27 February 2011

Pomare railway station, Taita, Hutt Valley, New Zealand

The bland northern end of Pomare station.
Earlier this month, I ranted about Macaulay station.  Well, the disease of soulless railway stations is by no means confined to Australia.  Meet a dreary trans-Tasman example: Pomare station, on the Hutt Valley commuter line (part of the longer Wairarapa Line).  Contrary to what some people may have you believe, Pomare station is not in a suburb of the same name as no such suburb exists; it is at the northern end of Taita.

Now, some parts of the Hutt Valley, including Taita, can be a bit depressing.  Large swathes of these suburbs are state housing (or ex-state housing) built in the mid-twentieth century, and with that comes the usual socio-economic disadvantage and depression.  This isn't to say that the area is totally and irredeemably crap, because it's not, but the Hutt Valley has never really been my favourite part of the Wellington region.  However, on a cold, damp, and windswept morning in July 2010, I found myself trainspotting at Pomare station.  And, well, oh dear!  Besides my fingers almost freezing to my camera, the station is no place you particularly want to be in a hurry.  It's not the worst station I've ever been to, and it's not quite on the level of the aforementioned Macaulay, but it's still pretty undesirable.

The southern end of Pomare toile- er, station.
If the people who authorised this station wanted to convey the impression that northern Taita is a bland, depressing, squalid sort of place where nobody wants to be through choice, then they've done a damn good job.  It has few redeeming aesthetic qualities; all it can really say in its defence is that it has a real, sloped roof, hence it isn't totally boxy.  The passenger facilties are as spare and basic as possible, and damn uncomfortable.  The building barely fulfils its basic function of providing passenger shelter from the elements.  You know what it looks like to me?  From the southern end (picture at right), it resembles a public toilet planted between two busy railway lines.

In fact, it looks like two public toilets.  The building looks like a rather large cubicle, the sort of which you often see decaying by beaches where the local council doesn't care that much about swimmers (especially since, from this end, the building is deceptively boxy).  Then there's that ramp, leading to a rape-y underpass that really does have a lingering scent of urine; when descending from the platform, it feels more like entering an underground loo than it does when you enter some actual underground loos!  Are you totally incapable of holding in the contents of your bladder on the oh-so-long trip between Upper Hutt and Wellington?  Step off at Pomare's public toilets and unleash your torrent!  Space for everyone.

Of course, the truth is, this station is so basic that it actually doesn't have toilet facilities at all, no matter how much the underpass may smell of one.  And when I was there in July, the whiffs of urine were mingling with the smell of dampness.  I was charmed, can't you tell?

Rating: Damnable

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