The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 6 (October 1, 1927)
The time is now not far distant when the people of Auckland will see their new railway station rearing its massive bulk above a labyrinth of sidings on a site a few chains eastward of Beach Road and in line with Symonds Street. This site has been fixed by the necessity for a “through” station making direct connection with the new Westfield line and the present Newmarket route northward, and at some future date, with a new city railway and northern outlet via the Town Hall. The plans for the new station are about complete and it is hoped to make a start with building operations before the end of the year and to complete the building some eighteen months later. The present station will then be a thing of the past. It has long been a subject for apologies to strangers and forceful denunciations by citizens. Admittedly they have been long suffering, but has sufficient credit been given to the railway staff who, day in and day out, through fair weather and foul, has sought to carry out its duties cheerfully and efficiently in spite of adverse conditions?
It is recognised that a railway station must not only efficiently fulfil its functions as an operating unit, but it must also minister to the aesthetic sense and civic pride of the people whom it serves.
Ornate embellishment and costly materials have no bearing on efficiency of service and make no appreciable return upon the capital expended. They also lead to heavier maintenance charges. Hence a wise discretion has had to be displayed in the architectural design of the Auckland station building, due regard being had for the fact that it is virtually the gateway to New Zealand, connecting as it does our railway system with the Imperial mail route that links us with our great sister dominions of Canada and Australia.
Worthy O[gap — reason: illegible] Great City
New Station at Auckland (The Northern Entrepôt for New Zealand Commerce) Now Under Way.
Before the architectural development of the building could be considered, the layout of the offices and accessories, the design of sidings, platforms and subways were the subject of intensive study by the Railway Engineers. Statistics had also to be collated with a view to providing not only for present but for future needs. There is an old Greek proverb “Man raises but Time weighs,” and there are modern stations which were scarcely finished before they were found inadequate through unforeseen increases in business and population.
From an engineering point of view a railway station can be considered as an intricate machine whose separate parts must co-ordinate in the final efficient result. The main essentials which this machine must combine within itself are beauty and utility, spaciousness and propinquity, substance and economy.
It must receive the passengers, the luggage, the parcels, and pass them through its various functions with a minimum of effort, friction and delay, and in perfect safety if the acme of railway operation is to be achieved.
But deserting the simile of a machine a railway station takes on another aspect.
It must be the gateway to a friendly household. As the traveller steps from his tram or his taxi he must immediately feel that he is an honoured guest of the Railway Department who seeks to forestall his every need and provide in every direction for his comfort and safety. So through all these considerations the railway station comes into being.
In its outward appearance it must conform to the general architectural style of the city; for as a house is so should its gateway be, and to this end the design of the station and its precincts was developed.
So close was the work of the architect linked with the considered schemes of the engineer that competitive designs were entirely out of the question. Thus it came about that after due investigation the local firm of architects, Messrs. Gummer and Ford were intrusted with the task of combining in one harmonious whole the various essentials to a modern station building. In addition to very comprehensive data on modern railway stations filed in their office the architects have had the collaboration of a railway officer who has recently been abroad for the express purpose of obtaining the latest ideas in railway station design. Thus it is hoped to make the Auckland new railway station up-to-date in every respect.
A study of the layout plan and the architects' perspective sketches will give a good idea of what is proposed. It will be seen that the site gives full effect to the monumental nature of the building.
The passenger platforms are arranged on the “island” principle and serve seven distinct tracks capable of handling a large number of trains.
The building will be of steel frame and concrete construction with a brick facade resting upon a foundation course of granite. A commodious basement will extend below the passenger approach road and the main structure.
The foundations will consist of a forest of concrete piles up to 50 ft. in length.
The main feature of the exterior is a grouping of three massive arches. These are repeated within the great booking hall as illustrated by the architect's pencil sketch. This hall will be by its masterly treatment in design and its lofty spaciousness the most impressive feature of the interior.
The passenger approach to the station will take the form of a wide concrete boulevard rising by easy grade from Beach Road, sweeping in graceful curve past the station entrance and returning to Beach Road. This roadway is arranged for one-way traffic and will carry a line of tramway so linked with the Beach Road system that trams for the station may arrive and depart in any direction. A continuous circulation of trams past the station entrance will thus be maintained. By this means the station premises will be intimately linked with the city transportation systems.
Enclosed within the sweep of the elevated passenger approach is a low level road serving the luggage and parcels offices in the basement, and within this road again is a wide plaza set with gardens and grass plots giving the softening touch of Nature to the swart brows of Trade.
The main station entrance will be used chiefly by departing passengers, for through it lies the direct route to the departure platform. Arriving passengers will be able to pass from train to taxi at the arrival platform adjoining the strand. Here facilities will be afforded for delivering or taking charge of arriving luggage as the passenger may direct. Suburban passengers will arrive and depart by the central platforms which have access by subway to Beach Road and also to the station concourse and vestibule.
Passing through the main entrance under one or other of the massive arches the passenger will find himself in the great booking hall. Directly at hand is a well equipped Inquiry bureau for page 27 his guidance, while opposite him, framed in the central arch above the station vestibule, is a clock and large timetable giving the immediate movement of trains.
To the left of the vestibule are the ticket and reservation offices while to the right are checked and left luggage offices allowing the passenger to do his necessary business with a minimum of movement.
The main architectural theme in the booking hall will be developed in brick, whilst massive marble pillars frame the portals at either end.
Marble and cast bronze will be used extensively in the detailed embellishment throughout the building.
Beyond the vestibule is another striking feature of the lay-out, the broad concourse which gives access to all the adjuncts of a modern station including dining room, refreshment buffet, waiting rooms, barber's shop and dressing rooms, lavatories, post and telegraph offices, ambulance, bookstall, fruit stall, etc.
The night traveller will here find facilities for cleansing, rest and refreshment in preparation for his day of business or pleasure in the city.
Here the tired suburban shopper will obtain afternoon tea daintily and restfully served. Such services and amenities though well established abroad will be to a large extent experimental with us, and it will rest with the public to give them their sympathy and support so that they may be developed to their fullest usefulness.
Electricity will be used to the fullest extent possible in cooking, lighting and heating.
Being designed as a through station, Auckland must perforce have island platforms, and these are connected by subway and gently graded ramps, stairways being almost entirely avoided. This is an advantage not obtained in many modern stations where stairways are the general practice.
Not only is the comfort and convenience of the passenger studied, but also that of the staff who will have every facility for the efficient performance of their duties. Luncheon and rest rooms will be provided for them and the bathrooms will be fitted with the very latest cleansing appliances.
Passengers' luggage when checked by the passenger himself, will be received at a counter abutting on the station vestibule and immediately transferred by spiral chute to the basement floor below, where it will be transferred through a subway by motor truck to the correct train.
Heavy baggage and all luggage per carrier will be delivered to the basement of the station on the low level approach road. Here it will be dealt with on spacious floors and transferred to the train by motor trucks without any interference with the movement of passengers. Heavy inward luggage will be dealt with similarly.
Parcels and express perishables such as small fruits will be handled on the same floor, and to facilitate loading a siding for railway wagons will be led into the basement.
Ample facilities for dealing with left luggage and shop parcels will be provided on the passenger floor contiguous to the vestibule.
The two upper floors of the station building will be occupied by suites of departmental offices.
Such, briefly, are the steps that are being taken to meet the requirements of Auckland, not only to-morrow, but years hence when she has fulfilled the promise she so clearly gives of vast development in trade and population.