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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 4 (August 1, 1933)

New Railway Station for Wellington

page 9

New Railway Station for Wellington

The decision of the Government to embark on important public works, including the construction of the new railway station at Wellington, together with improved facilities, was announced by the Acting-Prime Minister (the Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates) on 29th June. Tenders are to be called this month for the erection of the new railway station the estimated cost of which has been reduced from £483,000, as originally planned, to £350,000. The Government has also decided to proceed with the completion of the Tawa Flat deviation work during the current financial year, and to proceed with the electrification of the Wellington-Paekakariki section at a capital cost of £277,000.

(Rly. Publicity photo.) The Bunny Street Frontage of Wellington's new Railway Station.

(Rly. Publicity photo.)
The Bunny Street Frontage of Wellington's new Railway Station.

The decision to proceed with the works is in accord with the Government's policy in respect to both public and private developmental works throughout New Zealand.

In making the announcement, Mr. Coates said that the Government had had under the closest review numerous projects, many of which for financial reasons had been deferred during recent years, and it was considered that the present time was the most opportune to proceed with these two major works within, of course, the scope of the finance available.

“In the decision to make an immediate commencement with these works, advantage has been taken of a further factor, namely, the favourable price level upon which construction costs can now be computed.”

Mr. Coates said that before a final decision was reached with respect to the permanent station for Wellington, action was taken to reduce the cost to the lowest possible figure. “A thorough overhaul of the original plans,” he continued, “has been made, and various modifications decided upon by which the estimated cost has been reduced from £483,000, as originally planned, to £350,000.

“A programme of work over a four-year period is being arranged, and the necessary alterations to the original plans are now in hand. It is intended to let the work by contract, and tenders will be called before the end of August. They will close about five weeks later, and the work will be commenced very soon thereafter. In the meantime the Department will carry out the work of clearing the site for the building.”

Tawa Flat Deviation.

“The necessity for a new railway station building at Wellington,” said Mr. Coates, “is well known, and it has for long been realised that any permanent scheme for putting page 10 the railway facilities at Wellington on a satisfactory footing involves more than the erection of a new station building. This led to the formulation of a scheme for the complete rearrangement of the terminal facilities, and this was included in the programme of railway improvements originally drawn up.

“Coupled with the rearrangement of the terminal facilities was a new railway outlet from the city by a deviation which would join up with the existing line near Tawa Flat. A commencement of the scheme was made with the reclamation at Wellington, and the driving of the tunnels on the deviation. The position is that the reclamation has been completed, the new goods shed erected and brought into use, and the tunnels and formation work on the deviation will be completed during the current financial year.”

Electric Working.

As to the method of working the new line, Mr. Coates said, it was decided after full investigation to adopt electric working. “The electrification,” he continued, “will embrace the section of line between Wellington and Paekakariki. The capital cost is estimated at £277,000. An up-to-date examination of the relative costs of steam and electric working show, after taking depreciation and interest on capital into account, about £5000 per annum in favour of electric working.

“Other considerations operating in favour of electricity were the superior standard of service, particularly through the tunnels on the deviation, one of which is nearly three miles long, and the virtual elimination of the Pukerua grade so far as operating is concerned. This latter circumstance arises from the fact that an electric engine can haul over that grade a load as great as a steam engine is able to work over the line northward of Paekakariki. A good deal of preparatory work in connection with the electrification has been done.

Three Plans.

“The Government has had before it the following alternative plans:—

“1. To provide a temporary station building and the greatest possible measure of the permanent lay-out.

“2. To complete the permanent scheme, including the station building.

“3. To continue working as at present.

“With respect to the last proposal, it has been demonstrated that it is impracticable to work the Tawa Flat deviation from the present station at Thorndon. The physical condition of the present stations at Thorndon and Lambton is, indeed, too well known to need any emphasis. They have long since passed the stage when they can afford any satisfaction to the public, while the conditions from an operating point of view could scarcely be more unsatisfactory. A similar position obtains as regards the locomotive depot facilities, while the whole layout involving the working of two stations, is both inconvenient and uneconomical.

Diagram shewing the existing grades on the line to Tawa Flat, and the improved gradesprovided by the deviation.

Diagram shewing the existing grades on the line to Tawa Flat, and the improved gradesprovided by the deviation.

“The No. 1 plan would enable operations to be concentrated in one station, but would involve the continued use of the Lambton Station buildings, and the provision of a temporary station building additional to the accommodation afforded by the Lambton Station. This scheme would have necessitated considerable, and probably costly, repairs to the existing Lambton buildings, and this cost as well as that of the temporary station would involve a substantial loss when the permanent scheme was eventually undertaken.

Work for Many Men.

“Moreover, the temporary scheme could not be as satisfactory from either a public or an operating point of view as the permanent scheme. Thus it is obvious that a scheme of that nature should not be adopted unless it were found to be really impracticable to undertake the permanent scheme.

“Consideration of the No. 32 plan—the permanent scheme—resolved itself mainly into one page 11 of ways and means, though other factors of importance also entered into the matter. One of these factors was the desirability of undertaking any necessary but hitherto deferred works as an avenue of useful employment.

“It is estimated,” said Mr. Coates in conclusion, “that the permanent scheme will provide work for between 300 and 400 men over a four-year period, including a large proportion of artisans who would be employed at their normal trades. The undertaking will therefore have much more merit from every point of view than some of the works which have had to be undertaken as a charge against the Unemployment Fund in order to procure work for unemployed men.”

The Station Building.

The passenger station will be a five-storey building looking southward over a plaza or open space. This plaza includes the area that is now Bunny Street between Featherston Street and Waterloo Quay. With its front on the plaza, the flanks of the station will be, on one side, Featherston Street and Thorndon Quay; on the other side, Waterloo Quay. Waterloo Quay will be the luggage and parcels side, and on the side of Featherston Street, essentially a passenger thoroughfare, will be developed passenger facilities and amenities.

A glance at the photograph of the front of the five-storey station building, with its pillared centrepiece, will show that this pile will dominate its neighbourhood. Even if it were not the all-important railway station, it would be a most important northward extension of the city's architecture.

(Rly. Publicity photo.) Wellington's New Railway Station. The Main Concourse.

(Rly. Publicity photo.)
Wellington's New Railway Station. The Main Concourse.

The station, like the wharves, will give continuity to the stream of traffic up and down New Zealand, and between New Zealand and oversea. For through traffic it will be a conduit of maximum efficiency. Great quantities of produce and merchandise will run up and down this conduit without the confusion and awkwardness of the two-stations method that has obtained hitherto.

For passengers to whom Wellington is destination or who are to stop here, the railway transportation system has had to be woven into the city transportation system, and detailed plans have been made for the two to interlock.

The position of the station was influenced by the necessity for keeping all passenger platforms and the trackwork serving them, to the south of Davis Street. This brought the building into the position now planned. Fortunately this position fitted in with some other important considerations. There was room here, between Featherston Street and Waterloo Quay, to develop an adequate layout fronting towards Bunny Street and at such a distance from that street as to provide a broad plaza for the circulation of city traffic making contact with the station—trams, buses, motors, and pedestrians. The station building will present a perfectly symmetrical front to plaza, with a central doorway giving entrance to the main booking hall.

The central feature of the station layout is the large concourse which provides an internal circulating area, and which has direct access to Featherston Street…. The arrival platforms will be served by a wide carriage road from Waterloo Quay. Passengers will be able to step direct from train to tram or motor car, and so reach the city with the briefest delay.

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