent much of last year fretting about a lack of funds for them.

Newmarket Business Association chief Cameron Brewer said the new station would do for "the fashion capital of New Zealand" what Britomart did for Queen St since opening in 2003.

No comments: