The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2 (June 1, 1927)
The Development of Auckland's Railway Station
“So this is your wonderful Auckland.” How often visitors make this disparaging remark when they alight from the Limited, after their long Main Trunk journey. The old station gives a bad first impression. Every Aucklander will welcome the time when the big “change over” comes and Auckland has a Railway Station worthy of the Queen City of New Zealand.
Many changes have taken place since the first train steamed out of the big cutting through Point Britomart, on its way to Onehunga, passing over the embankment built across the western shore of old Mechanics Bay.
Auckland's first railway station was situated on the eastern side of Railway Street (now Breakwater Road) on a part of the area now to be occupied by the new outwards goods shed. The present yard site, at that time, served as an anchorage for many of the old sailing vessels, which traded to the port of Auckland in those early days.
“The old order changeth yielding place to new.” Old Auckland, with its clay roads and open hills, has gone for ever. The eastern waterfront, with its open bays and towering promontories crowned in the beautiful green of the massive Pohutukawas, has changed beyond recognition and the waters of the Waitemata now lap the drab stone walls skirting the reclamation.
Practically the whole of the area now occupied by “The Yard” has been reclaimed from the sea.
During the 'eighties the first big rearrangement took place, and the present passenger station was brought into use. It was not the station as we see it to-day. Two platforms were sufficient to handle all the traffic offering, but these extended over the site now occupied by the General Post Office building.
Old colonists tell of occasions when the vans of trains were pushed through the old iron fence right out into Queen Street. Frequent additions have been made, from time to time, to serve the needs of the fast increasing business, but it was early realised that the present station was entirely unsuited to meet the requirements of a great city.
In 1912 a definite move was made to remedy conditions. The late Mr. D. T. McIntosh, then District Engineer, went fully into the question of providing for future development. By this time the proposed Auckland-Westfield deviation and the Northern Tunnel outlet to the Kaipara line had been mooted. The provision of suitable connections to serve these various routes required careful consideration. After much scheming the problem was solved. The skeleton outline, on which our new station has been designed, was definitely developed. From the higher positions above Beach Road, a fine bird's eye view of the whole yard is obtained, and it is said that Mr. McIntosh conceived his great scheme when, one evening, he viewed the panorama from the roof promenade of Cargen Hotel. Auckland owes much to this fine engineer. Our new station will stand as a fitting tribute to his wisdom and foresight.page 7
The Great War caused much delay in railway development throughout the country, and the proposals to commence work on the new Auckland Station in 1914 had to be abandoned. However, in 1924, the construction of the Auckland-Westfield deviation was put in hand, and the remodelling of the station commenced.
Much has already been done; the new yard is taking shape and, in the near future the old station, with its dingy verandahs, will be a thing of the past.
It is not intended in this narrative to give more than a general description of the work in progress. The accompanying illustrations will, it is hoped, convey some idea of the magnitude of the undertaking.
The works already completed have been carried out on “new ground” and, as yet, there has been little interference with the existing lines. Very shortly a goodly number of the new sidings will be brought into use and a start made on the rearrangement of the existing tracks.
The new outwards goods shed, a large reinforced concrete structure, is now being erected. This building, fitted with the most up-to-date appliances, is now well in hand, and when it is occupied the yard rearrangement will proceed apace.
“What will the new station be like?” To the man in the street, the Passenger Yard is the Railway Station. The new building will be an imposing structure. Set back some four hundred feet from Beach Road, fronted by a wide open plaza, laid out with lawns and gardens, it will have quite a pleasing effect. A wide ramped approach road, with a tramway track, will run right up to the main entrance on the first floor of the building. Bounded on either side by the massive retaining walls of this passenger roadway, a level approach will serve the ground floor, which will be given up entirely to luggage and parcel traffic. The second and third floors will accommodate the staffs of the District officers.
View of new works at Campbell's Point. Note: Approx. position of portal of tunnel for the new underground route to Morningside (X). Site for new station building (1). Rear of present station building (2). Some of the new yard tracks (3). New locomotive depot (4). New passenger yard (5). New overbridge to eliminate the level crossing in the foreground (6).
Passengers will pass through a large entrance hall to reach the main station concourse. Apart from the numerous ticket offices and inquiry counters, provision is made for commodious waiting rooms, refreshment and dining halls, bookstalls and even a hairdressing saloon.
From the concourse a large subway, below the tracks, will lead to the various platforms. “Mind the Barrow?” the familiar call of the porters, as they push the heavy laden luggage barrows along the platforms, will be one of the memories attached to the old station. Electric lifts will take the luggage trucks down below to subways running direct to the luggage room on the ground floor of the station building.page 8
The general layout of the whole scheme is on generous lines. Ample provision is made for future development, and the station should serve the city for many years to come. The deviation of the Main Trunk line around the eastern waterfront is being pushed forward to be ready for operation when the new station is opened up. It is hoped that the construction of the underground route to Morningside on the Kaipara line will then be started, and with the completion of this great work, Auckland will have a railway system which her citizens can justly claim to be second to none in New Zealand.