11 March 2011

Dargaville railway station, Dargaville, Northland, New Zealand

Sorry for the lack of updates over the last few days; we've both been a bit busy. But we return today with an absolute classic: the abandoned and vandalised Dargaville railway station!


This railway station was built in 1943 replacing an older station from the 1880s. Originally, it served passenger trains both to Donnellys [sic] Crossing and Waiotira (to meet trains to Auckland and Whangarei), but the line to Donnellys Crossing closed in 1959, and the line to Waiotira became freight-only in 1967. Since that time, there hasn't exactly been much use for a passenger station in Dargaville; even special passenger services have been rather uncommon over the last 44 years. Little wonder then that nobody has bothered looking after the place.

The building appears to have been used by railway staff well after passenger services ceased, but now I hate to think what's lurking in there. The door sits ajar; inside are strewn papers, cobwebs, and even a lonely little fridge. The window is broken, the attempt to cover it is hasty and has even had a hole punched in it, and the external walls have received the typical dose of graffiti, though the paint hasn't horrendously peeled with age like that shocker on Monday. Once upon a time, the railways cared about their presentation, and when infrastructure was no longer required, they disposed of it for money or re-used it somewhere else. Hiowever, in this age of privatisation, woefully miserable investment, and generally not thinking two seconds ahead, a building like this has just been left to rot. It's not in the centre of town either, so I'm hardly surprised the Dargaville community hasn't taken much notice, let alone an interest in its restoration or conversion to something useful.

Oh, and if you need to pee, I really, really don't recommend the Dargaville station toilets. If they once had a roof, they sure don't any more, and it's about the least hygienic toilet this side of the open sewer that is Manurewa. But at least this place doesn't have a whiff of urine like Pomare station's underpass; it just smells of country decay.

"I ... think I can hold it in."
Platform of weeds, sans track.
As if to drive home the point that passenger trains don't call here any more, the platform is now more weeds than concrete. Having broken through cracks in the aging surface, plants have now largely taken over the length of the platform and made it completely useless in case anybody ever does want to run a special service for the people of Dargaville or enthusiasts. Mow your platform! Though apart from ten railfans, who actually wants to ride the roundabout and poorly maintained line to Dargaville? It would be barely useful even in an emergency blocking the roads. In case the crumbling building and weedy platform aren't enough to deter people, they've taken the final step of ripping up the rails alongside the platform. Tracks (barely) remain in the yard for freight trains, but you are absolutely, definitely, emphatically never again going to see Dargaville station bustling with passengers.

The whole line itself is probably going to close in the next few years. Looking at the condition of the tracks, I don't know how trains don't derail upon arrival at Dargaville; if I didn't know better and if there weren't wagons (dating from pre-WWII!) in the yard, I'd have assumed the line had been abandoned already. So I guess this entry isn't just a slag on the decrepit state of Dargaville station building, but part of the chronicle of the Dargaville railway fading quietly into history.

Rating: Condemnable. Plenty more photos of the station and yard in this gallery.

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