The overlooked potential bottleneck: Adelaide Railway Station

When the topic of congestion comes up, it is often in relation to congestion on packed trains and roads filled with vehicles. What doesn’t often come to mind are the footpaths and spaces that pedestrians use. To create user friendly environments, we must continue to create spaces that are easy for pedestrians to navigate, encourage social interaction and foster strengthening relationships.

In recent times there has been a lot of media coverage about bringing people to Adelaide’s river front on the Torrens and upgrading and building new facilities in the precinct. One space, however, continues to be overlooked by the media and is a key component of the precinct and I dare say, the most important. It is in relation to how foot traffic through Adelaide Railway Station will be affected with a number of projects and developments that are currently in planning or under construction which include:

  • The electrification of the commuter rail network
  • Extension of the Noarlunga Line to Seaford
  • Adelaide Oval Redevelopment
  • New Royal Adelaide Hospital
  • Health and Medical Research Institute
  • Adelaide Convention Centre upgrade
  • SkyCity Casino Redevelopment
  • Riverbank Redevelopment

All of these projects will contribute to growing patronage through Adelaide Railway Station, and this station is effectively the gateway to the precinct. This is the biggest and busiest station in South Australia and it only has one exit with some 14 turnstiles. Even in the current situation without the above projects completed there are already queues during peak periods for those entering and exiting the platform area of the station. Furthermore, having the only exit on the eastern end of the station means that commuters who are heading to Uni SA’s City West campus, the new RAH and the Health and Medical Research Institute – which are all west of the station – will have to continue exiting to the east and then taking a long walk back west again. A western exit is needed, a topic which has been of much discussion recently in the forums over at Sensational Adelaide.

Providing a western exit is easier said than done. There is currently space for an exit and concourse in the space between the Convention Centre and the Montefiore Road bridge which crosses the tracks west of the station. However, this space is currently planned for the extension of the Convention Centre and cannot be constructed at this location.

Aerial view of the Adelaide Convention Centre and the Montefiore Road bridge to its west. Adelaide Railway Station is hidden under the buildings to the east of the Convention Centre. (Source: Nearmap)

If a western exit cannot be provided in the space above the tracks, where else can it go? Providing access at ground level across the tracks could done, but there are a lot of trains arriving and departing from nine tracks so this probably is not the safest approach.

I believe that the best approach in the current circumstance would be construct a tunnel to provide a north-south passage under the western end of the platforms, with escalators and elevators providing links between the tunnel and the platforms. The tunnel would be more of an underground excavation under the platforms with a paid concourse area and a non-paid section to allow pedestrians from North Terrace to access the river precinct and vice-versa. The southern end of the tunnel would provide access to North Terrace with exits on both sides of North Terrace while the northern end would provide access to the river precinct.

A vision for a new entrance to Adelaide Railway Station and the creation of a new pedestrian link between the city and river precinct.

A more detailed concept of the tunnel and underground concourse.

This tunnel and underground concourse may also serve as a link to future underground platforms as discussed in a previous article here on Urban Rediscovery. In this case, the concourse would provide a interchange function to allow passengers to transfer between the existing terminating platforms and new underground platforms that would take commuters closer to their destinations in the city.

Other opportunities exist by providing this western pedestrian link. The access points down into the tunnel at both the North Terrace and Riverbank ends could be sheltered by interesting architecture in spaces that are currently blank and dull while the tunnel and underground concourse itself could provide retail opportunities and spaces for advertising. The greatest potential reaching effects go beyond the station and the river precinct, encouraging increased pedestrian activity in Adelaide’s west end and providing the catalyst for reviving the area and furthering its development which has often lacked behind the more developed east end of the city.

The tunnel may end up being an expensive investment and challenging on a technical level as the tunnel would pass directly under the foundations and pilings of the Adelaide Convention Centre, but it may become necessary to avoid creating a bottleneck if Adelaide Railway Station is to cope with growing passenger numbers.


Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: