Newmarket's grand replacement railway station will be available for public inspection tomorrow, a month before it opens as Auckland's second-largest transport hub after Britomart.
The two-storey palace of glass and metal, which the Auckland Regional Transport Authority has built for $35 million, has been designed to cope with electric trains and up to 17,000 passengers a day by 2016.
Although KiwiRail has yet to complete a reconfiguration of tracks at Newmarket Junction before passenger trains start calling at the station on January 18, the building itself has been largely finished in time for tomorrow's open day from 11am until 3pm.
Its focal point is a 1000sq m covered concourse built 5m above three sets of railway tracks, where passengers will converge from four entrances before using escalators, lifts or stairs to reach platforms below.
Each of the four "island" platforms is 180m long, almost four times the reach of Newmarket's Olympic-size swimming pool.
The main entrance will be a 65m covered bridge over the railway tracks from Remuera Rd, a structure made wide and strong enough by lead contractor Hawkins Infrastructure to carry emergency vehicles as well as passengers down a gentle slope to the station concourse.
There will be three other foot entrances, one from Joseph Banks Tce on the eastern side of the southern railway line, and the other two through a 1630sq m open public square separated from Broadway by a new block of hundreds of multi-storey apartments.
Although one of the entrances through the square will provide ample secondary passage from Remuera Rd, Auckland City Council is considering demolishing two empty shops to enlarge a narrow pedestrian route from Broadway.
That has pleased the Newmarket Business Association, which is impressed with the new railway station but worried that visitors may have trouble finding the walkway tucked between Broadway shops.
There remains the possible of another Broadway entrance further north, if a second station concourse is ultimately built, closer to the junction of the southern and western railway lines.
Business association chief executive Cameron Brewer said yesterday that when he lobbied for a new station four years ago, to replace the rundown old 1908 version, he feared it would become lost between towering apartment blocks on each side of the railway tracks.
"We argued that the building needed to be sizeable, to be seen and become a beacon for train users," he said.
Despite their continuing concern about the entrance from Broadway, he said his members were thrilled with how the station itself had turned out.
"It's fair to say that it's come up better than we had anticipated - we are thrilled that architecturally it is significant, it is a sizeable building," Mr Brewer said.
"In a perfect world, we would have loved the old 1908 refurbished station restored to its former glory, but this is going to be great going forward."
"We as a business community can now really encourage employees, visitors and shoppers alike to take the train.
"With the old station, you'd never have told your teenage daughter to go down and catch the train at 7 o'clock on a winter's night, but now this station's going to be world-class for safety, amenities and cleanliness," Mr Brewer said.
Transport authority project manager Andrew Finch said the station would be well-lit and monitored by CCTV cameras at all times. Although it would be staffed during working hours, systems had been installed to allow it to be controlled remotely from Britomart, if needed.
The new station has 870sq m of glass "curtain" walls and louvres for natural ventilation and lighting by day.
A lighting tower and a large blue sign will illuminate its Remuera Rd entrance by night.
But Auckland City Council decided there was not enough room on Remuera Rd for bays allowing vehicles to drop off passengers and one of its members, Graeme Easte, is annoyed at the placement of a pedestrian crossing some distance from the station entrance.
Transport authority spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said pedestrian facilities outside the station were the responsibility of the council.