Monday, September 7, 2009

Newtown Station Plans Revealed

A few months ago, your mayor attended the community information session on the oft-delayed Newtown Station upgrade, where deputy premier and local member Carmel Tebut, representing both herself and the absent RailCorp and RTA, announced that the initial proposed plans for a lift from the existing station building to the platform had been abandoned for technical reasons, and RailCorp had gone back to the drawing board, with more ambitious (and expensive plans) due for release in 3-6 months for public comment.

Credit where credit is due, last month RailCorp did indeed come out with some details on the planned upgrade and timing. While there is a glossy brochure (available at the station) describing the upgrade (from where the above image comes), details are hard to come by online. The NSW government planning site offers just an unhelpful map, and local media coverage was limited to one article in the local rags. Finally however I managed to find the Development Application on the Heritage Branch website; where it appears we have until September 16th to comment, provided we get to Parramatta for the paper copies before then ! It rather brings to mind the beginning of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

So what do we get ? The application states:
Proposal: Construction of easy access facilities including installation of one lift to the platform, new centrally located overhead concourse, two stairs to the platform, new elevated covered access walkway from street entry to the concourse, new public toilets and family accessible toilet, new platform canopies, relocation of station ticketing facilities to refurbished two storey Tramways Depot Office, new and upgraded retail premises.
What this means is that the unused area between the station and the Townie will become the station entry, with a semi-covered walkway leading down to a point past the end of the Townie, where a concourse will be built over the platform, with two new sets of stairs dropping down onto the platform, as well as the much promised lift (just one).

The picture above may help (click on it for a larger version); the building behind the tree is the Tramways Depot Office, which is proposed to become the new booking office, and the walkway runs down past it before swooping over the platform to become the new concourse and access point.

The map below gives another viewpoint; from it, it appears a new station access will be created at Thomas Street, off Newman Street.

The existing station buildings will be refurbished; and the existing stairs will disappear. The area outside the current booking office becomes part of the concourse; and the wall between it and the new access is removed. The actual booking office becomes new retail; and the adjacent 'Thundabox' building is to be (finally) renovated. It seems though that the Mayor's suggestion of a direct slippery dip from Platform 8 at the Townie has unfortunately been ignored.

Below are a few more pictures to help understand the plans.

Thundabox in its present-day glory

Current Building

New Entrance -
the chimney will presumably disappear as the wall is opened up

Kebabery to be replaced with new retail


  1. All good I think. Except for the slippery slide. We may have to improvise one.

  2. The chimney will disappear?????????? is that a good thing to do to a unique old building.

  3. I asked the Heritage Branch why they don't have the plans online. Their answer (I won't give the person's name):

    "Thank you for your email. The application and documentation for Newtown Railway Station have been made available for viewing at the Heritage Branch, Parramatta and the City of Sydney.

    "The documents have not been made available on the web as the current information system used by Heritage Branch does not have the facility to upload documents.

    "Your suggestions for the improvement of the system have been noted."

    So there you go.

    As I've been doing more work on this whole "Government 2.0" stuff, I've been amazed at how difficult it seems to be for some public service departments to think outside their box. Sure, their current system may not be able to upload documents. But, um, 15 minutes of work and a Blogger or WordPress account and you can.

  4. @stilgherrian - I had the same experience (possibly with the same nameless person); I've now asked for digital versions directly but I'm not holding my breath. The scary thing is, when they finally get around to addressing this, there'll be some IBM/Accenture type telling them they need to spend multi millions of dollars to build a solution.

    I was impressed with Sydney Council updating their website within hours of me requesting higher quality traffic plan images.

    @anon2 - the chimney going is my guess, the images show the chimney remaining sticking out of the roof; but the fireplace disappearing (the whole wall gets removed). If I could get hold of the submission I could be more accurate ...

    Not sure how to slip the dip past the heritage folk ... i need a cunning plan.

  5. I wonder if they're going to increase the frequency of train services to accommodate the increase in passengers that this upgrade seems to be anticipating. It always seemed to me that Newtown suffered from a dearth of trains. All those damn express services just shoot by as if Burwood would be a better place to be.

  6. Seems crazy to build this huge new concourse and not have a walkway directly from Erskineville Road.

    @Matt - you're in luck. Newtown will return to 1/4 hour services on weekends when the new timetable starts next month (as will St Peters). But I wonder how much disruption there will be by the construction work.

  7. Oh - I should add that the rendering of the old station building with the new concourse next to it is seriously wrong. Makes it look like the space between the existing building and the Townie is 50 meters!

  8. a total eyesore. its way ugly. how can you think this is good? damn neo-modernist rubbish. why dont they think about blending it in with the two old style buildings on either side of it? and who wants even more of newtown turned into a haven for nasty commercial shops? newtown has almost lost its soul. sigh.

  9. I think Chester Hill station could use a lift as well

  10. just leave it alone. it works great the way it is. why is it that all the old, seedy, cool places in newtown and enmore are suddenly becoming refurnished? Whats this obbsession with modernisation? there'll be hell to pay if this plan follows through. count on it.

  11. The Thunderbox is more properly called "Bridge House" (circa 1927, when the station was last upgraded by the reoval of 3 platforms and the movement of the existing one)